Confession: When I sold my puppies, I knew what I wanted to do with the money. Most of it I saved or invested in our family’s long-term wellbeing. But a percentage of it, I chose to spend on great books.
Here’s most of the collection I selected: largely children’s book collections or author treasuries, with a few new releases I wanted to own.
Keats’s Neighborhood: an Ezra Jack Keats treasury
Mr. Keats is one of my favorite illustrators, with his textured urban scenes and eye-catching backgrounds. His characters are understated but supremely authentic. This treasury contains nine complete Keats books, including classics like The Snowy Day and Whistle for Willie, but also lesser known titles like Jennie’s Hat.
My Father’s Dragon
by Ruth Stiles Gannett
We recently found My Father’s Dragon and I read it aloud to my kids, even those who are technically too old for it. We all loved the voice of the author, as though a child himself is talking – light, meandering, honest, and very specific about how many tangerines he ate. A stray cat, a problem mother, and a captive dragon all intersect in this lively adventure.
Jon Klassen’s Hat Box
I like Keats, but I love Klassen. Hands down my favorite children’s humorist and illustrator. His text is simple, only a few words per page, but all three of these Hat books contain layers of honesty and subtlety, a fascinating study of human nature and what we are willing to reveal or conceal. This new boxed set includes I Want My Hat Back, This is Not My Hat, and We Found a Hat.
One of my favorite memories with these books is reading two pages of I Want My Hat Back over and over to my niece, while she giggled out loud. “One more time.”
Educated is making its rounds more quickly than most memoirs. Westover tells the tale of growing up in an ultra-conservative-fanatical religious family in Utah. Dangerous accidents. Revelations from God. And a deep distrust of the outside world. She writes with honesty and introspection; a calm voice, not as angry as you might expect.
I love hearing perspectives I’ve never heard before, from within or without my experience. But especially because I am a woman from my own branch of conservative Christianity, I found this writing fascinating.
One for the Murphys
Linda Mullaly Hunt
I have probably mentioned this book here before. I bought my own copy this time, and gave it to my sons to read. It’s our favorite fiction about life in foster care, exploring an older child’s complex feelings of loyalty, shame, and hope.
Lovable characters, believable plot line, and an imperfect but truly heart-warming family.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
This one is hot off the press. A few pages are a little too feely for me, but the beauty of friendship is stunning. The book draws you in, with sketched illustrations and hand-written words. If you’re interested in original artwork, click over to Amazon just to “Look Inside” at Mackesy’s stunning style.
Wendelin Van Draanen
Fourteen-year-old Wren wakes up hungover one morning and finds herself being escorted to wilderness camp in the desert. She has eight weeks to turn her life around, but she won’t trust anyone.
This is not a book for super sheltered kids. There are references to teens smoking joints, and a teenage kiss. But for those who have gone to residential treatment (or those who love those who have), it’s an enlightening look at the emotions, mental blocks, and breakthroughs that accompany healing.
Make Way for McCloskey
Including eight McCloskey stories, this treasury is a treat. All the ones you’d hope for (Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine) plus single chapters from longer books (Homer Price, Centerburg Tales). Something for everyone.
My favorite McCloskey story is Blueberries for Sal, because it reminds me of my own childhood in the north.
I love this book for focused prayer and thanksgiving. It’s a date-it-yourself prayer journal, so you can start anytime and you don’t have to use it every day. Each day’s page has four sections: “Today’s verse,” “Lord, teach me to…” “I am thankful for…” and “Prayer requests.”
Sometimes writing it down is easier, and it’s great to look back later and realize how God resolved situations or answered prayers. Highly recommended.