Eloise Wilkins. Garth Williams. Tibor Gergely. The Provensens. These are the names of some of the best illustrators in Golden Books history. Some of the old Golden Books are superb. And publishers are now waking up to the fact that we MISS those books, so they are slowly bringing back into print some of the nostalgic pieces of yesteryear. We are happy.
What is even happier is when the Golden Books upgrade from their fairly fragile spines to the sturdiness of board books! Here is a list of some of these board books that are the best of that grouping… the ones that are readily available to arrive in prompt shipping style for a certain upcoming holiday (other little treasures can, of course, be found and patiently waited for from third party sellers…)
As I’ve said before, my Lenten and Easter book picks are pretty slim. There are a couple glorious Easter books that tell the story of Easter, but really there isn’t a whole lot out there that is specifically seasonally related like the way there is for Christmas. New to our basket this year is The Thornbush which tells of the little bush that ended up providing the crown of thorns for Jesus’ head. So, I’m not in LOVE with the book. I am, however, in LIKE with the book. The concept makes up for where the actual storytelling may lack, and Jesus isn’t TOO Caucasian looking (I always roll my eyes at our ethnocentrism.) at least. Most of all, it offers a different perspective from the scene of Christ’s passion and I loved the ending line about how his crown was far greater than gold or silver. The personification of the bush felt a little weird to me… although I don’t know why since I have no problem with trees being personified or flowers being personified in the same seasonal genre. Maybe because no one ever talks about bushes? There is something more aesthetically palatable about trees and flowers that feel? I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, I am glad to have purchased this book for a new angle on the Easter story. I have and love Wildsmith’s Easter Story of course (THE best) and also Fiona French’s Easter for the actual tale of Easter (need to get my hands on some Inos Biffi books), but no really great corollary, non-religious stories in the Easter season except Rechenka’s Eggs, and a couple other egg titles. The nice thing about The Thornbush is that it’s a useful story to illustrate the 3rd Sorrowful Mystery also… so it doesn’t have to be specifically an Easter title. Some pictures:
Well, it’s not even Lent yet, but at this bargain price, The Easter Egg is guaranteed to go quick. We don’t celebrate or pretend to have “The Easter Bunny” as such, in our home but I consider basic exposure to secular Easter ideas fairly harmless and I don’t go out of my way to avoid them.
This is obviously a non-religious Easter story but it’s pretty sweet and Jan Brett’s artwork never fails to disappoint of course. There are only a small smattering of good Easter books out there to begin with and so we do our best to fill in the festivities with books that feature Spring/Eggs/Bunnies etc.
I’m savoring these precious days with our new baby girl… spending all my hours nursing, changing and holding the baby while wondering how to make the laundry do itself.
And I’m watching the Olympics! We love the Olympics in this house! I won’t spend hours telling you about all the great picture books about Russia; there are plenty of lists online. But I will spotlight my three very favorite (excluding Christmas themes, that is) stories based in Russia from our collection:
I am especially fond of The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Bliss right now because my daughter finally has a sister! And this story captures that special relationship between sisters just beautifully. The tiniest little sister gets lost and goes through a series of adventures before finding her way back to her home with the other matryoshka sisters. Lovely gentle art throughout…
No one captures pastoral Ukraine or Russia like Patricia Polacco and Rechenka’s Eggs is one of our very favorite books to bring out toward the end of Lent and close to the Easter season. It’s a great kickstart to any kind of pysanky projects one might want to delve into. Another variation of this folktale can be found in the lovely book: The Birds’ Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story by Eric Kimmel.
Lastly is A Symphony of Whales by Steve Schuch. A couple years ago, I based an entire unit study on this book. I am so in love with everything about it: it’s based on a true story of villagers saving some beluga whales from ice entrapment, it’s richly illustrated in oil paintings, and the story is based in a unique geographical area that doesn’t usually get much attention: the Chukchi Peninsula. It is truly a living book if ever there was one. In fact, I need to replace my paperback copy to get it hardbound.
“Little by little, one travels far…”