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Home > Books & Reviews > Mini-Reviews: Books for Children Search

Books for Children

Here are some some mini-reviews of books that would be appropriate for young Pagan children. These books are not necessarily Pagan, but they present a world view that seems suitable for young Pagan children in the opinion of their reviewers.

Books Reviewed:

And Still the Turtle Watched
by Sheila MacGill-Callahan; Barry Moser, Illustrator
ISBN: 0613005120
(Click on the ISBN to view and/or buy this book on
This book is appropriate for all ages and sumptuously illustrated. A native American in pre-contact America is inspired to carve a turtle totem in a rock overlooking what would later be called the Hudson River. This touching book follows the carving through history, as old ways are forgotten and the native peoples are driven from the area. The ending is a bittersweet happy one, and may provoke "but why?" questions from sensitive children. Despite this, I still think this is a good book because of the message of patience, beauty, and forgiveness that is communicated by the simple and straight-forward writing. -- reviewed by DANAUSL

Harold and the Purple Crayon
by Crockett Johnson; Crockett Johnson, Illustrator
ISBN: 0064430227
(Click on the ISBN to view and/or buy this book on
Originally published in 1955, this marvelous little book has stood up to the passage of time, and has warped many a fine young mind, including mine.

Harold, a little boy with no parents in sight, decides he wants to take a walk by moonlight. However, there is no moon. Harold takes his purple crayon and draws a moon, and off he goes on a series of adventures, all through the power of his purple crayon. This book teaches the values of imagination and creativity, and that with those two tools there is no limit as to where a child can go. -- reviewed by DANAUSL

by Antonia Barber; P.J. Lynch, Illustrator
ISBN: 156402976X
(Click on the ISBN to view and/or buy this book on
The perfect gift for a cat-loving child, especially one who loves ginger tabbies. A wise woman gives a farmer and his wife a cat, Catkin, whose task is to protect their new born daughter. The cat, a magically small beastie who will fit into the palm of a hand, is faithful to his task. Faithful until the day he is distracted into chasing a butterfly as the daughter naps in the forest. While Catkin is chasing the butterfly, the faerie folk come and exchange the daughter for a changeling child. Catkin, filled with guilt, goes in pursuit of the Faerie folk to free the daughter.

Beautifully illustrated with full color paintings, Celtic style borders and reverse-type pull quotes. The faerie folk are depicted in a manner that describes the Sidhe, in all their beauty, distance and sadness. The resolution of the problem is a compromise, with all parties almost satisfied. The writing is a little advanced for a very young child, but this would be a wonderful read-aloud book. -- reviewed by DANAUSL

The Mary Poppins Series
by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins
  ISBN: 0152017178
Mary Poppins Comes Back
Mary Poppins in the Park
Mary Poppins Opens the Door
(Click on the ISBN to view and/or buy one of these books on
All four are rated as suitable for third through seventh grade. However -- these are wonderful read aloud books.

Forget Julie Andrews. As much as I adored the Disney movie, these books are a collection of some of the most marvelous fantasy characters ever. Jane and Michael Banks are present, as are the chimney sweep, the Banks family, the housekeepers, etc. But the adventures are sheer fantasy of no specific religious stripe. Mary takes the children to a waltz for the stars and planets, to the London Zoo after hours when the animals are the keepers, and to meet three magical princes and their unicorn. We meet the button lady (her coat is all buttons), the pin woman (to purchase her wares you actually push a pin into her coat), and a baker who bakes shooting stars -- all depicted as very approachable people with wonderful powers.

Fair play is emphasized, and a willingness to accept the unexpected without doubts or because that's "not the way things are". Taking responsibility for one's actions is emphasized, and a willingness to own up to errors. But the "lessons" are communicated in such a way that a child will not feel preached to, or that his or her intelligence is being insulted. A child with any imagination at all will treasure these books all his or her life.

One caution: These books were written in the thirties, I believe, and there is some sense of British classism, and the cultural division between the family and the staff. But this does not detract from the overall wonder of these books -- and as there are about a dozen or so stories per book, so these could keep bedtime reading going without stop for over a month. -- reviewed by DANAUSL

by David Weisner; David Weisner, Illustrator
Caldecott Medal Winner
ISBN: 0395551137
(Click on the ISBN to view and/or buy this book on
This wonderful book has 12 words in it, if you stretch the meaning of “words”. It won a Caldecott Medal, and is board to board illustrations. This book will encourage a child to dream freely, as no limitations are placed on the directions creativity can take a dreamer. I don’t want to ruin the plot, so I’ll just say this: Pigs are not the only creatures that fly. Frogs fly too. -- reviewed by DANAUSL

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
by Verna Aardema; Leo and Diane Dillon, Illustrator
Caldecott Medal Winner
ISBN: 059010294X
(Click on the ISBN to view and/or buy this book on
A very simple fable, based on a traditional African story about what happens when people assume meanings for actions and act accordingly, rather than taking the extra time to find out what is really going on. The illustrations are done in vivid colors mimicking batik designs. The characters are animals native to Africa, who get so tangled up in confusion and accusation over assumed insults that the sun will not rise. The tangle is taken to King Lion, who, thread by thread, undoes the tangle.

A good story for reading aloud, as there are many animal voices in the book. Has a nice moral to it, without beating the child over the head. Suggests the interrelatedness of all things, and gives voice to animals without being cute. Caution: death does occur in this story, but it is depicted as part of the natural cycle, and not graphically illustrated. -- reviewed by DANAUSL

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