Prairie Days

MacLachlan, Patricia. Prairie Days. New York, Toronto: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2020.
Any story by Patricia MacLachlan is worth reading. Any book by Margaret K. McElderry is worth looking at. And this picture book illustrated with collages by Micha Archer is no exception. Written from the first-person point of view, it is a wonderfully exuberant celebration of long-ago summers on the American prairies. An excellent read-aloud for family gatherings, sure to start more stories of long ago memories. Highly recommended for everyone who loves country life.

More country life stories

Stories based on real life 

Picture books with collages

First-person point of view

P.S. A little clue to MacLachlan’s brilliance: When she talks about the farm horses – Lyddie, Blue, and Joe – she doesn’t say ‘that’ we used to ride. She uses the pronoun ‘who’ instead. Because those horses aren’t objects. They are alive. They are loved.

The Summer We Found the Baby

Hest, Amy. The Summer We Found the Baby. Somerville, Massachussets: Candlewick Press, 2020.
Eleven-year-old Julie and her six-year-old sister Martha find a baby on the steps of the local library. Twelve-year-old Bruno, running away from home, sees them take the baby and wonders: Are they kidnapping it? Where are they going? He follows and so starts this quiet heart-warming story set in a beachside community in New York State during WW2. Told in three voices, this poignant novel – in an easy-to-read font with widely spaced lines and short chapters – will appeal to reflective readers 9 to 12 years old. 

By the way, all stories by Amy Hest are worth reading, especially for readers up to 12 years of age. All books by Candlewick are worth picking up.

More stories of WW2 

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More stories of summer

A Fine Dessert

Jenkins, Emily. A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015.

A sweet story about one of the oldest desserts in Western culture: a fruit fool made of berries, sugar, and whipped cream. The first dessert is made of wild blackberries in 16th century England, the second in 18th century South Carolina, the third in 19th century Massachusetts, and the last in modern California. A recipe, a bibliography and historical information on both the story and the illustrations are included at the end. An excellent introduction to learning how cultures reflect their times and change over time. Recommended for readers – and their teachers – 7 years old and up.

More historical fiction

More picture books with a repetitive pattern

Albert’s Quiet Quest

Arsenault, Isabelle. Albert’s Quiet Quest. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2019.

Albert wants a place where he can read in quiet. But no matter where he goes, friends arrive and rambunctiously interrupt. Until he explodes. Now what will happen? This mostly wordless summer story will be appreciated by young readers looking for peace and quiet of their own. 

More summer stories

More wordless books

More stories of books and reading

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The Secrets of Blueberries…

Nickerson, Sara. The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose & Me. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2015.
Twelve-year-old Missy and her older brother Patrick convince their parents to let them get a job picking blueberries. But Missy acquires much more than money during the summer. She learns how people change. How life doesn’t stay the same. And sometimes there is no one to blame. Sometimes things just happen.
This 323-page novel with a relatively large font and well-spaced lines of print is easy to read. It flows smoothly with lots of conversation and short paragraphs.
Some novels written from the first person point of view seem too self-centred. This story, though, suits this approach. The difficulties of adolescence, the frustrations of life, the slow change of perspective on life are all empathetically portrayed in this introspective story recommended for readers 11 to 14 years old.

More stories of summer

The great achievement…

Almond, David. Harry Miller’s Run. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick, 2017, c2008.
Eleven-year-old Liam wants to get outside and start training for the big race coming up. But his mother wants him to help an elderly neighbour move into a nursing home. What starts out as a frustrating day turns into an amazing adventure as Liam listens to Harry tell about the great race he ran from Newcastle to South Shields when he was a young lad himself.
This joyous novella – by a multiple award winning author – reads like a true story. I kept checking the flyleaf to find out more about the background. There was nothing.  But this heart-warming story by a masterful writer will live in readers’ memories as if it really happened to someone we ourselves must have met somewhere. Whimsical illustrations by Salvatore Rubbino – creator of picture books about London and Paris – add to the charm of this unpaged book highly recommended for readers 9 years old and up.  

A serious David Almond novel about refugees

A humorous David Almond novel about a runaway

Stories of summer

P.S. Always check out the books published by Candlewick. They’re reliably beautiful. 

The best time ever…

Pendziwol, Jean E. Me and You and the Red Canoe. Toronto: Groundwood, 2017.
Early in the morning, two siblings make a fire and sit together, sipping hot chocolate. Leaving everyone else still asleep, they gather their fishing gear and set off in a red canoe. Told in free verse and illustrated in acrylic on panel, this picture book is recommended for readers 7 to 14 years old. Teachers might enjoy using it to show students how to turn their own experiences into stories. 

More stories in verse

More stories of vacations

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