The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson (1958)

family.jpgMy husband, son and I just returned from a trip to Paris, so The Family Under the Bridge seems like a natural book choice right now.  But you don’t have to have EVER visited Paris to love this story — but it doesn’t hurt 🙂

Armand is a tramp living in Paris under a bridge along the Seine.  He is happy with his carefree life and often delights in not having to pay rent or store and clean extra clothing — since he wears his every scrap of clothing he owns.  Armand especially dislikes children, whom he views as noisy and a nuisance.

But one cold, December day, he returns “home” to find three young children hiding under his canvas tent!  Their father has recently died and their mother can no longer afford the rent on their small apartment.  They too need a free place to live.

Little by little this sweet family finds a place in Armand’s heart and he begins looking for a way to help them — hopefully in time for Christmas!

The Family Under the Bridge is a Newbery Honor Book and a favorite for many, many readers — both young and old!

Advanced Early Grade Reading level (illustrations sprinkled throughout the text), 128 pages, Newbery Honor Book, Published in 1958.  

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Ellen Tebbits & Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary (1951 & 1953)

Ellen.jpgEllen Tebbits and Austine Allen are best friends and love spending every possible moment together — despite the constant teasing from their dance teacher’s son, Otis Spofford.  Everything is right with their world until one day they decide to dress as twins.  Almost immediately the two girls find themselves at odds and with the bad influence of Otis, Ellen does something that Austine absolutely can’t forgive her for.  Can these two sweet girls ever find a way to be friends again?   Middle Grade Reading Level, 176 pages, Published in 1951.




otis.jpgOtis Spofford is that boy in your elementary class who just needs to cause trouble!  Unfortunately, well-behaved Ellen Tebbits is usually his main target.  Each chapter finds Otis up to some attention-grabbing antic, but invariably his plans backfire on him in some amusing way.  Can Ellen and Otis call a truce that will last until the end of 4th grade??  Middle Grade Reading Level, 208 pages, Published in 1953.  





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The Good Master by Kate Seredy (1935)

good.jpgKate is being sent by her father to live in the country with her Uncle Marton’s family.  They have been lead to believe that Kate is fragile and sickly.  In truth, she is spoiled and head-strong and her father hopes his brother — The Good Master — can tame her somehow.  Uncle Marton’s son Jancsi is shocked by his female cousin:

Jancsi had imagined Kate as a sort of fragile, fair-haired princess, but the little girl who stepped off the train had plain black hair, a smudgy face, and skinny legs.  From the moment Kate arrived, things happened.  She was afraid of nothing and full of ideas.  When Kate looked most angelic, you could be sure she was thinking up some mischief.

Eventually Jancsi and Kate strike up a cautious friendship which grows closer over the summer and they both learn a great deal from each other.  By the time Kate’s father arrives to take her back home, he can’t believe the dramatic changes he finds!

This Newbery Honor Award was the first children’s novel written by Kate Seredy.  Caddie Woodlawn beat out The Good Master for the Newbery Medal in 1936.

All of Kate Seredy’s novels take place in her native Hungary.

Middle Grade Reading Level, 192 pages, Published in 1935.  

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My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, Son of Flicka & Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O’Hara (1940 – 1946)

friend.jpgMy Friend Flicka   Ken is a daydreamer.  When he should be helping with the horses, he’s staring at the clouds.  When homework is due, he’s dreaming of the colt he hopes his father will one day give him.  But his daydreaming angers his father who feels Ken would not be able to handle a horse on his own.  Ken’s father has many concerns about the ranch’s finances and those worries only add to the tension in their home.  But when father unexpectedly decides to let Ken have a horse of his own, Ken chooses a wild filly named Flicka who seems untamable.  Does young Ken have the stamina and concentration to this wild horse?   Middle Grade Reading Level, 352 pages, Published in 1940.



thunder.jpgThunderhead, Son of Flicka   Flicka’s first colt, Thunderhead, is a throw back to her wild ancestor, the Albino.  Ken’s father is convinced that Thunderhead can never be tamed, but Ken feels differently and does everything possible to prove his father wrong. The financial troubles at the ranch continue and Ken’s parents marriage begins to show the strain.  Can the family come together and solve their problems?  Middle Grade Reading Level, 384 pages, Published in 1945.





green.jpgGreen Grass of Wyoming  Things are finally moving in a good direction financially at the ranch.  There’ve been some substantial changes in the family and Ken and his brother Howard are growing up.   There’s a new girl in the area and that brings both fun and competition for the brothers.  Middle Grade Reading Level, 368 pages, Published in 1946. 






Check out the 1940s film series of My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead and Green Grass of Wyoming starring a very young Roddy McDowall.  There was also a 39 episode My Friend Flicka TV series in the late 1950s.  Enjoy!

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Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clark (1953)

end.jpgWhat happens to humanity when alien Overlords take over Earth and eliminate both war and poverty?  Sounds like Utopia, right?  But not everyone agrees.  Without challenge and strife does mankind stop progressing?

And what if after 100 years of alien control, humanity discovers the Overlords have a long-game no one could have imagined?

Childhood’s End was Arthur C. Clark’s first successful science fiction novel and is considered by many to be his best novel.  I read this in my 8th grade reading class, and couldn’t put it down!

Middle School Reading Level, 226 pages, Published in 1953. 

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The Cay by Theodore Taylor (1969)

cay.jpgEleven-year-old Phillip and his mother flee their Caribbean island as German submarines begin to enter the waters in their area during World War 2.  Horrifically their ship is torpedoed and there only three survivors:  Phillip, Timothy (a black West Indian native) and a cat.

During their days at sea, Phillip is blinded by the glaring sun, and he quickly becomes completely dependent on Timothy.  Eventually they find a tiny island where they hope to survive until they can be rescued.  In the beginning, Phillip’s prejudice keeps him from accepting Timothy’s help, but as the weeks pass, Phillip comes to trust and love Timothy and becomes, as he later describes himself,  completely “color blind.”

The Cay, a touching story of cross-cultural, cross-racial humanity, is dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sequel: Timothy of the Cay Middle Grade Reading Level, 176 pages, Published in 1993.

Middle Grade Reading Level, 160 pages, Published in 1969. 




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The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Series by Betty McDonald (1947 – 1957)

mrs 1.jpg

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle  Do you know a child that won’t clean up their toys?  How about one who doesn’t want to go to bed?  Or a child who is quarrelsome?  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the cure for every childhood ill you can imagine.   Each cure will make you laugh!  And each cure makes a wacky kind of sense!  Advanced Early Grade Reading Level, 128 pages, Published in 1947



magic.jpgMrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is back with more amazing/amusing cures for:  Tattletales,  Interrupters, Kids who don’t want to go to school and MORE!  Advanced Early Grade Reading Level, 192 pages, Published in 1949. 





farm.jpg  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm Back for a third round, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle helps children who forget to care for their pets, lose things, and struggle to tell the truth and a few more common childhood troubles.  Advanced Early Grade Reading, 128 pages, Published in 1954.





hello.jpgHello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle In her final appearance, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle cures the Slowpoke, the Bully, the Show-off and a few more!  Not to be missed.  Advanced Early Grade Reading Level, 128 pages, Published in 1957. 

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