Thursday, June 28, 2012

Aesop's Fables

illustrated by Nora Fry 1989

Last night we pulled out a book of Aesop's Fables to read around the fire. Madeleine would read us a fable and then Henry and Charlotte and I would guess what the "moral" was (then I took a turn reading so Madeleine could guess).  Sometimes we were close, and sometimes we had no idea what the moral of the story was! Charlotte liked just making up weird, rambling stories to go along.

We have several copies of Aesop's Fables. This one has nice ink drawings and some color plates.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mad Summer Night's Dream

I'm ready for all sorts of midsummer madness.

Ruth Brown 1999

Ruth Brown takes a delirious playground rhyme and turns it into a surreal picture book.

It was midsummer night in winter
and snow was on the ground

When miles away, inside my head,
I heard an eerie sound.

They were staring at each other
while sitting back to back.
One was black with brown stripes,
the brown one's stripes were black.

- it was morning!
What a mad midsummer night's dream.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fairies for the Summer Solstice

We celebrated the summer solstice tonight with some friends.  Our yard is a pretty magical place on most nights.  There is a large oak tree under which we often sit and have a fire.  The shade garden is edged with an old iron headboard that I found curbside years ago.  Then a row of flat rocks leads around the forsythia bush to a bench and clusters of ferns and hostas.  Our tree house sits at the edge of the woods and if you duck your head under the low hanging maple branches you can walk down a worn path to the tall Beech trees and the rope swing my husband made for my 30th birthday.  There is "Puck's tree" which has a large hollow at the bottom and one summer secret notes were left back and forth from Puck and the kids. 

I love all the moss and roots and secret places.  Just the sort of places you might find fairies, especially on Midsummer's Eve. 

Tonight we had colored lanterns and watched for fireflies and there was a secret note tied up with string written in a fairy hand.  Our friends brought new potatoes with dill and sour cream and delicious cold salmon- a traditional Swedish Midsummer dish (I was told).  Madeleine read Mercutio's speech about Queen Mab from Romeo and Juliet then the grownups sat around the fire late into the night.  Everything was wonderful.

And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love.

The past few days we've kept these books about.

A Flower Fairies Journal

Fairyopolis belongs to Madeleine and is one of the best collage type books. It's designed like the journal of Cicely Mary Barker (creator of the Flower Fairies). The illustrations and handwriting and all the little extras are just wonderful. 

Several years ago I had to buy the Deluxe Book of Flower Fairies.  It contains Barker's detailed illustrations and accompanying poems.  The fairies are divided into season and there are notes about each plant and a nice end note about the traditional meanings and uses of plants.

Cicely Mary Barker 1998

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Golden Books Treasury of Elves and Faires

Summer nights always seem full of magic.  You could believe that there are elves and fairies hiding about, especially ones that look as charming as Garth Williams' pictures.  This book was on my Amazon wish list for years when lo and behold I found it in the bin at the used bookshop for $2.  It's a collection of stories and poems in a large over sized format with  bright colorful vintage illustrations.

illustrated by Garth Williams 1951

What would you do if a Brownie became your friend, or you had a pair of silver slippers, or found a lost merbaby? So many wonderful stories fit for a summer night of reading.

All the Pretty Horses

Here's another good song from our new favorite CD.

It originated as a lullaby that was sung by an African American slave to her baby that she couldn't take care of because she had to care for the master's child.  It makes the song more sad and haunting.

We had this book before I had ever heard the traditional folk lullaby.  Susan Jeffers does a beautiful job with the illustrations.

Susan Jeffers 1987

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Frog Went A-Courtin

We've been listening to this awesome album by Laura Veirs.  Dancing in the house, driving in the car, it's irresistible.  This song was Madeleine's favorite and I LOVE the banjo in it.  So here's the picture book that can accompany it.

John Langstaff
illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky 1972

According to Veirs' liner notes and Langstaff's introduction a version of this folk song/story is at least 400 years old.