Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tasha Tudor's A Child's Garden of Verses

Robert Louis Stevenson
illustrated by Tasha Tudor 

Robert Louis Stevenson and Tasha Tudor never get old.  Here they are paired together- Tasha Tudor's lovely illustrations for Stevenson's classic poems about childhood.  I couldn't imagine a more complimentary partnership!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Complete Brambly Hedge

The Brambly Hedge stories are one of our happy places.  We were first introduced to Jill Barklem's cozy characters and illustrations by a little second hand copy of "A Spring Story".  Surprisingly we were able to pick up a couple more of the stand alone stories at various thrift stores and used bookshops.

Jill Barklem 

Finally one Christmas, Charlotte received the giant "Complete Brambly Hedge" and we were able to pass off our other books to friends who we knew would enjoy them as we do.  This collection includes several stories we had never seen before, and once again we simply poured over the illustrations.  Sometimes when I would read it to Charlotte in bed we'd have to stop for several minutes on a page just so I could enjoy all the picture's details.  (For this reason, I don't recommend this as a bedtime book.  You really want to sit in the daylight and take your time looking at the pictures!)

Brambly Hedge is populated by a community of mice with names like "Poppy" and "Dusty" and "Wilfred".  The stories are sweet and genial and full of all the gentle things that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Bells and Grass

Poems by Walter de la Mare
illustrated by Dorothy Lanthrop

Oh lovely lovely Walter de la Mare!  I will never get tired of reading his poems and collecting his books.  

Even the introduction written by de la Mare himself is beautiful as he muses about writing and poetry, ageing, and dreams for children... 

How old, then, are the young?  And how young is it possible for the old in years to remain- without, that is, being merely immature, undergrown, or silly?  Is this in fact a question of age, of mere time?  I doubt if it is.  Even one's body seems in certain respects to be independent of the mechanical hands of a clock, and of an earth spining on in space, as we are told, through its four strange and lovely seasons, in its annual revolution round the sun.  We know very little what we mean by Time.  I have seen a baby apparently of only twenty-four hours' experience in this world that yet was not only the minute image of, but also looked even older than its grandmother.  I have seen grandmothers with eyes as guileless and youthful as a frank and happy seven-year-old's; and, clearly, with hearts to match.

The self within is still the self within, however much knowledge and experience, and whatever treasures of memory it may have acquired.  It is still the silkworm in its cocoon, whatever the quality of the silk may be.  As the years go by, we put away childish things.  We have to.  And yet what we love and delight in when we are young we may continue to love and delight in when we are old; and not much less ardently, perhaps.  So with all that is meant by heart, feelings, mind, the fancy, and the imagination.

I know too that in later life it is just (if only just) possible now and again to recover fleetingly the intese delight, the untellable joy and happiness and fear and grief and pain of our early years, of an all but forgotten childhood.

And he gives us this remarkable bit, an encouragement to writers everywhere:

To write anything solely to please someone else is rather dangerous; and particularly if it happens to be in rhyme.  To write for one's own delight and out of the sheer impulse and desire to do so is less dangerous, though one may of course keep such things to oneself!  To hope to please others with what has been so written is a wildish aspiration, but an aspiration which it should not be too difficult even to condone.

The poems are wonderful, as they always are.  I'm often including them in letters to friends or in Charlotte's lunch box.  The icing on the cake of course are the drawings by Dorothy Lanthrop included in this edition.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Julie Brinckloe 1986

It's firefly season.  We've been spotting them at the edge of our woods.  They come out just as the sun is going down and twinkle in the gloaming.
What is summer without running out after dinner, mason jar in hand and catching fireflies with the neighborhood kids?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Just Us Women

Here's a fun summer road trip book...

Jeannette Caines 1982
illustrated by Pat Cummings

Told in first person, a little girl and her Aunt Martha are "going to drive all the way to North Carolina in her new car."  Since Aunt Martha is forgetful, it's up to the narrator to remember to bring things like the maps and their fried chicken lunch packed in two shoe boxes.  They'll stop at all the farm stands and roadside fleas and monuments they want to.  Since it's "just us women" they can talk all they want and enjoy the time together just the two of them.  Maybe a bit dated, but I'm pretty fond of the illustrations and I'm all for a summer road trip with such detours!  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

School's Out

School's Out

Girl's scream,
     Boys shout;
Dogs bark,
     School's out.

Cats run,
     Horses shy;
Into trees
     Birds fly.

Babes wake
If they can,
     Tramps hide.

Old man,
     Hobble home;
Merry mites,

                 -W.H. Davies

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mama Says

Leo and Diane Dillon illustrated this multicultural book showing a mother's love and words of advice for her son.  Twelve cultures and languages are represented.  Each page has words of wisdom from Mama, teaching her son to be kind, and strong, and brave and hard working.  The words are also written in their native language (as explained by the glossery in the back).  What a wonderful homage to mothers and how they can teach their sons through words and actions.  A mother's love like this is truely universal.

Rob D. Walker 
illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon