Book Review: Children’s Books

Christmas is coming! I love to give ( and to receive) books. I especially love to give books to children.  I loved it when my own children were young and now that I have a Grandson I’m always looking for books to give him. So he will be getting books for Christmas.   One of the great joys in life is the bedtime story. I loved it as a child myself, I loved reading to my children at bedtime and it is my favourite time with my Grandson. If you are like me then here are two books you might like for the children in your life.

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“The Little Horse Bus” by Graham Greene and illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. This book was originally published in 1952 and the edition with illustrations by Edward Ardizzone first appeared in 1974. This latest edition was published in 2015.

The first horse I met was the one that pulled the milk cart to my Grandmother’s house in London, England. Children who would have been introduced to “The Little Horse Bus” in the 1950’s would have also have seen horses  pulling carts with goods in the streets although the motor car was taking over. In this story the grocer, Mr. Potter, is a good hearted man who gives lollipops to the children who come into his shop. But he is driven near bankruptcy by a bigger  store, that is part of a chain and owned by a man who is unpleasant and ” too ugly” to be given a drawing in the book.  The big chain has a hansom cab and a flashy horse to deliver groceries. Mr. Potter, in a desperate last ditch attempt to keep going, dusts off a small “horse bus” from storage and hitches it up to a pony he had rescued. Shortly the drama begins. The big store’s hansom cab is stolen with all the weeks money in it. The little horse bus see this happen and tells his pony to pursue the thieves. They chase the thieves through the streets of London and finally , when the pony is tired and ready to give up, the horse bus shouts “Charge!” and they break into the thieves’ hiding place, rescue the fancy horse and all of the money. Mr. Potter is a hero , his  customers come back to him, the big store closes down and ….Happy Ending! It is a charming story with a moral .

The second book is “The Crow’s Tale” written and beautifully illustrated by Naomi Howarth. This is the story of the Rainbow Crow–a Pennysylvania Lenni Lenape Native legend– of how the crow came to be black and have such a rasping voice.

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The Rainbow Crow is a beautiful bird with brilliantly colored plumage and a lovely voice. In a desperately cold winter he volunteers to fly to the sun to beg for help to save the animals from starvation and freezing. The sun gives him a branch of fire to carry home for warmth. Rainbow Crow flies through storms and winds but does not let go of the fiery branch.  By the time he gets home he is “sooty and croaky, scorched , singed and blackened.” The animals are all very grateful to him as the fire they light saves them all.

But Rainbow Crow looks at his blackened feathers and starts to cry. The sun sees his sadness and asks him what is wrong. Rainbow Crow tells him that the others will not like him now that he is not beautiful. The sun replies:

“You are selfless and brave. It’s not how you look, but how you behave.  Can you not see what others see? You’re as beautiful as you can possibly be.”

The closing words of this story are:

“Pretty or ugly, slim, thin or fatter,  your beauty inside is the heart of the matter.”

Both of these books are suitable for young children and both have a story within the story .  I am looking forward to reading both of them to my Grandson.

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