Kids’ Books We’ve Read (or Listened to) Recently

Dear Reader,

Here once again are some of the books we have been reading or listening to lately:

Breadcrumbs  by Anne Ursu — We actually only listened to half of this. We rarely leave off a book in the middle, but I was just not thrilled with it. My older daughter had actually read it before and said it would get better in a  bit, but I lost patience with it. I guess it develops a fairytalish Snow Queen plot later on. I didn’t like the way the kids ans their families were portrayed. The main character in  particular just seemed way too wrapped up in her own head, not in a  good way. Though it has won awards and gets good reviews in Amazon so I may not be in the majority on this one.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman — We have liked a lot of Cushman’s books and this one was decent but not the best. It would be good if you were studying the Cold War and the Red Scare in this country. It does a good job of showing how different people reacted to the threat of communism. It was enjoyable just not quite as much so, not as funny, as some of her other books like, for instance, Catherine, called Birdy which was hysterical.

Hazel Green by Odo Hirsch –I picked this book off the shelf because I liked the author’s name. It seemed like with a name like Odo it must be good. It is. This is apparently the first in a  series. I can only speak to the original. It is the story of a girl named Hazel who organizes the other kids in her apartment building to build a float and enter a local parade. It is amusing and heartwarming. Well worth the read. We liked it so much we are not trying another of his books, Bartlett and the Ice Voyage. We are only three chapters in and I can tell it will be a winner too.

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric Kelly — This is another award-winner but this one deserves the label. It is an older book about Poland in the time of Tartars and Cossacks. The beginning seemed a bit wordy and I think my kids were wary of the longer descriptive passages (they accused it of being homeschool-y), but it ends up telling an intriguing and well-done story. It is definitely worth plowing through the slower bits.

The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop — We are in the midst of this as an audio-book. At first I thought it was a bit dull, but then the main character does something surprising and a bit malicious about a quarter of the way through which made it all more interesting.

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool — I don’t know a lot about this book but my 12-year-old daughter read it and really seemed to like it so I thought I would mention it. It is an award-winner too.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper — My 12-year-old read this for a book club. I read it too. At first I found it a bit contrived. It is about a girl with cerebral palsy who is very smart but can’t communicate so no one knows it. It seemed overdone at the beginning but over time the characters grew on me. The ending is disappointing though and the lessons learned are a bit obvious for my tastes though my daughter said that there was no message to the book so perhaps it was not so obvious to a child.

Winter Danger by William O. Steele — We have listened to a number of books recently about kids who lived in pioneer times. In this one a boy has grown up in the woods with his father, completely apart from settled life. But then one winter he is left with relatives. He learns what it means to depend on others. William O. Steele’s books get recommended a lot and I could swear we read one in the past though I couldn’t tell you what it was. I didn’t adore this book but it was decent. The beginning seemed a bit slow but it got better when there were more characters added.

Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen — This was the best of the “in the wilds/pioneer time” books we listened to. There are sequels too which I wouldn’t mind checking out. A boy is kidnapped by Indians and ends up traveling around with a mountain man. Of course as in all these books, he does a lot of growing up and learning. The one down side for me was the ending which I found a bit too preachy again.

Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice — This book was not bad. I’d say I liked it better than Winter Danger but worse then Mr. Tucket. Two kids this time. Their mom is dead, their dad is injured, they meet a silent friend and a real bad dude named Weasel. There are lots of potential deeper issues about what it means to be civilized and how violence shapes people. I’m not sure my kids took in a whole lot of that.

Whew! That’s quite a list. I obviously need to do these posts more often so they don’t build up.

Until next time





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