Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo

by Kevin Lewis, illustrated by Daniel Kirk

Perfect poetry and endearing illustrations make this story a perfect edition to any little engineer’s library. The vintage color and feel of this book will have parents recalling their own childhood. But today’s babies and toddlers are sure to love the bright and colorful pictures as well.

My 18-month old son enjoys reading, and like most little ones, he has his favorites. Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo is one he will pull from the book basket day after day. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than feeling him snuggle close while we watch this little toy train wind its way around a young boy’s room.

If you’re looking for a sweet and simple story with beautiful illustrations, your search can stop here: This is a must-have for any little one.

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A Woman’s Place

by Lynn Austin

Set in the WWII era, this novel by Austin turns to the lives American women on the homefront for its inspiration. I found the subject matter to be interesting and enjoyable, particularly because this aspect of WWII life is often eclipsed by stories of soldiers, battle, and politics.

A Woman’s Place takes us to Stockton, Michigan, where we meet four unique and likable women : Ginny, a wife and mother who’s searching for meaning; Rosa, a strong-willed Italian from Brooklyn who’s trying to fit in with her new in-laws; Helen, a semi-retired schoolteacher and wealthy heiress with a past haunted by lost love; and Jean, a recent high school grad who struggles to balance romance with her high career aspirations. All four women end up seeking work at a factory in the Stockton Shipyard and are assigned to the same crew.

Though the women come from vastly different backgrounds, they’re drawn together by their circumstances and an unlikely friendship forges between them. Austin does a nice job weaving the stories of each individual woman together into one cohesive novel. And she ties loose ends together at the end in a satisfying way. My only complaint about the novel would be the somewhat stilted dialogue that occasionally surfaces in the story. I just felt that some of the conversations failed to capture an authentic voice for the characters involved.

Shaky dialogue aside, I did enjoy this book, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys good historical fiction.