Tuesday, October 6, 2015

East of the Sun and West of the Moon

Charlotte was just telling me that she'd like some stories about girls that save the day.  Madeleine and I have often talked about how common it is in fairy tales for the hero of the story to be a clever, brave girl.  For some reason, these don't seem to be the stories that get made into popular children's movies!

Mercer Mayer 1987

East of the Sun and West of the Moon is one such story.  Like Gerda from The Snow Queen, a young maiden must travel a dangerous journey, searching for the kingdom that is East of the Sun and West of the Moon.  There she must save a prince who has been imprisoned by an evil troll princess.  It's refreshing to read of a beautiful maiden rescuing a helpless prince for once!  And Mercer Mayer's pictures are gorgeous.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fin Family Moomintroll

It was the end of August- the time when owls hoot at night and flurries of bats swoop noiselessly over the garden.  Moomin Wood was full of glow-worms, and the sea was disturbed.  There was expectation and a certain sadness in the air, and the harvest moon came up huge and yellow.  Moomintroll had always liked those last weeks of summer most, but he didn't really know why.

Tove Jansson 1989

 This was the summer of Moomintrolls.  Charlotte loved the funny little stories in the Finnish writer/illustrator Tove Jansson's book Fin Family Moomintroll.  Madeleine was the first to discover them years ago at her school library.  (She only picked up the book because they looked like hippos- her favorite animal.)

Populated by an odd cast of characters, there's Mama Moomin, never without her handbag, and Papa Moomin, busy writing his memoirs.  Their son is Moomintroll and his best friend, Snufkin, complete with floppy hat and pipe.  Part fantasy, part comedy, the stories are an unusual blend of magic, friendship, adventure and absurdity.  Charlotte just couldn't get enough, and we read it every night at bedtime.    How could you put down a book that stars the Snork Maiden, Thingumy and Bob, and the Groke?  Luckily there's a whole series of books as well as comics that Jansson illustrated from the 1940s to the 1990's.

Oh, what a wonderful feeling when you have eaten up everything, drunk everything, talked of everything and danced your feet off, to go home in the quiet hour before the dawn to sleep!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Daddy Book

The Daddy Book
Robert Stewart
pictures by Don Madden 1972

 What better way to celebrate Father's Day than with The Daddy Book!  This little treasure was recently found at the thrift store and who could resist these great 1970's illustrations!

It's an homage to dads that come in all shapes and sizes, have all sorts of different hobbies, do all kinds of different chores, and have all kinds of different careers.  Not only are the clothes and pictures fabulous (seriously the neckties and striped trousers are the best!) but there's all sorts of diversity- dads that come in different ethnicities and even do household chores.  Definitely more progressive than some of the vintage dad books we have from the 1950's!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Emil in the Soup Tureen

I think Astrid Lindgren is just wonderful.  Her rambunctious Pippi Longstocking books are pure fun! Now here's another character full of mischief and trouble and the very definition of a lovable rascal.  Emile lives on a farm with his mother and father, his little sister, Ida, the workman, Alfred, and the maid Lina.  His antics start with him getting a soup tureen stuck on his head and the lengths that his silly parents go to help him.  Lindgren ends each chapter with a teasing of the next story.

Astrid Lindgren

Monday, June 1, 2015

Around the Year

Tasha Tudor

A sweet thrift store find for us, Tasha Tudor's classically beautiful illustrations lead us around the seasons.  She's at her very best evoking all the simple joys and activities of childhood and family life as the year goes round.  There's no small part of me that wishes I lived a Tasha Tudor life!

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Sheep of the Lal Bagh

Our township has a neat program where they "hire" sheep to come and graze the overgrown municipal owned areas.  We've see them over by the retention pond and in the courtyards at the high school.  The teenagers must get a kick out of seeing sheep right outside their windows!  Not only is the program cost effective and environmentally friendly, but it just seems really fun!

David Mark
pictures by Lionel Kalish 1967

When I read the article in the local paper announcing the new program, my first thought was immediately this book (who knows, maybe that's where someone at the township offices got the idea!).  Illustrated by Lionel Kalish in glorious 60's/70's psychedelic style, the book tells the story of an Indian city whose park 'lawnmower' was a beloved sheep named "Ramesh".  On their holidays, the people of the city came to the park to relax and also to see the sheep.  When the mayor decides that the city needs a modern lawn mower, Ramesh is unceremoniously dismissed and everyone is unhappy.

They could not pat a machine, or rub a machine's head, or climb on a machine's back and ask it for a ride.  So little by little the people stopped coming to the park. 

Luckily for Ramesh and the people of the city, a compromise was soon reached.  (And there's a funny accompanying illustration of the committee appointed to find Ramesh looking through all the sheep!)