Saturday, November 26, 2011

Make Way for Ducklings

I realized that while I've been featuring some forgotten Robert McCloskey titles, I have neglected to recommend his beloved book Make Way for Ducklings (c. 1969).  Oh this story with Caldecott winning illustrations remains a favorite for many!  And it's another on the MUST list (books you must read to your children to enrich their childhood).  And so our story begins: 

    Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live.  But every time Mr. Mallard saw what looked like a nice place, Mrs. Mallard said it was no good.  There were sure to be foxes in the woods or turtles in the water, and she was not going to raise a family where there might be foxes or turtles.  So they flew on and on.

    Take a lovely, and historical, tour of Boston with the Mallard family in McCloskey's unforgettable children's classic Make Way for Ducklings.

    And look!  Boston Public Gardens even has the bronze sculpture by Nancy Schön commemorating McCloskey's book:   And check out the ducklings in their holiday finest:  In fact, just Google "Make Way for Ducklings" and view all the images of the bronze brood throughout the seasons in Boston Public Gardens.

    While I think that's recommendation enough, I must share a true story . . . that really . . . did . . . happen.  This past summer when we vacationed with the Mister's family, we ate at a Brixx Pizza located near a small pond.  While enjoying our pizza over laughter and conversation, all five cousins spotted a mother duck marching her ducklings past the glassed windows of the restaurant, 100 feet or so toward the pond.  We ALL delighted in the sight, adults and children alike.  Now I ask you, doesn't that spark your curiosity as to the inspiration behind McCloskey's story?  It does mine!

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    The First Thanksgiving

    I've introduced the magnificent paintings of Thomas Locker to you.  Here's his take on The First Thanksgiving written by Jean Craighead George (c. 1993).

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    a Pumpkin Moonshine update:

    Even though Halloween has passed.  I just have to share this sweet little book by Tasha Tudor with you once again.  You know, we all need our memories refreshed from time to time.  And this little book remains an old friend.  Just as good friends don't neglect each other, the dust jacket of Pumpkin Moonshine (c. 1938, renewed 1966) evidences love worn as its story becomes a familiar one.  I don't think of it so much as a Halloween story as a late fall, November story. AND it's still in print!

    So begins Tudor's charm: 

    Sylvie Ann was visiting her Grandmummy in Connecticut.  It was Hallowe'en and Sylvie wanted to make a Pumpkin Moonshine, so she put on her bonnet and started out for the cornfield to find the very finest and largest pumpkin.

    When they reached the field, Sylvie looked among the shocks of corn for the very fattest pumpkin.  Way across the field she found such a fine one!
    Be sure to check out this delightful tale to discover what happens between the previous illustration and the following illustration.  Of course, you'll want to read the ending too!

    But worst of all it bumped right into Mr. Hemmelskamp who was carrying a pail full of whitewash!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Burt Dow Deep-Water Man

    Oh, goody!  We discovered another book by Robert McCloskey: Burt Dow Deep-Water Man: A Tale of the Sea in the Classic Tradition (c. 1963).  I hardly thought it could be possible!

    Burt Dow Deep-Water Man reveals a master story-teller at work.  First, McCloskey uses onomatopoeia (words that mean what they sound like) to relate this tall tale.  Listen to these lines to hear the onomatopoeia:
    • When Burt Dow puts out to sea in the Tidely-Idley, everybody in town knows it.  They hear him pump out all the water that has leaked in overnight, slish-cashlosh, slish-cashlosh! . . .   Then they hear him start the make-and-break engine, clackety bang! clackety bang! . . . 

    • . . . The giggling gull was teetering to and fro on the tip of the tiller and tittering "Tee-he-he-hee!" now and then, in a nervous sort of way.
    Then McCloskey evokes perfect rhythm while weaving his spellbinding tale.  We all know McCloskey as a brilliant illustrator.  However, I challenge you to close your eyes and listen to Burt Dow read aloud . . . you'll discover that the text can stand on its own.  Yes, it's a rare jewel that displays the craft of oral storytelling at its best

    So how did Burt Dow get from here:

    to here:

    Well, you'll have to read this little treasure of an adventure to find out!

    By-the-way, here's another title that the fellas would enjoy.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Wind Has Shaken Autumn Down

    Wind has shaken autumn down
    left it sprawling on the ground,
    shawling all in gold below,
    waiting for the hush of snow.
    ~  Tony Johnston

    from Snow Toward Evening: A Year in a River Valley / Nature Poems Selected by Josette Frank with Paintings by Thomas Locker.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Beatrix Potter's Autumn

    Beatrix Potter teaches her young audience a few important (and humorous) lessons with her Autumn tales.

    First she issues a warning through the example of Squirrel Nutkin (c. 1903).

    While the squirrel clan harvests nuts into their storehouses, 

    Squirrel Nutkin teases and mocks Old Mr. Brown, the owl, with foolish riddles.  We soon find that Nutkin can disrespect his elder only so much before Mr. Brown bites off his tail.

    Then we come to Timmy Tiptoes (c. 1911). 

    Here Timmy Tiptoes' wife Goody Tiptoes (I'm especially fond of this squirrel illustration) prepares her home for the winter.

    Timmy and Goody work hard and fast to store nuts for their hibernation.  Unfortunately, some other squirrels jump to conclusions, suspecting Timmy of stealing nuts.

    And they punish Timmy by dropping him into a hollowed tree, unknowingly onto his own storehouse.  While Goody searches for Timmy, Timmy gorges himself on nuts, so much so that he cannot escape through the hole once Goody finds him.  Eventually circumstances right themselves, and Timmy and Goody reunite.

    Last, but certainly not least, we have The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (c. 1909).

     This story may be enjoyed by the parents more than the children, for it holds a timely commentary on our present economic atmosphere.  For you see:
                    Ginger and Pickles gave unlimited credit.  Now the meaning of "credit" is this -- 
                    when a customer buys a bar of soap, instead of the customer pulling out a purse and 
                    paying for it -- she says she will pay another time.  (19)

    Yes, friends, this synopisis' irony will be lost on the little ones.  We know the outcome of the story because we're living it.  But to hear it so succinctly expressed by the prophetess Beatrix Potter deserves a second glance.  If we had but heeded her warning!  Perhaps reading this little volume to the ones under our care will help prevent similar outcomes in their future. 

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Sky Tree

    The reason you should purchase or check out Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art by Thomas Locker with Candace Christiansen (c. 1995) isn't because it tells such a wonderful story.  There's no reason to turn cartwheels over this text.  The real showstoppers are Locker's illustrations.  I can't think of a better way to tour the season.  And rather than writing about and describing them, I'm going to show you some selections:

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Homer Price

    There are some authors that you wish had written more because you're desperate to read more of their work.  Robert McCloskey remains one of those author-illustrators for many of us.

    Homer Price (c. 19) keeps us howling in its series of tall tales.  The first chapter begins the hilarity with an unassuming skunk who, along with Homer Price, saves the day when capturing notorious robbers on the run.

    Fortunately for those who love Homer Price, McCloskey has a follow up chapter books: Centerburg Tales (c. 19).

    I quite frequently receive requests for titles for boys.  I haven't met a fella (or a girl) yet who didn't enjoy the antics of Homer Price.

    Saturday, November 5, 2011


    I brought Thomas Locker's HOME: A Journey Through America (c. 1998) home from the library, laid it out on the coffee table, and waited.  My youngest picked it up, poured over it, and came running to me: "Mommy, this pictures look beautifully!"

    That afternoon the eldest came home from school, poured over the new-found book, and said, "Momma, you have got to look at these pictures!  These are my favorites."

    I think old and young alike are amazed that Thomas Locker shares his magnificent oil on canvas landscape paintings not only in art galleries or museums but in childrens' books for all to enjoy.  Seriously, introduce your child to the fine art of Thomas Locker.  You may be astonished at the art appreciation that issues out of his/her mouth.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    William Cullen Bryant

    "Autumn, the year's last,
    loveliest smile."
    William Cullen Bryant

    is published in sharing the seasons: A BOOK OF POEMS selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by David Diaz (c. 2010).