Recent Reads: Spring 2013

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit (1906)

A charming classic about the adventures of three siblings: Phyllis, Roberta, and Peter who move to the country with their mother.  Their father is gone on a mysterious trip and their mother is preoccupied with managing a home and finances.  Thus, the children often end up on their own adventures, mostly at the railroad.

It’s not my absolute favorite book; however, I can also see this book growing on me after more reads.  I’m surprised I never discovered it as a child because I loved the Boxcar Children and The Secret Garden.  Regardless, it is a charming book and one that I look forward to reading out loud to my own child!

Rip Roaring Russell by Johanna Hurwitz

Cute book for beginner readers.  Russell would be a good character for children to relate, as it is an early chapter book.

The One & Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Katherine Applegate is such a prolific writer; One and Only Ivan is a tribute to her ability to wind language into a simple, yet powerful children’s book. Children, I think, will really enjoy the characters of the animals, Ivan of course along with his sidekicks. Adults will enjoy the power of her language.

This, for example, is one of my favorite lines from the novel:
“Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.”

Ivan certainly makes adults think about animals in zoos and captivity, and the “nature of the beast,” if you will. I liked the relationships, too. I’m not in love with as much as other readers, for other reasons, but it’s certainly a well-written books.

Forever Amber Brown by Paula Danziger

Cute series from the nineties by Paula Danziger, whose Amber character reminds me of Clementine or Judy Moody.  It’s a great look at how Amber processes some big changes in her life, “School pictures….they’re like life.  Sometimes they don’t turn out the way you want.”

Letters from Camp by Kate Klise

Camp books are among my favorite; I love them so much I even wrote one (Camp Bug Juice)!, and I was looking forward to Letters from Camp from Klise.   A few selected campers are sent to summer camp run by a strange, singing family who are really just using the camp tuition to save their own debt.  The campers are relegated to working all day, and they hate it! The reader gets to see the letters from home and from the campers to their parents with fun cartoons, illustrations, and drawings.

This book is cute, and for me, shows the real divergence between a child reader and an adult reader.  As a child, I would have loved this book because it’s told through letters and notes from camp. Barbie Q and Brisket are two siblings who are among the spirited campers, and their relationship had me chuckling.  As an adult, it not in my top favorite list; perhaps, I had trouble suspending my disbelief, but too many issues with the crazy family running the camp for me to jump into the plot.  Summary: Great summer read for children!