Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moon-Watch Summer

Thinking of Neil Armstrong...

Lenore Blegvad
illustrated by Erik Blegvad 1972

We seem to like the books by Lenore Blegvad. This easy reader (with nice, unpretentious drawings) tells the story of a boy and his sister who are sent to live with their grandmother in the country for the summer. The grandmother's country house is a dream (at least to me!). It's surrounded by beautiful mountains, a big garden, a creek, and her old horse in the pasture. But it's the summer of 1969, Apollo 11, and all the boy, Adam, cares about is following the astronauts on the radio and watching the moon landing. He resents that his grandmother doesn't have a tv and her rural way of life. But within a few days, he learns to see the value of the country, the slower pace, and the natural world around him. When circumstances force him to care for his younger sister one night, he forms a tender bond with her and begins to understand the beauty in the way his grandmother lives.

That very morning the whole family had watched the televised beginning of another journey- one that Adam had waited a long, long time to see:  the roaring, fiery blast-off of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, on its way to land the first men on the moon.

Sometime later Adam turned off his radio, and the farmhouse was quiet.  Outside in the sloping fields crickets chirped.  He could hear frogs calling from the damp grasses along the edge of the brook below.  With the touch of cool air from the pine woods on his face, Adam lay under his quilt and thought about the astronauts.  Enclosed in their capsule, they were also at rest for the night, moving farther and farther away from him at every moment.

Also by Lenore Blegvad:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

And It Was So

Tasha Tudor is one of those author/artists whose books I snatch up wherever I see them. If you're going to start a children's book collection, she is the premier author/artist to collect. This was our very first book of hers- it was mine from childhood.

Tasha Tudor

In it is the story of creation, some words from the Psalms and Ecclesiastes and highlights from Jesus. I loved the pictures as a child and they left such an impression on me that I can still see them in my mind when I hear some of the verses. It was one of my very favorite books growing up, and one of the few that survived through the years to sit on my own childrens' bookshelf.

One of my favorite pictures, this is what I wanted to look like when I grew up and became a mother.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Growltiger's Last Stand

One thing I love about camping in Ithaca is going downtown to visit the town.  Ithaca has a really neat center called "Ithaca Commons".  It's an area with shops and restaurants, art sculptures and even a little playground.  Often there are street musicians playing music and always interesting people to look at.  There's a fantastic toy store that we like to stop in.  This year Henry bought a board game that we brought back to camp and played at the picnic table. 

Another regular stop is the used bookstore (of course!!)  The children's section isn't too bad and we always manage to bring a bag home with us.  The best part is coming back to camp and sitting around the fire reading our new acquisitions. 

T.S. Eliot
pictures by Errol Le Cain 1988

This was one such find. We read this late at night in the tent, Madeleine on one side and Charlotte on the other (Henry and Chris were playing cards). Madeleine and I got a case of the 'giddies' and thought the poems and pictures were particularly hilarious.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Golden Book of Camping and Camp Crafts

We just came back from camping in one of my favorite places, Ithaca, NY.  I LOVE camping.  I love the sound of the tent zipper, I love making a campfire in the morning and coffee on the camp stove.  I love how friendly other campers are, how dirty you get, how even a trip to the bath house can be an adventure with insects and animals.

We had a skunk visit our site at 4am one morning and regular chipmunk guests. We sat around the picnic table playing cards, Henry made popcorn over the fire and one night I made a dinner of fresh tuna steaks cooked in the coals (in foil packets with onions, lemon and cilantro) and Chris and I shared a bottle of wine (and we tried to put the kids to bed in their tents early!)

We've been staying at Robert Treman State Park for about 6 years now. My parents were the ones who found it first and two summers ago we rented cabins with them for a week. The trails through the gorges and woods are just beautiful for hiking and the waterfall at Enfield Glen (where we camped) is usually open for swimming. Chris thinks it's the best swimming spot around.

(Henry climbing many many steps.)

I love this book of vintage camping instructions.  I feel like we're spoiled with our light nylon tents and sleeping bags.  This was the first year we've ever used air-mattresses in the tents and I have to admit it definitely raised the quality of sleep!  We still use tin plates and cups and real utensils (anyone who knows me knows I have a weird aversion to paper dishes) and part of family bonding time is hauling water and washing up after meals.

Gordon Lynn 1959
illustrated by Ernest Kurt Barth

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Carrie Hepple's Garden

Ruth Craft
Pictures by Irene Haas 1979

I'm sad that our copy of this has a few scribble marks on the pages, but sometimes that comes with the territory of buying old used books. It was worth it to track this one down after we first read it at the library. Irene Haas (of The Maggie B. fame) has made dreamy magical pictures once again.

It's a summer evening and some kids have lost their ball over the wall into Carrie Hepple's garden. When they go to retrieve it, they brave all the rumours and talk about strange and scary Carrie Hepple. When they bump into her, she shows them around her garden and sends them home with a treat (we learned that 'hermits' are a type of cookie). I kinda picture myself as Carrie Hepple when I'm an old woman.  I've also decided to try making 'hermits'.

Also by Irene Haas: