Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Charlotte has been requesting this book a lot lately.  She really likes the story.  It's a classic Indian tale often found in collections with other stories.  This version has wonderful illustrations with a simple color palate.

The Blind Men and the Elephant
Lillian Quigley
illustrated by Janice Holland

Basically the story is that six blind men describe an elephant.  But since they are all feeling different parts of the elephant's body, they are all describing it as something different.
"How smooth!  An elephant is like a wall."
"How sharp!  An elephant is like a spear."
"How wide!  An elephant is like a fan."

After an argument, the men learn that they must put all the parts together.

"Each of us knows only a part.  To find out the whole truth
we must put all the parts together."

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Foundling Fox

I can't help but think this would be a wonderful book for adoptive families.  The story is so sweet and feels like an old fashioned fable.  

Irina Korschunow
pictures by Reinhard Michl 1988

An orphaned baby fox is found by another mother fox.  She lets him suckle and then carries him to her own den.  On the way she's chased by a hound and confronted by a badger.  Putting her own life on the line, she defends and protects her new foundling baby.  The most poignant part is at the end when another mother fox chides her for adopting something that wasn't her own.  When she goes to her den to show off how wonderful the new kit is, she realizes that all her baby foxes smell the same and she no longer knows which one was the foundling.  She loves them all equally. 

The vixen poked her head out of the den.
"I'm very sorry," she said,
"but I cannot show my founding fox to you.  
I really don't know which of my kits
 is my foundling fox." 
"How dreadful!" cried the neighbor.
The vixen had to laugh.
"It isn't dreadful," she said, 
"I love all four of them the same, 
and that is that."

And so, the little fox 
was no longer a foundling fox.  
He was the vixen's kit, 
and she was his mother.  
She fed him 
and gave him milk.
She protected him
and taught him everything
a fox should know.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

My Naughty Little Sister Storybook

Charlotte (of course!) loves these stories about a naughty little sister.  Dorothy Edwards retells stories from her childhood with her very strong-willed, high-spirited little sister.  Not only are they a charming glimpse into English life during a different era, but they're quite funny.  I think kids love to hear stories of "naughty" children who are behaving worse than they are!  And this is a perfect book for a little sister (naughty or not!).

Dorothy Edwards
Illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Friday, January 16, 2015


Lately Madeleine and Charlotte have been getting along famously (despite their 10 year age difference).  They share a bedroom and already Charlotte is getting worried about Madeleine going off to college and her being left behind.  Last night they were upstairs in their room laughing and reading The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog.  It's these moments that warm a mother's heart.

I feel like this book by David McPhail, about two sisters ("one was big, one was little") could have also been written for me and my sister (15 years younger than me).  Like all sisters, these two are very different in some ways.  One sister was crazy about frogs...the other wasn't.   And very alike in others.  They both liked horses...and sugar-snap peas fresh from the garden.

David McPhail

Charlotte is my firefly chaser and Madeleine is my star-gazer.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Angel and the Soldier Boy

Here is a neat wordless book that tells an adventure story about a soldier and angel doll.  While a little girl is sleeping, some pirates (from the bedtime book she was reading?) steal treasure from her piggy bank.  The soldier goes off to right the injustice.  But I like that in the end it's up to the little angel doll to brave the house (hiding from a cat, climbing up a house plant, fighting a wasp) to rescue the soldier and the stolen treasure.

Peter Collington 1987

The illustrations are minutely detailed and yet retain a sense of softness.  And it's a credit to Peter Collington's skill that he can tell such an exciting story without any words.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winter Flower Fairies

December is over and the living room looks lonely and dark on these cold mornings without the Christmas tree lights.  Outside the earth may be brown and grey but Cicely Mary Barker had no doubt that fairies were about.  The sweet Snow-drop, the Spindle Berry, the teasing Burdock:

Wee little hooks on each brown little bur,
(Mind where you're going, O Madam and Sir!)
How they will cling to your skirt-hem and stocking!
Hear how the Burdock is laughing and mocking:
Try to get rid of me, try as you will,
Shake me and scold me, I'll stick to you still,
I'll stick to you still!

This little volume of Flower Fairies of the Winter has just the right pictures and words to brighten dull January's gaze.

Cicely Mary Barker 1985

Deep sleeps the Winter,
Cold, wet, and grey:
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!

Other books by Cicely Mary Barker:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sheilah Beckett's The Nutcracker

Just before Christmas (in what may become a yearly tradition), we went to see the Nutcracker Ballet performed.  In the beautiful Academy of Music we marveled at the architecture, the gilded decorations, the massive chandelier.  And as we sat up in the 3rd floor balcony, the music swelled and swirled around us.  Tchaikovsky's songs so familiar and yet still exciting and beautiful.  The dancers were wonderful and I worried needlessly about Charlotte's attention span- she was mesmerized.

Of course there are many versions of the Nutcracker story.  In this Little Golden Book one, Sheilah Beckett works her usual charm.

Rita Balducci 1991
Illustrated by Sheilah Beckett

Other books illustrated by Sheila Beckett:

Other books about The Nutcracker: