Favorite Books Pt. 2 & My April Reads

image by Jessica V Photography

Continuing with my favorite books for our children {AND! Added to the bottom are my April reads – from now on I will do this as one monthly post – kids books and the books I enjoyed reading in that month.}

For part 1 click here.

“Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” by Patricia Thomas is a fun story about the panic that follows the elephants announcement that he is going to sneeze. There are many animal voices to perform while reading out loud and many hilarious scenarios that the animals dread with the impending sneeze. It is a cleverly written rhyme that is fun to read over and over and over again.


THERE ARE ROCKS IN MY SOCKS SAID THE OX TO THE FOX is also by Patricia Thomas. This was a favorite in my family when I was little and was my first introduction to Patricia Thomas’ books. This book isn’t quite as hilarious but is still very funny as an Ox asks a Fox to help him get rocks out of his socks. The fox offers many funny solutions, all which end up getting the ox into worse predicaments. This is also written in rhyme and is fun to read over and over again.


Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is much loved by my boys and I appreciate the creative world that Harold draws for himself. Nothing exists save for Harold and his crayon and he draws his entire adventure – from the sidewalk on which he walks, to the moonlight that he walks under, to the boat he draws to save himself from the water which he had accidentally drawn when he was shaking in fear from the scary dragon which he had also drawn. It’s logical and imaginary genius blended together in a simple and heart warming story. There are more books in the series but we haven’t read any of them yet.

Where’s Waldo? may lack in the read aloud department but it has provided hours of fun for us together while we search for the little man on each page.

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman is a cute, classic story that I am sure everyone is familiar with. It is a simple story about a baby bird who comes into the world while his mother is out looking for food and so, not knowing what his mother looks like, goes off on a hunt to find his mother. It is a comforting, reassuring story as the baby bird does indeed become reunited with his mother in the end.


A Fly Went By by Mike McClintock is a really fun read out loud book. Written in rhyme it is a funny story about cause and effect when a fly flies away in fear of a frog, who is being chased by a cat – all the way down the line to a fox being chased by a hunter who isn’t hunting but is running from fear of a bumping and thumping noise he heard. It is all observed and narrated by a little boy.

Anatole and the Poodle by Eve Titus is about Anatole, a mouse who has a job working at a Cheese factory. One night he discovers a man who has kidnapped a poodle and he sets out to rescue the poodle and alert the humans without scaring them. It has hints of the French culture throughout and has beautiful illustrations – every other page being black and white and the other pages being black, white and a hint of red and blue.

Katy No-Pocket by Emmy Payne is a story about a mother kangaroo, Katy, who has no pocket to carry her baby. She seeks advice from other mother animals and then heads into the city to find a solution. It is a delightful story with beautiful illustrations done by H. A. Rey, who created Curious George.

::My April Reads::


My Life With the Gypsies by Marta Alder  is a fascinating autobiography. Paul borrowed it from his school library thinking I might enjoy it and I thoroughly did. I have searched high and low for a copy of the book available in the USA and haven’t found one yet (there’s one available on Ebay from the UK, but the price and shipping are high! Must keep looking.)
Marta Alder is a German woman whose curiosity was piqued early in life about these mysterious travelers who seemed to always have plenty of food, clothing and jovial spirits. Compared to her own life of poverty and hard work the gipsies life seemed one to envy. Soon enough, defying traditions, she marries into the Romany gipsy clan. Her story is a sad one, a fascinating one and an educational one.

Due to her German traditions and her husbands Gispsy traditions they end up separating – both too proud to be the one to change what they feel is normal behavior given their situation. A second gipsy man pursues her and, although he never wins her heart he does persuade her to marry him. While Marta has a deep love and respect for the Romany Gispsies you can almost sense a feeling of betrayal and hurt and can’t help but wonder if the book is her revenge to the men that hurt her.

My Life With the Gipsies shares ancient stories passed down amongst the gipsies, secrets about the womens work telling fortunes and collecting money in villages and traditions and rules the Romany Gipsies abide by. It is both a fascinating story and a well documented and translated story. {Originally written in German.} The story takes place during WWI and WWII and documents some of the difficulties and persecution the Gipsies went through.


The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz is another fascinating autobiography – I finished this one within a matter of days of starting it as I simply could not wait to find out what happened! Slavomir Rawicz is a Cavalry officer in Poland and is captured by the Red Army in 1939 and is sent by train, and eventually foot, thousands of miles away to a Soviet Gulag – this journey is horrendous and Slavomir Rawicz witnesses the death of thousands of others on this journey.

Soon after arriving in the prison camp Slavomir starts thinking about escape and soon him and 6 other men escape, on foot, and head towards India. The rest of the book details the incredible feats these men endured in their quest for freedom. From snowy Siberia through the Gobi dessert and over the Himalayas these men overcame physical, mental and emotional challenges.
This book held me captive and I cried with the characters several times. I learned after finishing it that it had recently been turned into a movie. I watched the trailer, which gave a beautiful visual as to the actual terrain the men would have crossed, but I don’t think I can bring myself to watch the movie. Movies never do a good book justice.


Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider was a refreshing book to read and particularly challenging on the heels of two books about people living with very little. The book was a gift from a generous friend and this is one book I can’t quite see simply borrowing from the library – it convicts and challenges and you will likely find yourself writing notes to yourself and highlighting other parts throughout it.
Tsh neatly unites the value of having a family mission statement and the organization of ones home. In her words; “living simply is to live holistically with your life’s purpose.

We already live fairly simple lives, but this book certainly challenged me to look more closely at what we have – in fact, the day I finished this book I offered our television for free to any local FB friends. We had discussed for months how we *should* pass it on, since it is used only a couple times a year, but this book inspired action.
If you haven’t already found a book that encourages you to declutter, clean and examine how you operate your home I would highly recommend this one.


East Wind by Ruth Hunt is a remarkable and very moving true story about Maria Zeitner Linke and how God worked through her during WWII.
Maria’s family was wealthy, but during WWI they were banished to Siberia, loosing all their fortune and dignity – the stories she shares of God’s provision during this time are incredible. But even more incredible are the stories she shares later on in the book when, during WWII, she is captured and placed in the death camps of Stalin’s Russia. As the back of the book says; “…it is the story of how one woman turned her sorrow into an opportunity for growth, ministry and strengthened commitment to Christ Jesus.”

In nine years Maria is moved through six different camps. She used her time in the camps to be a witness for her Lord and Savior, both to fellow prisoners and to the guards.

In the book Maria talks about how the true character of the women in the death camps would shine through – the greedy and self centered would manipulate and push and shove to get their meager serving of bread first. The complainers would be constantly bemoaning their miserable state. It really spoke to me – this woman who suffered the most horrendous of deeds speaking about the character of a person.

The beauty of this book is that through all of the horrific experiences Maria faces – tortures, lies, rape, lice, starvation, solitary confinement, crowded for weeks in small train car, trigger of a gun being pulled in her face {and malfunctioning!} twice – God is glorified. She loves Him, seeks to honor Him and be a witness for Him and it truly moved me.

Jessica Lynette

3 Comments

  1. Great list! If you like Where's Waldo you need to check out the I Spy books- picture hunts PLUS rhyming text! Finding them at the library or secondhand in good condition can be tricky since kids tend to circle the pictures, but I have a few that I picked up at Goodwill.

  2. Great list! I have added to my reading list and to the list of books to look for at the library for the kids.

    Happy Mother's Day!

  3. Easy Wind… It reminds me of a book I read around age 13 or 14. Did she talk about how she wished she had her family photos and how her Grandmother always pushed her cuticles back? (If those are the two most memorable highlights of the story that I can remember, I guess it's time to read it again.)

What do you think?