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

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling

Passenger on the PearlPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from SlaveryPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery by Winifred Conkling by Winifred Conkling

An extremely overdue review, but don’t take that as a reflection on my feelings towards the book.

This is an excellent resource for students wanting a look at slavery in the US, and how it impacted an individual family.

Despite touching on horrific aspects of American history, the way the story is told makes it readable by younger children – I would probably not hesitate to use it for middle grade or even upper elementary readers. Know your reader of course, but I would think if you’re willing to let your child read about slavery in general, nothing in this story should be a problem. One possible exception/caution is because of some references to the threat of sexual slavery and abuse Emily and her sister faced. Nothing is graphical described, and oblivious readers may not even catch it, but be aware it’s in there.

The straightforward writing style, while having the advantage of keeping it from being too graphic for more sensitive or younger readers, does end up making it a drier read. It’s an incredible story, with connections to significant events in American history, but the writing makes it not as compelling to keep reading.

It’s a very educational read, and one of the strongest points of the book is in the resource list – it ends up working well as a starting point, to then find more information about particular aspects of slavery in the US. Emily’s story is fascinating, and I appreciated the follow-up provided on her family (when it was available).

Recommended for children or younger teens looking for material on the topic. It doesn’t have enough depth to be one I’d recommend for older teens or adults, but for the target audience it’s a worthwhile resource.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The page-turning, heart-wrenching true story of one young woman willing to risk her safety and even her life for a chance at freedom in the largest slave escape attempt in American history.

In 1848, thirteen-year-old Emily Edmonson, five of her siblings, and seventy other enslaved people boarded the Pearl under cover of night in Washington, D.C., hoping to sail north to freedom. Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold into even crueler conditions. Through Emily Edmonson’s journey from enslaved person to teacher at a school for African American young women, Conkling illuminates the daily lives of enslaved people, the often changing laws affecting them, and the high cost of a failed escape.

Book Details

Title: Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from SlaveryPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery by Winifred Conkling
Author: Winifred Conkling
Category: Juvenile Nonfiction
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from NetGalley, but I actually read it as a library book (the advanced copy I received wasn’t cooperating with my ereader). I was not required to write a positive review, and 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: New on My Bookcase (vol. 27)

What the Kids are Reading (in December 2015)

December 2015 Picture Books

We did read more Christmas books than those listed below; these are just the new-to-us ones I tried from the library. One of these days I should make a complete listing of the Christmas books, instead of having them scattered across various posts from different years. Maybe that’ll happen for 2016. 😉

A Tale of Two BeastsA Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton

Probably my favorite from the month – I loved the double perspective this one provides, as the story is told twice, once from the viewpoint of the little girl, and once from the animal’s point of view. The way the illustrations are also adjusted for each recounting is really clever too. The kids liked it as well, and have asked for it repeatedly.

AnimallyAnimally by Lynn Parrish Sutton

Very sweet story, with lots of fun adverbs plus of course all the great animals. I can see why this one was recommended to me so highly.

There's a Mouse about the HouseThere’s a Mouse about the House by R. Fowler

I got this one because of a relative raving about how much her children loved it when they were growing up. Initially, I was skeptical about how much my kids would like it, but I didn’t need to be – my kids are OBSESSED with putting the little mouse through each page’s slot. The one drawback is that the mouse is easy to lose, even with the little pocket on the front cover (ask me how I know this.) At least the back cover has a template for making your own replacement mouse. 🙂

Old AbeOld Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War’s Most Famous Mascot by Anne Lee

Good as an older picture book, as it’s got more text on each page. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for material about the Civil War that doesn’t get into graphic detail, but just touches on the time period, or if you’ve got animal lovers. Otherwise, it’s not a must read or one that I’d suggest for younger readers, as it likely won’t hold their interest. My 6 year old thought it was ok,; my 4 year old didn’t stick around for more than a page or two. I’ll try it again with them in another year or two.

Blue Whale BluesBlue Whale Blues by Peter Carnavas

Cute story, and the kids were amused at the “wrong” names and uses for various items they easily recognized (the upside down shopping cart that the Whale calls his bike, etc.). They also thought it was hilarious when Whale is sad that his “bike” is “all wet.”

Johnny Appleseed the Story of a LegendJohnny Appleseed: The Story of a LegendJohnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend by Will Moses by Will Moses

A school book for G, and he liked it, and he liked telling daddy about what he’d learned about Johnny Appleseed. Nice illustrations too, but it’s not a toddler or preschooler-targeted picture book: it’s very text-heavy, and is unlikely to keep their interest. As a readaloud for a first grader, it’s excellent.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

New to us all this year, and what a wonderful book! Both the story and illustrations are lovely, and I want to buy a copy to add to our regular advent reading rotation. The 4 year old wasn’t that interested in it, but I think by next year she’ll like it.

Christmas OrangesChristmas OrangesChristmas Oranges by Linda Bethers, illustrated by Ben Sowards by Linda Bethers, illustrated by Ben Sowards

Gorgeously illustrated, but I wasn’t expecting to get choked up by the story. It’s another picture book that’s better for 6 & up at least, both because of the amount of text, and because of the themes discussed.

Click Clack Ho Ho HoClick, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho!Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

I adore Click Clack Moo and others by Cronin and Lewin, but this one wasn’t one of my favorites of theirs. I’m also not a big fan of Santa-focused books though, so that plays a huge role in my feelings. Try it from the library (most medium to larger ones should have a copy) and see if it’s a good fit for your family before buying it.

Llama Llama Holiday DramaLlama Llama Holiday DramaLlama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney by Anna Dewdney

My first Llama Llama book, and maybe I shouldn’t have picked this one as my introduction to the series? I was unimpressed with it. Thinking I should give Llama Llama another try, because I know they’re hugely popular, and maybe this was just not representative of what they’re usually like.

Disclosure: Several of these are Usborne books, 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. Non-Usborne titles are linked to Amazon, and those are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Arctic-Themed Picture Books

Interested in joining in with us for the Reading Together: A Family Exploration Book Club I shared about yesterday, but have children too young to appreciate the chapter books we’ll be reading?

Arctic Picture Books

Here are twenty picture book possibilities, that fit the January/February theme of The Arctic:

Thinking that perhaps you want to give the other readalouds a try? In January we’ll be reading The Year of Miss AgnesThe Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill and in February we’ll read Julie of the WolvesJulie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George .

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

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

Our Literary Advent Plans, 2015

literary advent 2015I’ve written about it before, but each year seems to be slightly different: different ages for the kids, different energy levels for me, a few new books to add to the mix. This is what we’ll be using for our literary advent this year

Not sure what a literary advent is? From December 1 – 24, we read a “new” book every day. Sometimes it’s really a new book, and sometimes it’s just ones we haven’t seen since last year. I’ve even wrapped library books before!

And if you’re counting, and wondering why I’ve got more than 24 books? It’s because I try and have one book for each child each day. Note that I do *not* actually wrap them all – I put them in reusable gift bags, and each day use the same bag again. Less work for me versus wrapping lots of books, although it’s not as impressive looking as a big pile of wrapped books. Go with what works best for you. 🙂

Note: an (L) before a title means it’ll be a library book. These are subject to change based on availability. 😉

    Board Books:

  1. Baby’s First NativityBaby's First Nativity (The First Bible Collection) by Muff Singer, illustrated by Peter Stevenson by Muff Singer, illustrated by Peter Stevenson
  2. BobBob by Sandra Boynton by Sandra Boynton
  3. The Little Drummer BoyThe Little Drummer Boy illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
  4. Tell Me the Christmas StoryTell Me the Christmas Story by Joni Walker by Joni Walker
  5. Who is Coming to Our House?Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff by Joseph Slate & illustrated by Ashley Wolff
  6. Jesus, Me, and My Christmas TreeJesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry
  7. A Star for JesusA Star for Jesus by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry
  8. J Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever ToldJ Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever Told by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry
  9. Christmastime Is HereChristmastime Is Here (Little people books) by Ellen Weiss by Ellen Weiss
  10. The Night Before ChristmasThe Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by  Christian Birmingham by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham
  11. My Nativity Jigsaw BookMy Nativity Jigsaw Book by Christina Goodings, illustrated by Rebecca Elliott by Christina Goodings, illustrated by Rebecca Elliott
  12. *Fa La LaFa La La (Leslie Patricelli board books) by Leslie Patricelli by Leslie Patricelli
  13. Picture Books

  14. The Very First ChristmasThe Very First Christmas (The Beginner's Bible)
  15. I’ll Be Home for ChristmasI'll Be Home for Christmas (Toot & Puddle) by Holly Hobbie by Holly Hobbie
  16. The Littlest Christmas TreeThe Littlest Christmas Tree by R. A. Herman, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers by R. A. Herman, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
  17. Hilary Knight’s The Twelve Days of ChristmasHilary Knight's The Twelve Days of Christmas
  18. Mortimer’s Christmas MangerMortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
  19. Bear Stays Up for ChristmasBear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books) by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
  20. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian StoryThe Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
  21. S Is for Star: A Christmas AlphabetS Is for Star: A Christmas Alphabet (Alphabet Books) by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, illustrated by Pam Carroll by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, illustrated by Pam Carroll
  22. Christmas in the Big WoodsChristmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Renee Graef by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Renee Graef
  23. Christmas in the BarnChristmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Diane Goode by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Diane Goode
  24. The Jolly Christmas PostmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allen Ahlberg by Janet & Allen Ahlberg
  25. The NativityThe Nativity illustrated by Julie Vivas illustrated by Julie Vivas
  26. Only a StarOnly a Star by Margery Facklam, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter by Margery Facklam, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
  27. The Christmas StoryThe Christmas Story by Jane Werner, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin by Jane Werner, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin
  28. Christmas in the CityChristmas in the City by Loretta Krupinski by Loretta Krupinski
  29. The Parable Series: The Pine Tree ParableThe Parable Series: The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs, illustrated by Nancy Munger by Liz Curtis Higgs, illustrated by Nancy Munger
  30. Humphrey’s First ChristmasHumphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer by Carol Heyer
  31. The Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for ChildrenThe Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for Children by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Francois Roca by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Francois Roca
  32. (L) The Christmas Tree ShipThe Christmas Tree Ship by Carol Crane, illustrated by Chris Ellison by Carol Crane, illustrated by Chris Ellison
  33. (L) Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of TinselCobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Jane Manning by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Jane Manning
  34. (L) Polar ExpressPolar Express by Chris Van Allsburg by Chris Van Allsburg
  35. (L) Llama Llama Holiday DramaLlama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney by Anna Dewdney
  36. (L) Madeline’s ChristmasMadeline's Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans by Ludwig Bemelmans
  37. (L) Christmas OrangesChristmas Oranges by Linda Bethers, illustrated by Ben Sowards by Linda Bethers, illustrated by Ben Sowards
  38. (L) The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center TreeThe Carpenter's Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree by David Rubel, illustrated by Jim LaMarche by David Rubel, illustrated by Jim LaMarche
  39. (L) Christmas Day in the MorningChristmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner by Pearl S. Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner
  40. (L)The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P. J. Lynch by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P. J. Lynch
  41. (L) Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho!Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
  42. (L) The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout FishThe Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure) by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna
  43. (L) Goodnight, MangerGoodnight, Manger by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Jane Chapman
    by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Jane Chapman
  44. (L) Legend of the Candy Cane: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas CandyLegend of the Candy Cane: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy by Lori Walburg, illustrated by James Bernardin by Lori Walburg, illustrated by James Bernardin
  45. (L) An Orange for FrankieAn Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco by Patricia Polacco
  46. (L) Christmas TapestryChristmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco by Patricia Polacco
  47. Chapter Books

  48. The Best Christmas Pageant EverThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson by Barbara Robinson
  49. The Family Under the BridgeThe Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, illustrated by Garth Williams by Natalie Savage Carlson, illustrated by Garth Williams
  50. The Jesse TreeThe Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Bee Willey by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Bee Willey

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: New Christmas Books

What the Kids are Reading (in October and November 2015)

Lots of books to share about this month, especially since I missed last month with my book club series.

A Sick Day for Amos McGeeA Sick Day for Amos McGeeA Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
I’ve seen this listed so many places as a recommended picture book, and I enthusiastically agree –
it’s wonderful!

Orange Pear Apple BearOrange Pear Apple BearOrange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett by Emily Gravett
We’ve read this one dozens of times already, and will probably be adding this to our “buy this book” lit. It’s fantastic, and I was so impressed with the illustrations, and how the author tells the story with such limited vocabulary.

MooMoo!Moo! by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
My kids (yes, both of them) laughed and laughed and laughed at this one. Another one we may end up buying. Lots of fun to read aloud, if you’re willing to really throw yourself into it and get expressive. 🙂

The Day the Crayons QuitThe Day the Crayons QuitThe Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Another hit this month, and now we want to read the sequel, The Day the Crayons Came HomeThe Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

The Firekeeper’s SonThe Firekeeper’s SonThe Firekeeper's Son by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Julie Downing by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Julie Downing
Not a favorite for my kids, but one I may try again in another six months or so. I liked the idea of it more than the book itself, which didn’t keep their interest.

Hanna’s Cold WinterHanna’s Cold WinterHanna's Cold Winter by Trish Marx, illustrated by Barbara Knutson by Trish Marx, illustrated by Barbara Knutson
I wasn’t sure if my kids would care about it, but they loved it! We read it several times the first week after borrowing it, and then they kept it in their room to reread it (or “reread” it) as desired.

The Story of FerdinandThe Story of FerdinandThe Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
My kids were not as interested in this as I expected them to be. I was overcome by nostalgia when reading it, so I’m sure that colored my expectations, but still: come on kids, this is a classic!

Bears Don’t Read by Emma Chichester ClarkBear’s Don’t Read by Emma Chichester Clark
Very cute story, with sweet illustrations (and great expressions on the bear’s face). I liked the ending quite a bit, and though I wasn’t sure how the kids would like it, they were enthralled!

Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown, illustrated by Alyssa NassnerSecrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown, illustrated by Alyssa Nassner
Nonfiction picture book, and my kids loved the flashlight trick this book includes (when you shine a light behind the page you see hidden illustrations). What could have just been a gimmick was pretty well-done at adding to the information.

CinderellaCinderella (retold by Susanna Davidson, illustrated by Lorena Alvarez)
The familiar story, with some subtle variations. My daughter (princess-obsessed as she is) claimed this book for her own, and she loved how she already knew the story. Nicely illustrated.

GossieGossieGossie (Gossie & Friends) by Olivier Dunrea by Olivier Dunrea
Cute enough, but not one I felt compelled to read again, and not one the kids asked to hear more than once.

Double PinkDouble PinkDouble Pink by Kate Feiffer by Kate Feiffer
Meh. My daughter’s pick, and it isn’t one I’d recommend you make any effort to find. If you also have a pink-obsessed daughter and can find it at the library, she’d probably be delighted.

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Two years ago: Book Review: Far from Home by Mary Herring Wright
Three years ago: Why to Track the Books You Read

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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