Summer is winding down, with the exception of the heat which seems to be gearing up. A few delightful stories have come my way recently and I’m excited to share this edition of Endpapers. This whole set of books is ideal for late summer reading, so pick one to fill in those poolside hours in this last month of summertime.
Sweet stories for young readers and listeners
Christina Katerina and the Box by Patricia Lee Gauch (with illustrations by Doris Burn) is an adorable throwback story to times when a single large box could provide weeks of playtime. Friendship, creativity, and resilience are modeled well in this sweet picture story. Text is brief and rhythmic, just right for young listeners. Warning: it just may encourage you to order something big enough on Amazon Prime to merit a jumbo cardboard box.
We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen is made perfect by its illustrations. Doris Burn, illustrator of Christina Katerina and the Box, brings this beautiful story to life with her pen and ink drawings. A story of sibling affection and adventure, We Were Tired of Living in a House re-imagines every child’s game of “orphans.” Like Christina Katerina, the story is rhythmic and predictable, but in the way that makes you smile with each page turn. I adore this book. [Be careful to find the 1969 printing. The book has been reprinted with new – and very disappointing – illustrations. It is the vintage drawings that complete this book.]
The Milly-Molly-Mandy series by Joyce Lankester Brisley follows a little girl through the mildest of trials and struggles. In classic moral fable pattern, Milly-Molly-Mandy faces a decision in each story. When she chooses rightly, which she always does, she is pleasantly rewarded. The stories may be painfully simple, but they are just right for little listeners. With a repeating cast of characters in a tiny village setting, coziness abounds and children will feel at home as they travel from adventure to adventure.
Saving the Countryside by Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati does what great picture book biographies do: it reminds you that there’s always more to a story than what you thought you knew. While sweetly uncovering the details of Beatrix Potter’s life that led to her famous stories and drawings, Saving the Countryside also uncovers a delightful surprise about this author’s commitment to the countryside of England. I won’t spoil it for you.
Delightful reads for middle-grade
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus is a rare (very rare!) gem: it’s a book published in 2021 without any nod to current cultural agenda. The tenderly crafted story follows three siblings as they’re evacuated from WWII-era London and placed in the countryside. Sweetly referencing over a dozen pieces of classic literature for children, the book is a dream for literature lovers. I cannot fault this book in any way. Put it on your next library pickup list.
Little Britches, along with the rest of the series, by Ralph Moody tell the long, slow story of a family (long and slow in the good ways). Ralph and his family move across the country (more than once), struggle together, succeed together, and prove that sticking together is the heart of family. I actually read a different book in the series (Mary Emma and Company) most recently, and can heartily recommend that installment. Every mom will be inspired by Mary Emma. Pick any book in this series; you will not be disappointed.
Cultural insight for moms and dads
Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier is a must-read for any Christian parent today. Written by a secular journalist who noticed a distressing sudden swell in adolescent girls suddenly claiming “gender dysphoria” and determining to identify as “transgender,” Irreversible Damage explores the causes (and heart-breaking effects) of this craze. Richly researched and filled with anecdotal interviews, the book fearlessly uncovers the shift in what female adolescence looks like today (hint: it’s no longer painting fingernails while playing M.A.S.H. and listening to mix-tapes) and the cultural tidal wave that has resituated parents as “toxic” and internet celebs as professionals. I plan to read this book again and I highly recommend it to anyone raising a child.