Friday, April 27, 2018

Miss Jaster's Garden

It's time for a silly Spring garden book and Mr. Bodecker has just the right one!

Miss Jaster's Garden
N.M Bodecker

Miss Jaster has a beautiful garden and house and the most adorable hedgehog who visits her.  

"On these occasions, Miss Jaster would go back into the house for a saucer of milk, which she placed at what she hoped was the right end of the hedgehog.  But hedgehogs being the shape they are, and Miss Jaster being a little nearsighted, as often as not she put the saucer where the hedgehog's head wasn't.  And Hedgie- so as not to cause distress- politely dipped his tail in the milk and pretended to drink.  Later, when Miss Jaster went into the house and lit the lamp on the piano, he drank the milk properly."

Through a series of mishaps, Hedgie ends up sprouting flowers and can't help but frolic with abandon.  Unfortunately Miss Jaster's poor eyesight has her thinking she sees a flower thief and even the local constable gets involved.  Things are set right in the end and you can't help but giggle at Bodecker's adorable illustrations.

I love this sweet part that perfectly captures how Spring can make one feel:  

But Hedgie wasn't really thinking of the hum and flutter around him.  Something inside him was bursting to get out:  the special something that makes birds sing, and poets rhyme, and puppy dogs chase their tails.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Home for Mr. Emerson

Here's a nice companion piece to The Trouble With Henry (since Emerson and Thoreau were friends).  Filled with his original quotes, this large picture book tells the story of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  We learned about his wife, Lydia, his family, his home in Concord and his beloved library.  It's a condensed version of course, touching on the fire that destroyed his home and his trip to Europe with his daughter, and scattered throughout are bits of his philosophy.  I like that the last page has a interactive section encouraging children to "build a world of their own" by exploring and contemplating some of Emerson's thoughts.

 Barbara Kerley
illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham


Friday, April 20, 2018

The Trouble With Henry

Deborah O'Neal, Angela Westengard
pictures by S.D. Schindler

I'm such a fan of these biographies for children.  When they are done well (such as this one) they are wonderful to read.  Here is an introduction to Henry David Thoreau and his love and passion for nature and the famous Waldon Pond.  While the town of Concord is laboring under the sooty factories and race for money, Henry is building his cabin and marveling at what nature has to show him.  I love when Charlotte asks if a story that she likes is "true" and I can tell her "Yes!"

This one is particularly poignant to me because my own Henry has such a love for nature and animals. (He's planning to study Environmental Science in college next year).  

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Emily Hughes

Love, love love the illustrations in this one!  When you have a particularly "wild" girl (as I do) you will appreciate the celebration in this book. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Stories from Shakespeare

I love being the go-to person for children's book recommendations.  Chances are, our personal library probably has a book about any subject you're intersted in.  I recently pulled these out for a friend.  Her daughters are dancing in a Midsummer Night's Dream ballet and she realized that they hadn't heard the story.

(I've posted about Shakespeare before here and here and here.)

retold by Bruice Coville
pictures by Dennis Nolan

This picture book retelling is appropriate for younger kids since the many illustrations will keep their attention.  And the storytelling is pretty straightforward, even with all the silly twists and turns of that dreamy forest night.




Next are two editions of the stories by Charles and Mary Lamb.

Charles and Mary Lamb were famous for their version of Shakespeare's plays published for children in 1807. Our 1925 versions has illustrations by Frank Godwin (and lovely endpages done for The Winston Bookshelf).  

Then we have Rackham's accompanying illustrations and who can resist those?!
Charles and Mary Lamb
illustrated by Arthur Rackham

E. Nesbit also tried her hand at re-writing Shakespeare for her daughters.  

E. Nesbit
illustrated by Rolf Klep

 I'm a bit more fond of the Lamb version only because they made a concentrated effort to keep the spirit of Shakespeare's language.  Lamb writes "The following Tales are meant to be submitted to the young reader as an introduction to the study of Shakespeare, for which purpose his words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a connected story, diligent care has been taken to select such words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he wrote:  therefore, words introduced into our language since his time have been as far as possible removed."

 Nesbit's feels more a product of her time (1907) but can be a charming and easier read.  She also tells the sweet story of how her children asked her to write the stories one night because while reading the original A Midsummer Night's Dream they "couldn't understand a word of it."