Friday, January 10, 2014

Two Great Books For Children

The Four Seasons of Patrick – Susan Hughes
Pages: 96
Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Source: Review Copy

From Goodreads:
It's the start of winter, and Patrick is beginning to feel crowded out of his own family. His father's friend, Linda, and her seven-year-old daughter, Claire, are coming for dinner again. By the time spring arrives, not only is Patrick's father planning to marry Linda, but she and Claire will be coming to live with them at the summer's end. That just won’t do. So Patrick comes up with a big idea. He'll build a tree house where he can stretch out his arms and breathe. But wait. Will his father allow it? Where will he find the perfect tree? Who will give him a hand with the construction? And, most importantly, will his own tree house really be the hideaway he hopes for, especially from the irritating Claire?

As the autumn season arrives, Patrick discovers some surprising answers to these questions – and learns a little about the meaning of family.

My Thoughts:
This was a wonderful book with a wonderful message. As a teacher I see so many blended families. I hear kids tell me their feelings about such families. In this story we find Patrick, his older brother and their father living together after the death of their mother. Then dad starts dating a woman with a seven year old daughter. This doesn't go over well with Patrick. She gets into his things and kicks him. He sees her as a pest. When dad announces he is going to marry Linda and move her and her daughter Clare in with them Patrick decides to build a treehouse to give him space from this new family. He finds the perfect tree and sets about building it while his dad renovates the house for Clare. After Linda and Clare move in Patrick learns he is not the only one hurting about the situation. You really need to read the book to see how it turns out. I think anyone facing a situation like this needs to read this book to or with their children. It has a discussion guide in the back, but more than that I see it opening the doors of communication.

 The Cow-Pie Chronicles – James L. Butler
Pages: 192
Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Humor
Source: Review Copy

From Goodreads:
Ten-year-old Tim Slinger and his nine-year-old sister Dana face danger, excitement, and heartbreak in this story of life on a modern family farm. Though Tim (aka Poop Slinger) and "Devil" Dana engage in intense sibling rivalry that gets them both into hilarious situations with barns, ropes, farm animals, city-kid cousins, and each other, they are soon forced to confront unwanted changes when the farm is lost. As they face an alien world in town, Dana readily adapts to a new way of life while Tim resists, sending the siblings down separate but intersecting paths. Although an unexpected encounter puts Tim back into familiar surroundings, will life ever be the same? This fresh and humorous account of modern rural living brings a unique approach to the time-tested theme of families and communities coming together under challenging circumstances.

My Thoughts:

Growing up on a farm I could relate to so much of this. It brought back fond memories. On a farm you have to use your imagination to play.  I also remember when my city cousins would visit how much fun they had.  I couldn’t wait to spend the night in town with them.  It seemed like there was so much more to do.  I even recall saying I would move to the city when I grew up.  Then like Tim and his family we moved away from the farm.  The difference is we sold our farm to move to Florida.  We had chores just like Time and Dana.  We had accidents that required stitches from doing stupid things or things we weren’t supposed to do.  Dana easily adapts to life in the city as did all of my siblings.  I like Tim had a hard time adjusting and look forward to one day when my husband and I can move back to a rural area. We currently live in the city because my elderly mother lives with us.  She has recently started to reminisce about “the good old days on the farm”.  I think kids who have never lived on or been to a farm will enjoy this and learn a lot.  I also believe that children/adults who grew up on a farm will enjoy and be able to relate to this story.  I, like Tim, can look back on my life and see how living on a farm shaped me and my work ethic.  This is a wonderful book and I look forward to reading so much more by this author, and recommending the book to everyone.

Full Disclosure:  I received a copy of each book in exchange for my honest review.  I received no compensation and the opinions expressed here are my own.

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