Reading New England With Kids


For the past few weeks, the kids and I have been busy reading children’s book for Lori’s Reading New England challenge. Here are our favorites.

Three Children’s Books Set in New England

6434058The Circus Ship, Chris Van Dusen (4 to 8 years)

On a stormy night, a circus ship sinks off the coast of Maine. The animals are able to swim to a nearby island. At first, the inhabitants are not thrilled to find zebras in their flowerbeds, alligators on their wood stacks, and giraffes in their orchards, but they soon change their minds. When the greedy circus owner comes to reclaim his animals, they come together to outsmart him. Kid #3 loves the pictures in this book, and I love the perfect rhymes.

2955040The Courage of Sarah Noble, Alice Dalgliesh (7 to 10 years)

This book is based on a true story: In 1707, John Noble left the Massachusetts colony to claim some land he had purchased in Connecticut. His 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Noble, accompanied him. The journey to Connecticut is scary, but Sarah remembers her mother’s parting words: “Keep up your courage.” And so she bravely travels with her father and helps build a new home for the family. Kid #2 loves how brave Sarah is, and I love how the story is uplifting without glossing over the hardships people faced 300 years ago. (Note: The book has been criticized for its portrayal of Native Americans, but in context, I didn’t find it offensive at all.)

266904The Penderwicks, A Summer Tale, Jeanne Birdsall (8 to 12 years)

This is the first book in a series about the Penderwick sisters. In this one, they are spending a perfect summer vacation at a cottage that is part of the Arundel estate in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. Jeffrey, the son of the estate’s owner, is the perfect companion for their adventures, while his mother is less than thrilled with the girls. Kid #1 liked that each girl in the story is different, and I loved the old-fashioned charm of this book. It would have been perfect to read during summer vacation, but we’ll just do that with the next books in the series.

Three Books With NEIBA Book Awards

These books have all received an award from the New England Independent Book Sellers Association, though the stories themselves are not based in New England.

7224717 City Dog, Country Frog, Mo Willems (3 to 6 years)

Whenever Dog visits the country, the first thing he does is run to Frog’s rock to play with him. Throughout the seasons, they play Dog games and Frog games, but everything changes when winter arrives. It’s Mo Willems, that’s all I got to say.

12993697More, I. C. Springman (4 to 7 years)

Beautifully illustrated, this is the story of some friendly mice who convince a magpie that more is not always better. I’m hoping that this book has some subconscious influence on my three little horders.

24727085Baba Yaga’s Assistant, Marika McCoola (10 years and up)

When Masha’s father tells her he will remarry, Masha rather goes into the woods to become Baba Yaga’s assistant than deal with a stepmother and -sister. Remembering her grandmother’s stories helps Masha face the tests that Baba Yaga has for her—like dealing with the house-on-chicken-legs. Kid #1 loved the pictures in the book and would definitely go out to search for Baba Yaga, if she, “you know, ever felt like running away from home.” While I thought the relationship between Masha and her father could have used a little more detail, I liked how the Russian folklore about Baba Yaga has been reworked in this graphic novel.




  1. The Penderwicks is a favorite in our house! I think any of the books in that series would be perfect to read outside with everyone sitting on a blanket. 🙂

  2. Lovely post, TJ! I’ve made a note of Baba Yaga’s Assistant. I’m constantly on the lookout for interesting books for my godchildren and their siblings so this one sounds just the ticket.

  3. What a fun idea! It makes me want to go scour the library for kids’ books (even more than I already do). I think I would like The Courage of Sarah Nobel – I like the historical ones. We have The Penderwicks, but only the first one. I don’t know what the rest are like.
    ‘More’ sounds like it might be good for all ages. 😉

  4. The Courage of Sarah Noble and The Penderwicks sound good for my twins (who love historical fiction and/or books that feature female characters). Thanks for bringing them to my attention!

      • They enjoy a range of books, and they also enjoy reading books to their younger sister. So, I’m confident Sarah Noble will fit in. As for The Penderwicks, I sent the sample to one of my twins. She’s reading it right now. 🙂

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