Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scaredy Cat

Mercer Mayer 1974

 Two little boys decide to spend the night in the backyard, with the older one calling the shots and telling a scary story.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Silver Pennies

I admit I have a weakness for poetry, so don't be surprised if a lot of poetry books make it onto this list!  This sweet vintage volume has wonderful black and white illustrations and a nice collection of poems about nature and fairies.  Each poem has an introduction that helps the reader understand or think about what they are about to read. 

Blanche Jennings Thompson 1931
illustrated by Winifred Bromhall

Can you imagine if children were taught to read poetry like the following verse- Souls, learning about language and morals and beauty?

One of my very favorites is Moon Folly

Monday, October 25, 2010


For you 80's kids, a book version of the movie, Labyrinth. I must have seen it when I was 10 or 11. I have a funny nostalgia for fantasy movies made in the 80's, especially ones with Jim Henson's muppets.  (Who else remembers The Dark Crystal and The Secret of NIMH and The Last Unicorn and The Neverending Story?)  Madeleine liked the movie, though she thought David Bowie was weird!  And she loved this book because of the illustrations.

Louise Gikow 1986
illustrated by Bruced McNally

Frustrated with her baby brother, Sarah wishes the goblins would take him.  When they do, she must go through the labyrinth to the castle of the goblin king (played by David Bowie) to rescue him. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hurrahing in Harvest

I just sent this to a friend.  I love love love Gerard Manley Hopkins.  I read him to Charlotte sometimes and put his poems in Madeleine's lunch.

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise
     Around; up above, what wind-walks!  what lovely behaviour
     Of silk-sack clouds!  has wilder, wilful-waiver
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
     Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
     And, eyes, heart, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love's greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
     Majestic- as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet!-
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
     Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
     And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Pied Piper of Hamelin- Two versions

Here are two exceptional versions of that famous rat-catcher and the haunting story of how he led the children away.

Robert Holden retells the story in easy rhyming verse and Drahos Zak's illustrations are incredible- a little bit creepy and Gorey-esk.

Robert Holden 1998
illustrated by Drahos Zak

And then there's Robert Browning's original poem published in 1888 with Kate Greenaway's quintessential maids and children. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Runny Babbit

In honor of our new bunny...

Shel Silverstein 2005

From the very brilliant Shel Silverstein, a hilarious book to read aloud.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Littlest Rabbit

It took a day of driving around with my mom, down long driveways to old farmhouses and a stop at the Quakertown Farmer's Market but we came home with a bunny!  Henry's very own rabbit, a sweet mini-lop that's mostly black with grey mottles.  He named him Argle Fumph. 

Robert Kraus 1975

Everything is bigger than this poor little rabbit, even cabbages and carrots.  The other bigger rabbits pick on him and bully him.  But he eats and sleeps and plays and prays that he will grow.  Sure enough he does!  I think the drawings are super-cute.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Perrault's Fairy Tales

Eight tales by the grand master Perrault illustrated by the equally grand Gustave Dore.

translated by A.E. Johnson 1969
illustrated by Gustave Dore

These are the original dark and gruesome stories with serious morals and might come as bit of a shock to those who only know the Disney versions.  (The ogre in "Little Tom Thumb" slits his seven daughters' throats for goodness sake!).  I confess, even from childhood "Blue Beard" has always been one of my favorites.  (I won't even try to analyze why!)

The Moral of Sleeping Beauty:

Many a girl has waited long
For a husband brave or strong;
But I'm sure I never met
Any sort of woman yet
Who could wait a hundred years,
Free from fretting, free from fears.

Now, our story seems to show
That a century or so,
Late or early, matters not;
True love comes by fairy-lot.
Some old folk will even say
It grows better by delay.

Yet this good advice, I fear,
Helps us neither there nor here.
Though philosophers may prate
How much wiser 'tis to wait,
Maids will be a-sighing still-
Young blood must when young blood will!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Be Nice to Spiders

This time of year we always have great orb webs with big brown spiders around the outside of the house.  One year a web was stretched across our back door and Chris walked right through it.  The spider was on his back and we were all yelling at him as he walked across the yard!  It was pretty comical.   (If anyone is curious, I've identified them as European Garden spiders and they are quite fascinating to watch.)  So in honor of these spiders, a book about them and how good they are.

Margaret Bloy Graham 1967

When a spider named Helen ends up at the zoo the zookeeper at first doesn't realize how great she is at keeping the flies away from the other animals.  In the end she gets the appreciation all spiders deserve.

Speaking of creepy crawlies, I cleaned my kitchen with tea tree oil and the ants have disappeared.