Little Old Bear

“Once upon a time there was a little old Teddy bear. He was so old that he had lost his fur and his eyes and he was not the handsome little bear he had once been. “The children he had played with had grown up and gone away, and so he lay in a dusty…

Patsy and the Pup

Patsy’s mother thinks almost five years old is too young to take care of a puppy. But one day, a sweet pup follows Patsy all the way home.  Patsy hopes she can keep him. Unfortunately, the mailman knows the pup belongs to old Mrs. Murphy in the pink cottage on the hill. Mother sends Patsy…

The Ring and the Fire

C.S. Lewis said some of his earliest stabs of joy came from tales of “Northernness.” For a time, he was obsessed with Wagner’s Ring. Northernness pervades J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.   Despite my love for the works of these two authors, I hadn’t bothered much about Norse mythology. But, Clyde Robert Bulla’s…

Down Down the Mountain

“Never in their lives had Hetty or Hank had a pair of shoes . . . They each wanted a beautiful shining pair that sang, ‘Creaky–squeaky–creaky–squeaky,’ every time they walked.”  It’s fun going barefoot in the summer, but in the winter snow, their feet get blue with cold. When they ask their mammy for shoes,…

Jenny and the Cat Club

I didn’t know, until I was looking for information about the author of The Fire Cat, that Esther Averill wrote a series of cat stories. In 1944, she published her first story about the cat, Jenny Linsky, Jenny and the Cat Club.  In a note From the Author in a 1973 edition, Averill says: “Yes,…

The Fire Cat

Fire Cat by Esther Averill is a Level 1 Beginning Reader in the HarperCollins “I Can Read” series. It was first published in 1960. The fire cat’s name is Pickles.  Pickles wants to do something big, but there is nothing big to do in the old yard where he lives, so he chases other cats….

Julie of the Wolves

Julie of the Wolves is a title I have often seen on lists of good books for children. It seems to be recommended for children starting in about fifth grade. Because there is a perpetual controversy surrounding this book because of a “rape” scene, I wanted to know for myself what all the hubbub was…

Let’s Learn About Mushrooms

This book is a charming example of how to teach science to children with stories, pictures, and hands-on activities rather than textbooks.  I know mushrooms are fungi, but I’ve never done much mushroom study, so they really are rather mysterious to me. One thing I appreciate about books like this is that they provide enough…

Mr. Pine’s Purple House

“Mr. Pine lived on Vine Street in a little white house.” Which was fine. But there were fifty identical white houses on Vine Street. Mr. Pine just wanted to be able to tell which house was his. He has an idea! He plants a little pine tree in his front yard so his house will…

Sammy the Seal

Published in 1959, Sammy the Seal was the third book Syd Hoff wrote for the “I Can Read” series.  The plot is much like Danny and the Dinosaur. Sammy the seal lives in the zoo, but he is sad because he wants to go see what it’s like outside. He has been a good seal,…

Theodore Boone: The Abduction

Theodore Boone: The Abduction is the second in John Grisham’s mystery series for kids. In my review of the first book, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, I said: “I appreciate Grisham’s handling of young teens and his respect for the family. The story has plenty of excitement without vulgarity or gore. It can be done!” I…

Danny and the Dinosaur

Syd Hoff was a well-known cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine before he began writing “I Can Read” books for children. Danny and the Dinosaur, Hoff’s first book for the series, was published in 1958, the year after Harper & Row (now HarperCollins) began the series. I discovered Syd Hoff in our school library when…