In Other News...

After much discernment and receiving counsel from trusted sources, I'm going to be reintegrating myself into the blogging world, outside of just picture books. Instead of just writing and saving all the files on my computer, I will be publishing them online for now. For whatever it's worth, I am called to write and to make my thoughts known (to myself and others!)

If you are interested in my musings outside of the picture book world, I'd be happy to have you tune in.


And now for something peculiar.

Have you met Treehorn yet? I just finished The Treehorn Trilogy and was delighted at the unexpected, unorthodox tales of this odd little boy and his completely aloof, dismissive parents. When Treehorn shrinks, all mother can say is "That's nice, dear." When money starts to grow on Treehorn's tree, it's a "You can't go outside after dark, dear." And when Treehorn has a birthday, he gets a sweater, leftover casserole and left alone with his birthday cake.

Modern parents will not like the Treehorn books. They will be disturbed by the morbid disinterest all the adults have for this child throughout his stories. Of course, the notorious Edward Gorey probably clamored to get this illustrating gig. I'm certain no one else could have so perfectly captured Treehorn's dull face or the parent's apathy. His pen and ink drawings are perfect here. I find these stories to be sheer delights. They aren't the treasures to use for capturing the hearts or inspiring virtue in young children, to be sure... but they are certainly a peculiar and even thought-provoking diversion for slightly older readers: my 10 and 12 year olds found Treehorn dreadfully amusing.

And off-the-beaten-path items that capture their imagination at this age, are items to which I like to introduce my children. To be exposed to the various genres of literature, even in the picture book world, is a valuable thing I think, when properly timed on a developmental level.

Top 10 Summer Family Read Alouds

While picture books are my bread and butter, all families should be reading aloud longer chapter books with their children.  With summer peeking over the horizon now, it's a good time to plan out your summer read-aloud(s).  Reading as a family, morning, noon or at night, is an excellent way to stay connected with all the activities of a freewheeling summer.  Audio books make for a superb option as you are road tripping. And certain books are just perfect for this warm season in particular...  here are my choices for optimal summer reading that the whole family will enjoy:

 It's a classic for a reason. The four siblings are slightly more grounded in this world than the Narnia children, but the similarities are still there.  I was unsure that my children would really get into the fairly descriptive, not-exactly-cliff-hangar-chapters, but they ate it up! Sailing, adventure, independent children soaking up summertime bliss. Something about Ransome's style just weaves enough magic into the story to make a solid impression on children aged 7-13 in this house! The only unfortunate thing is that while this book makes its way on lots of "best of" lists, not a lot of people make efforts to continue the series; the books are a bit lengthy... but so worth it.  We are knee deep into the sequel: Swallowdale in our family and loving every bit of it.

Don't be mislead by the sweet cover. While it's tempting to want to curl up with your 5 year old daughter with this for a cute innocent adventure (try Milly-Molly-Mandy for that), the book is admittedly best suited for slightly older children... maybe age 10 or so. Feuding and intrigue and happy endings... all taking place in the heat of the south. Grab some iced tea and enjoy!

So, it sounds like a Roald Dahl comedy: boy finds a bunch of monkeys who escaped from a circus train.  A large reward goes to whomever can return them to the owner.  But the book isn't a funny book by design. It's full of adventure and suspense and for the sake of all that is good, do NOT get the paperback version which has a photograph of the boy on the cover. Photograph covers on books constitute a cardinal sin in my opinion (more on cardinal publishing sins to come)—no room is left for a child to form his own personal impression in their own minds; photograph covers ruin imaginations! Anyway, it's a great book!

We love Homer Price in this family!  He is just the bee's knees if you asked my boys and easy, independent chapters of his adventures back in the 'good ol' days' will be perfect for lazy summer reading... don't forget the sequel! Light, enjoyable reading at its finest.

Boys only please (okay, I would've read and loved them as a tomboy 'tween but your mileage may vary).  These guys have a clubhouse, impressive IQs and adventures galore that would fill your child's brain with plain old good stuff during summertime.

Summertime is E.B. White time!  This is the time to bust out the glorious, early chapter books to your 5 and 6+ year olds.  Be it Charlotte's Web or Stuart Little or The Trumpet of the Swan... all are so perfectly suited to long, slow summer days.  I re-read Stuart Little recently with my children and was reminded again at how unique White is in the children's literature world: the ending is moving and poignant... but not your typical super-happy, loose ends tied up conclusion. Same with Charlotte's Web now that I think about it. I remember feeling sad at the dear little spiders floating away to find their place in the world... (even though I can only WISH that spiders in my house would float away...)

Oh my! Oh my! Have you seen the "Puffin in Bloom" collection yet?! The covers are stunning!  Yeah, yeah, Heidi is fantastic summertime reading (watch out for the photograph covered editions, blech!). What could be greater than the Alps and a wild child and new friendships?! But seriously, check out this new cover by artist Anna Bond.  And there's a whole set of them coming soon!  What a stunning gift even an individual title would make here.  Take a look at the individual covers here.

 Often called "The boy's Little House series", Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers is great for boys and girls in my opinion.  And this title is where it all starts. And let me tell you: these stories are so incredibly satisfying for both parent and child. There is just enough of a hat tip to adult sensibilities to make these books fantastic for everyone.  I bought it on audio and we listened to it on our way to a camping trip last year.  So, so, so good. A must have for anyone who loves the value of hard work, simple humor, and excellent storytelling.

 But of course!

Back in print! Back in print!  I'm so excited to find The Happy Hollisters revived in popularity. What is so lovely about this family of five children who get mixed up into lots of little mysteries and adventures is that they are always positive and fun. I devoured almost the entire series of these books when I was about 10 or so and longed for more titles. My cousin and I used to spend hours reading together, pretending we were just reading them to make fun of the funny, vintage language some kids used ("Gee whillakers!") but that's because we thought we were too cool to actually enjoy the fun in these books.  Thankfully, my children don't think they are too cool for these books and they are eating up every copy I manage to acquire. They are all great reading, don't need to be read consecutively, and some particularly summery titles are The Happy Hollisters on a River Trip and The Happy Hollisters at Sea Gull Beach...

* * * The Honorable Mention "Next 10"or "After Further Thought" Additions to this list. * * *

Our Lady of Fatima: May Giveaway!

I've often felt disgruntled that there is what I opine to be a great emptiness in the picture book world regarding Our Lady of Fatima. Guadalupe enjoys at least three excellent options as far as I can tell (like this, this, or this) plus a couple other 'good' options. Meanwhile, Fatima is left quite in the dust. I own the book Jacinta's Story and it is pretty good and really one of the only picture book options that I know of. But it's not one that I read in one sitting to the children. It's best broken into a few days' reading during Morning Basket time because the story is fairly extensive. Still hoping for a simple breakdown of the story at a young, elementary level.

Thankfully, there are a number of chapter books that do the story justice. And it's a story that needs to be told to people of all ages.  The Children Of Fatima: And Our Lady's Message to the World is one of the best options on the market in my opinion, and it suits reading aloud quite nicely. May is the perfect month to devote to Our Lady and her message to both the children and to the world.

TAN Books has graciously offered to sponsor a giveaway of this book by Mary Fabyan Windeatt in honor of Our Lady and her upcoming feast day this month. The awesome thing is that while TAN publishing is known for their older, more traditional titles, they are making efforts to keep things fresh and relevant to families even today. In development right now are some workbooks that go along with the books in this series and the accompaniment designed for The Children Of Fatima will be one of the first ones done!  (Sneak peak coming soon hopefully!)

In the meantime, there will be 3 winners in this giveaway who receive a copy of this book! All you have to do is comment on one way, simple or extravagent, your family tries to celebrate the month of May in your home. You have until Mother's Day to enter.  This Sunday, the 10th.  Blessings!

****Closed! We have three winners! Pre-literate Henry was asked to circle 3 names on the list: Congrats to the Holloway family,  Erin and Monica!****


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