The Story Of Mankind – by Hendrik Von Loon (1921)

Not long ago, I spotted a copy of the first Newbery Award children’s book in a library book sale. The book was old and battered, but only fifty cents, so I bought it. This book had the honor of being the very first book recommended for children by the American Library Association, so I thought it MUST be good.
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At home, I opened it up. The title page looked kind of cool:

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I got to page 4, and thought, hmmm, this is serious reading for kids. Let’s start that discussion about evolution young.
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I skipped ahead to page 44, about the Indo-Europeans… (who?)
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I kept flipping through pages, until reaching page 336. A picture of a guillotine adorned the page. Good grief – is this really a kids’ book?

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Well, I continued to peruse the “The Story Of Mankind”. Page 479 was clearly written to bolster a large vocabulary.  Check out these words:

inanimate

factotum

Bolshevik

seditious radical

holy endeavors

plenipotentiaries

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The book was 482 pages long, a length even the average adult would have difficulty managing.

I could only shake my head and wonder what kind of person would think this was a book for children. Cross this off your list for the kids…

 

 

 

The Journey That Saved Curious George – by Louise Borden (2005, 2010)

The Journey That Saved Curious George

 
If you love the book “Curious George” and its sequels, you should pick up a copy of “The Journey That Saved Curious George”. You will find it in the children’s biography section of your library or bookstore. It is beautifully illustrated with drawings from Hans and Margret Rey’s books, along with photographs of the authors and scenes from World War II. The Reys, being Jewish, fled Paris on bicycles as the Nazi army invaded the country.

 
The story was very inspiring to me. The Curious George books are more than just entertaining tales. They are the work of two people who felt passionately about writing books for children, people who considered them important enough to be carried along on their hasty journey while almost all of their possessions were left behind.

 
Anyone about second grade or older will enjoy this book. You will find out what prompted Hans to choose a monkey as his main character. You’ll also learn what George’s original name was! Even though the book covers a frightening time in history, it is written in a lighthearted manner that keeps it from becoming depressing or heavy. This is an excellent biography for you to read with your young person as they learn about World War II.