Five Mile Charlie: Charlie Goes to the Library
by Kimberly Adams
Mascot Kids

"'Carly, do you think we can make a wool coat from my fur?' asked Charlieā€¦ 'Grumps! We can make a coat for Grumps!' Charlie said excitedly."

The long-awaited return of Five Mile Charlie is over. The story picks right up from the end of the first book. Carly and her charming animal companions are hoping to find a way to break through Grumps' crankiness. They are headed to the library to discover more about coyotes. If they find clues to his grumpiness, they vow to band together and help him overcome his obstacles.

During their journey, they bump into many of their friends, such as Journey the bee, Blue the hound dog, and cute forest animals. Carly finds delight in the many exciting books at the library. Meanwhile, Charlie learns a lot about being a llama in one of the books. He becomes fascinated with the fact that he has wool. He wants to use it to make gifts for his friends. Perhaps, making a special sweater for Grumps might turn him around.

The narrative spends some time focusing on Grumps' background. The dive into his history develops his character, making him complex rather than a one-dimensional villain. It demonstrates the importance of how learning about a person can help explain their behavior. Compassion and friendship are shown as key to an inclusive, successful community. The author artistically presents typical dilemmas children face in their lives. By weaving them into the story, Adams crafts them to become central to the narrative without overwhelming it.

The sweet, intelligent characters offer positive lessons in kindness and model an attitude of empathy and thoughtfulness. For this second installation, Adams utilizes David Gnass, a professional illustrator out of Toronto. His artistic excellence brings the scenes to life with bright colors. The expressions portrayed by his drawings help readers learn about emotions. Replicating the style from the first book also provides a sense of familiarity, tying readers to the landscapes and characters.

Both new readers and faithful fans of Five Mile Charlie may be interested to know there was a real Charlie. Adams lives on a farm and has had many adorable animals, including a black and white llama named Charlie. Here is how Adams describes him: "Five Mile Charlie lived the majority of his 23-year life at the author's farm at Five Mile in rural Southeast Oklahoma. Gimmicky and full of antics, Charlie was a loyal, dedicated and highly independent creature. Nevertheless, he maintained a humble and gentle disposition with children and other animals."

The first book, Five Mile Charlie, is still receiving five-star reviews on Amazon and other bookselling sites. Adams had a tough task in front of her to deliver a fitting sequel to the initial book. However, she has successfully brought back the vibrant, endearing characters. Following through with consistency in plot and style makes the present book feel more episodic and the series more of an ongoing story. This book would be an excellent gift for a child and is certain to become a favorite. Teachers will love reading this story in class to entertain the students and stimulate discussion on friendship and community. Ending the book on a cliffhanger, the author leaves audiences anxiously waiting for what comes next.

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