The illustrated chapter books and illustrated children’s novels listed in this section meet all our criteria for fiction that inspires a love of nature, or world cultures and their creative achievements, or both. They are also free from gratuitous violence or nastiness, and are appropriate for even the youngest, gentlest reader.
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Inga Moore
This charming children’s classic vividly and accurately portrays the emotional journey that many third-culture-kids experience, as they confront the reverse-culture-shock of repatriation. Mary Lennox is a nine-year-old, British military brat, born and raised in British Colonial India. The story begins in the midst of a cholera epidemic, which kills both of her parents. When a pair of British officers discover Mary all alone in her parents’ empty bungalow, she is quickly sent “home” to England, to live with an uncle she has never met. Although the “spoilt and sour” demeanor Mary exhibits at the start of the book is certainly in part the result of attachment issues caused by neglectful parents, it is also very clear that many of the things that trouble her about her new home are simply the result of culture shock. And, as is typical for TCKs “returning home” to their passport countries, her ignorance of local customs is perceived as willful insolence, and any mention she makes of “how things were done” in India, is perceived as boastful arrogance.
It is only when she begins applying her TCK skills of “foreign” language acquisition (learning to speak the Yorkshire dialect spoken by the local people), studying the details of her new environment (learning to understand an appreciate the strange natural beauty and wildlife of the moor), and working on collaborative projects with local residents (reviving a neglected, secret garden), that she overcomes her grief, and begins to thrive in her passport culture.
(Third-Culture Kid-Lit & a tale of Nature’s wonders)
written and illustrated by Palmer Brown
A charming tale of an adventurous mouse, who leaves his family home in the old grandfather clock, to explore the wider world of nature. He learns about the nature of plants and animals he meets — and of the cycle of life and death — the seasons of life.
(a tale of Nature’s wonders)
Homer Price & Centerburg Tales
written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey
These two books contain a series of good, clean, and absurdly funny short stories, focused on the life and adventures of a young boy named Homer Price, and the little fictional midwestern town he lives in — Centerburg, Ohio.
The Children of Noisy Village & Happy Times in Noisy Village
by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by
This pair of books contain a series of short stories about a little Swedish farm girl named Lisa, her siblings, and the neighbor children, who inhabit the other two homes in the tiny hamlet nicknamed “Noisy Village.” The children have a wonderful assortment of adventures, picking and selling cherries on the side of the road; bringing a lamb to school; escaping the horns of a wild ram; building secret caves in the hay-loft, and the like. Very funny stories, for children and parents alike.
(life in rural Sweden)
Greetings from Somewhere (chapter-book series)
by Harper Paris, illustrated by Marcos Palo
A brother and sister travel the world, homeschooling with their father, while their mother — a travel writer — works on her assignments. Each book takes place in a different country, in which the kids sneak off and solve a mystery. Travel destinations include: Italy, France, China, Kenya, India, Peru, Australia, Alaska, and Greece.
Tales From Maple Ridge (chapter book series)
by Grace Gilmore, illustrated by Petra Brown
Tales of the life and adventures of a young boy in a struggling, early American farming family in New England. This is a boy who loves to build inventions he feels can help his friends and family. The stories tell about learning in a one-room schoolhouse, tending a farm, visiting a big city, braving blizzards, and hunting for ghosts in the woods.
(early American life in New England)
Little House (children’s novel series)
by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Garth Williams
Tales of a pioneer family’s life and adventures in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, and in various locations on the American Great Plains. Describes in wonderful detail, how they lived their lives, and how they made all the things, and grew all the food, that they needed to survive: houses, furniture, railroads, barns, hunting and fishing traps and equipment, maple sugar, clothing, etc. Told from the perspective of a young girl.
(pioneer days Americana)