Book Review: What to do with a Stick by Jane Yolen

In this last installment of Jane Yolen’s trio of books about ordinary objects with extraordinary uses, the humble stick is lauded as “a sword to tame monsters of dread” and “an oar for a rowboat in puddle or pond,” among other imaginative functions. As with most things, though, it fulfills its truest purpose when combined with others: what can be made with a stick, a box, and a string? “Music that goes with … everything!”

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the publisher, The Creative Company. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

What a fun book for children to read! It will definitely stir the imagination reading about all of the things to do with a simple stick. You can tame dragons, ride it like a witch’s broom, fly a flag, and so much more! All of the ideas are also told in rhyme. The illustrations by Paolo Domeniconi are colorful, realistic, and will help kids’ imaginations soar.

Obviously, I like What to do with a Stick, and recommend it. I can’t wait to read it to my grandchildren!

About the Author

I was born on February 11, 1939 in New York City at Beth Israel Hospital, the first child of my parents, Isabel Berlin Yolen and Will Hyatt Yolen. Because my grandmother Mina Hyatt Yolen’s family, the Hyatts, only had girls, a number of us were given their last name as a middle name to carry it on. So I am Jane Hyatt Yolen, and my brother, Steven Hyatt Yolen, was born three and a half years later. Alas, we are no relation to the Hyatt Hotels, no matter how often I have tried to convince the staffs there.

I love being a writer. In 2018, I celebrated #Yolen365 in which my 365thbook (yes, that is a Yolen book for every day of the year) was published. Actually, 365 and 366 published on the same day. Since then, that number has grown to 378.

The first man I married, in 1962, David W. Stemple, is the only man I married. He and I have three children and six grandchildren. Alas, he died of cancer in March, 2006 after 44 years of a wonderful marriage. I live in Western Massachusetts right next door to my marvelous daughter Heidi (the little girl in OWL MOON). My sons live far away with their families, Adam in Minneapolis, Jason in Charleston, SC.  I also have a house in Scotland where I live about four months of the year. The rest of my life is all book talk.

For more about Jane Yolen and her books, go to her website.

About the Illustrator

Paolo Domeniconi is an Italian freelance illustrator whose artworks has appeared in international publications.
He started in early 90s with advertising illustration, working for campaigns, print and packaging.
Later, he became interested in the world of children’s books, illustrating his first series of classic fairy tales.
He has collaborated with publishers around the world: Grimm Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mondadori, The Creative Company and many others. His artworks are published in Italy, Spain, UK, Usa, Korea, China and Taiwan.
At present he has illustrated more than 40 books, plus fairy tales collections, covers and scholastic editions.
He’s based 30 mins from Bologna, in the middle north of Italy.

Book Review: Sweet T and the North Wind by Cat Michaels

TScreen-Shot-2014-10-07-at-7.14.18-AMitle: Sweet T and the North Wind

Author: Cat Michaels 

Illustrator: Irene Jahns

Publication Date:October 28, 2013 

Publisher: Independent

Pages: 36 

Recommended Ages: 5 to 10


Last time a powerful North Wind blew across the lakes, strange things happened. And the winter when Tara turns ten years old, the North Wind blows sharp and the lakes freeze solid by Thanksgiving. Old-timers from the village warn everyone to take care. Tara, or Sweet T as Grandma calls her, is tired of being cooped up indoors on this coldest winter day, and she tries to make the best of the situation. But when Tara makes a wish that is dearest to her heart, T’s ordinary afternoon leads to an hour of magic that takes her on a journey of discovery and a ride she’ll never forget. This gentle story of a family across the generations weaves enough magic and whimsy to interest children. It also subtly raises the real-life issue of aging. “Sweet T” entertains while opening the door for children to discuss, in an age-appropriate way, the illness of a beloved family member.


I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

Sweet T and the North Wind is a short, cute book about a 10 year old girl, Tara, whose scooter becomes magical when the North Wind blows across Kelly Lake. It teaches her how to use her imagination and her afternoon becomes a memorable one rather than a boring one.

This book uses Tara and the scooter to explain how to use your imagination. It also has a few multiple choice questions at the end as well as questions just to make children think. It’s a good tool for parents and teachers to help children to use their imaginations which is important in this digital age. 


About the Author:

CM_2500x1667.72dpi.971kb-200x300CAT MICHAELS is a writer, small-space gardener, choral singer, and digital dabbler who started writing stories in fourth grade and hasn’t stopped since.

She spins tales of everyday life, with a twist of magic or mayhem, that open young minds to new ways of looking at the world.  With more than two decades helping students from kindergarten to college overcome the challenges of learning disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome, Cat’s books encourage students to use their imagination and problem-solving skills as they enjoy reading.

Watercolor artist Irene A. Jahns illustrates Cat’s Sweet T Tales.  This series of chapter books for early readers follows the adventures of three sisters.  Book 1, Sweet T and the North Wind, is available in print and will debut as an e-book in winter 2014.  Book 2, Finding Fuzzy, a You-Decide Tale of a Lost Friend, where children write or draw the story’s ending, earned second place honors in the Purple Dragonfly Book Award.

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About the Illustrator: Irene Jahns

IRENE JAHNS grew up in a family of artists and formalized her skills with a degree in art and M.S. in human learning and human development, University of North Carolina-Charlotte.  She has been a working/exhibiting artist as well as an art educator for many years.  Irene was an organizational development instructor as a management consultant in the business world for twelve years before returning to art instruction as the head of graphic design for a community college.