children books

4. Children’s Classic: The Wind in The Willows

Image result for wind in the willows

Indulge your inner child and read that classic that you somehow missed years ago.”An appealing invitation.  As I suggested previously, it wasn’t that I “somehow missed” The Wind in the Willows, it was that I deliberately avoided it.  I loved the title; I didn’t like the movie.  I was very picky about my talking animal stories (I pretty much liked only Narnia books in that category).  So, though the movie’s theme, “soon, soon you will forget” haunted me with a sweet painfulness, I didn’t read the book.

Would I have liked The Wind in the Willows, if I had read it some thirty years ago? Mr. Toad’s plot with its ups and downs, with its constant sense of threat, and with his mercurial manipulative character would doubtless have made me nervous. I know because it made me nervous even as an adult and there were a few times I skimmed quickly to make sure nothing terrible was about to happen before I could relax and read every word. The constant amused affection with which the author follows the miscreant may have been lost on the younger me.

I’m sure though I would have loved the lyrical chapters starring Rat and Mole. This is where the sehnsucht and the numinous music that I heard in the book’s title come in. There is even a gnostic/pagan/crypto-Christian religious element to be found here, a spiritual dimension akin to the Magic of Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden.

The Wind in the Willows sits in a friendly way next to C. S. Lewis’s Narnia (and, as I saw another blogger mention, to Tolkien). From the descriptions of cozy meals shared by friends and snug underground houses to the aching quality of Joy in its pages, it was as if a band Talking Beasts from Narnian realms had crossed the border into the human world. It was perfect to read curled up on a couch, while the rains and winds, the sleet and snow, of mid-April howled around our house. So, all told, my inner child was satisfied with this one.

 

-Mrs. Aldertree

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Stack of Old Books

The other day I visited Karen’s Books and Chocolate for the details of the Back to the Classics challenge she is hosting this year.  Unfortunately, I had just missed the deadline to officially join the challenge.  But I couldn’t resist choosing books for each of her categories. It gave me a fresh perspective on my bookshelves (I already own eight of the 12 titles I selected) and lent a sense of adventure and direction to the reading months ahead.

Here is the stack of old books I’ll be rambling among during the rest of 2018:
1.  A 19th century classic.
Charlotte Bronte dedicated Jane Eyre to Thackeray. Thackeray considered Henry Esmond his true masterpiece.
2.  A 20th century classic.
All I can recall from the first time I read it is the family rosary scene at the beginning and a “wretched meal” of spaghetti dumped from the window of a decaying palace.
3.  A classic by a woman author.
Never read but it’s been on my shelf for ages.  An online review inspires me to dust it off.
4.  A classic in translation.
Investigating agrarianism, I think of this poem again.  A pity that the best translation I know of is not currently available.
5. A children’s classic.
Avoided this one as a child because I didn’t like the movie.  Always loved the title!
6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Knickerbocker Classics)
Or something Sherlocky by Conan Doyle.  These stories were beloved by my grandfather and he recommended them to us.
7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction.
Two Years Before The Mast
Read an abridged version as a kid.  The real thing will surely be worth the time.
8. A classic with a single-word title.
A “cold war classic” my dad recommends.
9. A classic with a color in the title.
Has been on my list.
10. A classic by an author that’s new to you.
As a Driven Leaf (Paperback) - Common
Picked up at a thrift store.
11. A classic that scares you.
Scares me so much I’m not sure I want to read it. But the other book that comes to mind is scarier still. . .!
12. Re-read a favorite classic.
It would be my fourth time through this one.
I will try to update with reviews as I finish these titles.  In the meantime, if these categories inspire you, please share which classics you’d like to read in the coming months.  I can’t offer any prizes but I’m sure it won’t be too hard to think of bookish rewards with which to spur yourself on!
-Mrs. Aldertree

Spot A Dog

Spot A Dog by Lucy Micklethwait is one of my favorite early readers. It’s an amazing book because it combines: early reading skills, famous art, the classic game of  I spy, and dogs! The text itself is simple but it is elevated by diverse pieces of art by various famous painters, the juxtaposition is perfect. Another interest is added by the hunt for man’s best friend. My children love looking for the dogs hidden in plain view, the search gives them a chance to rest from the labors of reading and it deepens their appreciation for art.  Little details and depth are slowly realized as they  search the paintings: a bee on a flower, a fly,  a sleeping cat, a dappled dog!  The domestic touch can be surprising.

-Mrs. Karl T. Cooper, Jr.

 

Best of 2017

I reached my personal reading goal of 52 books for 2017!  Here’s the Best of 2017:

The Best Nonfiction: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser with Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Ina May Gaskin’s guide to Childbirth a close second and third. dscn6455

 

Best Fiction (adult): Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin. Guided by Virgil, Lavinia tells her story. Le Guin beautifully blends history, tradition, myth, and poetry into an elegant work of fiction. 

Best Children’s Story Book: The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Graham Pictures by Ernest Shepherd.  Whilst trying to fulfill my children’s desire for more dragon stories, (My Father’s Dragon was a hit) we stumbled upon this wonderful book at our local library. It is a classic, a new favorite of ours. Runner ups: Snowflake Bentley and The Mousewife by Rumer Godden

Best Children’s Chapter-book Fiction: We read a lot of Chapter-books this year and so it’s hard to choose but  The Secret Garden was the best. We also Loved: A Little Princess, The Princess and The GoblinBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

Best Spiritual Reading: Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Phillippe. This book is an excellent Spiritual guide to Peace and easy to read. I read it in a few days but it would be a good slow read or daily devotional.

Best Book of Poetry: One of my all time favorites, Christina Rossetti’s Sing-Song.  

What were some of  your favorites from 2017? Have any reading goals for 2018?

My Complete Reading List is here 

This Year’s Book Wish List

The Golden Bible New Testament A Giant Golden Book

Image result for golden book prayers ann provenson

Isn’t it beautiful! Alice and martin Provensen are such talented illustrators .

The Little White horse by Elizabeth Goudge

I’d love a hardcover edition of this one!

Anything by Rumer Godden that I don’t already have  :

 

I recently bought this one:

godden 5

 

Owney The Mail Pouch Pooch

Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch

The book Owney the Mail Pouch Pooch is a tale of luck and adventure, as well as a celebration of the history of the US Post Office.  But at its heart, it is a dog story, for dog lovers, by dog lovers.

The dedications at the beginning of the book are to the beloved canines of the author and illustrator, which set the tone for the book, that covers an interesting historical time through the lens of a dog, Owney, who found himself working for the US Post office from 1888 to 1897.

The story, written by Mona Kerby, begins with the dog finding shelter in the Albany, NY post office, winning the hearts of the men who worked there, who in turn gained the loyalty of the dog for the US Postal employees and the US mail.

The story has the dog traveling by train to the various post offices of the country in his self-appointed task of looking after the US mail.  He quickly gains notoriety around the country as the mail dog and receives medallions from the post offices he visits, and every time he returns to the Albany office they can, by means of the medallions, trace his journeys.

He travels across the country and even around the world as the story unfolds.

The illustrations by Lynne Barasch depict late 19th century USA with a carefree and cheerful style that in keeping with the historical but lighthearted feel of the story.Image result for illustrations by Lynne Barasch owney the mail pouch pooch

The last illustration before the appendix is not an illustration at all but a photograph of the dog Owney on board one of the trains with the post office employees in the foreground.  This brought the history to life as it became apparent that this was a true story about a real dog.

On Saturday, September 15th 2012 the Danbury Railways Museum honored Owney, the dog who became the mascot of the United States Postal Service in the late 19th century. Back then mail was primarily carried across the nation by rail.

The last two pages talk about the process of researching for the story with a little more in depth historical detail of this famous dog.  I found it to be an excellent read and the children to whom I read it, my girls of 8, 6 and 4 agreed.  We spent some time afterwards discussing the story and decided that the next time we were in Washington, DC we should stop by the Post Office museum to see Owney, persevered by taxidermy as well as his bronze statue out front.

Image result for owney the bronze statue

-Mr. Karl Cooper, Jr.

 

Art Study Rubens: St. George and the Dragon

 

We Use Time Life Library of Art Books for our Art Studies:

These books are perfect for picture study, I love using them! Each term we study a new artist and I bring out a new art book for our studies. It’s nice to bring the books out one at a time, instead of having them always available, the change seems to spark more interest in the term’s artist. I only have one left at my etsy shop but they are also available on amazon

 

Field Guides for Nature Study

 

How and Why Wonder Books are really wonderful reference books.  We find ourselves coming home from a nature walk and rereading this one, just to be sure that what we saw was in fact an American Copper Butterfly.

A Golden Nature Guide of Insects is another favorite of ours. It’s much smaller than the how and why wonder book of Insects and easily fits in a pocket or purse. It also has full color pictures making it easy to ID insects.

What do you use on nature walks?