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As a lover of literature, I've been intrigued by the BabyLit series of board books that uses aspects of classic novels to introduce young children to concepts like counting, colors, opposites, etc., as well as books in other series such as Anne's Colors. So I was excited to see that something similar had been done with Bible stories.

Let There Be Light is an "opposites primer" focusing on the creation story in Genesis. Each double page contains an opposite word on each side, and a Bible verse associated with that particular contrast. One thing I liked was that not every verse was from the Genesis story. By also using verses from books like Psalms and Jeremiah, the book takes on a grander scope, and emphasizes the creation from more than one point of view. Occasionally "primers" can become a bit contrived when they reach a bit too far to make a story fit a concept, but I didn't get that feeling from this one.

I also love the illustrations, especially the use of contrasting colors, and the way that even the concepts that are used a bit abstractly in this story (quiet/loud, work/rest) are portrayed in simple, colorful ways that make sense. This would make a great gift for a baby or toddler!

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Format: Kindle
Author: Danielle Hitchen
Illustrator: Jessica Blanchard
Pages: 20
Content Advisory: None

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Mary on Horseback is an interesting and inspiring story -- I don't remember hearing about Mary Breckinridge before, but this is a great introduction to her work, written in three short stories that also help give children a picture of what this time period and region were like.

After losing two husbands and two children, Mary Breckinridge could have given in to despair, but instead she gave her skills and her life to help others, the poorest of the poor. Whether she is saving a father's leg from amputation, inoculating children against deadly diseases, or delivering and caring for babies, Breckinridge and her team of frontier nurses served the people in the Appalachian region and helped them in ways no one else would or could.

Format: Paperback
Author: Rosemary Wells
Pages: 64
Content Advisory: Some descriptions of illness and injury.

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I enjoyed this book about Robert Bateman, Canadian painter, naturalist, and conservationist, even though I'd never heard of him before reading it. The best part is the artwork -- the book includes several of his paintings of animals, natural sights, and people exploring, and they're beautifully realistic. Some of them I could hardly believe weren't photographs at first glance.

The text is fairly spare and straightforward, and focuses on his observations and growth as a painter -- in many cases it simply names different things that he painted, so this book would work well for young children with short attention spans, though the artwork should appeal to all ages. At the end there's a longer biography of Bateman's life and work.

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Format: Kindle
Author: Margriet Ruurs
Illustrator: Robert Bateman
Pages: 40
Content Advisory: None

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I've enjoyed the titles I've read so far in the Little People, Big Dreams series, and was glad to see one on the life of L. M. Montgomery, best known as the author of the Anne of Green Gables books.

This book, like others in the series, is written for very young children, and so is selective about the details and degree of information included. But I felt like I got a decent picture of Montgomery's life and what drove her and interested her as a child and beyond.

Despite creating one of the most endearing characters in children's literature, Montgomery's childhood was fairly lonely and sad. After losing both parents (in different ways), she lived with her grandparents who were not very affectionate, and young Maud (as she was called) had to create her own joy. It sounds like her writing was a way to not only express her loneliness, but also to imagine a better and fuller life.

One can't help but see glimpses of Anne Shirley herself here, even in this very abbreviated biography. It presents a hopeful picture of the power of persistence and imagination.

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Format: Kindle
Author: Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Illustrator: Anuska Allepuz
Pages: 32
Content Advisory: One of the first things mentioned is that Maud's mother passes away, and her father sails away from their island and isn't mentioned again.

More Reviews at Amazon

In New England, September and October are especially beautiful seasons -- it gets cooler (and sometimes quite cold) and the leaves turn gorgeous colors before falling. We enjoy apple-picking and harvesting pumpkins before the weather gets really cold. Here are some of our favorite picture books that involve the season of autumn (minus Halloween -- that will be a separate list). 


We really enjoy Wild Child, a book that celebrates the colors and features of autumn by personifying the season as a young girl who doesn't want to go to bed, while Mother Earth helps her with her various fall-like requests before she's finally able to slumber. See my full review here.


In November, by Cynthia Rylant, highlights changes in the world as November comes along. For me, November tends to be when autumn stops being fun, because the leaves are all brown and dead, and the air starts getting cold in earnest. But this is a nice reminder of all the things that are still going on in nature, and the warmth and joy to be found in human gatherings and food.


I love the vibrant colors and contrast of blue with the warmer autumn tones in In the Middle of Fall, by Kevin Henkes. This book observes and meditates on many of the different changes that take place in nature during autumn, and even encourages us to stop and pay attention to the little things due to the inevitability of time moving onward. Fun and lovely, but can also make you think.


Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, by Kenard Pak, follows a girl as she walks through her neighborhood observing the changing of the season from summer to autumn. She asks simple questions of the things she sees, which may get a bit repetitive, but works nicely for young children, and includes beautiful fall colors in its illustrations.


Hardscrabble Harvest, by Dahlov Ipcar, is probably not an easy book to find, but I really enjoy the rhyming text that celebrates the culmination of many months of work on a farm -- harvest. While the colors are very clearly "70s" in nature, they actually work quite well for fall. I appreciate that this book touches on some of the difficulties of farming rather than romanticizing it. Singer Priscilla Herdman even turned the text into a song, which can be viewed as a video here.

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