Audrey of the Outback by Christine Harris

Audrey of the OutbackAudrey of the Outback by Christine Harris, illustrated by Ann James

The book we should have selected for our Family Book Club (except we didn’t discover it in time). This find is thanks to Give Your Child The World, and it’s such a fun book. I’m going to be doing a round-the-world kindergarten theme with my daughter this year, and this is on my list now to read to her when we reach Australia in our schedule.

Audrey reminded me a bit of Ramona Quimby, and then writing this review I see the publisher’s description compares her to both Ramona and Pippi Longstocking. I always love it when I see someone else agrees with my comparisons. 🙂

Audrey is not quite as … troublesome as Ramona (I can’t compare her to Pippi, as it’s been too long since I read that book) but she’s curious and adventurous and it’s easy to imagine her as a Ramona if she was being raised in that time and place. And vice versa.

There’s a glossary of unfamiliar terms in the back of the book, although they were all easy to figure out from the context of the story. While there are hints of the challenges of living in the Outback in the 1930s, overall the tone is gentle enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to read it to younger children. Each chapter is fairly short as well, and I think it’d make for an good early chapter book if you’re new to reading those aloud.

There are two more Audrey books, and happily for me my library has them all. Highly recommended for early elementary age as a readaloud – it was a delightful story.

This is the first book in a series, and is followed by Audrey Goes to Town and Audrey’s Big Secret. All three can also be purchased in combined volume for Kindle or Nook, although I’m not sure how well the illustrations translate in an electronic format. They’re not essential to the story, but they are very sweet.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Audrey is a 1930s outback girl with a lot on her mind. Her dad has gone away to work; her brother Price thinks he’s too old for games; and little Dougie likes pretending to be a bird. So together with her best friend Stumpy, Audrey ponders some of life’s big questions—like whether being a swaggie (or bush traveler, as explained in the handy glossary) is lonelier than being a girl, and whether it’s better to be a sheep or a cow. Determined, mischievous, imaginative, and inquisitive, Audrey is Australia’s response to Pippi Longstocking and Ramona Quimby.

Book Details

Title: Audrey of the Outback
Author: Christine Harris, illustrated by Ann James
Category: Juvenile fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson
Two years ago: July 2014 Recap

Recent Sequel Readalouds

I’m getting backlogged on writing about our readalouds (we’re moving through them faster now) so here’s a post catching me up to date on some of the sequels and pseudo-sequels I’ve read to my son, with my daughter listening in as she wants.

More Milly Molly MandyMore Milly-Molly-MandyMore Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley by Joyce Lankester Brisley

We’re all fans of Milly-Molly-Mandy, and this book is a not-essential sequel to the Sonlight book we read last year, The Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley. If you liked the first set of stories, you’ll likely enjoy this as well. It’s more of the same, with no surprises. However, it’s not really necessary to have read the first book, as you’ll quickly catch up on the setting and characters. These are excellent first-chapter books, as each chapter stands on its own, and helps develop those listening skills.


Penny and PeterPenny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood

This sequel picks up right where Here’s a Penny left off. This book has a lot less of his next door friend, and the focus is instead on Peter as well as Penny (no surprise with the title). Another one where if you liked the first, you’ll probably like this one too. I would recommend not reading this one before Here’s a Penny – you’ll spoil yourself as far as some particulars go.


Dolphin TreasureDolphin TreasureDolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler

My son was not into this one as much as the first book, Dolphin Adventure. I’m not sure why, as I felt they were pretty similar stories, although this one did take a bit longer to get to the point of any significant action. That’s probably enough of a reason for him to have been less interested in it. 🙂


Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson by Margaret Davidson

A sentimental favorite for me, as I’d read this as a child, and recognized the stories and the illustrations. My son really liked 4 of the stories, but one of them did not keep his interest at all. I prefer this book to the Five True Horse Stories, so if you’re debating between them, go for this one. And yes, this isn’t a true sequel, but more of another book in a similar style.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Two years ago: Book Review: Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan
Three years ago: Reading Less / Reading More

Early Reader Success: Hey Jack!

Hey Jack 1Hey Jack! The Best Birthday Party Ever by Sally Rippin

This was recommended to me as one that was a good choice for early readers. It’s easy to see why – it’s engaging, with short chapters and lots of illustrations. The varying font size makes it easier for newer readers to read with appropriate inflection and emphasis, and the lightly tinted pages are also helpful for them.

While G liked the book, and read it in one sitting, it wasn’t as ideal of a book for him like his adored Wheelnuts. I think if I’d have given him this about a year ago he’d have loved it – now it’s a little bit too easy for him. Because it is a much easier read than Wheelnuts, if you have a reader who isn’t quite ready for those books, this one might be a better fit. It’s roughly at a second grade reading level.

The Best Birthday Party Ever is book one in the Hey Jack! series, and it’s a companion to the original series about Jack’s best friend, Billie B.

And a heads-up: many Usborne books are available in public libraries, so don’t forget to check your local branch if you see me mention ones that sound intriguing.

Disclosure: This is an Usborne book, and I’m an independent consultant for them (i.e., I sell them). I’m still going to give you my honest opinion on their books though, because every book isn’t right for every reader. If you buy from my link I’ll receive a commission, which goes to support the blog and my homeschooling adventure. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Crimes and Mathdemeanors by Leith Hathout
Two years ago: Book Review: Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis
Three years ago: Books Read in 2012

Early Reader Success: Desert Dustup (Wheelnuts Series #1)

Desert DustupDesert Dustup (Wheelnuts #1) by Knife and Packer

Let me start by saying that I have *not* read this entire book. I was flipping through it when my son all but ripped it out of my hands. Then he proceeded to spend his afternoon quiet time reading it. Yes, the entire almost-100-page book. And for him, this is a *very* big deal. He can read – he’s good at it – but he still doesn’t choose to do it, unless I’m making him or offering him no other options.

This book though? He read all on his own, and willingly, and then came to me to request that I get him the sequel.

So yes, the book is silly. It’s not great literature. It’s like a cartoon, put into book form.

But it’s also really, really engaging and appealing for my 6 year old boy, and got him excited to read. So I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve got solid readers who don’t “need” this sort of text, but if you’ve got reluctant readers who would enjoy this format (lots of illustrations, very short chapters, fast-paced action) this is probably my son’s favorite book that he’s read himself. At least until he gets book #2, Spooky Smackdown. (And if you’re wondering about the age range for it, it’s suggested for ages 7 – 10.)

Disclosure: This is an Usborne book, and I’m an independent consultant for them (i.e., I sell them). I’m still going to give you my honest opinion on their books though, because every book isn’t right for every reader. If you buy from my link I’ll receive a commission, which goes to support the blog and my homeschooling adventure. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: A Scholar of Magic
Two years ago: Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family
Three years ago: Favorite Books of Hope & Redemption

Quick Lit: Recent Kid Lit Reads

Lots to share about this month, as I did so much reading while on our vacation last month. Happily, most of them were really good too!

Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin by Grace Lin

An amazing story, but do yourself a favor and get this in print, not an electronic version. My kindle copy didn’t let me fully appreciate the lovely illustrations Lin includes. It’s a bit of a mash-up (in the best way): part quest novel, part Chinese folklore retellings, part her own twists, but I loved it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Goose GirlThe Goose GirlThe Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) by Shannon Hale by Shannon Hale

I’m a *huge* Shannon Hale fan, and this book does nothing to diminish my affection for her writing. Another fairy tale retelling of sorts, it’s a very satisfying story, and one I look forward to sharing with my kids (especially my daughters) when they get old enough to appreciate it (and old enough not to be bothered by a couple of parts). I’m also looking forward to reading the additional books in this series.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Turtle in ParadiseTurtle in ParadiseTurtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm by Jennifer L. Holm

Good historical fiction by a trusted author. Not an absolute must-read, but if you like historical fiction or are looking for more books for your middle-grade level readers to enjoy, this is a solid choice.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Storm WarriorsStorm WarriorsStorm Warriors by Elisa Carbone by Elisa Carbone (a reread)

Another solid choice if you’re looking for historical fiction, and this has a stronger connection to actual historical events if you’re searching for living books for homeschooling or afterschooling. Don’t think it’s only one to read for the educational aspect – it’s a good story, well told.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads


TangerineTangerineTangerine by Edward Bloor by Edward Bloor

Thought-provoking, if a bit odd at times. I’d hesitate to blithely hand it over to younger readers, as there is some bullying and related events that might make it emotionally challenging. It’s a very quick read, so it’d be easy to pre-read if you have any doubts as to it’s appropriateness for your reader.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow PlaceThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow PlaceThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry by Julie Berry

Made me laugh in a very black-humor sort of way, but I got so tired of how every girl was always mentioned with her full nickname. As a farce, it’s amusing at times, but if you’re looking for any sort of realistic plot line or characterizations this doesn’t have it. If you’re in the right sort of mood for it though, it was entertaining enough that I looked to see if Berry had written additional titles.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Great TroubleThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called EelThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson by Deborah Hopkinson

Probably suffers a bit from me having fairly recently read The Ghost Map (an inspiration for the Hopkinson’s book). She does an admirable job of toning down the horrific reality of the cholera epidemic, and the perils of being an orphan at that time period. Unfortunately, as a historical novel, there’s too much telling and info-dumping. Eminently skippable, unless you’ve got a middle grade reader desperately interested in the time period and historical events depicted.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Treasure HuntersTreasure HuntersTreasure Hunters by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Fast-paced and easy to read, with super short chapters, this seems to be written to appeal to reluctant readers, and I think it would work well at that. Not one I’m eager to continue reading the series, but I’m also not the target audience.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Penny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster by Joanna NadinPenny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster by Joanna Nadin

Another one that would work really well for reluctant or early readers. It’s three stories in one, with lots of white space on each page, and lots of illustrations scattered throughout the fast-paced, easy-to-read text. It also made me laugh at loud a couple of times, at the ridiculous situations Penny gets herself into.

Find the book: Print | Goodreads


This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Twitterature: The Tyranny of the Library Edition
Three years ago: Book Review: My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’Homme

Recent Readaloud: Five True Horse Stories

5 True Horse Stories | Review by @SheilaRCraigFive True Horse StoriesFive True Horse Stories by Margaret Davidson | Review by @SheilaRCraig by Margaret Davidson

I was expecting this to just be another readaloud with the kids, and bought it for our trip to Arizona, as I was looking for something small and light to take on the plane. Instead it turned out to be a nostalgia-filled experience: I read this exact book when I was a child. I remembered the stories (some of the specific phrases as well), and the illustrations were instantly recognizable.

It made me so happy I’d grabbed this on a whim. That said, I’m not sure how impressed I’d have been if I didn’t have that nostalgic glow associated with it. The writing is serviceable, but nothing special, and it’s not one I’m excited to reread with them.

My verdict:
It’s dated at times, but not so much that it’s off-putting. Although, I was a bit surprised at how sad the one story is, and yet it’s presented so matter-of-factly, so consider this a heads-up if you’ve got sensitive listeners/readers!

The kids’ verdict:
They liked it, and kept asking me to read more, so it held their interest, but they didn’t ask for it to be repeated.

Find the book: Print | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Five wonderful, true stories about real horses–a Morgan, a Mustang, a wild pony, a performing horse, and even a donkey.


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: The Harlot’s Tale by Sam Thomas
Two years ago: Together: Growing Appetites for God by Carrie Ward
Three years ago: How to Find Great Books to Read

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Here’s a Penny

Here's a PennyHere’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood

A Sonlight book that I’m not likely to have picked up on my own. I’d never heard of it, and the cover didn’t grab me. The only reason I *might* have tried it is because of the familiarity of the author’s name.

They stories are sweet, in an old-fashioned way. A heads-up if you’re reading to children with any issues related to adoption: Penny is adopted and then he gains a brother at the end of the book by another adoption. I tried to gloss over this a bit, because G REALLY wants another baby so he can have a brother, and the book makes it seem so easy – just ask your parents, and you’ll get your brother! We quickly finished it and I went into distraction mode with other books.

There’s a sequel, Penny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood. I’d hoped to get it from the library, but it wasn’t available. I ended up buying a copy, because G liked it enough and wanted to know what happened next with Penny.

My verdict:
Easy to readaloud, the chapters are a nice length too for keeping their interest. They’re not as short as true beginning chapter books, but each one is generally 10 – 14 pages. The illustrations scattered throughout the text are nice, but their style doesn’t match with the cover art. I’m wondering if they’re original to the text – I know the versions currently in print have updated covers, which would explain the difference in style.

The kids’ verdict:
G enjoyed it – after reading one chapter a day for two days, we put it aside for our trip (and recovery). Picking it up again, I gave him a quick refresher as to what had taken place. Then I read chapter 3, and there were immediate requests for another one! Another one! Another one! Yeah, we read the final 8 chapters in two days, and if I’d been able to finish in in one day he’d have happily listened to it.

H semi-listened to it, but she didn’t complain when we finished it without her.

Publisher’s Description:
His name is not Penn or Penrose or anything that would make you think of Penny. His real name is William. But when his parents first saw him as a baby, with his red face and red-gold curls, they said, “My goodness. He looks like a brand-new copper penny.” And Penny is what they call him.

Now Penny is six years old, and this is the story of his adventures at home and in school. Many of them include his two best friends, Patsy and Peter, and his two kittens, Really and Truly. Penny learns how special it is to be adopted, what it means to belong in a family, and even, in the end, how it feels to have a new brother.

Book Details

Title: Here’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood
Author: Carolyn Haywood
Category: Children’s Fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: My Father’s Dragon

My Father's DragonMy Father’s DragonMy Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett

This is part of Sonlight’s Core A, but it’s also a title I found recommended frequently as a “best of” for readalouds, or early chapter books. I’d never heard of it before, but apparently that says more of my obliviousness to it, because now that I know of it I’m seeing references to it constantly!

And for good reason. This is such an engaging book for kids, and the chapters are such a perfect length for listeners new to chapter books (or for newer readers tackling chapter books on their own). There are lots of fun illustrations throughout the text which also helps keep readers attention. And the plot is just ridiculous enough to be fascinating and full of “what might happen next!” wonder.

My verdict:
It’s not one I’d want to read (or reread) on my own, but I’m not the target audience. It’s still very easy to readaloud, and I went ahead and bought the compilation title with the two sequels, Three Tales of My Father’s DragonThree Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. It’s a really nice hardcover, and a good deal for all three titles.

And a heads-up – this is one where if you buy the kindle copy you can then get the Audible version for a reduced price. Even though I own the book I’m considering doing this – my son can then follow along with the text and listen to the story. And then both girls can do the same thing eventually.

The kids’ verdict:
So much fun! Dragons and tigers and lions and a gorilla and boars and tortoises and and and…

Publisher’s Description:
My Father’s Dragon is a children’s novel by Ruth Stiles Gannett about a young boy, Elmer Elevator, who runs away to Wild Island to rescue a baby Dragon.

The narrative mode is unusual, in that the narrator refers to the protagonist only as “my father”, giving the impression that this is a true story that happened long ago.

The illustrations within the book are black and white done with a grease crayon on a grained paper, done by Ruth Chrisman Gannett, who also illustrated other children’s books such as My Mother Is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, Paco Goes to the Fair, Miss Hickory, Hipo the Hippo, and adult books such as Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck.

Book Details

Title: My Father’s DragonMy Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Author: Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Category: Children’s Fiction
Buy the book: Print | Kindle | Audible
Buy the trilogy: Print | Kindle | Audible

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Dolphin Adventure

Dolphin AdventureDolphin Adventure: A True StoryDolphin Adventure: A True Story by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler

The story-telling isn’t the best (it’s serviceable, but not phenomenal), and if I were rating it on my own I’d probably give it 3 stars. However, my son’s enjoyment of it made me bump up the overall rating I gave it on GoodReads to 4 stars. He was a fan – so much so that when he realized there was a second book following this one, he insisted that we had to get it because he needed to hear it too.

My verdict:
An amazing true story, I appreciated how it opened up several areas of discussion. Plenty of illustrations and very short chapters make it a good choice for kids new at listening to chapter books. It’s easy enough that it would also work for newer readers – not complete beginners, but somewhat new to reading chapter books.

The kids’ verdict:
My son immediately requested to read the second book, Dolphin Treasure. My daughter was only slightly interested in it, and mostly just wanted to see the pictures. So, good for my five-year-old, not so good for my three-year-old.

[Read more…]

Recent Readaloud: The Chicken Squad

The Chicken SquadThe Chicken Squad: The First MisadventureThe Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

I love some of Doreen Cronin’s picture books, and was hopeful that this early chapter book would keep my children’s interest. It easily did – they kept asking for one more chapter, and we ended up reading the entire book in one sitting (it’s a short book, but still. That doesn’t always happen with my two.)

This is apparently a spin-off from her book The Trouble with ChickensThe Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery (J. J. Tully Mysteries) by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell, and there’s a sequel, The Case of the Weird Blue ChickenThe Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure (The Chicken Squad Book 2) by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Will I look for them? Perhaps. It was maybe a little bit too silly, and the chickens are pretty rude to the squirrel. Do I want that sort of attitude modeled to my children, who don’t need any help in that area? 😉 I may end up giving the others a pass, or I may just read them myself first, before making a final decision as to reading them to the kids. I liked the dog the best in this book, so that makes me think I should give the original book a try.

My verdict:

I liked that it kept their attention, and they had fun guessing what the mysterious object could be. I had fun hearing what their guesses were, and how they’d modify their guesses based on additional information.

The kids’ verdict:

Chickens are funny.
[Read more…]