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Author: Heather Henson

Illustrator: David Small

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Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Cal and his sister Lark live in the Appalachian mountains. Every two weeks, a woman drops off books for Lark to read. Who is that woman? and what's so special about those books? Why was Lark always so happy about this? Every two weeks, the same thing: Lark gives back books and gets new ones. Cal's curiosity grows. He finally gives in and Lark to teach him to read. This is a picture book that encourages discovery and reading.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 10

Interest Level: 4 to 9

Age of Child: Read with a 5-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: This is a book that my daughter picked, but only liked so-so. She said it was hard to understand what the boy was saying sometimes, and she wished they gave us the names of the books the librarian brought to the kids.

Adult Reader Reaction: I enjoyed that Cal is won over just by the process of the librarian bringing books to their family. He wants to find out what is so special about them that makes her keep coming. The story presents librarians and the work they do connecting kids with books. This story is set in a time before libraries were in every community. I was surprised that my daughter picked up so quickly that Cal was going to learn how to read.

Pros: This is a great story to share with kids who are hesitant about books and reading. It offers a snapshot into the history of rural education, too.

Cons: Some of the dialect is hard to understand for the child hearing it. It adds a nice sense of reality, but it was a little hard to read.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. All parents should read it to their children. This is a great book for a teacher to read to her classroom library.


Educational Themes: Reading is important. This is a great book for engaging kids in the idea that reading opens opportunity. The rural, historic setting also opens the door to talk about diligence, sharing, and helping others who are less fortunate then you. Some history about the Appalachian Mountains, rural life, and libraries is nice too.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, reading, literacy

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2009

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