Thursday, June 27, 2013

Humorous Historical Fiction

These books, each unique and wonderful in their own right, take us along with our heroes on their  boyhood adventures. Taking place during the early and mid 1900's and written in the 1950's, be forwarned that stereotypes and prejudice abound. However these all provide great opportunities for discussion and learning. I read all these books growing up and loved every one!  They are wonderful stories to share with the whole family. Both The Great Brain and Henry Huggins have wonderful audio books -- perfect for summer vacation!

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey-- Six humorous stories of a young boy growing up in a small Midwestern town.  Homer's idyllic hometown is the perfect setting for quirky characters, humorous episodes and mysterious occurances.

Soup by Robert Newton Peck-- One of my absolute favorites as a kid!  Robert Newton Peck relates his misadventures growing up with his best friend Soup on a farm in rural Vermont during the 1920's. Told from the point of view of Rob, Soup's best friend, the stories relate bad choices made and lessons learned, all with lots of humor thrown in. A great book to read aloud! For cautious parents look out for prejudice, spanking, and the boys trying smoking for the first time. The first of a series.

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, illustrated by Mercer Mayer-- JD must contend with his brother The Great Brain who attempts to swindle every kid in town. JD's friends and family know The Great Brain is up to no good, but never seem to be able to catch him in the act.  Hilarious stories of early frontier life in Utah. Be cautioned that issues such as drowning and suicide are dealt with in this book. They are portrayed in a matter of fact and somewhat humorous way which seems consistent with the time period when death was probably much more of a matter of fact occurrence. The first in a series.

Henry Huggins by Bevery Cleary -- Henry is the wonderful male counterpart to Beverly Cleary's timeless character Romona.  (If you have not read the Ramona series-- you must!).  Henry is his own lovable character trying to make the right choices and getting into trouble while doing just that.  With his trusty companion Ribsy at his side Henry takes on the challenges of growing up.  First in a series.

If your kids are assigned historical fiction reading this summer, you can't go wrong with anyone of these wonderful books!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fun Historical Books for a New England Vacation

Our family recently rented an RV and took a fabulous road trip up the New England coast. We planned to visit the historic Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and to do the Freedom Trail in Boston. Since I’m a huge history lover I wanted the kids to have some historical context before we started on our journey.  To prepare the kids I checked out some great books from the library.

Liberty or Death: The American Revolution 1763-1783 by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro -- This colorful book provides a easy to understand narrative of the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.

Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley, Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. A fun book highlighting the differences between John and Tom and how their different personalities helped to start a revolution.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, graved and painted by Christopher Bing. A lovely book illustrating the famous story of Paul Revere's midnight ride. My kids loved this one.

You Wouldn’t Want to be at the Boston Tea Party! Wharf Water Tea You’d Rather Not Drink by Peter Cook, Illustrated by David Antram -- If you're not familiar with this wonderful series, check it out!  My kids love the gruesome descriptions and cartoonish pictures.  Presents history in a fun and engaging way.

John, Paul, George and Ben by Lane Smith. A hilarious look at the quirks of the founding fathers.  Kids will love the scene where Paul uses his loud voice to order extra large underwear!

George vs. George The American Revolution as Seen From Both Sides. By Rosalyn Schanzer. An interesting book that shows the revolution from the sides of both Georges.

You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on a 19th-Century Whaling Ship! Grisly Tasks You’d Rather Not Do. By Peter Cook, illustrated by David Antram -- Another great book in the You Wouldn't Want To Series. Bonus--When we went to Mystic my seven year old was able to answer questions about whaling!

Whale Port by Mark Foster, Illustrated by Gerald Foster -- a beautifully illustrated book about the busy life in a 1600’s whaling port.  For early readers the many wonderful detailed illustrations will keep them entertained.  For older readers the text is informative and engaging.