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Fly Away – Patricia MacLachlan

fly away patriciaOh this book. This Gigantic-fonted 100 paged innocent looking thing. I read it in just an hour or so but it will stick with me for a long time. Patricia MacLachlan is talented. I haven’t read her other works yet (but definitely will) but she writes complex ideas with minimal words. This is a book a young child could read easily, but it is not a simple boring story.

It’s about family (I suspect most of this author’s works are) and how one messy family came together when a flood was threatening their house. Frankie lives in the house her sister and she grew up in, but now, the river is coming and the family wants to help. “That river. She’s a her in my book. She’s been a friend most of these years, bringing boaters who deliver groceries. Bringing birds and beauty. We’ve lived through storms and sunrises and sunsets. Winter Squalls. I want to see how far she’s going to crawl up my hill. I want to know if she’ll come into my house. Sometimes I talk to her at night. She’s great company.”

So the river flood is happening, but as in real life so are a million other things too. Our main character, a child named Lucy secretly wants to be a poet, lives in a family of singers and cannot carry a tune. Her sister is an amazing artist but no one quite knows yet, and it turns out Lucy is the only one who knows her 2 year old brother Teddy can sing like an angel. He doesn’t use words, but every night he sings just to his big sister. The adults have their problems too, but they are all through the lens of a child so it is felt, but not explained. The mother I related to more than I wanted to. Her youngest hasn’t bonded with her as well, and she feels guilt over it. She also wants to be or do something more with her life but can’t quite put her finger on it.

“No, it isn’t you. Mama needs something all her own, that’s all,” he [Dad] says.
He goes out to where Mama is.
“Mama needs more than us,” I say.
“Not really,” says Frankie. “she just doesn’t quite know what she has. She never did. She’ll find that out one day. I promise.”

If you are a mom, you know exactly how that feels, if you aren’t there are other things in the story for you to relate to, and that’s the brilliancy of it all. The whole book reads almost like a long poem, while still being accessible to anyone. More happens, secrets come out and the family comes together. I laugh because the little 2 year old is brilliant but quite. It reminded me so much of my little girl. We were so worried about her because she was a late talker, only to have her bust out counting to over ten shortly after she began saying “Mama.”

Everyone is unique with something to offer. Everyone has secret dreams and hopes and this book gets that.  Now, will my daughters like it?  Who knows, I am sure there will be things they can relate to with Lucy – like wanting to be good at something like everyone else… but It’s too early to say.

  • Author: Patricia MacLachlan
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN:1442460091
  • Copyright: April 8, 2014

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The Children of Noisy Village – Astrid Lindgren

The Children of Noisy Village

Some people, when they find out they will be having a baby, dream of Ballet classes or Baseball games with their little ones.   Me? I had visions of reading great books to mine.  I have been reading picture books and board books repeatedly for the past 5.5 years and finally… Yes, FINALLY my girl and I read a novel together.  Am I excited?!? You bet! I kind of questioned if this day would ever get here.

IMG_6431It’s so funny because these pre-parenthood visions are never very accurate and don’t quite turn out how you imagine they will.  I would have never guessed that “The Children of Noisy Village” would have been the first book my little one would let me read without many pictures in it.  I had tried Pippi Longstocking, the Little Prince, my Father’s Dragon and they were  a no-go for one reason or another.  (those are still on my list though)  It’s hilarious because this book, the one to capture my little one, is about nearly nothing.  There is no hero, there is no danger, there is no conflict at all in this book.  It’s about a little girl named Lisa who lives with her two brothers in a village in Sweden where the go to school and celebrate holidays with the neighbor kids.

I included this picture because it makes me laugh. Lisa and her friend give their best dolly to a girl who is sick. Oh good- my little one is learning some great stuff here… and then she said to me “Mama, I hope that someday I get sick and someone gives me their best dolly” wow! seriously, that’s crazy! That’s something I definitely need to work on! Work started immediately after that was said.

Maybe that’s the true brilliancy of it all. I have been laughing ever since, because I found the book to be very nearly boring compared to many I have read, but she ate it up.  But then, today I took my little girls to the bank to cash in their piggy bank savings so they could buy a toy they have both been wanting very badly for the last month.   That trip, which is an every day kind of thing for me, was so special to the girls;  From the quite bank where they repaired her ripped dollar bill and gave her near magical paper money in exchange for her baggie full of coins, on down to the toy store where she handed the money in for herself and got a new toy.  The day to her was wonderful, and amazing, and all kinds of interesting.

Maybe, Just maybe everything is an adventure to kids of this age.  Maybe, just maybe she didn’t need dragons, or girls stronger than  10 men, or alien-prince characters to hold her attention because every day is new and interesting.  Walking to school, or playing with friends IS the adventure and I somehow missed that.  Nice work Mrs. Lindgren, I think you got that a long time ago.

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The Twelve Days of Christmas – Laurel Long

laurel long twelve days of christmas cover

Christmas books in June?  Am I crazy?  Yes, Probably! But I am so excited about the deal I got that I just have to share with all of you.  Last Christmas I wanted to buy a copy of Laurel Long’s Twelve days of Christmas, but couldn’t find a used copy for a good price, and with all of the other presents I was buying, I just couldn’t justify getting myself a this book.  Well, the random thought occurred to me that I should check out Abe’s books for a copy of it now, since the inventory would be up and demand low.  Guys, I scored! It’s literally a gold mine out there for Christmas books. I was able to get a hardcover copy in “like new” condition for $3.99 shipping included. It still had a sticker on the back for the $20 the book should cost. I am posting about this in June because Amazon and Abe’s books have a bunch of copies right now for you to get yourself an early Christmas present too.

ten lords a leaping laurel long

Ten Lords A Leaping Laurel Long

If you aren’t familiar with Laurel Long, run to the Library and get her Magic Nesting dolls book, or the harder to find Lady and the Lion.  They are all stunning.  Really.  I am no artist and I don’t use that word lightly.  These are the kind of picture book that make you remember to be grateful you have eyes with which to see things.  Trust me, boy or girl, old or young, you will like this book.  You will stare at the pictures for quite sometime and each time find new things you haven’t seen before.

Review:

six geese a laying laurel long

Six Geese- by Laurel Long. I still haven’t found that third hen.

I have sung and read the Twelve Days of Christmas every day this week to my girls. They both love the book.  Surprisingly, neither has asked why I am reading them a Christmas book right now.  Each double page, full-color illustration shows one of the days of Christmas.  Then each following day has all the other previous items hidden beautifully within the drawing for that day.  I haven’t even found them all because it’s cleverly done. I didn’t even know to look for them until after a few reads through because it all blends nicely. (hint: one goose has two turtle dove feathers) It adds fun to the book without taking away from how nice the pictures look.

One last note: the author says “Four Collie Birds” when I always thought “calling birds”… I believe you can find both versions if you look and that’s by no means a deal breaker for me.  I am so glad to have gotten this book to add to my Christmas collection.  Be sure to buy the hardcover copy, you will want to keep yours for years to come too.

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  • Illustrator: Laurel Long
  • Publisher: Dial Books
  • ISBN:0803733577
  • Copyright:October 13, 2011
  • Laurel Long Website link

Disclaimer: I bought my copy with my own money for way less than it is worth. I will get a small commission if you buy from my affiliate link.

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Chrysanthemum – Kevin Henkes

Okay Moms and Dads. I have found a book you should all read to your little ones.  I have seen this cover all over the place in my book wanderings, but had never read it. Published back in 1991 (so no excuse for me never having read it) it has been chosen as an ALA notable book and School Library Journal book of the year.  I found my copy for a few dollars at a second hand store and decided to just buy it because I recognized it.  Oh, man oh man, I have been missing out.  Not only does it have a subtle message about self-esteem, the drawings are bright and kid-tested wonderful.  Am I over-selling this thing?  Maybe, but I doubt it.

Chrysanthemum kevin Henkes

Summary:

Chrysanthemum loves her name.  That is she loves it, until she goes to school and realizes that her name is super long and all her classmates have short “normal” names.  Chrysanthemum struggles with kids making fun of her flower name and picking on her a bit.  She “wilts” when they tease her and even dreams of changing her name.   Her parents try to help her, but suddenly the best (and kinda crazy) music teacher helps out because she loves Chrysanthemum’s name.  Mrs. Twinkle shows the readers (and her music class) that being different can be wonderful. She is quite different and said to be an “indescribable Wonder” herself. This all done without obviously saying “okay kids, being different is actually pretty neat”  it’s just waiting there for the little ones to grasp on their own and mine did and that makes me smile.

Mrs. Twinkle

Review:

My princess-loving girls like this book. A lot.  This gets multiple repeat requests from them.  That alone is reason for me to love it for the breath of fresh air that it is.  But more than that… It’s teaching them a message I want them to hear.   That it’s not okay to make fun of people, and that being yourself is the best thing you can be.  The writing in the book doesn’t quite rhyme, but it feels lyrical, which makes it a fun read aloud book.  The pictures add so much to the story that there are words and picture stories that happen here and it’s all so polished.

Okay, enough said- just go rent it from the library and then find yourself a copy after that.

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The Prince’s Poison Cup – R.C. Sproul

The Prince’s Poison cup, by R.C. Sproul  is not marketed as an Easter book, but it sure is a perfect book for Easter time.  If you are looking for something that is religious without being cheesy; Not too detailed and not shallow either, then this is your book. (These are kind of hard to find by the way)

PPC-cover

Summary:

This story is about a King and his son.  The King was called the king of life because he made everything and everyone in Prince's Poison Cuphis city.  In the center there is a fountain that the king told his people not to drink from.  Eventually, they are convinced to drink by the king’s archenemy who tells them the water is wonderful and good.  The people drink and, their hearts turn to stone- not wanting to be near the king at all.  Because of that, they build their own city away from the king. The king asks his son to help save their people.  He asks him to take the golden cup and go to the city of Man and drink from a fountain at the center of it that is filled with poison.

PPC-2The son obeys his father, though he is sad along the way, even being taunted by the people and hit with some rocks.  He drinks from the fountain like his father asks and dies from the horrible poison.   The king of life then comes and saves his son and the poison fountain turns to clear wonderful water.  The Prince offers this water to “anyone who is thirsty”, and some people whose hearts were changed by what the prince did, drink.  (starting with an adorable brave little boy)

Review:

This book points to Jesus in super obvious ways, but is also fresh and un-memorized for kids.  My oldest guesses “Jesus” for most questions she doesn’t know the right answer to so this is a good thing for us.  I think kids can relate to tasting yucky things, so the idea of drinking poison is something they understand and relate to more than what Jesus went through.  The book is beautiful to look at, and interesting for both parents and kids and makes its way into our reading routine around this time each year.

  • Author: R.C. Sproul
  • Illustrator: Justin Gerard
  • ISBN: 1-56769-104-8
  • Copyright: 2008
  • Publisher: Reformation Trust

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Good news! You can watch a video of RC Sproul reading the story HERE.

Disclaimer: I purchased this book with my own money.

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Rasmus and the Vagabond

rasmus and the vagabond

Poor Poor Rasmus.  If only he had curly hair and better yet- was a little girl instead of a boy with straight hair. Surely if he was, the nice families would come and adopt him from the orphanage, Right?  While the older boys try to tell Rasmus to stop hoping for a family, he simply can’t give up the dream and settle into the orphanage life, which is all he has ever known.  Rasmus is a pretty good boy, but he just cannot take the orphanage anymore and he runs away wishing for freedom and hopefully a family.  It turns out, freedom is scary when you are a little kid in a dark, cold and foodless world.  Oh, he forgot about hunger! And Man, is he cold!  Thankfully our little friend bumps into the friendly Oscar not too long into his newfound independence.  A disheveled, friendly man who declares himself to be God’s best friend.

Together Rasmus and Oscar travel the countryside in search of food.  They sing for their supper (Oscar is a wonderful accordion player how can earn decent money when he tries) and do various chores to get by.  The country setting makes me want to get out of the city immediately and go for a stroll down some dirt road and just enjoy the world for a bit.  In fact, I was jealous of it all if I am honest and can see why Oscar chose to be a wandering bum.  The world isn’t all rosy for our friends.  The police suspect them of stealing all the time, and they bump into two very bad men.  I do not want to wreck the surprise or storyline, but this isn’t just a cute story about a friendship between a lonely boy and a nice man.  There’s action in it to keep the kids entertained.  Action with guns, and rolling fist fights, Jail-time and secret hideouts.

For a book written in 1956, Rasmus and the Vagabond sure is a timeless and wonderful read.  Astrid Lindgren does a fantastic job writing books that kids and adults both love.  There was emotion that made me want to hug poor little Rasmus and his fantasy of a mom to hug him when he is sick, and action enough that kept me reading late into the night to see what was going to happen. When I closed the book… I literally sighed a happy sigh and went to sleep with a big silly smile on my face. I thought I knew how it would end, but I didn’t guess correctly! I have read a number of Lindgren books, and this one is my favorite so far.  I am so glad that Plough Publishing re-released this story (using the same illustration as the older hardback versions) the book world is a better place because of it.  New York Book Review is releasing two other Lindgren books in May that I am eagerly awaiting so I can read them too. Mio My Son, and Seacrow Island so be on the lookout for those too.  It has gotten to the point where I don’t have to know what the book is about, if Astrid Lindgren wrote it, I’m going to read it.  I know it’s early in the year still, but for now Rasmus and the Vagabond is my favorite read of 2015.  I received a copy of this book for review and its going on my favorites shelf to read to my girls when they can handle chapter books.

  • Author: Astrid Lindgren
  • Illustrator: Eric Palmquist
  • ISBN: 978-0874865974
  • Publisher: Plough Publishing House
  • Copyright: 2015 first published 1956

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Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards

I couldn’t resist one more St. Patrick’s day book review even though it will be too late for anyone to check it out in time for the big day itself.  This one is more touching than most I have read so the happy good morale should make it worth the read for most parents.

The Leprechaun's Gold -Pamela Duncan Edwards

The Leprechaun’s Gold -Pamela Duncan Edwards

Summary

The Leprechaun's Gold - 0439754526

The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards, Scholastic Inc. 0439754526

This story begins long ago in a small village where we find a smiling old man name Pat.  He was a harpist, and a good one at that!  Pat is humble and kind and willing to play his music for all kinds of events whether the people can pay him or not.  Well, young Tom, who was trained in the art by old Pat thinks the man is crazy for not making more money from his skills.  Old Pat says “I am rich in friends, and that is enough.”  well, one day the king holds a harping contest (you know, because they had a lot of those back in olden days of course)  and our two friends decide to give it a go.  Mean young Tom decides that old Pat just might beat him and breaks a string on his harp when he isn’t looking.   Poor poor old Pat has no extras, he can’t afford them!  He knows he won’t be able to win the contest now, but is going to give it a try anyway.

By this time, the wood is dark and as everyone knows, there are Leprechauns lurking there ready to play tricks on people for mean sport.  Suddenly our musicians hear a cry for help.  Unable to ignore the plea, old Pat goes to help the poor soul while Tom high-tails it out of there to safety.   Good thing for Pat, Leprechauns are nice if you help them out of a jam. Especially when you are as humble and kind as Pat was.  Just wait and see how that little Leprechaun decides to return the favor to our generous friend!

Review

The Leprechaun's Gold - 0439754526

The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards Scholastic inc.

The pictures are thoughtfully done and most pages have an intricate border around them.  There are 16 four leaf clovers hidden in this book for kids to find.  You won’t find any beautiful maidens or even cute furry animals in this one- so I think my daughters weren’t as excited about it as they might have been… but, as the mother, I get to pick the books we read sometimes and the story is so great, that I would force-feed it to my daughters if I had to.  (I mean, I don’t mind drawings of kind old men, but it’s not a super draw for my girls just yet… sigh!)  This is one of those stories that you hope is true; that good wins and kindness matters.  So, while I haven’t had to make my girls finish this story with me, they also haven’t asked me to read it on their own. Which kind of makes me sad, but I will keep trying. Repeat after me… Kindness matters more than princesses!

  • Author: Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Illustrator:Henry Cole
  • ISBN:0439754526
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Copyright: 2005

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