Friday, July 30, 2010

Little Bunny On The Move

Chris and Henry have been diligently building a bunny hutch.  Henry will be getting a pet rabbit at the end of the summer.  It's so cute how excited he is about it.  Here's something soft and simple with marshmallow-like pictures about a little bunny going to find his home with all the other bunnies.

Peter McCarty 1999

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fog Magic

I picked this up never having heard of it and read it in a day or two. Madeleine liked it, but I think she thought it was a little too juvenile for her. The story is very sweet about a girl who loves the fog that rolls around her seaside home. One day she finds a mysterious village that only seems to exist in the grey mist and she uncovers the magical and secret stories of the inhabitants that live there.

Julia L. Sauer 1943

Every soul in the little fishing village at the foot of the mountain had learned to accept the fog. It was part of their life. They knew that for weeks on end they must live within its circle. But they made no pretense of liking it. Those who tilled their little plots of land hated it when it kept their hay from drying. The men who fished dreaded it for it either kept them on shore altogether and cut down their meager earnings, or it made their hours on the sea more dangerous than ever. Only the lobster poachers who robbed honest men’s lobster pots, or set their own out of season, like it- the lobster poachers and small Greta. And with Greta it was more than liking. On days when the gray clouds of fog rolled in from the sea and spread over the village, she would watch it drift past the windows with a look on her small face that almost frightened her mother.

As soon as Greta could walk, Gertrude found that she might as well put her housework aside on foggy days and give herself to minding her child. The first thin wraiths of fog in the high pasture were enough to set her small daughter’s eyes sparkling. By the time it hid the big rock at the top of the pasture, Greta would be working her way cautiously to the door; and when it drew close enough to blur their own out-buildings, she would be scampering down the pasture lane as fast as her uncertain little feet could carry her.

An old man says to Greta's mother: 
“Some are moon-struck, they say, and some are sun-struck,” he said. “Maybe this one is fog-struck. Don’t worry about her, Gertrude. It’s good for a young one to want to know the world she lives in in all kinds of weather.”

There's also some sweet musings about growing older.  When she turns 12 Greta's father tells her: 
“On your twelfth birthday, Greta, you grow up, and you put away childish things. Sometimes you’ll wish you hadn’t because you put behind you so many things- happy and unhappy. But the next twelve years can be happier still, my girl, and the twelve after that. And try to remember this- none of the things you think you’ve lost on the way are really lost. Every one of them is folded around you- close.”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cowboy's Secret Life

Every little boy (and girl!) should see such magical adventures even during the most ordinary of days. 

Joan Walsh Anglund 1963

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If You Were My Bunny

If You Were My Bunny Board Book
Kate McMullan 1998
illustrated by David McPhail

One of our bedtime board books that was accidentally left out in the rain and is a little worse off. As the mother animals put their babies to bed they sing a little bedtime song,. The lyrics fit the tunes of various traditional lullabies. I’ve always liked books that combine reading and singing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Storm Book

We were chased off the beach yesterday by thunder and lightning. We managed to get back to the house just before the rain hit. The kids and I watched the storm from the windows for a little bit and then sat down to play a game of RISK. Later in the afternoon after we had driven home, another storm swelled up. The rain poured down and the thunder rumbled and we even lost power for a few minutes. When it was over Madeleine spotted a rainbow outside the front window.

Charlotte Zolotow 1952
pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham

A really beautiful description of a summer storm falling on the country, and the city and a fisherman at sea. Told in descriptive prose and double page illustrations.  We read it in our living room when the power was out and we could see lightening through the window.
A little cool wind suddenly races through the trees, sways the rambler roses, bends the daisies and buttercups and Queen Anne's lace and the long grass until they make a great silver sighing stretch down the hill.
Then it happens!  Shooting through the sky like a streak of starlight comes a flash so beautiful, so fast, that the little boy barely has time to see the flowers straining into the storm wind.

The sky darkens again as the thunder draws closer, rolling loudly nearer, until, with a sudden explosion, it crashes overhead and a silver torrent of rain slants down. The daisies bend almost to the ground under the tearing weight of the wind and the rain sweeping over the rambler roses and trees, as they toss in the cool huge arms of the storm.

The tops of the tall buildings look cut off by the storm darkness, and the little city trees strain at their roots in their loop-fenced circles, and the wind whips the leaves from their branches.  The automobile tires make a swish-swishing sound as they pass.

The rain drives against the windows of the little boy's house.  It beats a loud tattooing pitpatpitpatting on the roof, and the wind rising and falling in the trees sounds like the sea breaking against the shore.

A queer yellow light spreads over the earth now, so faint, so fine, so beautiful that the little boy lets out his breath with a soft whistling sound.  And suddenly all the birds break into song.  The glistening wet trees are loud with sharp quick twitterings and long full-noted calls.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

There's a Nightmare in My Closet

Ah that Mercer Mayer- he’s a good one! A little boy turns the tables on the monster in his closet and gives him a scare instead. The monster cries and has to be comforted and is finally tucked into bed. A good story for those afraid of the dark.

Mercer Mayer 1992

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day

Liberte! Egalite! The French are celebrating Bastille Day (when the prison fortress the Bastille was stormed and the French Revolution was underway). Here are three books we’ve enjoyed with French stories.

Fred Marcellino 1999

In I Crocodile that pesky emperor Napoleon captures a crocodile from Egypt and displays him in a fountain in Paris. It’s humorously told from the crocodile’s perspective and in the end he manages a daring escape into the sewers of the city where he’s able to dine on the fashionable Parisians. It always bothered Madeleine that a woman dressed all in pink (her favorite color at the time) was the first victim.

The Toast of the Tuileries!

Yes!  Lucky me!  The sewers of Paris!  Crocodile Heaven!

Nancy Milton 1992
illustrated by Roger Roth

The Giraffe That Walked to Paris is based on a true story and is about the first Giraffe that came to France. She traveled by boat across the Mediterranean Sea and then because she was too tall for a wagon or carriage, was walked from Marseilles to Paris. She was even given a raincoat to wear! The historical information at the back includes a photograph of her taxidermy body in the La Rochelle museum.

And finally...

Kay Fender 1978
illustrated by Philippe Dumas

An old man unwittingly brings home a baby bird on his hat. He names her Odette and she becomes his companion while he walks the streets of Paris and plays his accordion in the Metro station, brightening up the old man’s life. She leaves in the winter for a warmer place and when she returns she only finds the old man’s hat in a tree and lovingly uses it as a nest for her baby birds. It’s a sad story for a children’s book, but the illustrations are rather nice.