Posted in Adult Fiction, Book, Book Review, Classic, Reading, Young Adult

UNCLE TOM’S CABIN by Harriet Beecher Stowe


“The way of the wicked is as darkness; he knoweth not at what he stumbleth.”

Written in 1852, this book continues today as a classic novel about slavery, racism, hope and the Christian faith.  It was written to educate as well as to remind future generations.  It was a best-seller, selling 10,000 copies in the United States in its first week; 300,000 in the first year.  It also sold then, and still sells today, in the international market.  It has been on banned book lists since its publication.  Today, many school districts and/or states ban it due to language, racism, and/or Christianity.

Mrs. Stowe was from the Northeast United States.  The United States Congress passed the Compromise of 1850. It was intended to address the concerns of slave holding and free states, yet it helped galvanize the abolition movement.  Mrs. Stowe formed her stance on slavery because of this law.  Among the provisions of the Compromise of 1850 were the end of the slave trade, but not slavery, and the creation of a stricter Fugitive Slave Law. Helping runaways had been illegal since 1793, but the 1850 law required that everyone help catch fugitives.  This law erased any protection that a fugitive had had.  Anyone on the street could be picked up and accused of being a fugitive from slavery.  Thus free Blacks were often picked up and sent into slavery.

She was angry, believing her country was now requiring her to comply with a system that she believed was unjust and immoral.  While she and her husband, Calvin Stowe, were living in Maine, she disobeyed the law by hiding runaways.  Mrs. Stowe lived in Connecticut, Ohio, and Maine, yet she knew slavery through several avenues.  While in Ohio, she and her husband were a part of the Underground Railroad.  Her brother met a plantation owner who was cruel and evil as the book’s Simon Legree.  She traveled to Kentucky where she visited plantations with slaves.  She felt the message of slavery needed to be espoused clearly and loudly. She shared her frustrations and feelings of powerlessness with her family.  It was then that her sister-in-law suggested she do more: “…if I could use a pen as you can, Hatty, I would write something that would make this whole nation feel what an accursed thing slavery is.”  This letter touched Mrs. Stowe to the heart.  She was determined to write “if [she] lived.”

The story follows two lines.  One is Tom who chooses to stay with his family rather than run away once he finds that he is to be sold to pay debts of the plantation owner.  He hoped that his family would be able to stay together if he did not run.  The second is Eliza who finds that her young son, Harry, is also to be sold for these debts.  Eliza chooses to run away with Harry.

We follow Eliza and Harry as they wind their way on escape routes, running just ahead of slave hunters, being protected by Quakers missionaries along the way to arrive safely in Canada.  We also follow Tom from plantation owners who treat their slaves gently and kindly to being sold to a harsh slave trader who then sells Tom to other plantation owners.  The final one is the cruel and violent Simon Legree.

Slavery and the slave trade separated families, husbands from wives, mothers from children.  Punishments, fierce and gruesome, showed that slaves were treated as less than human.  Freedom came for some; others received promises of freedom, but when the master died suddenly or he racked up a lot of debt, those slaves were sold “down the river.”

There are moments in the story filled with hope and love, people desiring to help others.  There are times filled with cruelty and fear, people filled with hatred.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin is fiction yet is based on a conglomerate portrait of slaves, owners, families, and abolitionists.  It has the genuine mixture of story/subject, characters, settings, and emotions to make it a classic and a bestseller.  It is an excellent story, although so hard and harsh at times, yet carried along with hope and love.


Harriet Beecher was born June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, CT to the Rev. Lyman Beecher (1775-1863) and Roxanna Foote Beecher (1775- 1816); the sixth of 11 children.  The Beechers expected their children to make a difference in the world, and they truly did:

  • All seven sons became ministers (the most effective way to influence society in that period)
  • Oldest daughter, Catharine pioneered education for women
  • Youngest daughter, Isabella was a founder of the National Women’s Suffrage Association
  • Harriet believed her purpose in life was to write. Her most famous work exposed the truth about the greatest social injustice of her day – human slavery

Stowe began her formal education at Sarah Pierce’s academy, one of the earliest to encourage girls to study academic subjects and not simply ornamental arts.  In 1824, she became a student and then a teacher at Hartford Female Seminary, which was founded by her sister Catharine.

In 1851, The National Era’s publisher contracted with Stowe for a story that would “paint a word picture of slavery” and that would run in installments.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly turned out to be more than 40 installments before it was published into a book.

In all, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s writing career spanned 51 years, during which time she published 30 books and countless short stories, poems, articles, and hymns.


This has been a book I have wanted to read for years and years.  I finally decided it would fit into my library of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon, two excellent non-fiction books.




Book Information

ISBN-13: 9781593081218
Publisher:  Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 02/01/2005
Series:  Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.32(d)
Posted in Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Middle Readers, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading, Young Adult

POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART by Caroline Kennedy


This is a collection of almost 200 poems, a companion to “A Family of Poems,” Caroline Kennedy’s New York Times #1 Bestseller from 2005.  This beautiful volume is filled with poetry of all sorts: about one’s self, family, friendship, and love.  There are poems about sports and games, about school.  Nonsensical poetry, poems about fairies, ogres, and witches are included too.  There are deeply touching poems about war, poetry about nature, Bible verses, and so much more are scattered together and throughout this fine book.

“Poets distill life’s lessons into the fewest possible words.  But those tiny packages of thought contain worlds of images and experiences and feelings.”  Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy writes about the importance of memorization of poetry in her introduction.  “If our circumstances change and things seem to be falling apart, we can recall a poem that reassures us. If we find ourselves in unfamiliar or frightening surroundings, a poem can remind us that others have journeyed far and returned safely home.  If we learn poems by heart, we will always have their wisdom to draw on, and we gain understanding that no one can take away.”

As a Bible verse is memorized and tucked into my heart, even if only in part, it will be there when I need it the most.  Poetry can be a similar strength in a weaker time.

This anthology has works of art by well known poets from the past such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  They remind me of poetry I once read, maybe even memorized for a class.  Geoffrey Chaucer’s General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is even etched into this book. (I read the whole of The Canterbury Tales when I was in high school from the Old English translation, no less, each night for homework, translating it into “readable” English for Senior English class/Mrs. Lee!  I recall the assignment well.  I did not tuck any of that away for those weaker moments, I am afraid!)  Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, along with Ogden Nash, Carl Sandburg, and many others remind parents of poems they may have memorized or read.

Poetry by A.A. Milne, Nikki Giovanni, Shel Silverstein, Jane Yolen, and Jack Prelutsky represents some of the newer poets yet each stands tall among those of years gone by.

Caroline Kennedy worked regularly with the DreamYard Preparatory School in the Bronx who authored a lengthy poem (or more) in this book as well.  These young people are the DreamYard Slam Team.  She dedicates the book to them and their futures.

The watercolor paintings of Jon J. Muth are gentle and excellent for each and every page, each and every poem.  As one example, on page 35, the Bible verse, Micah 6:8, is written upon an array of blues suggesting the heavenly realm spread over the double-page:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Yes, Bible verses can also poetry.

This is another fine collection from Caroline Kennedy.  She is an advocate for poetry as she was brought up with it in her family.  They shared poetry at gatherings of the whole Kennedy clan as well as amongst their own smaller family.  Caroline said her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, loved poetry and encouraged her children to engage with it, to memorize it.  Rose Kennedy, Caroline’s grandmother, was another encourager along this creative avenue.

Reading Level: Preschool and up


Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is a lawyer, author, education advocate, and lifelong supporter of the arts.  Ms. Kennedy attended Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, England from 1975-1976. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from Radcliffe College at Harvard University in 1980. Ms. Kennedy received her J.D. from Columbia University Law School in 1988.  She is the Ambassador to Japan from the United States of America.

She is the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis , sister to John Kennedy.

She has written many books and articles, subjects ranging from legal issues, family and children, the Kennedy family, and poetry.


Jon J Muth is an American artist, born and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He loved to draw as a boy, and he also painted. His mother was an art teacher and took him to museums all over the US.  He studied stone sculpture in Japan; paintings, prints and drawings in Austria, Germany, and England.  Most of his education as an artist came from an informal apprenticeship with fine artists.

“My work in children’s books really grew out of a desire to explore what I was feeling as a new father,” says Muth. “I was working in comics and that is a natural forum for expressions of angst and questioning one’s place in the universe. When the children came it became important to say other things about the world. With the birth of my children, there was a kind of seismic shift in where my work seemed appropriate.”

Jon Muth has illustrated (and written some) picture books of high acclaim.  They are beloved around the world.

Muth lives in upstate New York with his wife and four children. Jon can be found @ or on Pinterest or @ RMichelsonGalleries  or  for many paintings from this book.

Book Information

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (March 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423108051
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423108054
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds



Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Reading

THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by Eric Carle !45th Anniversary!


For forty-five years now, this delightful, colorful, teaching book has been available to us!  Young and old!  Mr. Carle artfully created the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.  We watch an egg become a caterpillar, eating its way through a variety of foods each day of the week until it is time to build its cocoon.  The pages are only a partial piece of paper in the beginning with a hole punched in them.  As the book progresses, the pages increase in size along with the caterpillar, still with a hole punched in each page.   The finale is the transformation of this cute and well-know caterpillar into a gorgeous butterfly.

The colors are bright; the pictures are bold.  The art is very Mr. Carle.  He has a most certain style and we celebrate 45 years of just this one book…one book of over seventy that Eric Carle has illustrated, authoring many himself.   Collage is his favorite method for creating the characters and the backgrounds in all of his books.

This book, originally published in 1969, has been translated into more than 62 languages now and has sold over 41 million copies.  It comes in every type of book.  There are puppets, caterpillar toys.  There is a book with a handle and the caterpillar.  My, oh my!  Choose the way you want this fun book!

Reading Level:  3 – 5 Years


Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929.  In 1935, his parents returned to their home of Germany where Mr. Carle was educated.  He attended a prestigious art school in Stuttgart, Germany, Akademie der bilenden Künste.  He dreamed of returning to America and, in 1952, he did.  He worked for the promotion department of The New York Times and then became the art director of an advertising agency.

Bill Martin, Jr. saw an ad done by Eric Carle and called to see if he would illustrate a children’s book he had written.  This collaboration is known to the world today as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”  His world changed.  He began writing and illustrating his own children’s books.


  •  American Institute of Graphic Arts Award in 1970
  •  Selection du Grand Prix des Treize in France in 1972
  •  Nakamori Reader’s Prize in Japan in 1975
  •  The New York Times one of  “Ten Best Picture Books of the Year” in 1969
  •  National Education Association’s #1 of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children”
  •  and many more

“Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter.  He divides his time between the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina.”  **


He and his wife, Bobbi, dreamed of and built The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.  They “were interested in developing enthusiasts for the art of picture books and in encouraging the habit of museum going in our younger visitors. Children’s picture book art is the introduction to art for young people, and we wanted to show the highest examples of that art to demonstrate the beauty, the seriousness and the fun of it. We wanted to create a museum that exhibits the work of national and international picture book artists.”  **  PLUS…his museum site has activities and games, resources, and so much more.

You can also find him at his own website and blog here –

If you love to read Eric Carle’s books with your children and want activities to go along with them, I suggest doing a search for “activities Eric Carle” (or a few other similar words).  There is a plethora of creative activities to go with each of his books amassed on the internet for your perusal and use.

Book Information:

ISBN-13: 9780399208539

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Publication date: 10/28/1981

Pages: 32

Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 11.90(h) x 0.50(d)



**  information from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art


linking up with:  Teach Mentor Texts, Unleashing Readers, The Book Date, Literacy Musing Mondays, What to Read WednesdayKid Lit Blog Hop, Booknificent Thursdays, The Book NookLiterary Friday, Semicolon Saturday, Reading List/Cozy Reading SpotBook Review Blog Hop

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading


I would like to introduce Jacqueline of “Deep Roots at Home” as my guest on “The Reader and the Book.”


From her blog, she writes: “For 40 years, I have been a wife to my husband and a teacher of our children in the home. Now a new season has come, and with the blessing of my husband, I write this blog as an encouragement to myself and others. (Titus 2: 3-5) How important is this role of speaking into the lives of younger women! The habits of the home in one generation become the morals of society in the next. As William Ross Wallace said: ‘The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.'”

She has a post on her site that was relinked a month or so ago to where I found it.  Being a teacher and children’s librarian who has taught reading and encouraged children to read, read, read, I am pleased to be able to share this post with you.  It is a list of some of the best books for children from Preschool through 10th grade.

1945594 Many of you have asked for a reading list of great story books for children, the kind that contain wholesome adventure and inspire a young heart to courageous living. I have been busy and did just as you requested. What fun I had compiling it!

If you want even more, there is Sarah Clarkson’s Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families. From timeless classics to modern favorites, from picture books to adventure novels to read-aloud favorites, more than 1,000 wonderful stories for young people are recommended.

5509905_origWe are all aware that there is a battle raging in our culture for the minds and hearts of our children, but how do we as parents prepare them to live in the world? How do we teach values and build character at home on a day to day basis to equip them for a lifetime?

One of the best ways is to choose and read books that will champion and uphold what is noble, good, right and true. Most of these will be found at your library, or you can request they get it in for you.

6443355_origSarah Clarkson says,

“The first thing a young heart needs is an education in all that is good.  The classic children’s stories are a persuasive picture of beauty and goodness.  They create an inner world that is a secret world for children’s souls, showing them through thrilling stories and stouthearted characters exactly what it means to be noble, good, and even holy.”  My parents…began with the great story of Scripture, filling my mind with the hero tales of the Bible.  To this they added the innocent beauty of classic children’s books, never underestimating the power of a good story to affirm and further illuminate the truths they were teaching me form Scripture.  I was formed in my earliest childhood by an imagination filled with stories, Biblical and classic, that set my appetite for all that was righteous, true, and lovely.  “Great literature also guides children through the second and harder wakening to an awareness of what is wrong.  Insightful stories gradually confront children with the power of sin as it enters the tale of their lives and the stories they love.  Characters like brave Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia or David Balfour from Kidnapped who value what is beautiful and defend what is right will teach children that evil is something to resist and help them perceive the choice that must be made between right and wrong.”

~S.C. from Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families

1814043_origI love this picture of two young boys. It captures the essence of reading – the gentle power and immense soul-stirring delight a great book can offer. I see evidence of the way a well-crafted story lights up the heart of a child. The boys’ expressions reflect the newness of deep thought, the hearty joy in discovering new horizons, the heart and soul expanded by beauty. The dappled sunlight hints that the story is opening their minds to the mysteries of the world God gave to mankind and of their own place in it.

“Books can become powerful companions – teachers that will fan the flames of your child’s heart and mind to life! Great stories, first in the Bible and then in classic literature can tune the inner workings of the heart from which, even in adulthood, one will make decisions and form values.” ~S. Clarkson

What follows is a listing of just a few of the beloved books that we have read over the years. These are books that our children will be reading to their own children some day:

The age designations for this list are only approximate. A child’s listening level will often be several grades higher than their personal reading levelit is OK to choose books from an older list if you’re planning on reading aloud to your children. I began reading aloud to our children from chapter books (such as Mr. Popper’s Penguins) before their third birthdays. Often I would take one at a time until they were hooked on wonderful stories and snuggling on the couch! Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to comprehend or listen to fairly advanced material.


Preschool (read-aloud)

The Hat, by Jan Brett (boardbook)
Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, by Richard Scarry (our favorite pre-reader ever)Picture
Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
Aesop’s Fables, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
Storytime and the Millers, by Mildred A. Martin
The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

Read-aloud/Grade 1 (beginning reading)

Grade 2 (excellent read-alouds as well as early readers)

Grade 3

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
Sarah Whitcher’s Story, by Elizabeth Yates
Thee, Hannah!, by Marguerite De Angeli
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, by Alice Dalgliesh
Paul Bunyan and His Great Blue Ox, by Wallace Wadsworth
Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress, by Oliver Hunkin
Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter
Twig the Collie, by Craig Massey
The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
Story Times With Grandma, by M.E. Yoder
More Story Times With Grandma, by M.E. Yoder
For more through Grade 10 and beyond, please continue reading over at Deep Roots at Home … @
I hope you will look earnestly at these titles for your children. ~ linda
Originally posted 2-3-2015


Posted in Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Book, Book Review, Classic, Reading

You Did It to Me – The Grapes of Wrath | Just Mercy

For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You?  And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’   Matthew 25:35-40

MLKquoteI have just finished reading “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, written in 1939.  Prior to that book, I read “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, written in 2014.  In this world today…my heart, my eyes, my ears see and sense injustice, inequality, desperation in trying to migrate or to escape across waters and harsh lands, living in war-torn countries, starvation, sex and slave trafficking, and this list goes on and on.  I also see the good and the great, but these books have focused my attention on these harder issues.

The first of these books wraps around the issues of migrant farm work back in the Dust Bowl period and the Depression.  The misuse of land, bank loans, and then corporations getting the land of small farmers, set these families off their land.   When they saw handbills advertising workers were needed in the rich, fertile valleys of California, far too many went out there without enough work for all.  Then corruption reared its ugly head all across the state in many forms.  The circumstances of it all broke the spirits of many of these people, yet many overcame as best they could to survive.

200px-JohnSteinbeck_TheGrapesOfWrathThe second book is about a lawyer who meets prisoners on death row.  These men come together when Bryan Stevenson goes to the South for a month-long class while attending Harvard Law School.  He meets men who have been locked up in solitary confinement for years upon years.  Eventually, the ones in the book are found to be innocent, yet never had the council necessary to have a fair trial.  People in authority used their powers unjustly to lock up innocent people to keep the guilty out of prison or to keep their own name from coming under ridicule when they did not arrest a guilty party.

9780812994520_p0_v3_s260x420Although one book is fiction, it is based on events over years and of many that actually did occur.  It is like a composite of the times.  The other is nonfiction.  My heart strings have been pulled immensely these weeks.  I am sad for the injustice that took place so long ago in many situations, and still takes place to this very day.

Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, to visit prisoners, to welcome a stranger.  When we look around, there seems so very much that needs to be done.  Overwhelming, indeed.  And we often sit still, doing nothing because we don’t know where to begin or it seems like too daunting of a task.  Bryan S. thought such thoughts, but he began with one prisoner.  Casy, in Steinbeck’s book, stood up for the downtrodden who were being underpaid, overworked, and betrayed because someone else was willing to do their job for less so the wealthy landowners hired the new ones for half the price and forced the others to take that same pay or get out.  Tom Joad, a main character, planned to take up that mantle after Casy was killed in trying.  Tom was willing to risk it all.

Risking is hard.  Yet…can we lift a hand to help another?  Can we offer a drink of water?  Can we feed the starving?  Can we bring Jesus to the hearts of the lost?  Will we?

Helping-Others-Quotes-No-one-is-useless-in-this-world-who-lightens-the-burdens-of-another.Father, I ask Your forgiveness for all of the open doors I have walked passed, missing the golden moments to offer help.  And thank You for giving me an opportunity to feed one from Cuba recently when he asked for money for food.  We were just outside a cafe so I invited him in and bought his lunch. He was most grateful.  You blessed me, LORD, for this man truly wanted a meal.  My cynicism creeps in when so many have a hand out with looks of drug and alcohol abuse.  My trust in their request is zero for I judge them and think I know what it is they really want.  Guide me to those who You want me to help.  I trust in You and You alone.  Then I will know.  Father, take me by the hand and teach me Your ways that I will see Jesus in these with a need.  I don’t want to get to Heaven and find out just how many, many times I have missed Him here on this earth.  I know I will have missed many, but I don’t want to add to that number now.  I lift this prayer to You in Your Son’s Name. Amen. 


Martin Luther King, Jr. photo:

Charles Dickens’ Quote:


Originally posted on “Being Woven” June 16, 2015.  It is less of a book review than it is a statement yet I want this to be on this book review site as both books were powerful books and ones to be read.

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Reading



Can I say it any more emphatically?  This is truly a classic and one that continues to be read to the young, lessons learned by all.  Don’t let the original publication date of 1930 fool you or scare you away as the book holds its story so well.

There have been many editions, even some before 1930.  Sunday school lessons, stories entitled “The Pony Engine,” “Thinking One Can,” “Story of the Engine That Thought It Could,” “The Royal Engine,” and more were published in magazines, newspapers, as a small book, even the first title in a series that were sold door-to-door.  Roy E. Plotnick (of the University of Illinois @ Chicago) did some extensive research on the history of this little book.  Rather than go into detail here, I will refer you to if you are interested in that history.

The little train, filled with toys, stuffed animals, dolls, and even food (candies and nutritional fruits, milk, and greens), has to get to the other side of the mountain.  It just doesn’t have the ability so some of the toys disembark along the tracks.  The clown begins asking other engines passing by if they can help.  There is a “Shiny New Engine,” a “Big Strong Engine,” and a “Rusty Old Engine” which all answered that they could not, would not because they were a passenger train or a freight train or just too tired.  These excuses led to a sadness amongst the toys until a little blue engine came along.  When asked for help, she told them that she had never been over the mountain plus she was little.  But she decided to try.  She hooked the cars of the train to her engine and began the journey up over the mountain with an attitude of “I think I can.  I think I can.”  And she did.

“The Little Engine That Could” continues to teach the reader and listener the value of hard work and optimistism.   This little engine keeps right on chugging!

Reading Level: 3 – 5 Years

Arnold Munk is the real name of the author.  “Watty Piper” was his pen name as an author of children’s books and as the editor (and owner) of many of the books that Platt & Munk published.  He was born in Hungary, and as a child, moved to the United States with his family, settling in Chicago, and later, New York.

The illustrator for his original version in 1930 was Lois Lenski.  In 1954, Platt & Munk published another version of The Little Engine That Could, with slightly revised language and new, more colorful illustrations done by George and Doris Hauman.  “It was the work of George and Doris Hauman that earned The Little Engine the title of being worthy to sit on the same shelf as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” **  Since then, the tale has been re-illustrated by Ruth Sanderson in 1976, and Loren Long in 2005.  The version I am reviewing is the one illustrated by the Haumans, republished by Penguin in 1976.  I recommend looking at the version done by Loren Long for his art is wonderful.  You can find him at 

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780448405209
  • Publisher: Platt & Munk, Publishers, a division of Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1978
  • Edition description: Original Classic
  • Pages: 48
  • Product dimensions: 7.06 (w) x 11.06 (h) x 0.35 (d)

**  Bernice E. Cullinan, Diane Goetz Person. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. Continuum International Publishing Group, Aug 1, 2003.  Pg. 634

I originally reviewed this classic book on 7-31-2014.

Posted in Adult Fiction, Book, Book Review, Classic, Reading


51zRzieodBL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_In my mid sixties, I have finally read this classic.  It was never a required book in my years of high school nor college, but I am glad I have been desiring to read some classic literature now.  It truly is “literature” –  written works, esp. those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.”   The Good Earth was published in 1931, written of a time around the 1920s in China when the last emperor reigned in China.  Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel.

Wang Lung is a farmer.  The land is his security.  The land becomes more and more important to him as he ages.  He begins small, but fears, life’s upheavals, social and political changes, destitution, lust and greed factor into how Wang Lung lives each new day.  Wang Lung has a faithful, selfless wife, O-Lan.  She has known hard times, struggling since she was a girl for she was sold to the “Great House of Hwang” as a girl slave.

The Good Earth is about this couple, their country, China, and the sweeping changes of both the man and the country over his lifetime.  The book traces the slow rise of Wang Lung from humble peasant farmer to great landlord.  He achieves this feat by gradually adding to his lands and making enormous sacrifices to retain them through hard times.  Fortunes were gained and lost, horded and stolen.  Times of fear, hard living, hard work, lives filled with passion, ambitions, and rewards, times of sorrow and weakness fill this novel to overflowing.  The country of China then was an agrarian country so times were different.  The people lived on the land and worked it to live or they lived in the towns and cities making life there.  There were the poor and the wealthy with very little in between.  China certainly was not a world power as it is today.

I found this to be a fine novel of its eighty-three years.  It is beautifully written as the characters feel real, the emotions sadly authentic, and the life cycle ringing true no matter what country or time period we face.  This family struggles falling into bad times, regains their footing, experiences poverty and wealth.  There is anger between family members, love and appreciation for others.  Some use others for their own gain, and sense fear and jealousy of many, be they family members or neighbors in the nearest town.

So much is encompassed in this classic novel.  It is a fine piece of literature.

Bestselling book – both 1931 and 1932
Pulitzer Prize – 1935
Howells Medal – 1935
Nobel Prize in Literature – 1938  (first American woman to win this award as well)

Pearl S. Buck was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia.  She began to publish stories and essays in the 1920s, in magazines such as The Nation, The Chinese Recorder, Asia, and The Atlantic Monthly. Her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published by the John Day Company in 1930.  In 1931, John Day published Pearl’s second novel, The Good Earth.  By the time of her death in 1973, Pearl had published more than seventy books: novels, collections of stories, biography and autobiography, poetry, drama, children’s literature, and translations from the Chinese. She is buried at Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780743272933
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2004
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)


Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Reading

SWIMMY by Leo Leonni

5126507As a 50th Anniversary edition, you know it’s got to be a classic.  Indeed, it is.

Swimmy is a little black fish.  He swims the big sea alone much of the time and is lonely.  He does find other small fish to be fearful of those big fish, the predator fish.  Swimmy comes up with a wonderful teamwork plan to keep them safe and yet able to swim in their ocean rather than staying huddled up inside a cavern or behind a rock.  It is their home too, you know.

This is a book filled with great illustrations that takes the reader below the surface of the sea.  Through discovery in this big wide ocean, Swimmy finds that a little bit of community and working together to overcome danger and releasing fear turns loneliness into fresh expansive living by being open to what is before you.  We can take this lesson and use it whether under water, in the air, or on the earth.  You will love this book if it is new to you or if it is time to break it out for the grandchildren.

Award:  Caldecott Honor Book – 1964

Reading Level:  Age range: 3 – 7 Years

LEO LIONNI wrote and illustrated more than 40 picture books, including four Caldecott Honor books–Inch by Inch, Swimmy, Frederick, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse.  He was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1910.  He attended schools in Europe and the United States, eventually earning a PhD.  He spoke five languages.  In 1939, he immigrated to the United States, and was naturalized as a citizen in 1945.  He worked as a design director, artist, author, and sculptor. His work has been shown throughout Europe and America.  He died in 1999 at the age of 89.

Random House has devoted a page with links to learn more about Mr. Lionni @  It includes activities, videos, and all the books that they have published of Mr. Lionni’s.

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780385753586
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Edition description: Anniversary
  • Edition number: 50
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Originally reviewed 3-23-2014

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading


7424031Margaret Wise Brown has written classic children’s books such as Goodnight Moon and The Runaway BunnyGoodnight Songs is a collection of poetry and lullabies never published before.  The editor, Amy Gary, was visiting Margaret Wise Brown’s sister, Roberta Rauch.  Ms. Gary asked if she knew of any unpublished manuscripts of her sister.  Mrs. Rauch shared that there was a trunk.  After many visits to see Mrs. Rauch, months in the passing, asking about the “trunk,” Ms. Gary was finally shown the contents of “a trunk in the attic of [her] barn” filled with papers, typewritten with handwritten notes in the margins, musical scores to go with the words.  The sister shared that near the end of Ms. Brown’s life, she wrote songs for children.  As it turned out, she was under contract by a new children’s recording company and was creating television and radio shows filled with children’s songs and stories.  She collaborated with singers like Rosemary Clooney and Burl Ives.  Margaret Wise Brown wanted “to capture that spirit of a child’s world.”  She would hear children making up songs as they went about their day and wanted to embrace that free and delightful characteristic of being a child.

Not only is this book filled with twelve, up until now, unpublished songs and/or poems, but each song is illustrated by a different artist who has achieved illustrative fame in his or her own right.  For example, Eric Puybaret is best-selling illustrator of “Puff, The Magic Dragon” by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton.  Another is Jonathan Bean, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for “At Night” and “Building Our House.”  There are others: Dan Yaccarino, Linda Bleck, Renata Liwska, plus seven others.  There are biographies of each illustrator at the end of the book.

The book comes with a CD filled with the music of “Tom and Emily” – a duo (Tom Proutt and Emily Gary), as well as other musicians.  They took Margaret Wise Brown’s words, put voice and instrumentation to each poem/song, translating Margaret Wise Brown “beautifully and respectfully.”  Credits of each song are inside the back cover.

Reading Level: 3 – 6 Years

Margaret Wise Brown is one of the most popular children’s authors of all time; her classic Goodnight Moon, illustrated by Clement Hurd, has sold more than twenty-four million copies and her books.  Another book that is still in print is The Runaway Bunny.  Those two along with Big Red Barn and The Golden Egg Book have never been out of print. Her stories are timeless and classics.  Several generations have grown up with her stories and her influence has been felt around the world.  Her official website is

Book Information
•    ISBN-13: 9781454904465
•    Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
•    Publication date: 3/4/2014
•    Pages: 28
•    Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Original review was done in October, 2014 for my prior book blog.

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Picture Book, Reading


7502045Corduroy, a toy bear, has been sitting on a department store shelf so long that one of his buttons from his overalls is missing.  While shopping one day, a girl, Lisa, and her mother happened to pass by that shelf when Lisa spotted him.  Oh, how she wanted that bear so very much, but her mother told her that she had spent all she was going to spend that day.  The mother then noticed the missing button, making Corduroy less than a desirable toy anyway.  So Corduroy was left upon the shelf again.  That night after the store had closed, Corduroy decided to search the department store for his button, only to get himself into some trouble while disturbing the night watchman too.  The next day, Lisa comes back with money from her piggy bank to buy Corduroy.  She also knows how to sew on buttons.

Corduroy is a simple story of need, love, and caring, one that children of all ages have been enjoying since 1968 when it was originally published by The Viking Press.

This delightful children’s classic keeps families reading and rereading, generation to generation.

Reading Level: 3 – 5 Years

In 2007, the National Education Association named Corduroy one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”
School Library Journal named Corduroy one of the “Top 100 Picture Books” of all time in a 2012 poll.

Author and Illustrator
Don Freeman (1908 – 1978) was the author and illustrator of many popular books for children, including Corduroy, A Pocket for Corduroy, and the Caldecott Honor Book Fly High, Fly Low.  Mr. Freeman’s son has set up this website to learn more about Mr. Freeman, his art, and his books:
For the story behind this charming book, Corduroy, go to

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780140501735
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1976
  • Series: Corduroy Series
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.13 (d)

On 6/22/2014, I reviewed this book on my original book blog.