Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I was humbled to learn I was completely unaware of the history of the Orphan Trains in the US. In 1850, there were 30,000 homeless children in New York City. In an effort to help these children, they were put on trains and taken to live on farms in the midwest. From 1853 to the early 1900’s thousands of children were relocated, this movement is credited with starting the Foster Care System. You can read more about the history here:

Childrens Aid Society

orphan-train

Photo credit to the Childrens Aid Society Website

orphan train book coverOrphan Train, the historical fiction novel set in this time period is outstanding. We meet three characters, Neeve, an orphan in 1929, Molly, aging out of the modern day foster system, and Vivian, a 90 year old woman who Molly is placed to serve community service.  Their stories fit together perfectly, their struggles are different, but also a mirror image of one another. Each womans life is rich with emotion, perseverance, and redemption. A perfect historical fiction novel. The Audiobook was fantastic, I think it added to the book because of the characterization through different voices.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Orphan Train

To Purchase the Audiobook, click here: Orphan Train: A Novel

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

 

the nest 2A father’s small, wise, and calculated investment has grown into a large sum of cash. For the Plumb siblings, this cash is the security blanket to cover up a multitude of mistakes. Bea, Leo, Jack, and Melody Plumb are all in different states of upheaval in their lives. Their fathers nest egg is about to be distributed equally to all four of them, and they are counting on that money to fix their problems. Sadly, money cannot fix all problems. The siblings are all forced to examine their lives and relationships with each other. The Nest makes a fantastic book club choice because the characters are outrageous, frustrating, relatable, and sometimes horrid people. However, some characters transform into better versions of themselves, and the story comes full circle in a satisfying ending. Read it with a friend so you can talk about it, it is book that lends itself to discussion. Our book club agreed we all liked it better after we had talked it through

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Nest

 

 

Books for Bedtime

It is my personal opinion that books at bedtime need to literally be short and sweet. Long days call for short books, with sweet messages, to get your children off to dream land. Here are five beautiful book suggestions to add to your rotation.

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick

finding winnieIf you add one book to your child’s library this year, add this one. The story is true; it is about the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh. It is magical. The story is told through the voice of a mother tucking her child in at night. It won the Caldecott Award for the illustrations, and they are unbelievable. My students loved this book.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Are you awake? By Sophie Blackall

Are you awakeThis book is child approved; my class of Kindergarteners requested it be read twice. I love Sophie Blackall, her illustrations are incredible. This is the true story of her jet lagged sun keeping her awake all night…parents will relate as much as kids who cannot sleep.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Are You Awake?

 

Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden

once_upon_memory_mNina Laden is genius in composing magical picture books for children. She wrote this while walking on the beach and finding a feather. The simple poem teaches cause and effect. It offers the invitation to share happy memories before a child goes to sleep.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Once Upon a Memory

 

Shh! Bears Sleeping by David Martin

shh bears sleepingThis lyrical book shows the seasons through bears waking and hibernation. This is a good choice for a child that loves wild animals or non-fiction.  It has simple rhyme and lovely illustrations.

To Purchase on Amazon, click here: Shh! Bears Sleeping

 

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin

dream animalsThe illustrations are rich and vibrant with imagination. The simple text proposes there are sweet animals that take you off to dream land for big adventures. Short, sweet, and filled with eye catching creativity.

To Purchase on Amazon, click here: Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

the-invention-of-wingsI had been struggling to post this recommendation, I couldn’t figure out why, so I thought about this book for a few weeks.  Then the shooting in Charleston took place. Then I really thought about this story. I finally realized my struggle was shallow, I felt like I should be writing about light hearted beach reads. Beach reads are the cool kids right now. I have not been cool a day in my life, so why start now? In the heat of summer, my reccomendation is a high quality book about slavery and two little known abolistionists.  The Invention of Wings is heavy, yet it is an important book, and relevant to the history of Charleston. I will get to my beach reads later.

Sarah turns 11 and is given a girl named ‘Handful’. ‘Handful’ is hers to own, given like a piece of furniture or doll. Sarah attempts to set her free, but an 11 year old cannot change laws with a handwritten piece of paper. Handful is her slave, and the daughter of the best seamstress in Charleston. Handful and her mother are owned by the Grimke’s and keep the family plantation working and profitable.

The story flips back and forth from Handful to Sarah, telling the stories of Handful’s each girls life from childhood to adult. The injustice and cruelty is hard to stomach, but the story is so rich with character development, historically accurate events, and impeccable story-telling.

Sarah Grimke and her sister, Angelina, grew up to be  abolitionists. Sarah and her sister fought for the rights of slaves and the rights of women in a time when white men truly ruled the world with a tightly closed fist. The Grimke sisters were mocked and called spinsters. They are lesser known heroes in the fight against slavery.

Be sure to read the afterward, the Grimke Sisters were fascinating, and Sue Monk Kidd shares her research and methods of writing the story. A good read.

To Order on Amazon, click here:  The Invention of Wings

The Girl on theTrain

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

the girl on the trainToday I hoped for heavier traffic so I could finish listening The Girl on theTrain.  If you were a fan of Gone Girl, this is your next read.  Rachel rides the same train every day back and forth; she is lonely, tormented, and desperate.  As she rides the train from her small town to London each day, she gazes at the back gardens of all the homes.  She starts to notice the same people each day, she begins to create caricatures in her mind of who they are, what they might be like.  Then one day she sees something; something disturbing and suspicious, and the story gets very interesting.  Three women’s lives intertwine, each one battling their own demons, each one not quite what she seems.  This book is quietly thrilling because no one is easy to figure out, no one is all good or all bad, but some very bad things happen.  Girl on a Train is not a cuddly feel good story, it is dark and gritty, but the suspense at the end is impeccably written.  The tension will grip you to the core, if you need a plane or beach read, pick it up.  If you are fan of intensity, suspense, and thrillers, you will like it.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: The Girl on the Train