The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

In The Railway Children, E. Nesbit provides an intriguing series of vignettes about three middle-class London children at the turn of the century learning to adjust to life as poorer rural children when their father is inexplicably taken away. The railway become the central part of their daily lives. Bobbie (Roberta), Peter, and Phil (Phyllis) are naive children, but they are also completely sincere, and so one cannot help but enjoy reading along with their adventures.

The Railway Children is not only a series of small adventures, however. The overarching difficulty is the absence of their father, an absence their mother does not want to discuss. The eldest child, Bobbie, is able to find out where he has gone, and using the friends she has made in their small Yorkshire town, she seeks help. Because of the kind and giving nature of the children, all who meet them cannot resist enjoying them.
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(Cybils 2012) Trains and Oh No! Books

Today’s mashup of Cybils nominees brings us a favorite topic of my son (trains) and some books with surprizes of disappointment. Both of the Oh No! books are unique in art style and memorable in their writing.

But first I have to bring you my son’s favorite topic: trains. The first of these books is a truly silly story that all will love, even if trains are not your favorite thing as they are for Raisin.Continue Reading

(Kids Corner) Three Great Rocking-Chair Picture Books

One great thing about having a little baby is the cuddling. Not to say that Raisin doesn’t cuddle with me every now and then, but Strawberry is just the right size for a sweet cuddle in my arms as we rock in the chair.

Many times when I try to read to Strawberry, she tries to grab the book and eat it. This is pretty normal, since seven months old is just the age of chewing on everything in site. But occasionally, as I mentioned before, Strawberry really loves to listen to my voice, cuddle into my arms, and listen to what I’m saying. A few of the books are favorites of mine for such moments because they are especially wonderfully for rocking back and forth in a rocking chair.Continue Reading

(Kids Corner) Favorite Picture Books: September 2011 edition

Because Saturday begins the Cybils nomination process, I’m scrambling to try to get up my picture book thoughts from this month up before I’m deluged with new picture books to read! This month, as always, we found some rather fun books.

My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books, 2009) became an interactive picture book for us. Graphic Designer Michael Hall has designed a zoo full of animals, each one created by hearts. The text provides similes comparing ones’ heart to the animals (such as “eager as a beaver”). Raisin loved counting the hearts one each page, and given the interactive back cover (which shows just how Mr Hall created the heart lion), Raisin insisted on making his own heart animals. Because I’m not very good at cutting out hearts, our animals looked rather sorry in the end. But Raisin loved the project. It involved his favorite things: a book, scissors, and glue. His favorite page in the book is the hippos drinking apple juice.

Raisin’s favorite in-the-car game is “I spy” which usually ends up being “something green” (grass and trees). Needless to say, then, when I spied I Spy with My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs (Templar, 2011) on the new books shelf at the library, I had to check it out. Using bright colors and a perfect eye-sized die cut circle to the next page, Gibbs gives us animals that are different colors. “I spy… something blue” reveals a small circle of a blue whale’s back, and the next page shows the entire whale. To add to the fun and help the kids learn about the animals, Gibbs also has a “clue” on the “I spy” page to help the child learn some fact about the colorful animal that is on the next page. Raisin loved the game, and we reread many times, despite the fact that we of course knew already what the animals would be. The last page gives a die-cut circle through the back cover, asking what we, the readers, spy. Raisin loved looking around the room for something new to spy, and it made the end of the game different every time. As an adult, I loved the illustrations, my favorite one being the majestic lion.

Good Night, Baby Ruby by Rohan Henry (Abrams Books, 2009) tells of a young baby’s bedtime routine. Since Raisin is eager to become a big brother, he enjoyed helping put the young girl to bed by reading this story and giggling over her escape from her parents. I love the simple illustrations of the curly haired little girl. This is a great example of the ways in which white space adds to the strength of simple illustrations.

And finally, The Goodnight Train by June Sobel and illustrated by Laura Heiliska-Beith (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2006) is a perfect goodnight book for the train lover in our house. With bright detailed paintings on each page, there are plenty of amusing tidbits to observe. Raisin loved the cookie coal and we pretended to eat it. The steam from the train made clever shapes in the night time sky, and the silly skunk was often doing something amusing. The gentle rhymes of the text made the story pleasant to read (and reread) aloud many times. Although this was a library book, I wouldn’t mind keeping it for future enjoyment. It was a winner for both parent and child.

What picture books have you been reading this month? Don’t forget to nominate your favorite 2011 books for the Cybils, starting Saturday!