The Perils of Precocious Reading: Julie of the Wolves (& a linkup)

Julie of the WolvesToday is the linkup about Julie of the WolvesJulie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, February’s book for our Family Book Club.

As the post title tells you, I did not read Julie of the Wolves. Or, technically, I didn’t reread it. I tried, really I did. I got through the first part. But I found myself doing everything but reading in order to avoid this book, so as of 10:30 last night when I’m writing this, I’m conceding: it’s not happening.

See, I read the book years ago, when I was in early elementary school, and I am still traumatized by it. I was a precocious reader – well able to tackle the reading from an ability standpoint long before I could always handle the emotional or subject content of books.

And sometimes that mismatch ended up leading to negative experiences and associations, such as with Julie. I have no doubt it’s a worthwhile book for the right ages. I think I was in 2nd grade when I tackled it and that was undoubtedly not the right age.


Hopefully most of you do not have these traumatic associations with this month’s novel and were able to enjoy it.

If you’ve written a post about Julie of the Wolves, please add it to the linkup below. This is a joint linkup with the other hosts – Jessica (Quirky Bookworm) and Carrie (The Lion is a Bookworm – our guest host for the months in the Arctic). Add your post once from any one of our sites, and it will automatically appear in the linkup on their blogs. Yay technology!


RTFEBC Arctic

Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about reading this book or one of the themed picture books. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to one of the host’s posts.

3. The linkup will be open until the end of the month.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting us permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Next month we move on to Korea, and we’ll be discussing The Kite FightersThe Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park. The official picture book is The Firekeeper’s SonThe Firekeeper's Son by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Julie Downing, but if you can’t easily find it I shared several other possibilities here. I hope you can join us!

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Nothing! This is the first leap day that’s occurred since the blog began in September 2012.

The Year of Miss Agnes (& a Linkup)

Last week we started discussing The Year of Miss AgnesThe Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill as part of the Arctic theme for our Family Exploration Book Club (Haven’t joined us yet? There’s plenty of time – come on over to our Facebook group!)

The Year of Miss AgnesI selected The Year of Miss AgnesThe Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill as one of the books for the year, even though it’s maybe not *technically* set in the Arctic precisely. As far as I was concerned, the Athabascan village setting on the Koyukuk River was close enough to the Arctic Circle in order to include one of my favorite titles.

I love the character of Miss Agnes (of course), but I love so many of the children as well – Fred is a fantastic narrator, and she brings the setting to life.

What delighted me almost as much as the book was learning about the story behind it. The author taught in the Alaskan bush for many years, and all of the characters and incidents in the book are based on people she knew and things that really happened.

If you’ve written a post about The Year of Miss Agnes, please add it to the linkup below. This is a joint linkup with the other hosts – Jessica (Quirky Bookworm) has written a post about the adorable Arctic-inspired craft she did with her 2-year-old, and Carrie (The Lion is a Bookworm – our guest host for the months in the Arctic) has shared her thoughts about the book as well. Add your post once from any one of our sites, and it will automatically appear in the linkup on their blogs. Yay technology!


RTFEBC Arctic

Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about reading this book or one of the themed picture books. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to one of the host’s posts.

3. The linkup will be open until the end of the month.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting us permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.


Looking ahead, next month continues the theme, and we’ll be discussing Julie of the WolvesJulie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. I read this in elementary school, so it’s past time for me to reread it and see what I think about it now as compared to back then.

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Link Love

The Best Kids Books (I Read for Myself) in 2015

Last week I shared my favorite books from 2015, and this post was originally going to feature all of the best children’s books I read in 2015 – board books, picture books, readalouds, and the ones I read for myself.

Except 2015 was a knockout year with great kid lit, and I needed to split it up so it’s not completely ridiculous.

So, today is all about the books I picked and read for myself. Not books I read to a child or three – these were my reads.

The Year of Miss AgnesThe Year of Miss AgnesThe Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill by Kirkpatrick Hill

A reread in preparation for the online kids book club I’m doing with Jessica (Quirky Bookworm). I adored this book the first time I read it, and suggested it for our Arctic theme. Then I was scared that it wouldn’t hold up well to rereading, or what if people hated it?

Well, so far everyone who has commented about it has said they’ve enjoyed it (yay!) and I loved it just as much the second time through. It’s heartwarming and inspiring, and all around a lovely read.

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

Also read when it was a possibility for that book club (we ended up not selecting China as a theme this year). It’s gorgeously written, and charmingly illustrated – go for the print version, not the electronic as I did, or you’ll miss out on some of the illustration details. Loved, loved, loved it.

The War that Saved My LifeThe War that Saved My LifeThe War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

An uplifting look at World War II evacuees, and how being sent away from London ended up being the best thing to happen to one girl. It’s heart-rending but ultimately hopeful. Because of the descriptions of abuse that Ada suffers I wouldn’t advise it for younger readers, but for those emotionally ready to read it, it’s a fantastic book.

Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai by Thanhha Lai

A heartbreaking account, beautifully written in verse that manages to make the semi-autobiographical story emotionally easier to read. Well-deserved winner of the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor Book.

Listen SlowlyListen, SlowlyListen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai by Thanhha Lai

Yes, a second book by the Thanhha Lai. Unlike Inside Out and Back Again, this is written in prose, and she is just as adept in that form. It’s a captivating story, with lots of appealing characters, that brings contemporary Vietnam to life.

Sparrow RoadSparrow RoadSparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor by Sheila O’Connor

Relationship-focused middle grade book with beautiful language and appealing characters. I like how it’s got a bit more depth in the content than some books I’d recommend to early elementary readers, while still being gentle enough for all but the most precocious of readers.

Goodbye StrangerGoodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead

Precocious reader alert: because of some of the topics addressed (including bullying and sexting), this isn’t one you’ll want to hand off to younger readers, but it’s a wonderfully written tale for those old enough for the content. It’s not as amazing as Stead’s When You Reach Me, but it’s still a solid book.

The ThiefThe ThiefThe Thief (The Queen's Thief, Book 1) by Megan Whalen Turner by Megan Whalen Turner

(a reread)

It still is one of my favorites, and I gave away my copy this year and may need to replace it soon so I can read it another time. 🙂 If you’re new to this series, don’t give up on this one – it has a slow start – but ultimately it is so good. Vaguely historical in feel, with some fantasy elements as well, and flashes of humor add up to a winning read.

When You Reach MeWhen You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me (Yearling Newbery) by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead

(A reread for book club)

Possibly even better as a reread, as you know what’s going to happen, and can appreciate the clues Stead weaves throughout the text. No more details, lest I slip and give spoilers, but READ THIS BOOK.

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

Recent Readaloud: No Children, No Pets

No Children No PetsNo Children, No Pets by Marion Holland

An unexpectedly enjoyable book. It’s an older title, and can be hard to track down, but it was included with our Sonlight Core A readalouds. If your library doesn’t have it and you have trouble locating it, it’s not an absolute must-read (in other words, don’t go to extreme effort or expense to find a copy), but if you can easily obtain it, it was fun to readaloud.

The Florida setting was one of my favorite parts (I am partial to it, as that’s where I grew up), and the slight mystery included in the plot held my son’s interest to the point where we read the last four chapters in one day – we both wanted to find out how everything resolved!

A warning though: it is old-fashioned, especially with occasional remarks about “women’s work.” If you are adamantly opposed to books with that sort of thing in it, you’ll likely want to pass on it.

Find the book: It’s out of print, and used copies are very expensive on Amazon. Sonlight has republished it themselves, and you may still be better off buying a copy from them and paying their shipping fees | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Three children and their widowed mother inherit a run-down apartment building in Florida. A sign on the front door says “No Children, No Pets.” Adventure awaits as the kids solve lingering mysteries and help fix up the building. A satisfying childhood tale that keeps you guessing what will happen next.

Book Details

Title: No Children, No Pets
Author: Marion Holland
Category: Juvenile Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Two years ago: Book Review: Code Name Pauline by Pearl Witherington Cornioley and Kathryn J. Atwood
Three years ago: Biggest Disappointments of 2012

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: Mary on Horseback

Mary on HorsebackMary On Horseback: Three Mountain StoriesMary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells by Rosemary Wells

Don’t avoid this book, thinking it’s only for children. It’s a trio of well-told stories about Mary Breckinridge, who founded the Frontier Nursing Service in rural Kentucky after World War I. It’s not a true biography, but just a set of vignettes from her life.

Although it made me wish for a real biography about her – what an amazing woman! I did find an autobiography, but some reviews make me think it wouldn’t have the focus I’d want. I may or may not search it out.

As a readaloud, it’s one of the more challenging ones I’ve read to my son. The chapters are longer than most of what we read, and the topic wasn’t as immediately compelling for him. He listened to it, but was glad we never read more than one chapter a day. I wouldn’t use this with kids who aren’t already used to listening to chapter books.

If you’re homeschooling or just looking to supplement other schooling, this could work well as a readaloud for elementary school about the early 20th century in America. It appears to be a fairly popular library title, so it might be easy to try it for your family.

Recommended, for the right audience.

My verdict:

Loved it, even if it did make me teary-eyed at times.

The kids’ verdict:

G (6) thought it was ok. H (4) did not stick around for it. It’s a better fit for older listeners.

Find the book: Print | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In 1923, Mary Breckinridge (who had been a nurse in WWI) learned about the nonexistent medical facilities in Appalachian Kentucky, and founded the Frontier Nursing Service — a group of women who traveled by horseback to isolated mountain residents to provide medical care. These three compelling, poignant stories, each with a different narrator – a boy whose father almost loses his leg; a nurse in training; a mute young girl who realizes she might have a career in medicine – show Mary’s effect on the people and world around her, brought to vivid life by master storyteller Rosemary Wells.

Book Details

Title: Mary On Horseback: Three Mountain StoriesMary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells
Author: Rosemary Wells
Category: Children’s Nonfiction

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Two years ago: Book Review: Waiting at Joe’s by Deeny Kaplan Lorber
Three years ago: Author Interview with Annie Downs

Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen

The Tale of RescueThe Tale of RescueThe Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book. It’s a sparse tale, and despite the potential for gripping action, it ends up being almost slow and gentle, with an old-fashioned feel. The illustrations are the standout – they’re fantastic, and reason enough to get the book in print not an electronic version.

Where I struggle to recommend the book is with the target audience age. The illustrations and limited text make it tilt younger, but the writing style and tone tip it older. I enjoyed it as an adult, so don’t be put off by thinking it’s only for children, but be aware that it’s very short.

Even with some misgivings about the book, I did enjoy it, and would easily recommend it as a library book. I’d hesitate to advise purchasing it without previewing it, except for die-hard animal lovers who will want to read any and all texts featuring dog heroes.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
When a blizzard traps a family outside in a whiteout, a cattle dog devises a stunning rescue in a moving, suspenseful, and gorgeously illustrated story.

A family—a mother, a father, and their ten-year-old son—have come all the way from Florida to the Appalachian foothills to experience the wonder of a snowy weekend. At a nearby farm, a cattle dog is working, as she does every day, driving her forty head of cattle from pasture to corral and back again. And then, suddenly, a blizzard descends. The family is trapped outside, disoriented in the whiteout. They are panicked, exhausted, freezing, and stranded in waist-deep drifts. From off in the distance, the cattle dog has heard their faint, snow-drowned cries. Her inexhaustible attention turns to saving them. This stirring tale is both a compelling story of survival and a meditation on the tremendous will of man’s best friend.

Book Details

Title: The Tale of RescueThe Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows
Author: Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows
Category: Juvenile Fiction
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan
Two years ago: Ebook Review: Simple Scrubs to Make and Give by Stacy Karen
Three years ago: Using Goodreads

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Goodbye StrangerGoodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead is a phenomenal storyteller. Her Newbery winner When You Reach Me is amazing, and Goodbye Stranger stands up to the lofty comparisons that are sure to arise. While not quite as layered as When You Reach Me (for reasons which would involve spoilers for When You Reach Me so I’m not going to detail them), it’s still much more layered and thoughtful than the stereotypical middle grade book.

There is plenty of meaty content in the book, but it’s never explicit, and I wouldn’t hesitate to share this book widely. It would be easy for the book to become harsh with the topics and themes it addresses, but Stead manages to keep it more gentle almost.

I think this works as a middle grade or young adult book. It opens up many avenues of discussion with children who read it – the nature of friendship, bullying, cell phone use and abuse (including sexting), the challenges of growing up (especially the perils of 7th grade), and more.

Despite my praises and saying it’s surprisingly gentle considering the content, I’d still be careful before giving the book to super precocious readers. Know your readers and what they can handle!

Highly, highly recommended. I finished it and then immediately wanted to re-read it, to better appreciate the way Stead wove the story together.

Publisher’s Description:
Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games–or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?

This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl–as a friend?

On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

Book Details

Title: Goodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Author: Rebecca Stead
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 5 Stars
Buy the book: Print | Kindle | Audible

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

Recent Readaloud: Heidi by Johanna Spyri

HeidiHeidi by Johanna Spyri, adapted by Deidre S. Laiken

An attempted readaloud to the kids, and one of the most unsuccessful ones I’ve tried. We stuck it out only because it was book club’s May pick, and they wanted to be allowed to come along to the meeting (the sole meeting all year when children older than babies are welcome).

I got the free Kindle version, and it was way too wordy to hold their attention. Then I switched to this abridged version that contained lots of pictures, and they were equally unimpressed. I think this is just a poorly-done abridgment, and don’t recommend it.

What I do recommend is buying the free Kindle versionHeidi by Johanna Spyri, and then adding the Audible narrationHeidi by Johanna Spyri for $.99. Under a dollar and you get the full Audible version, and it’s a lovely one. I hope to try playing it for my children when they get a bit older. Until then, I’ve enjoyed it and it’s allowing me to see just why Heidi is a classic, as that abridged version sure doesn’t show it.

My library did have a beautiful unabridged version from UsborneHeidi (Usborne Illustrated Originals) by Johanna Spyri, that includes some lovely illustrations scattered throughout the text. When my children get a bit older that’s the version I’ll use to try reading it again with them.

My verdict:

The abridgment gutted the emotional heart of the story, turning it into a fairly dull recitation of events. And I’m not sure if it was the translation or the abridgment that rendered the language so blah, but the audio version I listened to was so much more enjoyable – the “Alm Uncle” vs. “Uncle Alp,” and beautiful descriptions.

The kids’ verdict:

Are we done yet? Can we read something else?

[Read more…]

The War That Saved My Life

The War that Saved My LifeThe War that Saved My LifeThe War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I’ve read and enjoyed other books by this author in the past, and the topic of her newest sounded particularly interesting, so I expected to like it. Instead I found myself amazed at the job she did with this story, and thinking I need to reread it soon to more fully appreciate the character growth and development.

It would have been easy for the book to be unbalanced – too far one way and it’d have been depressing and too much for a children’s title. Too far the other way and it’d have been unrealistic shallow and light-hearted. It manages to stay balanced while telling a heart-wrenching tale. Ada’s voice felt very real to me, and how she changes throughout the story was believable, and so satisfying.

If you’re looking for a book that teaches aspects of World War II without being a “we’re going to learn about World War II today” sort of textbook, this one touches on many facets of the war and life in England at that time: child evacuees, bombing raids, rationing, Land Girls, victory gardens, the Dunkirk evacuation, and more.

Highly recommended, but with cautions. Ada is horrendously abused by her mother both physically and emotionally (never described in graphic detail, but it’s clearly stated), so be aware of that before handing the book over to younger readers.

[Read more…]