Picaro, a Pet Otter by Dorothy Wisbeski; illustrated by Edna Miller. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1971.

Whether or not you’re interested in otters, you’ll find this a book of delightful illustrations that complement a story of a pet otter whose owner lets him live in a house. Young children will especially enjoy the everyday antics of Picaro, a pet otter.

The Courage of Kazan by Barbara K. Walker; illustrated by James and Ruth McCrea. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1970.

This is the story of how timid Kazan goes out to seek his courage. Kazan is ordered to kill a monster, and he meets the monster in a most unusual way. You will be delighted to read how Kazan and an old horse defeat a whole army. The color and the black and white illustrations add much excitement.

The Door in the Wall written and illustrated by Marguerite de Angeli. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1949. (A Newbery Award book for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children)

The churches, castles, and inns of thirteenth-century England are the setting for this dramatic story of Robin. Robin’s father, a great lord, was off to the wars, and his mother, a lady, was called to help care for the Queen, as there was a plague raging in the city of London. Robin is to go to a castle in the north of the land to begin serving as a page in preparation for knighthood. The plague overcomes the household staff. Robin becomes ill and is left unattended. How Robin eventually gets to his castle and how he learns there are different ways in which to serve make for exciting reading.

Joseph and Koza by Isaac Bashevis Singer; pictures by Symeon Shimin. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, winner of the 1970 National Book Award for children’s literature, tells this story of long-ago pagan Poland. Those were the days of barbarous tribes who believed in devils and witches and in human sacrifice to pacify the evil spirits, especially Baba Yaga. A stranger, Joseph, who is both a Jew and a wandering goldsmith, comes to Poland. Joseph tells the people about the one God who is more powerful than Baba Yaga and all her wicked followers. Joseph proves that God’s might is the greatest. Both children and their parents will enjoy this different kind of story. The illustrations are unusual and beautiful.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White; pictures by Edward Frascino. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. (1970 Honor Book, Children’s Spring Festival)

Sam Beaver and his father are in Canada on a camping trip. Sam likes to explore and finds two trumpeter swans and their nest of five eggs at the edge of a pond. Sam watches the nest, and finally five little cygnets hatch. The swans discover that one of their little ones, Louis, is different—he doesn’t have a voice. Sam tries to help; he takes Louis to school, where the swan learns to read. Things go well until the beautiful lady swan, Serena, spurns Louis because he is defective. Louis’s father decides his son must have a voice, and so he steals a trumpet for Louis. The story of how Louis struggles to pay off his father’s debt, becomes a successful trumpeter, and wins Serena is an exciting tale.