Theme: Love and Loss of Grandparents
Best for: 6 to 9
“‘He can only speak French in my journal,’, I said. ‘I suppose that’s what writing is for,’ said Grandfather. ‘To change life and make it come out the way you want it to.'” This children’s book addresses something so precious – preparing a child for the death of the grandparent. I cry just writing those words. Yet there is nothing maudlin or sad about this children’s book. It is exquisite.
Published: 1985 – 2006
Theme: Family life on the Plains
Best for: 5 – 8
“Sarah loved the chickens. She clucked back to them and fed them grain. They followed her, shuffling and scratching primly in the dirt. I knew they would not be for eating.” What captured me in each children’s book of this collection was the emphasis on the emotions and feelings of the people. We live through the eyes of each child in turn…
Theme: New Baby
Best for: 7- 9
“What if Mama is too old to have this baby? What if this terrible baby makes Mama die like Caleb’s mama died when he was born? I closed the journal as if shutting away the words would make them go away.” The very real fears and emotions of the youngest child towards a new baby are presented with care in book 4 of Sarah, Plain and Tall.
Best for: 6 to 8
“They are beautiful, the trees and hills and lakes filled with water. But the prairie is home, the sky so big it takes your breath away, the land like a giant quilt tossed out.” A profound exploration of reconciliation between father and son, and forgiveness.
Theme: Family Life on the Prairie
Best for: 6 – 8
“Sarah and I sat in the kitchen. The air was thick with the heat, and there was no breeze. There hadn’t been any wind for days. Sarah was writing a letter to the aunts in Maine. I wrote in my journal.” In the second of Sarah, Plain and Tall, the family must deal with a serious drought, and separation from each other and the land.
Theme: Biography Henri Matisse
Best for: 4 to 6
“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray, and you wanted color and light and sun, what might you become?” The images and wonder of Matisse’s imagination come to life in a beautifully crafted children’s book.
Best for: 8 and 9
“So four dogs and a cat named Lula replaced my father…My friend Max thought it was very exciting. Not that my father was gone, but that Mama had brought home four dogs and a cat.” The magic in this children’s book is the degree to which we can really relate to animals when our hearts are young and open, and they with us…
Best for: 7 to 9
“I write, “Wrapped in the moon.” I can’t write any more. But I know that this won’t be a rhymed poem. That is too slim for what I want to say. That is too slim for the cow.” Reading Fly Away was somewhat like stepping into a child’s dream, an ordinary child, living an ordinary life, with the heart and soul of a poet…