When you have a child who is reading very well at an early age, it can sometimes be difficult to find books that are challenging enough for your young reader, yet innocent enough for a child who is not ready for more mature subject matter.
This week, I want to mention another lesser known set of books that we just adore. These would appeal to boys as much as to girls.
I already reviewed the first book in the series a long time ago, so I feel a bit like I am cheating. But things get buried in a blog and I MUST mention this series again because I think it is so wonderful!
This week’s suggestion is the “Noisy Village” series, by Astrid Lindgren (most commonly recognized as the author of the well-known Pippi Longstocking series).
The very charming Children of Noisy Village is actually one of the first chapter books I ever read out loud to my two oldest children. We sat on the sofa in front of the fire on a boring, snowy Sunday and all three of us laughed out loud at the funny adventures of the Noisy Village children. Much to my delight, I even found a bit of more subtle humor in the book that escaped my children. These moments kept me wanting to turn the pages as much as my children did.
In case you missed my first review, the three Swedish farm houses that comprise “Noisy Village” are inhabited by a pack of mischievous children ages 9 to 11 (as well as a baby or two). The tale is very convincingly narrated in the first person by 9 year-old Lisa.
The era of the book is never specified, but according to the “About the Author” section, Astrid Lindgren’s writing was greatly influenced by her childhood on a small Swedish farm. Since she was born in 1931, that would probably place the setting of this book sometime around 1940.
None of these simple adventures are mean or malicious, but are completely innocent and charming. I was also struck by the fact that the children never talk back, or act in a disrespectful manner to each other or their parents, as I find to be the case with many books of this genre nowadays.
If you read these books out loud, make sure you have plenty of time since you might be begged to read them cover to cover in one sitting.
For silent-reading I would place them on the same level of complexity as the Fairchild Family books by Rebecca Caudill that I reviewed last time. That is, not suitable for beginners, but perhaps not quite as advanced as the The Little House series.
More details to help you determine the suitability for your child: each of the two chapter books is about 120 pages long and is divided into 14 chapters. Typeface is medium and there are quite a few sweet line drawing illustrations (by Ilon Wikland) scattered throughout the book.
The only picture book I have seen is the Christmas one. I don’t like it as much as the chapter books. There are more illustrations, and they are in bright colors. Somehow, I prefer the subdued black and white line drawings of the originals.
Also, although the story is fun in the short Christmas book, there is a scene where one of the older boys pretends to be Santa and brings in the gifts. In my mind, this brought up the whole “is Santa real” question. Fortunately however, it seemed to escape my children and we didn’t have to address that issue. The Christmas chapter in The Children of Noisy Village was different and didn’t venture into such perilous territory.
Conclusion: I can’t recommend these chapter books enough, for both girls and boys!