Archives For Children


A Brief Review of

Equally Shared Parenting:
Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents
Marc and Amy Vachon.

Hardback: Perigee, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Jeni Newswanger Smith.

In Equally Shared Parenting, Marc and Amy Vachon, layout plans, ideas, and encouragement for parents desiring to make their lives (not just parenting duties) as balanced as possible. The book title is a bit of a misnomer because it contains little actual parenting advice, but is solely concerned with the “Equally Sharing” part.

The philosophy (which the authors unfortunately abbreviate ESP) isn’t about turning traditional gender roles on their head — it’s about balancing equally all the elements of partnership and raising children.  The authors define these as: child-raising, bread-winning, housework and time for self.  Additionally “equally shared parenting aims to create an equal partnership between parents and an individually balanced life for each.”

Continue Reading…


A Brief Review of

The Enemy: A Book About Peace.
Davide Cali.
Illustrated by Serge Bloch.

Hardcover: Schwartz and Wade, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Review by Libby Bowling (Age 11).

[ There is an excellent preview of this book on Google Books! ]

The Enemy: A Book about PeaceThe Enemy written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Serge Bloch is a book that I found particularly good. It is about two soldiers who are enemies, and they both think the other person is a horrible creature that has no mercy. Each is focused on killing the other, while really, they both want to go home to their families — the families that they are trying to protect by killing the enemy. They think that the enemy will kill their family along with their pets if they allow themselves to die in the war.

The book is written as if it were a journal; it is easy to understand, and is a good book for children and adults alike.

The pictures in this book are also very simple and have little color, but are great just the same. They look as if they have been penciled onto the page, and almost the only color in them are the army uniforms that are roughly colored in green. However, the pictures go well with the words in the book because they look as if they appear as if they are also part of the journal.

The soldiers’ lives in this book were horrible. They were both hungry and tired and desperate; they are completely lost in their efforts to blast each other to smithereens, but those efforts lead them to do something that they never considered.   The end of this book has a surprising twist through which the enemies become friends.  The book reminds its readers of the pointlessness of going to war and fighting people who are just like you.


A Brief Review of The Story Blanket
By Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz.
Illustrated by  Elena Odriozola.

Hardcover: Peachtree Publishers, 2008.
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Jeni Newswanger Smith.

Drawn to The Story Blanket by the beautiful simplicity of its cover as well as the recommendation of a friend, I discovered a book that will become a favorite in my home, with myself, my husband and my children.  The Story Blanket, written by Ferida Wolfe and Harriet May Savitz, illustrates the time-honored principles of contentment, selflessness, thriftiness without hitting children over the head with a moral.

Wolfe and Savitz begin their story by introducing Babba Yagga, the crafty grandmother-figure at the center of the story, who loves to tell stories to the neighborhood children who gather on her blanket.  During these story times, she notices a hole in a shoe, the absence of a scarf or missing mittens.  She unravels bits of her blanket in order to knit socks, scarves, mittens, etc.  Eventually, the children notice the blanket has gotten quite small, and that they are sitting closer to one another each day.  The community figures out that Babba Yagga has been gifting these small necessities.  Each family unravels a bit from one of their own blankets in order to provide Babba Yagga with the needed yarn to reknit the blanket…and the cycle continues.

This is a beautiful story of enough; the village meets their various needs by doing with a little bit less, yet no one is lacking in necessities.  It’s timely book, simple, lovely, and kind; it illustrates the beauty of generosity.

As for the illustrations themselves, Elena Odriozola melds the (currently popular) round red-cheeked simply drawn people with detailed, vintage Russian clothing and quilts.  The pages are clean and uncluttered, allowing children plenty of room to fit their own imaginings into the story.  At the same time, one could easily spend an hour enjoying the clothes and knitted goods displayed.  Children will be drawn to the book because of these very details. So many picture books are illustrated with BAM! WAM! POW! colors and are shoved full of too much stuff.  The Story Blanket continues the theme of enough, even in its simple, yet rich, illustrations.



Jeni Newswanger Smith is a member of the Englewood Christian Church community in Indianapolis, a mother of four, a crafter and a blogger.