What is Poetry? by Trudi Strain Truit

What is Poetry? by Trudi Strain Truit (Lerner Publishing, September 2014) is an attractive nonfiction book for early readers. It teaches common types of figurative language and common formats of poetry (free verse, rhyming, and so forth). Even better, it provides sample poems to demonstrate the concepts. It has large text for the young reader, a glossary, and attractive images to keep children turning pages.

I can see my son enjoying this book, especially if I told him we were studying poetry in our homeschool. Although he sometimes decides on a nonfiction subject to seek out books for, I am not sure I can picture him picking this one up on his own unless he had something to spark his interest in poetry.

Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet (published 1948) won the Newbery Honor upon publication. It is an adventure story about a child and geared for a child.

In this story, a child named Elmer Elevator (called “my father” throughout the book) befriends an alley cat, who tells him of a captured dragon forced to work  on Wild Island, near the Land of Tangerina. Continue Reading

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo

Rejoice! Deckawoo Drive, home street of the beloved pig Mercy Watson, is now open to stories once again! My son loves Mercy Watson, and every time he rereads the series (he’s read them all 5 or 6 times, I think), he asks, “Has this author written any more about Mercy Watson? I want more!”

It is easy to see why. First off, Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books are humorous (they star a pig, of course). In what other stories do beds nearly fall through the floor and pigs go trick or treating? Besides that, the reading level is perfect for beginning readers, those who have just barely graduated out of the easy readers. The books have short sentences, short chapters, and clear dialogue and description. Plus, the Mercy Watson books have been illustrated by the marvelous Chris Van Dusen, which only adds humor and interest to the stories.


Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive Number 1) by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, August 26, 2014) is the first of a new series of stories relating to Mercy Watson. Although our favorite “porcine wonder” only makes a cameo at the end, the star of the show is Mercy’s friend Leroy Ninker, who works at the drive-in theater. (He previously appeared in Mercy Watson #6.)Continue Reading

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber


When I saw The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber (originally published 1950; republished New York Review of Books) had an introduction by Neil Gaiman and was a part of The New York Review Children’s Collection, I was intrigued. The Thirteen Clocks is a short and bizarre fairy tale. Or fantasty story. Neil Gaiman describes it as nothing anyone has ever seen before or since and that is about right.Continue Reading