kid book recommendation

Well, we’re recovering from Thanksgiving here in Landisville. I managed to eat turkey every day, and drink quite a lot of good wine. Hope you and yours had a lovely time, too.

As I mentioned a few days ago, my MIL came and stayed with us over Thanksgiving. She brought books for the kids, along with excellent mushrooms for the adults. And the book that she brought for the Bee was so extraordinary, that I just had to share it. It was The Old Country, by Mordicai Gerstein. It was the first time that the Bee just demanded that we read a book all the way through until it was done, in that fanatical way that I (and I suspect other book-lovers) get. They zipped through it in just under two days, and after it was over, the Bee clutched it to her chest and said, “I’m keeping this book forever, and I’m going to read it to my kids when I’m a grown-up.”

That made me so happy, because I know two things now. #1 is that the Bee is listening when I talk to her about books that I read in my childhood. One of my major regrets about the dissolution of my childhood home, is that all my books were lost. Landisdad has acres of books that he read in childhood, which we got when his mom sold their house (right before the Bee was born). I’m not really sure what happened to the books that I owned as a kid. There was only so much stuff I could take when I moved in with my dad. I guess I thought my mom would hold on to stuff like that, but she hasn’t (and she’s moved several times herself). It’s one thing to buy new copies of books that I loved as a child. It’s another for my kids to read the actual books that landisdad had (most complete with inscriptions from his parents).

Thing #2 that I now know is that she understands that reading is something to share and enjoy, not something to keep to yourself. And those are pretty good lessons about books, as far as I’m concerned.

The Old Country is an allegory about the Holocaust, told through the eyes of animals. There’s a substantial fantasy element, with humans turning into animals & vice versa. The review of it that I read (after the fact) says it’s recommended for kids 11-14, and there are some disturbing scenes of war in the book. It’s a bit advanced for the Bee, frankly, and I wouldn’t have bought it for her myself. But it is an incredible piece of writing, and I highly recommend it for older kids. Gerstein’s other books all seem to be for much younger readers–on the strength of this one, I’m buying the Potato his Alphabet book for a Hanukkah present. Gerstein was apparently an animator before he got into children’s books, and I’m really looking forward to some interesting illustrations.


November 28, 2005. books for kids. 11 comments.