Today I’m introducing a new feature called “Kidlit Corner.” I’ve long wanted to be more intentional about introducing readers here and in The Catholic Post to good children’s literature (sometimes called “kidlit”), both old and new. So I’m just going to jump in and start. I’m sure it will evolve over time, and perhaps have a name change. Stay tuned!
“Whatever is true whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” — Philippians 4:8
Keeping younger kids in chapter books, the shorter, interesting stories to help readers transition from easy readers to full-length novels, can be a challenge. There are always the classic series like The Boxcar Children and The Magic Tree House series, which offer enjoyable and well-told mysteries for younger readers.
But sadly, this category in recent years has also filled up with many “branded” or commercialized stories that promote the latest movie or television show, and are the equivalent of processed food. Kids might be “reading” these books, but they are not especially nourishing. It’s like chips for the mind.
Younger readers deserve hearty fare as they are beginning to love reading—books that are fun and relatively easy to read, but provide an interesting and worthy subject matter. Consider such books meat & potatoes, or healthy comfort food, for the emergent reader.
One great new offering in the chapter-book genre is The Chestertons and the Golden Key by Nancy Carpentier Brown, with Regina Doman, and lovely period-style illustrations by Ann Kissane Englelhart.
The Chestertons and the Golden Key is a charming story about GK Chesterton and his wife, on vacation one summer, meeting and befriending a young family, and helping them solve a child-friendly mystery.
As I read the story, I thought it was mostly fiction. It turns out the story is based on the real-life Nicholls family, whom the Chestertons did meet and befriend when they visited Lyme Regis, England. The afterward describes the actual story, and how Carpentier Brown’s research lead her to the Nicholls family and relatives who were still alive to tell her some stories.
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Previously, Nancy Carpentier Brown also has adapted for younger readers a good variety of Chesterton’s most famous Father Brown mystery stories.
The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton, and The Father Brown Reader II: More Stories from Chesterton offer budding mystery lovers a chance to be introduced to one of the classic sleuths from the prolific Chesterton.
Carpentier Brown is also the author of the well-regarded adult biography of Frances Chesterton, The Woman Who Was Chesterton. You can read my review of that book here.