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Heartwood Hotel: A True Home

Heartwood Hotel: A True Home

Kirkus Reviews
An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking. Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously. A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

Dad of Divas
This is the first book of two that I read about characters at Heartwood Hotel. This particular one introduced you to the hotel and the purpose it was was established. This is a really sweet book about friendship, courage and community. The reader will become involved with the characters challenges, pasts, and how they overcome issues with the other animals at the hotel.

To tell you just a little bit, Mona the mouse happens to arrive at the Heartwood Hotel. She has no money to stay but the head of the hotel, Mr. Heartwood, hires her as a maid. Time and time again, Mona illustrates to the other animals how loyal she is to protecting them. The reader will learn her courage as the hotel and its inhabitants are threatened by wolves. She gains their trust and friendship and becomes a permanent inhabitant and maid of the hotel. 

Such a wonderful chapter book for a child to read independently or for a child and parent to read together.

Once again we see all the characters who are part of the staff at the Heartwood Hotel, but this time the danger is a terrific storm brings about some food shortages. They find someone is stealing food and when the hibernating animals at the hotel wake up early and begin to eat, there is even a worse problem. There is a huge food shortage. 

Once again Mona, the mouse, helps to solve the mystery. Within the mystery is a great reunion for Tilly, the squirrel. 

There is adventure and finding trust. There is problem solving and using their instincts. The animals work together to keep Heartwood Hotel and its guests safe and happy.

I enjoyed this part of the Heartwood Hotel story as much as the first one. Your child will too. It is a logical sequence to read and enjoy the second one. There is still the courage of the animals, the friendship, the trust, and compassion. Just like humans as they got through challenges.

Imagination Soup
Lost in a storm, with no home or destination, Mona the Mouse discovers a beautiful hotel for forest animals. There she works as a maid to earn her room and board. But more than that, she helps solve problems and learns about her family connection to the lovely hotel where she’s invited to stay as long as she wants. This is a sweet, warm-hearted adventure of resiliency and friendship. 

Publisher's Weekly
Seeking shelter in a storm, a mouse named Mona stumbles on the Heartwood Hotel, a swanky getaway for woodland animals located within a tree, then gets hired as a maid. In this compassionate and comforting first book in the Heartwood Hotel series, George (the Magical Animal Adoption Agency series) introduces a supremely cozy setting in the hideaway hotel and a well-developed cast of staffers and guests. Mona’s innate kindness goes a long way at an establishment whose motto is “We live by ‘protect and respect,’ not by ‘tooth and claw.’”

Carla Loves Store
This is a delightful story for late primary readers who are ready for more difficult chapter books… Children will be amused by the delightful world within this Hotel, as well as the many life lessons that Mona learns and teaches others along the way. The various animals at the hotel are all varied and have different talents and interests. The owner, a badger named Mr. Heartwood, is kind and generous to a fault. The guests all have different needs that must be taken care of. It is a wonderful cast of characters. There is some adventure, problem solving as well as a little danger. This would make a nice read aloud in a primary class where there is a chapter read each day with some good discussions to follow. I really like the ideas about friendship, class structure as well as facing your fears and helping your friends. There is also lessons about loss, self-confidence and to some degree bullying. It is not in your face, but the ideas are all there. A good addition to a school or class library.

The Little Crooked Cottage
We love reading chapter books aloud on summer nights in our house. Kallie George’s heartwarming first book in the Heartwood Hotel series is a perfect chapter-a-night read. Young readers will enjoy being be transported to the tiny woodland world where Mona the Mouse discovers the Heartwood Hotel while seeking shelter from a rainstorm. Mona is quickly welcomed into the fold—where a cast of characters, soft moss-lined beds, and a little adventure (and danger!) awaits. 

Mundie Kids
A cute woodland story about friendship, courage, overcoming challenges, and the true meaning of home.
Heartwood Hotel is an enjoyable read that takes readers into the heart of the woods, and introduces them to a variety of woodland animal (and a few insect characters too). With Graegin's illustrations (I love this cover), and George's storytelling, this story is one that will make you wish you could spend longer than the time it takes to read this book, with Mona and her woodland friends.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this story, is that it encompasses topics that young chapter book readers can understand. Like feeling lonely, feeling like you belong, finding new friends, doing your best despite feeling you're too small to do anything, friendship, jealously, helping others, and doing your best. Mona the mouse is a character who starts off feeling scared, lonely and a little insecure, and ends up finding she's brave, courageous, a good friend, and strong in knowing who she is.

Heartwood Hotel is a charming, enchanting woodland story. I felt like a kid again reading it. Growing up, I loved walking through the woods imagining what all the woodland animals were doing, and would often create mental stories of their adventures. This story reminded me of that. This is a great book to pick up for kids that are reading chapter books. It also makes for a great read aloud. We're looking forward to reading the next book in this adorable series.

Batch of Books
I can’t wait to tell you about the CUTEST new chapter book series! My two older girls and I all read the first two books in the Heartwood Hotel series by Kallie George and these books are ADORABLE.

When I was a kid, I wrote stories constantly. And guess what my main character always was? A mouse. So, I’m not surprised that this series hit all my soft spots. Even though it’s modern and will appeal to modern children, it has that warm, throwback feel I remember from the books I read as a child.

These two books brought back so many happy memories of reading Old Mother West Wind, The Wind in the Willows, and writing my own stories. In all honesty, I fell hard in love with this series. These are happy, feel-good books that warm you from the inside out. The best part is that after she finished reading the books, I “borrowed” it from her and read them myself. We’ve been discussing the characters and how cute the stories are. Now, my nine-year-old says she needs to read them too.

Just One More Chapter
Heartwood Hotel, with the secret entrance hidden in a tree, a place of refuge for lost creatures of the wilderness, those that are easy prey for larger beasts of the woods. What an absolutely delightful little story, it reminded me of The Wind in the Willows and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nim.

With the storm raging Mona accidentally stumbles upon this little place of refuge and gets more than she bargained. With a wonderful cast of characters from the animal kingdom this is a story of friendship, courage and compassion. There is danger and adventure here but toned down for the targeted age.

With lovely penciled drawings scattered throughout I suggest either a print copy or reading in a tablet (sorry but a kindle won't do it justice).

Michigan Mom Living
The Heartwood Hotel series is comprised of adorable, cute early chapter books geared for ages 7-10 with it’s easy reading and visual penciled pictures along the way. Youngsters can read and engage themselves in this series as they follow Mona through her family tragedy and the hunt to find another home and friends and acceptance. In this series, there are a lot of life lessons of acceptance that young readers will capture along the way.

The Heartwood Hotel’s motto is: “We Live by Protect and Respect, Not by Tooth and Claw”, which the author thinks applies beyond the great tree’s rooms and will resonate with young readers and I agree!

I can easily see my 7-year old son enjoying this series if he reads by himself or if it’s a book we read nightly together. Either way, it will keep his interest.

Once Upon a Twilight
Heartwood Hotel is a sweet story that teaches that breaking rules for good and kind gestures isn't bad. Sometimes we will need to break the rules and do what's right. Mona wasn't scared to break these rules because she knew these fellow animals needed her help. She was kind and compassionate. We also learn that facing our fears and being brave is hard but at times we must face reality and our fears. Also, that working as a team many things can get accomplished.

Mona with fierce determination saves all the animals. She was home and she didn't want anyone or anything to be ruined. With her kindness, even the bear was willing to help! It shows that kindness can go a long way. And home is where the heart is.

Canlit for Little Canadians
How do I convey to readers the infinite sweetness and gentility of A True Home? From the warm-hearted atmosphere and compassionate mission of the Heartwood Hotel and its staff to the plot of finding home, amidst common foibles and uncommon dangers, Kallie George's text is rich in friendship, courtesy, diversity and affection. That majestic tree's hotel is built upon a solid foundation of respect for all creatures and the natural world of interrelationships, though as in the human world some need to be avoided if one is to survive. But even the wolves, though frightening to many of the residents at the Heartwood Hotel, have an inane quality about them, squabbling about their achievements and the existence of the Heartwood Hotel. By doing this, Kallie George makes A True Home a suitable read-aloud for younger children who will easily be able to imagine the Hotel with its miscellaneous accommodations (including the root floors with hibernation suites, trunk floors, branch floors, twig floors and honeymoon and penthouse suites) and star-gazing balcony and ballroom. Graced with the black-and-white pencil drawings of American illustrator Stephanie Graegin, Heartwood Hotel's first book, A True Home, has surely found a place for itself in youngCanLit by captivating and gladdening our own hearts.

I love a good forest story. I was enchanted by the (slightly weird) world of Beatrix Potter as a child and spent many hours imagining life in Toad Hall, Ratty's waterside home and Badger's complex burrow deep in the Wild Wood. I even created the label Forest Story to keep track of books in this genre I reviewed. And, while there aren't a lot of books that come along in the precise vein of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Kallie George's new series, Heartwood Hotel, with charming illustrations by Stephanie Graegin, is a marvelous forest story with the kind of caring, friendship and community that you find in Grahame's book. And, be sure to check out the equally charming and wonderful Heartwood Hotel website for these books where you can learn more about the hotel (the staff, the menu, the rooms) and print out creative activities that let readers design a room for the hotel, create a menu and craft a miniature suitcase!

CM Review:
4/4 stars
A True Home and The Greatest Gift are the first two novels in the “Heartwood Hotel” chapter book series: sweet, funny tales about a hotel for small forest animals. Mona is a mouse who finds a refuge at the Heartwood Hotel when her home gets flooded out in a storm. She can’t afford to stay as a guest, but she is hired temporarily to help out during the busy fall season.

A True Home is the story of Mona’s discovering that she can belong at the Heartwood. There are a number of humorous adventures involving hotel guests, like Lord Sudsbury the skunk and Mrs. J the June beetle, in which Mona makes mistakes and has to figure out how to solve the trouble she creates. Then, there are a few slightly scary encounters with bears and wolves in which Mona proves clever and brave enough to save the hotel. The central conflict, however, is with Tilly the squirrel who takes an unaccountable dislike to Mona and is eager to see her leave the Heartwood. It’s Mona’s kindness that allows her to soften Tilly’s heart and turn her into a friend. 

The Greatest Gift has the hotel staff running around at the whims of a rabbit Duchess and trying to solve mysterious food thefts before a blizzard isolates the hotel. Mona again proves her cleverness and competence, but what she really wants to do is make a St. Slumber’s Day gift that can show everyone at the Heartwood how grateful she is to them. Her friendship with Tilly is tested when Mona spends so much time secretly making a present that Tilly feels left out. 

The setting and characters of Heartwood Hotel are adorable without being saccharine. A hotel made out of a hollow tree and sized for mice and badgers is brought to life with clever, humourous details. The animal characters each have their own quirky personality, from the kind-hearted badger Mr. Heartwood, who always speaks in rhyme (unless he is particularly upset), to the huffy June bug who turns out to be a travel reviewer for the Pinecone Press (so it’s a good thing Mona was nice to her).
The plot has fun episodic adventures but also a longer, more poignant arc about Mona learning where she comes from and what happened to her family. The development of Mona’s and Tilly’s friendship is the glue that holds all the pieces together, and it will resonate particularly with children who encounter the same hesitation, misunderstanding and awkwardness as they learn how to make and keep friends. This series should prove popular with kids who like anthropomorphized animal stories, stories about small people in miniature worlds, and humourous adventures starring unlikely but stalwart heroes. Adults reading these stories aloud will enjoy the sly pokes at certain societal conventions and the clever development of the hollow tree setting. Highly Recommended.

Heartwood Hotel | Text © Kallie George | Illustrations © Stephanie Graegin