Cynthia Rylant: Children's Book Summaries and Video Reviews

by sheilamarie

Cynthia Rylant, an award-winning children's author, writes heartwarming stories about family life. Cynthia Rylant's children's books beg to be shared with the child on your lap.

Cynthia Rylant writes about the big questions in life. Her books range from poetic picture books about family life to early readers to young adult novels confronting the death of a loved one.

Cynthia Rylant treats each of her subjects with tenderness and depth. Her books, many of which have won prestigious awards, will be with us for years to come.

Award-winning children's author Cynthia Rylant

Children's Author Who Writes with Heart

Cynthia Rylant, born June 6, 1954, is the author of over 100 books for children. I first discovered Cynthia Rylant's work when I was in my thirties. I had just moved back to New England after having lived in the Laurentian region of Quebec for over thirteen years. During that time, while my kids were little, I was struggling to become a children's author with only a few small successes. I had been isolated linguistically and professionally while living on a hilltop farm in Quebec, and was trying to process that experience and to write about it.

I came across Cynthia Rylant's book When I Was Young in the Mountains, in which she shares with warmth and wholesomeness her youth growing up in Appalachia. The rhythm of the story spoke to me of the rhythm inherent in a life lived in a rural environment and the richness and beauty of that life. I felt encouraged with Rylant's appreciation of the simple life and her ability to convey that appreciation in such a joyful, quiet way. Wasn't that something I wanted to convey, too?

When I Was Young in the Mountains

by Cynthia Rylant

I first read When I Was Young in the Mountains while working in a second grade classroom during my teacher training year. The rhythm and rich language was enough to draw me in, but the subject matter really touched my heart. Each page describes one of the joys of rural life. The narrator is nostalgic not only for a place -- the Appalachian Mountains -- but for the people who filled her life there. 

When I Was Young in the Mountains is a warm family tale that leads the reader to examine his or her own family life and all the little rituals that fill our days.

When I Was Young in the Mountains

by Cynthia Rylant
When I Was Young in the Mountains (Reading Rainbow Books)
$6.99  $2.73

From the AudioBook When I Was Young in the Mountains

by Cynthia Rylant

The Old Woman Who Names Things

by Cynthia Rylant

An old woman who lives alone begins to name the things around her -- her bed, her armchair, her car. She wears her hair in a bee hive and has cat glasses. She has outlived everyone she knows and is determined to name only things that will outlive her.

She doesn't even know she is lonely until a little puppy shows up at her door and finds an opening in her heart. Through the course of the story, she comes to accept that the love of the puppy is worth the risk of naming him, even if she outlives him, too.

The Old Woman Who Named Things

The Old Woman Who Named Things
$7.99  $3.37

Night in the Country

by Cynthia Rylant

The beautiful illustrations by Mary Szilagyi combine with Cynthia Rylant's poetic words to make this a lovely exploration of the country at night. Who is up when the sky is dark as velvet? What are the different sounds someone could hear?

Night in the Country has a rhythmic beauty that can lull a young child to sleep. 

Night in the Country

Night in the Country
$7.99  $3.00

The Relatives Came

by Cynthia Rylant

When the relatives come for a summer visit, they are certainly a whirl wind of activity. Arriving in an old jalopy of a car painted several different colors, the relatives seem to take over. But by the time they have to go home again, the relatives have won a place in the hearts of all, and the whole extended family look forward to the relatives' return next summer.

Cynthia Rylant wrote this story remembering how much fun it was when her relatives came to visit while she lived with her grandparents in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia.

The Relatives Came

The Relatives Came
$7.99  $3.32

Missing May

by Cynthia Rylant

It's never easy to talk about death with children. When someone close to a child dies, the emptiness and shock that the child feels is hard to address and hard to heal.

This book, by Cynthia Rylant, is a tender story about a young girl and her grandfather after her grandmother has passed away. Not only must Summer deal with her own hurt and loss about her grandmother, May, but she must somehow reclaim her grandfather who is crushed by his own sadness and loss.

Cynthia Rylant has such a gentle and wise touch in her treatment of struggles and family life. Her warmth and understanding shine through, even when dealing with the sadness of Missing May.

Missing May

Missing May
$5.99  $2.40

Henry and Mudge

by Cynthia Rylant

Lots of kids have begun their love affair with books by reading the Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant. 

Theaterworks, USA, has taken these Henry and Mudge books and adapted them to children's theater. The following promo gives you an overview of the Theaterworks USA production.

"My Party Dress" is an excerpt from the series.

Mark from Kindergarten really likes the book Henry and Mudge and the Snowman. I'll bet he'll want to read more of the Henry and Mudge series.

Henry and Mudge

by Cynthia Rylant

Mark, Reporting from Kindergarten, Loves the Henry and Mudge Books

by Cynthia Rylant

Henry and Mudge Boxed Set: 15 books in all by Cynthia Rylant

Also Available as Individual Books
The Henry and Mudge Collection: First Book, Puddle Trouble, Yellow ...
Only $6.81

This Video is a Comprehensive Overview of Cynthia Rylant's Life and Work

Cynthia Rylant Loves Animals, Which Is Why So Many of Her Books Are About Animals

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Updated: 10/18/2012, sheilamarie
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Which Books by Cynthia Rylant Have You Read?

Sheri_Oz on 01/18/2012

This is beautifully put together. A great introduction to her books.

sheilamarie on 01/04/2012

I'm glad I've been able to introduce some of you to Cynthia Rylant's books. She's actually written a lot more than the books on this page. And Jimmie, I love books, too. Would love to get together for a book chat!
@Dustytoes -- Though I like the Henry and Mudge books, they aren't really my favorite Cynthia Rylant books. I prefer some of her others. When I worked in a second grade classroom, though, many of the kids were reading Henry and Mudge which is why I included them.
@Bhavesh Yes, her themes are often deep. She's playful and poetic, too.
Thanks for all your comments!

Bhavesh on 01/04/2012

Never heard of Cynthia Rylant but I love the fact that her books have the depth that most children's authors seem to avoid. Children are much more thoughtful than we give them credit for. I love the story-lines of The Old Woman Who Names Things and The Relatives Came.

Jimmie on 01/04/2012

I'm a fan of Cynthia Rylant. In fact, I love children's books -- both picture books and chapter books/novels. To be quite honest, I love BOOKS! :-)

dustytoes on 01/04/2012

I am familiar with the Henry and Mudge books, but not the others and they look beautiful. I grew up in the country and would have appreciated her story of living on the mountain. Working in the school system introduced me to many books, but I don't recall these.
This is a nice page, highlighting some beautiful and diverse stories for kids.

Marie on 01/04/2012

I admit I'd never heard of Cynthia Rylant so thanks for writing about her books.

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