Socks by Beverly Cleary

Socks (1973) is not a Beverly Cleary book I ever discovered as a child, but I love it! It’s a simple story told from the perspective of a cat named Socks, beginning with his first day of true consciousness: the day he would be sold by the boy and girl who had taken care of him for his first weeks of life. From that first adventure being dropped in to the mailbox until the end of his story, Socks is a happy cat. It does just happen that he occassionally is misunderstood, and that is where the humor can be found!

I loved how Beverly Cleary was able to make the cat’s emotions so realistic. It is told in omniscient narrator (no “I” narrator being the cat), so we also get a glimpse of what the children and the adults are thinking as time passes. But much of the book focuses on how Socks interprets the events around him. He is a truly loveable cat.

I must admit that I am not a pet person at all, but this book still brought cats into a warm place in my heart as I considered how the cat interpreted the events around him and how he eventually won over those who did not like him. It’s a book for the cat-lover and the non-cat person as well! It is definitely a fun middle-grade book for the early reader that has aged well in the past 40+ years.

Bird & Squirrel books by James Burks


Sometimes we underestimate the attention span of our youngest children. When I saw the first Bird and Squirrel book, I thought of my 7-year-old son, someone who loves reading but may need a nudge to get interested in a new series or even genre. He has not had much experience with graphic novels, so I thought he would enjoy the book.

To my great surprise, it was my toddler daughter who was drawn to the zany illustrations and the fun story. She insisted that I read every frame in the book. Although she is young, I  was delighted to see her enjoying and responding to a different type of picture book.Continue Reading

Excavate! Dinosaurs by Jon Tennant

Excavate! Dinosaurs by Jon Tennant (Storey Publishing, October 2014) is a crafty book in which the facts of the first half supplement the dinosaur bones cut outs of the second half.Kids read about 12 different kinds of dinosaurs and then must put them together. The catch, however, is that the dinosaur bones are not labeled, so like a paleontologist, the young reader must figure out how it all fits together by trial, error, and a bit of understanding about the animals in the first place.

I really liked this book. In the first half, it provides a lot of fun facts, but it is not too long for the text-weary child. I love how it gives background for archaeology in general by talking about layers of the earth and dinosaur eras. With the hands on puzzles, it is sure to be a hit with a dinosaur fan.

In fact, I decided to get this for my son for the holidays. I can’t wait to see what my son thinks of it on Christmas morning!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration. I decided to then buy it for my son!

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