The Five-Year-Old Reviews Books: China Rabbits, Lighthouses, and Kindergarten, Oh My!

This summer The Five-Year-Old with characteristic enthusiasm has enrolled in not one, but two reading programs: our local library’s Dream Big, Read! reading program and the Imagination’s Destination Summer Reading program at Barnes & Noble. The library’s program asks The Five-Year-Old to review the books she reads. Here are a few of her favorites.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
By Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Candlewick Press, 2006

What The Five-Year-Old thought: “Edward was called Malone, Edward, all kinds of names. He had a dented pocket watch after the maid swept him with a vacuum cleaner. And I think people would like reading about that. I hated that he had his heart broken and that he didn’t know about love. But I loved loved loved the ending. He wore a red suit sometimes and red pants sometimes.”

What Mommyo Thought: “Easily the best book I’ve read all year. At times funny, at others heart-breaking, with a strong whiff of fable throughout. I found it impossible to read just one chapter at a time. I read this to The Five-Year-Old in three bursts — the first four chapters, the next nine, then straight through to the end because neither of us could bear to stop. It’s been a really long time since I couldn’t bear to stop reading any book, much less a children’s chapter book, especially when bedtime is on the line. Run to your library to get yourself a copy. You don’t need a child to love this one.”

Lighthouse Lullaby
By Kelly Briggs
Downeast Books, 2001

What the Five-Year-Old Thought: “I really liked it. It was about how it was to run a lighthouse 100 years ago. He had to put all his livestock away for the snowstorm.”

What Mommyo Thought: “A cozy read. Not really a detailed essay on how to run a lighthouse, but rather an idyllic picture of what it might have been like to be the child of a lighthouse keeper on a snowy night in Maine.”

The Night Before Kindergarten
By Natasha Wing
Illustrated by Julie Durrell
Grosset & Dunlap, 2001

What The Five-Year-Old Thought: “It was the night before kindergarten and all through the house nothing was awake except I think for the parents. The kids were sleeping while visions of school supplies danced in their heads. Then they hopped in cars like they were boarding a spaceship to Mars. It’s great great great to read. But at the end it made me droop because the parents were sad. The book made me sad and happy and a little bit flabbergasted because the book was just like the real world.”

What Mommyo Thought: “That about covers it, The Five-Year-Old.”

You can see the complete list of the books The Five-Year-Old has read for the Dream Big, Read! program on my Goodreads/Dream Big 2012 – Children’s Books shelf.

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Cross-posted on Caterpickles.

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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