Friday, April 27, 2012

Marguerite, Go Wash Your Feet

A book of funny little rhymes and Wallace Tripp's clever pictures.  We were so amused we had to read it all in one sitting!

Wallace Tripp 1985

Marguerite, go wash your feet,
the Board of Health's across the street.

This one is my favorite.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Rainbabies

We really haven't gotten our share of April showers this year, but the flowers are blooming nonetheless.  We've always loved the story in this book.  It's interesting that a common devise in fairy/folk tales is a childless couple longing for a child of their own.  Here there's a good dose of magic, love, nature and a bittersweet but happy ending.

Laura Krauss Melmed
illustrated by Jim LaMarche 2004

Jim LaMarche's pictures are every bit as warm and sweet as the story. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Silver Pennies

The rainy day mail today brought me a postcard from a dear friend, and this book that I had ordered all wrapped in brown paper.  Aren't those the very best kind of packages to get in the mail?

Blanche Jennings Thompson
illustrated by Pelagie Doane 1939

Silver Pennies is one of my favorite books of poetry for children, so when I learned there was a second volume I decided to track down a copy.

I've been in a cranky mood (I blame no sun outside and a list of Monday chores) and poor Charlotte has born the brunt of my snapping and snarling. I think this book will be just the thing to snuggle up and read with her and lift my spirits a bit.

Once again Blanche Jennings Thompson gives lovely introductions to the poems.

The Poems you cherish in youth will still be your friends in age, for no matter how old you grow
You still need a silver penny
To get into Fairyland.

I love that she included poems by James Joyce, an Indian woman, and some African American poets

There's plenty of Sara Teasdale, which of course makes me happy, and look at this wonderful one by Harold Lewis Cook.

My mom would not appreciate this one about mice.

I had no idea that Amelia Earhart wrote poems, but we read one here:

And this one Dust of Snow by Robert Frost was good for me today:

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Possum Come A-Knockin'

It's my brother, Ben's, birthday today.  I was 10 when he was born and I remember really wanting a little brother.  He certainly could drive me crazy (my teenage best friend once told me she had never seen me get so angry as when I was angry at him.).  But I sure do love him!  This was his favorite book growing up.  I can still picture my mom and dad reading it to him.

Nancy Van Laan
illustrated by George Booth 

I know he has his own copy now. And we just found ours at the thrift store. You can't read it without lapsing into a foot-thumping Appalachian drawl. So Happy Birthday, little brother! We'll read this today in honor of you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What is a Whispery Secret?

While yesterday was warm and teeming with bright-eyed, optimistic sunshine, today has turned out to be grey and chilly.  Though it's good tea drinking weather (and for snuggling under the blanket on the couch), all day I've been trying to pull myself out of a weather-induced funk with coffee and list making.  Finally I gave up being productive at all today, put on a sweater and took a nap with Charlotte on the sofa.  Before she fell asleep we read through a pile of books, this being the best one for nap-time:

Lois Hobart
pictures by Martha Alexander 1968

Soft, slow, lyrical prose that meanders through a little girl explaining to her brother what whispering and secrets are.

Have you ever seen a mare look around and nuzzle her colt?
She's telling a whispery secret.

Charlotte and I each had a "whispery secret" for each other at the end.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Good Day

There's something about this weather that makes every day feel like a good day.  It's warm, the sun is shining and this morning is brimming with potential.

Kevin Henkes 2007

Kevin Henkes does some fine colored pictures for this book.  The day starts off worrisome for bird, dog, squirrel and fox.  But then things take a turn for the better and it is a "good day" after all. 

Little yellow bird lost his favorite tail feather.

Little orange fox couldn't find his mother.

Little brown squirrel found the biggest nut ever.

And little yellow bird forgot about his feather and flew higher than he ever had before.

A little girl spotted a perfect yellow feather, picked it up, tucked it behind her ear, and ran to her mother, shouting, "Mama!  What a good day!"

Monday, April 16, 2012

Polar the Titanic Bear

April 15th marks the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  We pulled out this book which has amazing photographs and a true story told through the eyes of a toy bear.  It was written in 1913 by Daisy Spedden and given as a Christmas gift to her son.  The original story is framed by a fascinating Introduction and Epilogue by Leighton H. Coleman III (a relative of the Speddens) who presents a portrait of life at that time and details, both sad and happy, of the Spedden's history. 

Daisy Corning Stone Spedden
illustrations by Laurie McGaw 2001

The book follows the Spedden family who were part of the wealthy upper class at the turn of the 20th century.  The titular bear is given as a gift to their son Douglas who brings it along on all the family's travels.  The story is a glimps into that world of the "gilded age".   
From the Epilogue:

The letters, diaries, photo albums and mementos of Daisy Spedden record a way of life that is gone forever.  Turning the pages of Daisy's photo albums, one sees pictures of large houses with beautiful gardens, where elegantly dressed people attended parties.  In the winter they boarded ocean liners to stay at grand hotels in places like Cannes, Madeira and Bermuda.  No one had to work to make a living except the servants who took care of the children and the housework.  Few of the small number of people who lived this way eighty years ago seemed to have thought their comfortable world would ever come to an end.

Through illustrations and original period photographs, the Spedden's experience on the Titanic is told.  They were loaded into a lifeboat (Douglas holding his bear, Polar) and rescued by the Carpathia.  But the book tells so much more than just the Titanic disaster.  While on board the Carpathia, Douglas' mother and nanny help take care of the other survivors, regardless of their social positions.

But the world would soon ask the opposite question, demanding why so few people from third class had been rescued, and a popular song about the Titanic would claim that "they kept them down below where they were the first to go."
Historians now point to the Titanic disaster, which was followed two years later by World War I, as the beginning of the end of an era where society was sharply divided between rich and poor.