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You said, "I know there are many excellent books for older children, but for small ones it's slim pickings."

I have started sending my two GRANDCHILDREN excerpts from A Child's Garden of Verses. They (10 & 11) enjoy it a lot. It is also not too complex in some parts for younger children. Not quite new ... I think Robert Louis Stevenson passed some time back.

Just before I left Florida, about July 1, a friend gave me a paperback. It is "Purple Cane Road" by James Lee Burke. A mystery story, well written, with a lot of the Bayou Country locations, stories and folks described very nicely and accurately. My friend said I remind him of the lead character but I fail to identify myself with him. The Cajun accent is pretty close where it is used. It's ok for a light, easy read and will make you turn the pages.
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