Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Gallery of Children

A.A. Milne
illustrated by Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

A.A. Milne is of course famous for the Winnie the Pooh stories and children's poetry.  But here's a collection of some short stories with delectable 1920's illustrations by Henriette Willebeek le Mair.  Each of these pictures would look so sweet framed and hung in a nursery room.

"Come, it's time for a story," called the oldest sister as the rain fell outside.
And so the five sisters sat under their favorite umbrella tree, perfect for listening to stories, as their oldest sister began...

We had s a cozy afternoon nap time today with a thunderstorm threat. Charlotte and I snuggled up on the couch and read through the first few stories about a princess and a bewitched apple tree, little Miss Diana Fitzpatrick Mauleverer James who has to take care of herself, the twins William and Wilhelmina, and dear Miss Waterlow who is only one year old and likes to remember such lovely things.

Miss Waterlow is remembering something... something very beautiful... but it all happened so long ago that she has forgotten the beginning of it before she remembers the end.

I love this part:
Miss Waterlow at this time was one.  It is a tremendous age to be, and often she would lie on her back and laugh to think of all the babies who were none.

The Carrot Seed

I put a seed into the ground
And said, "I'll watch it grow."
I watered it and cared for it
As well as I could know.

One day I walked in my back yard,
And oh, what did I see!
My seed had popped itself right out
Without consulting me.
                -Gwendolyn Brooks

Ruth Krauss
Crockett Johnson 1945

A cold weekend, but Charlotte and I were out planting seeds in the garden (c'mon kale, lettuce and peas!). I've never had much luck with growing carrots. One year we planted them and they were skinny little things. Nothing like the giant carrot that appears in this story!

Monday, March 26, 2012

A very windy day

I love a blustery day, and today was certainly one.  I watched my clothes twist and tangle on the clothesline, Charlotte and I ran from the car to the grocery store, gripping our flapping jackets, and now that it's night we can hear the wind moaning and groaning outside the house.

All day long I was reciting in my head this poem by Christina Rossetti:

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Spring Story

The problem with having so many books is that they sometimes get misplaced.  We have tall bookshelves filled to the brim and still piles of books in every room.  Lately I've been thinking it's time for another purging.  I often keep copies of books to give away to friends (let me know if anyone wants to be on the receiving end!)  This sweet little book was part of a series about Brambly Hedge, a village of mice.  I'm pretty sure that at one time we had all four season books- Summer Story, Autumn StoryWinter Story, but lately this is the only one I could find.  It's possible the other ones are simply lost in the clutter of our house.

Jill Barklem 1987

These finely detailed illustrations are pure pleasure to look at and remind me a little of Beatrix Potter. It takes me forever to read it aloud because I want to linger on each page!  Charlotte was a big fan of this story when we read it the other night.  It's about a little mouse's birthday and the surprise picnic that the village plans for him.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Rainbow of My Own

Don Freeman

It's the season of rain showers, spring storms and wet days. This book is a burst of color.

A little boy dons his yellow raincoat and goes in search of a rainbow. He imagines what it would be like to play with the stream of colors but he's in for a sunny surprise when he gets home.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Peter and the Wolf

Sergei Prokofiev
illustrated by Erna Voigt 1980

illustrated by Peter Malone 2004

We have a couple picture book versions of this story. We were reading one in bed the other night and I remembered that there was a cd to accompany it. So the next day on a long drive up to the Perkie we listened to it. Charlotte brought the book along to look at and it's really a perfect thing to listen to on car rides. I know we have an old record album of it somewhere in our collection too.

Each character is represented by a musical instrument.  In the story Peter outwits the wolf who has crept out of the woods looking for something to eat.  I was surprised that Charlotte knew some of the instruments the characters were holding in the picture (violin, flute).  I haven't taught them to her, so she must have picked them up somewhere.

I love both styles of illustrations.  One feels more like folk art (and the duck drawn in the wolf's belly is fantastic!) and the other is softer, richer paintings.  Someday I would love to get my hands on the Charles Mikolaycak version.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wind Child

They say March is a windy month...

Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Leo and Diane Dillon 1999

A tremendously beautiful book, both in story and illustrations.  Told with the feel of a folk tale, Resshie is the daughter of the East wind.  She becomes a weaver and is famous for her skill but is lonely and longing for a husband.  She tries to weave one and capture one, but it is only after a mysterious prince challenges her weaving skills does she find a lover who is as wild and like the wind as she is.

The Dillons are a husband and wife illustrator team and their work is wonderful.  More of their books will show up on this blog.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Raggedy Ann and Andy

These have been our bedtime books as of late. I snatched up a vintage collection of them years ago. The colors of the covers and pictures are so bright and cheerful. The stories inside are rather silly and very dated sometimes. But they're still fun to read and Charlotte really likes the characters of Raggedy Ann and Andy. We even have our own rag doll, given to us very generously by Becky from the The Random Tea Room. Margaux and I had a joint show there a couple years ago and Becky brought out Raggedy Ann for Charlotte to play with while we were hanging our pieces. Sometimes Raggedy likes to come to bed with us and listen to the stories too.

Johnny Gruelle 1961

Personally I like the first book of Raggedy Ann stories the best.  It's the one where we're introduced to Raggedy Ann, who was grandmother's rag doll and had been stored away in the attic for years.  Raggedy is now loved by Marcella and introduced to her room full of other dolls.  She's full of life and fun, curiosity, and a bit of good-hearted mischief.  Just what you'd expect from a floppy cotton-stuffed rag doll with yarn hair and shoe-button eyes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Search for Spring

The title seemed appropriate for this time of year.

Moira Miller
pictures by Ian Deuchar 1988

A mystical story that follows a boy who wants to know everything. When Summer comes he asks his parents where Spring has gone. But when they cannot tell him, he embarks on his own adventure to find out. He meets a wise man, and fights with a young nobleman and grows into a man along the way.

Madeleine particularly liked the front page illustration of the flowers growing out of the Celtic knot.

There once was a Boy who wanted to know.
How and why was his constant cry, and as his questions grew harder, his parents answered him as best they could. 
There came a time when the day of the year stretched toward Summer.  Blossoms and butterflies danced.  The golden fingers of the sun reached into the darkest corners of the wood, and flowers opened to its touch.