I'm Emily Reynolds.
I'm Emily Reynolds.
1) Pumpkin Cat, written by Anne Turner,
and illustrated by Amy June Bates
If you don't love Halloween hoopla, this little bastion of soft, comforting hygge can’t help but leave you liking the fall season itself. The characters in Pumpkin Cat remind a reader of what's really important in life—helping others, and establishing a warm, welcoming home for those we can serve.
2) The Runaway Pumpkin, by Kevin Lewis
and illustrated by S.D. Schindler
This iconic lap-slapping, rhythmic classic, must be a favorite for thousands. But this review is for "the one" of you who has not yet discovered it. From the thumpity-bumpity prose, to the funny and clever illustrations, this story is sheer childhood magic.
When Buck and Billy Baxter and their baby sister, Lil, find, and pluck, a gigantic pumpkin from its stem (at the top of a hillside above their grandparents' farm), all chaos breaks loose. The resolution is cozy and homey, and full of satisfied family goodness. Like hot pumpkin soup in a warm bowl, you could spoon it up and almost slurp it down. (Check out other fantastic books illustrated by S.D. Schindler: Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails, Louder Lili, and The Story of Salt.)
3) A Job for Wittilda,
by Caralyn and Mark Buehner
If you have a nasaly, but likable, witch voice (cackle's included!), you can pull out all the stops with this one. Husband and wife team, Mark and Caralyn Buehner, sure did with their comical story and delightful illustrations. Wittilda's big-heart draws children in to make them root for her character to find and keep a job. After all, who else would support her household of forty-seven cats?! EEK! Retro in sense of time and place, this tale feels as if it's lit from within by a glowing lava-lamp.
P.S. As with all Buehner books, Wittilda is packed with hide-and-seek pictures to keep little people searching while listening, and adults chuckling at the engaging play between what going on in the illustrations vs. what's spelled out in the story.
P.P.S. Be sure to seek out characters from the Buehners’ other books while reading, such as "Marvin the Ape." And, ask your child to see if he/she can spot the author's self-portrait Easter egg in the crowd at Dingaling Pizza. (Hint: he’s ear to ear with the snowman.) Enjoy!
4) Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson,
and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
This dynamic duo from England and Germany must be the cleverest creative pair yet from over the pond. Have you seen all their collaborations? If not, Google their titles and have fun checking out one each visit from the library over the next several months.
*Spoiler alert!* This joyful story lets gentle readers see for themselves that, “what we reap, we sow.” The tender witch is so gentle and open to welcoming lost and lonely souls, that the ending of the story is truly a satisfying thrill for children.
After reading the story, you won’t be disappointed to find that the short film adaptation (on Amazon Prime this October) is every bit as loving, big-hearted, and funny as the book.
Here's a fun link that introduces more Julia Donaldson titles (and these aren't even her best--I'll review those over the months to come...): https://www.kidsstoppress.com/article-individual/6-books-of-julia-donaldson-every-child-must-read/15023?fbclid=IwAR0CSKppKa_xHnbnl7_SLmsuPdnk8mcCvhZBhtD813WJ1R1sKl4BREPH_Kw
5) A Witch Got on at Paddington Station,
by Dylan Sheldon and Wendy Smith
Another witch book? Yep. And another UK-created title--at that! This little treasure was a serendipitous find for me at a thrift shop last year. Bingo! I absolutely love it! I begged my kids to let me read it aloud three or four times the first week we brought it home. A sweet but slightly clueless protagonist shares a (Mary Poppins'-style) surprise, on accident, with grumpy and complacent passengers on the city bus. And they're all the better for it--reminding us of the magic that lies in wait around every corner of this life—even while using the public transportation system--if we root for the underdog and have patience with others' quirks.
*Alert, alert!*: This nugget is super fun to read-aloud in a cockney accent if you happen to be an Anglophile. "Cheerio, and spit spot, Jane and Michael. Let's tidy-up, then!"
6) Pat of Silverbush, by L.M. Montgomery
What could be more delicious than to read some L.M. Montgomery in autumn?
The sense of home in the Pat of Silverbush, and Mistress Pat books is so vivid, one almost feels guilty for such raptures in the simple goodness of life as we know it. What a blessing is each day!
Here's a favorite review from a dear friend on Goodreads (thanks, Jo! Hope you don't mind I'm plunking down your words here...):
"I loved this sequel to Pat of Silver Bush. I think I even probably like the two Pat books better than the Anne of Green Gables books - I just adore the picture of contented domesticity at Silver Bush they paint, with the marvelous descriptions of evenings sat together round the table, eating and telling stories. It just makes me feel all warm and cozy inside, and I love those sorts of books. In the second half of this book, the domesticity rather recedes, and it becomes the gentle romance I was hoping for at the end of Pat of Silver Bush - the ultimate resolution of the plot is exactly what I expected, but there were several points during the book when I couldn't quite see how it was all going to work out correctly. When it finally did, in the last four pages or so, I found that it was so joyful I had to go to bed for a bit of a weep. An utterly lovely book. I'm just sorry that it's a library book and I'll have to take it back rather than keeping it on the bookshelves."
If you ever find yourself in Prince Edward Island, stop at the Anne of Green Gables Museum--across from the Lake of Shining Waters--the actual Silver Bush Farm, of which L.M. said, "I love this old spot better than any place on earth."
As Anne Shirley once said, “I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” So bring on the cooler nights, pile on an extra blanket or two, fill up a mug with hot cocoa, and check out a copy of Pat of Silverbush!
Happy golden minutes of reading, my bookworm buddies!