This issue of the Children's Literature Newsletter is sponsored by:
Carol Hurst, Consultants. Bringing storytelling and language arts to your workshop, conference and classroom.
It's the fiftieth anniversary for a book that is as vital today as it was when the great green room was new. Goodnight Moon (Harper, 1947 ISBN 0 06 027504 9. Hardcover Anniversary edition ordering info with cover art. Paperback ordering info with cover art. Cassette ordering info. Spanish edition paperback ordering info. Spanish edition hardcover ordering info. Spanish edition cassette ordering info.) is available in a sturdy anniversary edition for those of us whose original volume is worn to fragility. The book was part of an attempt by Lucy Sprague Mitchell to offer young children an alternative to fairy tales. Margaret Wise Brown was inspired by Mitchell's teaching that children needed to explore the wonders of their immediate surroundings. Saying "goodnight" to every object in sight in a rhyming cadence lifted the book from a simple naming sequence to a picture book lullaby. There was considerable discussion over whether or not to make the little old lady and the child human or rabbit but illustrator Clement Hurd's insistence on the latter won out. He did not win another battle, however. Editor Ursula Nordstrom insisted that he remove the teats from the cow jumping over the moon which may explain why she jumped. If there's a new baby in your world, make sure not too many months go by before he or she is enjoying this comforting book.
Teachers and librarians working with young readers know the work of Patricia Reilly Giff. She's written many easily accessible books which have surprisingly involved plots for kids in second and third grades. Now she's given us something completely different: Lily's Crossing (Delacorte, 1997 ISBN 0 385 32142 2.) is for older kids, probably fourth grade and up. Like our theme for this issue of the newsletter, Lily's Crossing is set in the years of World War II. Every summer Lily and her father and grandmother have gone to Rockaway Beach for vacation at Gram's cottage. This year, however, everything is different: Lily's father, Poppy, is there only briefly before he goes off to war, her best friend Margaret has gone and there's no one left but Gram and a strange, awkward refugee, Albert.
The brief novel is warm and funny and tugs hard at the heart. Giff's touch is light and she evokes the era with telling details and her characters, particularly Albert and Gram, are fully developed and quite believable. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Patricia Reilly Giff spent her childhood summers at Rockaway Beach.
For older kids, Ann Rinaldi's historical fiction is always superb and her latest, The Second Bend in the River (Hardcover ordering info), is right up there with the rest. Rinaldi's account of a romance between Tecumseh and the young, white settler Rebecca Galloway is fascinating. In this lengthy novel for kids in sixth grade and up, we see the growing friendship through Rebecca's eyes. We also see the customs and events in the new state of Ohio through the careful research of Rinaldi. Rebecca's eventual choice to turn away from Tecumseh and the life and love he offers her is heart-wrenching and makes a nice contrast to the many novels in which an opposite choice is made. the character of Rebecca is quite believable and if Tecumseh comes off as larger than life, perhaps that's because he was.
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In Times Past
by Carol Hurst and Rebecca Otis
Integrating US History with Literature in Grades 3-8.
Enliven your US History curriculum!
Teach US History using great kids books.