Monday Children’s Book Reviews for March 7, 2011

Children’s Classics, Part 5: Fiction [continued]

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

“A retelling of Washington Irving’s classic tale about the superstitious schoolmaster. Meet the tall, gangly Ichabod Crane, the schoolmaster who is as much in love with Katrina Van Tassel’s fortune as he is with the beautiful Katrina herself. You will also meet Ichabod’s rival, the hotblooded brawler and prankster Brom Bones. And you can decide for yourself if Ichabod Crane really met the Headless Horseman on that dark, lonely road late one night.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a fine blend of comedy and the supernatural for the whole family.”                       [J IRVING]

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

“They open a door and enter a world – Narnia … a land frozen in eternal winter … a country waiting to be set free. Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia — a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change … and a great sacrifice.”                              [J LEWIS]

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“A year in the life of two young girls growing up on the Wisconsin frontier, as they help their mother with the daily chores, enjoy their father’s stories and singing, and share special occasions when they get together with relatives or neighbors.”                 [J WILDER]

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“The story is narrated by an aviator downed in the Sahara Desert who is trying to repair his wrecked airplane. His frenetic efforts are suddenly interrupted by the appearance of the Little Prince who, of all the things in the world, asks him to draw a sheep. The narrator is astonished and even wonders what a kid is doing in the middle of a desert.

“But, ‘When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey. Absurd as it might seem to me, a thousand miles from any human habitation and in danger of death, I took out of my pocket a sheet of paper and my fountain-pen.’

“Thus begins the interaction between the Little Prince and the aviator out of which is born a classic tale.”                             [J SAINT-EXUPERY]

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March live in New England with their mother while their father has gone to fight in the American War Between the States. Once their family had been well-to-do but their circumstances had reversed. While the March family doesn’t have monetary riches, they have love and family riches.”                                       [J ALCOTT]

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

“An extraordinary English nanny blows in on the East Wind with her parrot-headed umbrella and magic carpetbag and introduces her charges, Jane and Michael, to some delightful people and experiences.”      [J TRAVERS]

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

“Two children capture and tame a legendary wild pony in this classic tale. From the moment the Phantom and her foal, Misty, are brought to Chincoteague, Paul and Maureen overcome one obstacle after another to make these wild creatures their own. A must for every equestrian’s library.”        1948 Newbery Honor Book     [J HENRY]

The Moffats by Eleanor Estes

“Meet the Moffats. There is Sylvie, the oldest, the cleverest, and – most days at least – the responsible one; Joey, who though only twelve is the man of the house…sometimes; Janey, who has a terrific upside-down way of looking at the world; and Rufus, who may be the littlest but always gets in the biggest trouble.

“Even the most ordinary Moffat day is packed with extraordinary fun. Only a Moffat could get locked in a bread box all afternoon, or dance with a dog in front of the whole town, or hitch a ride on a boxcar during kindergarten recess. And only a Moffat could turn mistakes and mischief into hilarious one-of-a-kind adventure.”                 [J ESTES]

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

“First published in 1938, this story of a housepainter who is sent a male penguin by the great Admiral Drake, and who, thanks to the arrival of a female penguin, soon has twelve penguins living in his house, has amused and enchanted generations of children and their parents.”         1939 Newbery Honor Book       [J ATWATER]

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

“Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.”          1972 Newbery Medal Winner       [J O’BRIEN]

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

“At first, Travis couldn’t stand the sight of Old Yeller

“The stray dog was ugly, and a thieving rascal, too. But he sure was clever, and a smart dog could be a big help on the wild Texas frontier, especially with Papa away on a long cattle drive up to Abilene.

“Strong and courageous, Old Yeller proved that he could protect Travis’s family from any sort of danger. But can Travis do the same for Old Yeller?” 1957 Newbery Honor Book                  [J GIPSON]

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