The Wednesday Wars

“Gary D. Schmidt has written a novel that is at turns comic and compelling, down-to-earth and over the top. In The Wednesday Wars, he offers an unforgettable anti-hero in Holling Hoodhood, a kid from the suburbs who embraces his destiny in spite of himself.” – from the 2007 book jacket In the school year of…

Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch

Dog lovers everywhere will rejoice in the delightful true story of Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch by Mona Kerby. Mothers and librarians will further rejoice that this book is currently in print and relatively easy to find for under ten dollars. Additionally, homeschoolers and teachers will be glad to know that there is a short three-minute…

Enchantress from the Stars

While I appreciate some science fiction (like Contact) and some fantasy (like Elantris), I would not say that either of those genres makes up a substantial part of my reading diet. When written elegantly and with complex philosophical themes, I appreciate them in much the same way I appreciate any excellent literature. Just as I…

Christmas Around the World

From 1951-1956, Alta Halverson Seymour wrote a charming series of Christmas books for children, which are perfectly suited to family read-aloud during the holidays. The series, published by Wilcox and Follett Company, was titled “Christmas Around the World,” and it includes six books set in Norway, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, and Ireland. On this page,…

The Christopher Books

From 1966 until Donald’s death in 1989, husband and wife team Carol and Donald Carrick wrote thirty-seven true-to-life children’s stories that won many awards and were beloved by teachers, librarians, and families alike. After her husband’s death, Carol teamed up with her illustrator son Paul to write nine more, the last in 2002. Over the…

The Tangled Skein

The Tangled Skein by Alta Halverson Seymour is as wonderful as the Purple House Press cover is beautiful! Originally published in 1946, it was written on the heels of WWII, and captures the challenges of that very moment in Norway beautifully. 

The Goldsmith and the Master Thief

This collection of tales is charming and edifying. Each chapter of the book is a complete tale involving one or both of the brothers. It is funny in places, whimsical in others, and generally good fun for bedtime read aloud. Best of all, the stories are not scary. There is some romance, as both boys do get married at different points in the story, but it is the fairy tale kind of romance wherein they fall in love mere minutes after meeting. 

Jack Zulu and the Waylander’s Key

When Jack Zulu and the Waylander’s Key opens, it is 1984 in West Virginia. A half-African, half-Appalachian kid named Jack Zulu from Myrtle, West Virginia was about as normal as any middle school-aged kid could be. Jack had a best friend, a girl he liked, a sport he loved, and a longing to go somewhere and do something. Oh, and he could not get enough pizza. Good thing for Jack that his best friend Benny was an Irish-Italian American whose family owned a pizza parlor. And, as I said, he was a normal middle school kid, so he made a fool of himself whenever he was near that girl, Michelle. 

Pharaoh’s Boat

In September, we interviewed David Weitzman about this and others of his marvelous books. You can listen to that interview here. I seem to have vague memories of my brother James loving famed author and illustrator David Macaulay when we were growing up. Since my oldest was a baby, he has reminded me of James…

The Letter for the King

A few months ago, my dear friend Tanya Arnold asked me to consider reading and reviewing The Song of Seven by Tonke Dragt. We have very similar tastes in books, and she was delighting in the intelligent quirkiness of it. I started it and genuinely enjoyed it. I have some reading promises to fulfill first,…

When The Dikes Broke

Seymour’s writing is elegant and lovely for read-aloud (if you can choke it out while crying, that is . . . *wink*). The story follows the van Rossem family throughout the devastation, and then through the restoration of their village. We marvel at how they remove the mud and grime from the interior of their home. We laugh when their missing teakettle is found in a tree. We wonder how they will recover their farmland which is covered in a salt cake from the sea. And we mourn their losses while we rejoice with them in their victories. This story reads like a classic such as Little House on the Prairie. But, it is also quintessentially Dutch. Seymour writes with pride and hope, and gives us a beautiful ending. I do not know why this book is not more commonly known. It should be required reading everywhere.

The Cottage at Bantry Bay

Listen to this review here When Diane and I were preparing for our formal interview with Dr. John Tepper Marlin, son of Hilda van Stockum, he told us that people would often remark to his mother that she had “such interesting children.” Marlin said that his mother always chuckled at that remark because she thought…

The Flying Hockey Stick

I have been a big fan of Jolly Roger Bradfield since reading Pickle-Chiffon Pie in 2017. That book and its sequel, The Pickle-Chiffon Pie Olympics (a Purple House Press exclusive), made me laugh myself silly. First, because of how funny they were and then, all over again, because of how hard my babies were laughing….

Benjamin Dilley’s Thirsty Camel

Benjamin Dilley’s Thirsty Camel is the fifth Jolly Roger Bradfield book I have read. And, like Giants, Pickle-Chiffon, Olympics, and Hockey Stick it has the same delightful illustration and the same child-pleasing storytelling. This one, however, has a slightly different tone and feel; equally lovely, but less laugh-out-loud funny, and more child-like. While the others…