Have a reader just starting out on chapter books? Want a nice, wholesome family read aloud? Family Reminders, written by Julie Danneberg, is a very simple book, short in length, but big on characterization. Some illustrations, done by John Shelley, accompany the text and allow for an easy transition for readers between picture books and easy readers, to a true chapter book.
"Mary McHugh has a nearly perfect life in the frontier town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, but all that changes when her father suffers a serious mining accident. He no longer whistles, plays the piano, or carves the intricate wooden 'Reminders' that mark the milestones in the family's life together. Mostly he sits in silence at the kitchen table or sleeps.
As winter's chill gives way to spring's thaw, Mary tries to remind her family of how much they have to live for-namely, each other."
I really think this is a great transitional book for kids, both in format and in content. Mary is a sweet girl, a good child, and when her world comes crashing down it is obvious she is in pain, but the author has managed to exhibit those emotions, without traumatizing her young readers. Everything eventually ends up "happily ever after," which readers of this age group often still need.
The cover, does not do the little book justice at all. Though I understand it's a book set in an "old fashioned" era and one of the main plot points features wood carvings by Mary's father, the cover did not need to be done in boring beige and brown. It has no life and I can't see a child picking this one up off the bookstore shelf when the book next to it is probably bold and bright.
Other than that, very enjoyable!
To learn more, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.
Thanks to Charlesbridge for the review copy :)