Smoky Night


Smoky Night

Eve Bunting, text

David Diaz, illustrations

Harcourt, 1994

32 pp.

Age: 6+

Interests: city life, crime, racial tension, violence, community, single parent family, cats

Also by this author: Fly Away Home, Coffin on a Case!, The Memory String, How Many Days to America?, Night Tree, S.O.S Titanic



Sam, Bangs & Moonshine


Sam, Bangs & Moonshine

by Evaline Ness

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966

36 pp.

Age: 5+

Interests: cats, imagination, tall tales, storms, ocean, storms, pets, single parent

Other books illustrated by Evaline Ness: All in the Morning Early, A Pocketful of Cricket, Tom Tit Tot


The Saturdays

The Saturdays

by Elizabeth Enright

(first book in the Melendy Quartet series)

Henry Holt and Company, 1941

177 pp., 8 chapters

Age: 7+

Interests: family, siblings, art, music

Next: the other 3 Melendy books are The Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five, Spiderweb for Two: a Melendy Maze

Also by this author: Thimble Summer, Gone-Away Lake


Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth

BLUE SPRUCE nominee – 2012

Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth

by Marie-Louise Gay

Toronto: House of Anansi/Groundwood Books, 2010

28 pp.

Age: 3+

Interests: digging, scientific inquiry, nature, animals

Also by this author: Rainy Day Magic, Stella: Queen of the Snow


A Little Princess

A Little Princess

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

first published in 1905 (prior to that the story appeared as a serialized novella and a play)

201 pp., 19 chapters

Ages: (to be read to) 6 +; (to read) 8 +

Interests: boarding schools, girls, history, class, hardship

Also by this author: The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy

Next: MOVIES – A Little Princess (1939) with Shirley Temple, A Little Princess (1995) both with significant plot changes. TV ADAPTATIONS – 1973 and 1986, both apparently very faithful to original book.


Sarah, Plain and Tall


Sarah, Plain and Tall

by Patricia MacLachlan

New York: HarperCollins, 1985

58 pp., 9 chapters

Ages: 5 +

Interests: history, farm life, prairies, stepmothers

Next: the sequel Skylark


Owl Babies

Owl Babies

by Martin Waddell

illustrations by Patrick Benson

Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 1992

26 pp.

Ages: 2 +

Interests: birds, owls, nature, nighttime, single parent




Anthony Browne

London: Julia MacRae, 1983

29 pp

Age: 4 +

Interests: gorillas, single parent families

Also by this author: Zoo


Finding Nemo (2003)

Finding Nemo

Rated: G
Length:  100 min.
Age: 4+ (but not an overly timid 4!)         Commonsense Media sez: 5 +


Scary factor: Marlin’s wife disappears in opening scene, the (offscreen) victim of a barracuda; throughout: much peril, many close escapes, but the pace is good, nothing lasts for very long so you should be able to sail right through. In the fish tank Nemo has the threat of a  ‘fish-killer’ little girl hanging over him, and takes part in escape plans in which he risks being sucked into the filtration system rotating blades. No real violence or gore. (Dory is accidentally smacked in the nose once and a little blood drips out, that’s it.)

Most scary: a huge shark chases Marlin and Dory, chase ends with underwater mines exploding (The shark scene occurs right after Marlin meets Dory, if you want to skip it.)

Next most scary: a creepy anglerfish chases them: see picture at the end of this review.  Anglerfish scene occurs after they chase the sinking swim mask into the darkest deep, if you want to skip it. Be sure, though, to watch to the very end of the credits, when the anglerfish gets his comeuppance.

Intense scenes: my daughter was bugged by the jellyfish scene. The jellyfish are rather passive, they don’t even seem sentient, but it is really creepy how they float in and surround the fish. Big suspense. Another one which bothered her was the scene inside the whale, when Marlin loses all hope. There isn’t anything overtly scary, but the intense emotions troubled her a little.

Interests: sea creatures, fish, boats, the ocean, fish tanks, dentistry (just kidding)

Next: a museum of natural history visit, or a visit to the zoo or aquarium; documentary movies about amazing sea creatures, movie: Ponyo


Arrow to the Sun


Arrow to the Sun

Gerald McDermott, author and illustrator

New York: Viking Press, 1974

36 pp

ages 4+ (for the story, though artwork will interest even younger children)

Interests: Aztec folklore, art, indigenous art, Mexico/Central America, myths


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.