Everybody has ideas of new things they’d like to try. Sometimes those ideas pan out and sometimes they don’t. The thing is, we’ll never know until we try, and that takes courage.

Kids can learn a lot by reading stories that demonstrate courage, clear thinking, and grit. That’s what the books reviewed today reflect, in three distinctive ways. Ask your local librarian and bookseller to direct you to others. Kids will thank you!

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference” by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, Kids Can Press, 32 pages

Read aloud: age 6 – 9.

Read yourself: age 8 – 9.

In Kojo’s poor village in Ghana, Africa, money and food are scarce. When Kojo is given a small loan, he has an idea. Kojo buys one brown hen so his family will have more to eat. Kojo saves a few of the precious eggs and sells them, repays his loan, and soon sells enough eggs to buy another hen. Eventually Kojo’s one small loan changes the lives of his family, his community, his town and his country.

Based on the true story of Kwabena Darko, One Hen demonstrates how change happens in the world: one person, one family, one community at a time. Filled with hope, courage, and determination, One Hen is thoroughly inspiring.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Jefferson County Public Library, 420 West Main St., Madison

Library Director: Judi Terpening

Children’s Librarian: Kara Motsinger

Choices this week: “Silly Milly and the Mysterious Suitcase” by Wendy Cheyette Lewison; “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” by Silvia Borando; “Posted” by John David Anderson

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, photos various credits, Scholastic, 2019, 201 pages, $7.99 paperback

Read aloud: age 9 – 12 and older.

Read yourself: age 10 – 12 and older.

As the Nazis are becoming powerful in Germany, young Helmuth Hübener is swept up in the patriotic fever of how the Nazis will make Germany great again. As Helmuth learns more and secretly listens to BBC broadcasts on an illegal shortwave radio, he begins to realize the Germans are lying to their citizens. His eyes are opened further when he realizes Germans are being censored, the terrible treatment of Germany’s Jewish citizens, and how propaganda is misleading the entire German nation. Feeling that everyone has the right to know the truth, Helmuth begins to write and distribute pamphlets with accurate information he learns from the BBC. Eventually he is found out, accused of treason, and executed at the young age of seventeen.

Based on the true story of Helmuth Hübener, author Bartoletti crafts her fictionalized version of his story through a series of flashbacks as Helmuth is in prison. From his boyhood memories and awakening to the atrocities around him, Bartoletti presents Helmuth’s courage and heroic acts in the pursuit of truth, whatever the outcome.

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, The Boy Who Dared is an important book in many regards.

“Lost in the Antarctic: The Doomed Voyage of the Endurance” by Tod Olson, Scholastic, 2019, 209 pages, $7.99 paperback

Read aloud: age 8 – 12.

Read yourself: age 8/9 – 12.

In 1914, Ernest Shackleton led twenty-eight men aboard the sailing vessel Endurance to the Antarctic continent. Their goal was to be the first expedition to cross the entire continent. But in October of 1915, the ship had been frozen solid in the ice for the last nine months. Soon the pressure of millions of tons of ice crushed the ship and Shackleton and his men had to abandon it. With their meager food supply diminishing and trapped on the ice in unimaginable frigid conditions, survival took on new meaning.

Four months later their once stable ice floe they called home was breaking apart. With no other choice, the men set out in their three tiny lifeboats and miraculously made their way 80 miles to uninhabited Elephant Island through turbulent, dangerous, unpredictable seas. But their journey wasn’t over yet. Shackleton knew he needed to find help and, based on ocean currents and winds, took five crew members with him in a small lifeboat to row to South Georgia, 800 miles away. If they safely made the journey, they could find the whaling station and rescue for the men left on Elephant Island.

A genuine nail-biting, inspiring true story of enormous acts of courage and persistence, Lost in the Antarctic: The Doomed Voyage of the Endurance will have kids racing through the pages and pondering whether they, too, would have had the endurance to survive.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at kendal@sunlink.net and kendal.rautzhan27@gmail.com