Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – Share your Children’s book reviews – #PictureBooks with Jennie Fitzkee Part Two

Welcome to the new series where you can share your reviews for any children’s books you have read recently and posted on your blog, Amazon, Goodreads or any other online bookstore. If you would like more details here is the post that explains how it works: Showcasing Children’s books

Recently Jennie Fitzkee shared part two of her recommended books from the summer and I am sharing some of the books that she featured along with her reviews.


My Summer of Books – Part 2 – picture books, and bridges to older children’s books by Jennie Fitzkee


Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud, by Lynn Plourde

Buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A Model T Ford is ‘stopped in the rud by some pigs in the mud’. Grandma is in charge. The rhyming is classic and draws in the reader. “Oh no. Won’t do. Gotta shoo. But who?” The story goes from pigs to hens to sheep to bulls – and the descriptive words have a wide range from squealed, rutted, reeled, tussled, rustled and many more. These aren’t typical vocabulary words for children, making the story all the better. We see farming life in the early 20th century, with a classic sequence of events. From the rhyming to what happens next, the book is delightful.


Fireboat, the Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, by Maira Kalman

Buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

I reviewed this as part of an Eric Carle Museum post. It was a favorite summer read.

Are you familiar with the John J. Harvey fireboat? I wasn’t either. It was launched in New York City in 1931, the same year Babe Ruth hit his 611th home run, and Snickers hit the candy stores. The popular word Hot-Cha was invented.

The book opens with events and structures in New York City, such as the George Washington Bridge suspended over the Hudson River.

All the illustrations are beautiful. The reader becomes part of the city in years gone by. Time passes. We learn about the working parts of the fireboat and the crew. The John J. Harvey helps to fight the fire on the ocean liner NORMANDIE. Sometimes it goes out in the water just to celebrate, shoot water, and have fun.

By 1995 there were many fireboats, and the Harvey was set to be retired and sold for scrap. Of course the people who loved her rallied to save and buy the boat. She was repaired and spent her days on the water, visiting other boats. Did you know that four toots means hello?

Then something terrible happened at 8:45 AM on September 11, 2001.

The John J. Harvey wanted to help and get back to work. We learn what each crew member was doing at the time, before they rushed to the fireboat. No, she was too old to fight the fires, but she could help rescue people… and then at last she got “the call”, she was needed to supply water to the firefighters. She was once again a real fireboat.


Love You When…, by Linda Kranz

Buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

The past school year began with reading Only One You, and ended with reading You Be You, both by Kranz. This summer I scored a hat trick by discovering her third ‘rock’ book, Love You When… The trilogy is a warm and delightful collection of stories about being yourself, finding your way, bravery, family, and love. Children at school loved the first two, and this new discovery will be all the more meaningful with school reopening during the pandemic. Why? It is these affirmations of being okay and feeling grounded, which children desperately need to hear right now.

The book opens with, “Do you think of me during the day?” you ask. “Yes,” I say as I close my eyes for a moment and smile. In a voice as soft as a whisper you say, “Tell me when.” Each page has a beautiful photograph of rocks and the “when” words – “When a gentle breeze rustles through our backyard wind chime.” Every page, every photo, every “when” moment is beautiful and comforting for children.


Prairie Days, by Patricia MacLachlan

Buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

The glorious illustrations by Micha Archer bring an abundance of life to Patricia MacLachlan’s intentional and soft words. The story takes place over a summer day on the farm. The opening sentence is, “Where I was born, the earth smelled of cattle and bluegrass and hyssop.” Dogs, hay wagons, the farm pond, trains, sheep, and the wooden porch swing are woven into a childhood story. The reader is left feeling the slow pace and happiness of years gone by.

The author won the Newbery Award for Sarah, Plain and Tall. She wrote my favorite book, The Poet’s Dog, and many others. Patricia MacLachlan has a way with words. Just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be a book as good as The Poet’s Dog… there is, and MacLachlan wrote it – My Father’s Words.

Stay tuned for Part 3 as I review this outstanding book for older children and the other upper grade books I read this summer. Jennie.

Some wonderful books for you to choose from and I will share part  three in a few weeks time.. My thanks to Jennie for her lovely reviews.

About Jennie Fitzkee

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about.

I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

Connect to Jennie – Blog: Jennie Fitzkee – Facebook: Jennie Fitzkee – Twitter: @jlfatgcs


My thanks to Jennie for permitting me to share her children’s reviews and I know she would love your feedback. thanks Sally.