Friday, November 18, 2011

Elsie's Bird

This summer Madeleine and I read "O Pioneers" by Willa Cather (I followed it up with "My Antonia" which I loved even more and heartily recommend).  Cather was inspired by Walt Whitman's poem by the same name.

All the past we leave behind;
We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers!  O pioneers!

The writing in Cather's book is simple but at times very beautiful.  And she writes so lovingly of the land, the prairie out west.

Everywhere the grain stood ripe and the hot afternoon was full of the smell of the ripe wheat, like the smell of bread baking in an oven.  The breath of the wheat and the sweet clover passed him like pleasant things in a dream.  He could feel nothing but the sense of diminishing distance.  It seemed to him that his mare was flying, or running on wheels, like a railway train.  The sunlight, flashing on the window-glass of the big red barns, drove him wild with joy.

Jane Yolen 2010
illustrated by David Small

 Elsie's Bird is about a little girl who goes west with her widowed father.  At first the trip is an adventure, but the wild prairie is unlike Elsie's old Boston home and she is fearful of the land.  When she has to rescue her bird- the one thing from back East that brings her comfort- she learns to love and see the beauty in their new surroundings.

Jane Yolen is of course a wonderful writer and David Small's illustrations are a joy to look at.


  1. I really like David Small's illustrations, what a lovely story.

  2. I really liked this book, too. Haven't read O Pioneers, but loved My Antonia. ;)

  3. Oh, I want this one. You little beastie.