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Category Archives: Children’s Lit

Hillsdale’s Children’s Literature Course

I’m relishing this online course.

It’s free!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2020 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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El Deafo

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Cece Bell’s graphic novel El Deafo is a charming, insightful memoir that I didn’t want to end. El Deafo chronicles Bell’s early life from healthy infant, through her getting meningitis and navigating school and friendship after she became deaf. I learned a lot about the options in terms of hearing devices and how they were worn and how they made Bell feel awkward. I enjoyed all her memories of TV shows like x and y, slumber parties, and riding the school bus.

Friendship is a major theme in El Deafo and I could feel for Bell who had a hard time making friends. When she does find a friend, Laura, she’s put off by how bossy she is. Yet Laura doesn’t make a big deal out of Cece being deaf. Still the bossiness is hard to take. Later Cece meets Ginny, who loves all the same TV shows like Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons,

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The title El Deafo comes from a superhero name Cece gives herself once she gets a new hearing device that lets her hear her teacher wherever she is in the building — in class, in the teachers’ lounge, in the restroom and this super power changes Cece’s status forever.

The story captures what it’s like to strive to find a friend in a challenging social landscape and enlightens readers on what it was like to experience hearing loss all of a sudden and how complicated it is to learn to cope with it. I highly recommend El Deafo as a book for all ages.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2020 in Children's Lit, fiction, graphic memoir

 

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Childhood of Famous Americans

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Kudos to Miss Debbie at the Morton Grove Library who answered my tweeted question. I asked about a series of biographies I read as a girl. They were all about famous people as children with one chapter at the end about their achievements as adults.

It looks like the books now come as paperbacks. I’ll read a few as a trip down memory lane.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2020 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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The Young Adventurer

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Another Horatio Alger book read. I’m catching up on my Good Reads 2020 Reading Challenge deficit.

In Alger’s The Young Adventurer, teenage Ben’s a new orphan at 14. His mother died when he was young and now his father’s just died. The $400 he inherited won’t last forever and there aren’t many opportunities in his hometown so though his uncle would like him to stay with him, Ben sets off to New York to make some money. He plans to earn enough to get passage to California where he can make a fortune mining gold.

Like a lot of Alger’s heroes, Ben encounters some swindlers, and luckily manages to avoid them with his funds in tact. Then he lucks out and meets and heiress in distress who asks him to accompany her to California and pays him to locate her fiancé. The adventure continues.

While the story offers a likable hero and plenty of villains, I wasn’t as enthralled as usual. The Young Adventurer is dated in its treatment of a Chinese character. The language of the era came off the way old Charlie Chan stereotypes do. Alger isn’t on the side of the bigots and those bigots probably were presented authentically, but I couldn’t stomach those chapters even though King Si, the Chinese miner, ends up doing well. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend this book to kids. Now maybe they should read about how people people discriminated and hurt others as that is the real history, but I’d find another book to recommend.

 

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2020 in American Lit, Children's Lit, fiction

 

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Cash Boy

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To catch up on my Good Reads reading challenge, I figured an Horatio Alger book was just the ticket. I got Frank Fowler: Cash Boy in a couple days. Frank Fowler, an orphan decides to go to the big city to get a job. He leaves his step-sister, who he thought was his biological sister. On her deathbed his mother admitted that Frank was adopted, that he was adopted under mysterious circumstances. Such is the storyline of a Horatio Alger book. Frank’s pal’s family agrees to take in his sister to keep her from the Poor House.

Though he comes across the swindlers common in these books, it’s not till Frank is hired to read to a wealthy man each evening that he meets his nemeses, the housekeeper and the man’s nephew. They fear Frank will worm his way into the old man’s heart. They plot to get Frank out of the house so that they can get the lion’s share of the old man’s will.

Although Alger’s books follow a formula, I don’t tire of his spunky, honest, courageous boys living in tough times when there were many children who had to take on adult responsibilities. It’s a quick, fun read.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2020 in book review, Children's Lit, fiction

 

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Tricking the Tallyman

Here’s a charming story about the Census long ago. The illustrations are cute as is the story about a village full of people who don’t understand why they’re being counted so they try to fool the poor Census Taker.

If you need to finish your census call 844-330-2020 or go to 2020census.gov

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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The Complete Big Nate #4

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I have fallen behind in my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge so I was looking for a quick read. When I worked at the small library in my district we helped with youth and adult books and I saw that Nate the Great books were popular. I thought I’d get one to see what the fuss was about.

I accidentally got the The Complete Big Nate #4 ebook and it turned out to be 370 pages. Even though it’s a comic book, 370 pages were more than I bargained for. I did make it through.

Nate is a mischievous boy, who reminded me of Dennis the Menace, and the books show him aggravating his older sister, exasperating his teachers, and annoying the object of his affections, Jenny. Nate’s cute and rambunctious. Yet, I soon tired of the episodes and thought some of the jokes were aimed more at middle aged men, than younger audiences. I see the prime audience as boys in 3rd – 5th grades so the jokes about the divorced dad going to his high school reunion or putting on weight didn’t seem like they’d make kids laugh.

The drawings were cute and Nate and his friends were likable, while not unique. I feel if you read one Nate the Great, by Lincoln Peirce you’ve read them all.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2020 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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E.B. White: Some Writer!

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E.B. White: Some Writer! is some biography. A book for children, say grades 4 and up, is well researched and well written. Barbara Gherman’s biography is based on White’s letters and papers as well as on interviews with his relatives.

The biography begins with an overview and then proceeds to describe E.B. White’s life from grade school onward. The tone is delightful and readers get a sense of White’s shyness, his sense of adventure (within the US – traveling abroad was too much for him), his family life, love of nature and writing career. White, whose friends called him Andy,

The book contains many photos of White, his parents and family, which helps readers get to know White in yet another way.

As Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and his essay’s are among my favorite writings, I enjoyed learning more about the man. He’s as sincere and caring. He deeply cared about his friends, family and quality writing. The book was a fun, insightful read, which I highly recommend.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2019 in book review, Children's Lit, contemporary, non-fiction

 

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Brightly

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If you need help finding a book for a child or teen, Brightly is a site that’s sure to help. Used by librarians and teachers, Brightly offers reviews and lists of books for every sort of reader, e.g. 20 Early Chapter Books for Boys, 14 Best Books for Kindergarten Graduation Gifts, 7 Picture Books that Celebrate Great Teachers, Books for Star Wars Obsessed Kids, and more. It’s easy to search by age or interest. The site publishes new articles regularly. In addition to book posts, Brightly offers articles on parenting with topics including social media and kids, communication and dealing with perfectionism. It’s a terrific resource.

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Posted by on May 17, 2019 in book lovers, Children's Lit

 

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Fortunately, the Milk

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Sounds like an odd title, right?

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman is a charming and quick read with zany illustrations by Skottie Young. When the narrator’s mother is away, the kids are left with a dad who forgot to get milk for the breakfast cereal. To please his kids, dear ol’ dad trots down to the corner store to get some and the children feel like he’s taken forever to return.

When he gets home, the father returns with a long, zany tale of time travel to explain the delay. It’s an entertaining read probably best enjoyed by kids in the lower grades.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2019 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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