Prather’s Pick: 2 books for children | CraigDailyPress.com

Prather’s Pick: 2 books for children

Diane Prather

This week's column features two books for children, one older book and another that is brand-new. The first book, a Christmas book, was written in 2008. "Drummer Boy" was written by Loren Long, author of the popular "Otis" books (Otis being a tractor) that have come out in recent years. (The newest is "Otis and the Scarecrow.")

As with many other picture books, "Drummer Boy" really starts with an illustration on the credit page, or to be more precise, on a page just before the credits. It's a drawing of the steps and front door of a house, all decorated with a Christmas wreath. The reader notices a package on the front step. As the story opens, a boy has found the package, and he reads the note that goes with it.

"Open now and enjoy the Christmas spirit early," the note reads.

Inside the box is a toy drummer boy with a drum. The boy enjoys listening to the drummer boy play the "Boom pum pum boom pum …" song. Apparently the family dog enjoys the song, too, because he's fast asleep on the sofa.

So the boy and the drummer boy toy spend many happy hours together until one day when the dog wags his tail and accidentally knocks the drummer boy into the trash can. The drummer boy ends up in the trash truck and eventually at the city dump. It's the beginning of an adventure for the drummer boy as he meets up with a rat who snarls until the drummer plays for him. Next it's an owl who picks him up and carries him to her nest. As the drummer boy plays his drum, the baby owls fall asleep. The mother owl may not realize that she has a great baby-sitter because she carries the drummer off to a bell tower and leaves him perched on the very top.

This is only the part of the adventure. The boy also runs into a dog, a raccoon and others. Will he ever get home again?

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The illustrations in this book are beautiful. "Drummer Boy" was published by Philomel Books and costs $17.99 in hardcover. It can also be found at the Moffat County Library.

"Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder,” by Yona Zeldis McDonough

The second book, a chapter book, is brand-new, and fans of "Little House on the Prairie" will love it. The book is intended for elementary grades, but it's really for everyone. Written by Yona Zeldis McDonough, "Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder" explains how Laura used the events of her life to create her fictional books.

According to McDonough, Laura did change "Nellie's" last name from Owens to Oleson, and she did choose not to include the death of her baby brother. Otherwise, names of family members, friends, neighbors and teachers in her books are true.

The book is illustrated by Jennifer Thermes, and one drawing at the very beginning of the book shows states where Laura lived. I found it interesting that Pa Ingalls seemed to be a restless man. He moved the family a lot.

In 1883 — even before she was 16 years old — Laura started teaching. Because she missed home, Almanzo Wilder, a man she knew from the town, picked her up each Friday and took her home, then he took her back to school Sundays. They were married Aug. 25, 1885, and in 1886, Laura gave birth to Rose.

The last chapters of the book are devoted to the writing careers of both mother and daughter. As a grown woman, Rose was a gifted author and editor herself.

There is a lot of information in this book. At the very end, the book includes such information as "Games Laura Played," "What Laura Ate," "Quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder" and more.

The book is published by Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company. The book costs $16.99 in hardcover. The book can also be found at the Moffat County Library, in the children's room.

Merry Christmas, everyone!