Tag Archives: children’s literature

Children’s books

A month ago my son turned 1.  And in the build up to his birthday and party, my wife and I had to decide what to get him.  We had a feeling he would get plenty of toys and clothes so we decided we wouldn’t add to that.  Instead, we naturally turned to books for a gift for our son.  And where did we turn?  To a nearby Borders, which was Going Out of Business.  Searching through the deeply discounted books I stumbled upon books I hadn’t thought about in years and years and years, books that reminded me of my young childhood, books that were probably new for me and quite worn by the time my youngest brother got around to reading them.  And now I would like to share a couple of these book gems with you.

First up is the purely imaginative Harold and the Purple Crayon.  In this tiny book Harold creates and then explores great places by drawing them with his purple crayon.  The simple illustrations, simple purple lines, always spurred new imaginative drawings in my head.  I was excited to pass this one on to Garrett.

Next is Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  The illustrations in this are far more detailed and have a very old school style to them.  This book lodged itself in my memory when Mike and his shovel dug a big pit but forgot to dig a way out.  I still have feelings of panic and worry, even though I know they have a happy ending. 

This third book was not from my childhood, but a delight I couldn’t pass up.  The book The Three Questions by Jon Muth is a gorgeously illustrated book of a boy dealing with personal and philosophical questions.  It is based on a story by Leo Tolstoy and while the story is certainly worth a read, the rich water color paintings steal the show.  Its artwork is just as powerful (thought completely different in style) as that of The Arrival.  Garrett can’t really touch this one until he can appreciate it a little me (appreciate it for its literary and artistic value not chewability).

Some months back some friends were taking me home and their two young girls were explaining the hilarious exploits of Pigeon as in Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus, or The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, or The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.  We brought these home to roost for our son to enjoy.

And finally, I’d like to mention this fun new book: Meet Einstein.  This is a cute way to introduce science and the love of learning to young ones.  Now, to be honest, the title is a little misleading.  It isn’t so much a book teaching who Einstein is but a book where a friendly Einstein goes over some of the basics of science.  It is a noteworthy and worthwhile book with bright illustrations. 

And that, my reading friends, is really the bulk of what I’ve been reading lately.

Your turn.  What books were important to you in your childhood?  What books are you excited about sharing with your children?  Answer below in the comments.

An exciting start to a new trilogy

I read the first two pages of The Emerald Atlas to my 9th grade reading students and they were clamoring over each other to get this book.  They were extremely disappointed when I told them they would have to wait until I finished it. 

They had to wait because I started reading it and I was really enjoying it.  The Emerald Atlas is the first in the new Book of Beginning trilogy, and based on the first, I can’t wait until the second and third come out. 

The prologue sets a fast pace and a mysterious plot.  In the middle of the night a strange man comes to take young Kate, younger Michael, and baby Emma away from their parents.  In their last moments together, Kate’s mother tells Kate to protect her siblings and that one day the family will be together again.  Moments pass and Kate’s parents are running into the night, chased by unknown men.  She, her brother, and sister are shoved into a back seat of a car which, moments later, careens away from the house and eventually over a ridge and over a river.  But something that Kate doesn’t understand happens before they hit water and later the children wake up in an orphanage. 

They spend years being bounced around from one orphanage to another.  They always thwart adoption attempts because the children believe their oldest sister: one day the family will be reunited.  Eventually, they are so bad that they are sent to the worst orphanage that can be found.

But this orphanage doesn’t seem right.  For starters, they are the only three kids.  Also, there were no kids at all in the small village.  Furthermore, the guy in charge of the orphanage is never around.  So the children set themselves to exploring and they find an old book.  By complete chance they discover this book, with its blank pages, is a magic book.  If you place a photograph of a certain place from a certain time in the book you will be transported to that exact moment.  And that’s what happens to Kate, Michael, and Emma.  That’s also when the adventure really begins.

After traveling into the past, the children are pitted against an evil countess, her screaming minions, and an even darker, unknown force.  They band together with giants and dwarves (Michael’s favorites!) to fight for freedom.  This book is a little bit Narnia, a little Lord of the Rings, and a sprinkling of A Series of Unfortunate Events, wrapped up in a new, unique, and delightful new story.

Suitable for independent readers around the middle school level, I’m also certain that my high school readers will enjoy this tale.  As will their parents because at its core, this story is about family- about three siblings that are very different, annoy each other terribly at times, but desperately need each other.  And for those parents that don’t mind a little bit of magic to tell an adventure, or British sounding dwarves infrequently saying things like, “What the bloody ‘el?” they will find that this book will entertain their children.

With humor and tenderness, author John Stevens, expertly balances suspense as the children try to save the world, themselves, each other, and discover the secrets about their missing parents.  I give this book an enthusiastic recommendation for lovers of children’s books and fantasy stories.

For beautifully drawn book trailers take a look here.

This book will be available April 5th.  It is 432 pages.