There are special books that have staying power, stories that hold a place of honor on our bookshelves and in our hearts. Like new friends that become old dear friends, they captivate us when we’re first introduced to them, and continue to delight us in rereads. This month Newsbee is honored to present honeys that are “Sure to Be Classics.”

‘Madeline Finn and the Library Dog’

By Lisa Papp

Enchanting describes a sweet, pretty book about a girl who claims she doesn’t like to read; that is until she makes a special friend at the library. Meet “Madeline Finn and the Library Dog,” a picture book by Lisa Papp, embellished with winsome, pastel illustrations.

Madeline struggles with reading in school, and day in and day out wants nothing more than to get a star for her efforts. It’s not to be for the little girl. Tired of working so hard, she nearly gives up, until one Saturday when her mom takes her to the library.

There Madeline gets a special treat when she reads a book to a new pal named Bonnie, a “beautiful,” gentle dog with kind eyes, resembling a “snowy polar bear.” At first, Madeline bumbles her words, but soon a miraculous change takes place — another miracle happens later for Bonnie too — a big surprise package that Madeline doesn’t see coming.

‘Sergeant Reckless, the True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero’

By Patricia McCormick

During the Korean War, mules were often used to carry heavy artillery over rough and hilly terrain. But in the early 1950s a group of Marines, fatigued from combat and footing the heavy loads, didn’t have a mule to help them out. What they did come across was a small, hungry horse, one that rose to the challenge, earned two Purple Hearts and other honors for her efforts.

The mare’s story is strikingly told in “Sergeant Reckless, the True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero,” by Patricia McCormick.

It was Lt. Eric Pedersen’s idea to enlist the help of the horse. “She wasn’t much, but she reminded him of a horse he had as a boy, so he took a chance on her.” The Marine leader made a wise decision. Private Reckless served her men well, and provided some light moments too — some of which arose because of her voracious appetite.

Reckless made countless contributions to the Marines, who grew to love her courage, stamina and loyalty. Illustrations by versatile Italian artist Iacopo Bruno give a glorious, patriotic nod to a horse that made a difference to many.


By Katherine Applegate

“Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate is a poignant book certain to pluck the heartstrings of young and old. This marvelous story is narrated by Red, a wise, old red oak with tender feelings for man and beast.

Red is a neighborhood institution and friend. Critters nest in Red’s boughs and hollows, and the oak’s branches provide perches for the tree’s pals, like Bongo, a crow that’s a trickster and a tease.

Optimistic Red has seen a lot in his 200-plus years on Earth, especially on May Day when folks in the neighborhood write down things they’re longing for, and place their wishes on Red’s branches.

As another May Day approaches, trouble arises. Red has become a nuisance in one property owner’s eyes — the tree’s roots are disruptive, its acorns a nuisance. Red bravely accepts what’s to come, but before the tree’s stump is ground to sawdust, Red has a situation to rectify involving a little girl and her family, newcomers who are shunned — a hateful “Leave” carved into Red’s bark, a cruel jab directed at the Muslim family.

Simultaneously funny and sweet, “Wishtree” captivates. Applegate writes simply, her compact sentences packed with emotion. This little treasure is rooted in friendship, just like Red, who’ll turn readers in total tree-huggers.