Family Fridays – The Boxcar Children

Book: The Boxcar Children (1924) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Series: The Boxcar Children

Category/Age: Early Reader / Beginning Chapter Book :  ages 6 and up

Blurb:

One Warm Night four children stood in front of a bakery. No one knew them. No one knew where they had come from.” So begins Gertrude Chandler Warner’s beloved story about four orphans who run away and find shelter in an abandoned boxcar. There they manage to live all on their own, and at last, find love and security from an unexpected source.

Review:

Let’s pause for a moment, shall we? 1924. This book was published in 1924. That’s just a few years after the end of the first world war – and 90 years ago. The language does feel a bit dated in places, but not nearly as much as you might think. This classic has been beloved for almost a century because it’s easy to read, and just plain fun.

I’ve always been a sucker for survival stories, from Julie of the Wolves to The Martian (review forthcoming). The nitty-gritty, mundane details of survival I always find fascinating, and this book falls solidly into the survival genre for much of the book, which I hadn’t remembered going into it. Where do they sleep? What do they cook in? Where do they get clean? Those types of details are answered in a realistic way for the children, and you can definitely see why it would resonate in the minds of young readers – it’s like the ultimate game of playing house.

As an adult, my only quibble with the book was how fast the ending was resolved – I felt like the major conflict set up (with the grandfather) was glossed over for expediency – but overall this is a fantastic chapter book for early readers.

I vaguely seem to remember reading dozens of the other books, and enjoying them greatly as well.

Did you read The Boxcar Children in your childhood? What did you think?

Get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

Book: Go, Dog. Go! (1961)

Ages: 3-7 Years

Blurb:

Reading goes to the dogs in this timeless Beginner Book edited by Dr. Seuss. From big dogs and little dogs to red, green, and blue dogs, dogs going up and dogs going fast . . . who knew dogs were so busy? And laughter will ensue at the repeated question “Do you like my hat?” Like P. D. Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother? Go, Dog. Go! has been a go-to favorite for over fifty years, leaving audiences of all breeds wagging their tails with delight.

Review:

How much do I love this book? Well, it’s the book I’m giving to my son for his first birthday (this week! Where did the year go?). It’s an excellent early reader book, full of repeated, simple words. And it’s excellent for pre-readers as it covers colors, directions (up, down), relative sizes (big, small) and just a lot of great “young mind concepts”. It even manages to do all of this while still being entertaining. I love P.D. Eastman’s work, and hope to add more of his books to our library over the years, but Go, Dog. Go! will always hold a special place in my heart. Plus, it uses a vocative comma in the title, so what’s not to love?

Get it! Amazon, Barnes and Noble

What’s your favorite early reader book?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Bread and Jam for Frances (Frances Series) by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban

Book: Bread and Jam for Frances (1964)

Series: Frances the Badger

Genre: Children’s general / early readers

Ages: 4-8 years old (younger is fine)

Blurb:

Frances is a fussy eater. In fact, the only thing she likes is bread and jam. She won’t touch her squishy soft-boiled egg. She trades away her chicken-salad sandwich at lunch. She turns up her nose at boring veal cutlets. Unless Mother can come up with a plan, Frances just might go on eating bread and jam forever!

Review:

I don’t remember reading any of the Frances books as a child, but when I got two recommendations for this book in a week, I decided to pick it up at the library. It seemed vaguely familiar to me, so I probably did read it eons ago. The story and illustrations are delightfully simple and fun, and I loved all the little songs Frances makes up. It tells a cautionary tale for picky eaters and what can happen when you get what you think you want. It made me laugh because I go on food kicks where I only want to eat one thing, so I’ll eat it for weeks on end, then I can’t bear to look at it anymore for another several months, when it comes back into rotation. My current obsession is cinnamon toast. It’s toast with butter and cinnamon and sugar and you can pretend it’s a real meal with a cup of tea. LOVE IT.

Anyways, I highly recommend this book for early readers or younger. One of my favorite things about it was when Frances unpacks her lunchbox and she’s got a little doily and vase of flowers in addition to her food, I thought that was just a sweet little touch. It was a charming book and I’m looking forward to exploring more of the Frances series. One warning I have is that based on the reviews, this book is slightly abridged from the original version. I don’t know about that, but I enjoyed it as is. If you had the original memorized, you might want to do some research before buying.

Have you read any of the Frances series? Are you or are your kids picky eaters?

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Elephant and Piggie Series by Mo Willems

Genre: Children’s General

Ages: 4-8

Review:

I have yet to read a book by Mo Willems that I haven’t absolutely adored. His Elephant and Piggie Series was created for early readers, with lots of short, repeated words, no contractions, life lessons appropriate for the age group – and it still manages to be fun. The stories are cute, the characters are likeable, and the drawings are simple but powerful. My two favorites in the series (so far, at least!) are We Are in a Book! and Today I Will Fly! I especially love the We Are in a Book! because it reminds me a little of The Monster At the End of the Book, which was one of my husband’s favorite books growing up. I like both of these because they draw attention to the idea of the book itself and the interaction between the child (or adult) and the physical book. A sort of meta reading experience if you will.

I think the age range is about right, though you can obviously read these books to your younger children as well. There isn’t anything remotely scary about them (at least not any of the ones I’ve read). I can easily see a four year old reading the book by his or herself, especially after a little coaching.

Side note: The elephant is name Gerald after the author’s favorite singer. Elephant Gerald. Say it out loud quickly a couple of times. The piggie’s name is Piggie. I can respect that.

We Are in a Book!  – Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Today I Will Fly!  – Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.