My Summer of Books – Part 2

In  Part 1 I talked about many of the picture books in this photo, which shows all the children’s books I read this summer.


Part 2 continues with the picture books, and bridges to older children’s books.


Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud, by Lynn Plourde

A Model T Ford is ‘stopped in the rud by some pigs in the mud’.  Grandma is in charge.   The rhyming is classic and draws in the reader.  “Oh no.  Won’t do.  Gotta shoo.  But who?”  The story goes from pigs to hens to sheep to bulls – and the descriptive words  have a wide range from squealed, rutted, reeled, tussled, rustled and many more.  These aren’t typical vocabulary words for children, making the story all the better.  We see farming life in the early 20th century, with a classic sequence of events.  From the rhyming to what happens next, the book is delightful.


Fireboat, the Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, by Maira Kalman

I reviewed this as part of an Eric Carle Museum post.  It was a favorite summer read.

Are you familiar with the John J. Harvey fireboat?  I wasn’t either.  It was launched in New York City in 1931, the same year Babe Ruth hit his 611th home run, and Snickers hit the candy stores.  The popular word Hot-Cha was invented.

The book opens with events and structures in New York City, such as the George Washington Bridge suspended over the Hudson River.

All the illustrations are beautiful.  The reader becomes part of the city in years gone by. Time passes.  We learn about the working parts of the fireboat and the crew.  The John J. Harvey helps to fight the fire on the ocean liner NORMANDIE.  Sometimes it goes out in the water just to celebrate, shoot water, and have fun.

By 1995 there were many fireboats, and the Harvey was set to be retired and sold for scrap. Of course the people who loved her rallied to save and buy the boat.  She was repaired and spent her days on the water, visiting other boats.  Did you know that four toots means hello?

Then something terrible happened at 8:45 AM on September 11, 2001.

The John J. Harvey wanted to help and get back to work.  We learn what each crew member was doing at the time, before they rushed to the fireboat.  No, she was too old to fight the fires, but she could help rescue people… and then at last she got “the call”, she was needed to supply water to the firefighters.  She was once again a real fireboat.


Love You When…, by Linda Kranz

The past school year began with reading Only One You, and ended with reading You Be You, both by Kranz.  This summer I scored a hat trick by discovering her third ‘rock’ book, Love You When… The trilogy is a warm and delightful collection of stories about being yourself, finding your way, bravery, family, and love.  Children at school loved the first two, and this new discovery will be all the more meaningful with school reopening during the pandemic.  Why?  It is these affirmations of being okay and feeling grounded, which children desperately need to hear right now.

The book opens with, “Do you think of me during the day?” you ask.  “Yes,” I say as I close my eyes for a moment and smile.  In a voice as soft as a whisper you say, “Tell me when.” Each page has a beautiful photograph of rocks and the “when” words – “When a gentle breeze rustles through our backyard wind chime.”  Every page, every photo, every “when” moment is beautiful and comforting for children.


Prairie Days, by Patricia MacLachlan

The glorious illustrations by Micha Archer bring an abundance of life to Patricia MacLachlan’s intentional and soft words.  The story takes place over a summer day on the farm.  The opening sentence is, “Where I was born, the earth smelled of cattle and bluegrass and hyssop.”  Dogs, hay wagons, the farm pond, trains, sheep, and the wooden porch swing are woven into a childhood story.  The reader is left feeling the slow pace and happiness of years gone by.

The author won the Newbery Award for Sarah, Plain and Tall.  She wrote my favorite book, The Poet’s Dog, and many others.  Patricia MacLachlan has a way with words.  Just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be a book as good as The Poet’s Dog… there is, and MacLachlan wrote it – My Father’s Words.

Stay tuned for Part 3 as I review this outstanding book for older children and the other upper grade books I read this summer.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Particia MacLachlan, picture books, reading and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to My Summer of Books – Part 2

  1. My grandson is going to love these !! Thank you so much ……….

  2. srbottch says:

    Wonderful reviews, Jennie. You must have enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed your reviews.

  3. Opher says:

    I love the books you choose Jennie!

  4. These all look so good! I could go with Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud. Sometimes a person just needs some good rhyming words to start the day off right.

  5. beth says:

    thank you! i’m going to buy the linda kranz books!

  6. Dan Antion says:

    If our library opens, I think I might spend a day in the children’s portion 🙂

  7. Darlene says:

    I love the Patricia MacLachlan book as it is my childhood to a T! All great reviews, Jennie. What fun you must have had reading these books.

    • Jennie says:

      The book is truly wonderful! I can see this as your childhood. The illustrations are among the best I have seen. I hope your library will carry the book. It will be a pleasure for you to read it, Darlene, as it was for me. 😀

  8. mimionlife says:

    What a great list of books! I hope you will read my children’s book, “Licky the Lizard”. 🙂

  9. beetleypete says:

    I still like the look of the Fireboat book. That might be one for our grandson.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  10. These all sound great, Jennie. I particularly like the sound of Pigs in the Mud.

  11. Wonderful books, Jennie. You make me want to read them all. 🙂

  12. Your choices sound lovely! I’ve picked another from this list to add to my want list. I think books will be the theme I whisper in Santa’s ear for this year’s stockings. 😍

  13. Ritu says:

    Gorgeous book collection 🥰

  14. Good ones, Jennie. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Micha Archer’s illustrations are superb. Thanks for the peek at them.

  16. Wonderful selections, Jennie! ❤ Sharing..

  17. petespringerauthor says:

    Fireboat is the only one I’ve read. I’m looking forward to the upper-grade books. I have already read Darlene’s book (Amanda in Alberta). It had a compelling story, but what I liked best was how she incorporated so much history throughout.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad to know you have read “Fireboat”! Did you like it as much as I did? Please tell me, and be honest. I love the upper grade books as much as I do picture books. That’s why I read aloud at the library. And, summer is my precious window of time to read these books for myself. So the ones I’m writing about in Part 3 are those I read this summer. And, they were so good! The history in “Amanda in Alberta” was terrific. I really want to read “Amanda in Holland”, with the WWII history. That’s next on my list.

      Did you read “Sarah, Plain and Tall” to your students? That was mandatory reading when my kids were in third grade. That’s how I fell in love with Patricia MacLachlan’s books. I will have much to say.

      Do you follow GP Cox? He writes about his dad in WWII. Awesome blog! He likes my blog, and told me he gets many requests about books to read to children about death. Right up my alley! He thinks people need book suggestions in light of the pandemic. He’s right. That will be my next mission.

      Thank goodness for books, especially children’s books. 🙂

      • petespringerauthor says:

        Yes, Fireboat is excellent! I know there are many fantastic picture books and easy readers because I taught 2nd grade, but most of my experience lies with the upper classes. I also typically read at least two years above grade level when I read to my students because it was a terrific way to build vocabulary development. (not to mention that the books get more interesting)

        When we broke the classes into ability levels, Sarah, Plain, and Tall was one of my regular books that the kids tackled with partners. I look forward to your comments.

        I have crossed paths with GP Cox a couple of times on others’ blogs, so I’m somewhat familiar with him. I’ll have to check out his blog. Books about death are so touchy as we never know what experiences the kids have had with it in their families. If I were reading Where the Red Fern Grows or another book that dealt with death, I’d often write the parents in advance to get a feel for what they thought their child would be comfortable with. Sometimes parents opted to have the child sent out of the room. It’s one of those sensitive areas that teachers have to navigate carefully.

      • Jennie says:

        I knew you must have loved Fireboat! Interestingly, I do the same as you do, reading above the grade level. No one else reads “Charlotte’s Web” to preschoolers. We both know it works, from new vocabulary words to new experiences. I think the older level books make me stop more often to ask questions and have discussions. It’s wonderful. It’s teaching at it’s best.

        Yes, death books are tricky and touchy. My goodness… “Where the Red Fern Grows”. What a great book. “Old Yeller” is, too. I will try my best to ‘level’ the books I write about on my post, from age level to categories (worry to death). GP is terrific. I think you will like his blog.

        I often write to families ahead of time. Those newsletters were part of why I started a blog. Isn’t that wonderful? Whether it was the death of a classroom pet, or a book I was reading, I wrote to parents. I vividly remember one that I need to post… 🙂

  18. I envy you the reason to read children’s books all summer. I may just have to find some to read myself. They look so wonderful.

  19. magarisa says:

    What a varied, educational collection!

  20. CarolCooks2 says:

    Some wonderful books, Jennie…I have a question about books for Lily do you have an e-mail please I could ask your advice on?

  21. L. Marie says:

    LOVE Patricia MacLachlan. so Prairie Days is a must have!!

  22. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for this wonderful selection of books!

  23. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is Part 2 in Jennie’s excellent series!

  24. They are so wonderful again.Isnt it not only art in literature, creating such wonderful picture books? Thank you for sharing, Jennie! Enjoy your week, Michael

  25. dgkaye says:

    Love all these books for little ones. Hopping over to part 3 to check out your picks for middle grade 🙂 x

  26. Pingback: orgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – Share your Children’s book reviews – #PictureBooks with Jennie Fitzkee Part Three – Upper grade books for older children. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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