Category Archives: Picture Books

Weathering the Winter of the Soul

This was published in the December 2015 issue of NW Catholic.

Winter is whispering its presence in nature all around us. And knowing that it’ll pass, we endure the cold weather and icy roads because the hope of Springtime spurs us on.

Really, it’s a beautiful thing, this turning and change of the seasons. The seeds get planted in springtime, they flourish, yield fruit, get harvested and then the earth lies fallow, restoring the nutrients to the soil and lying in wait for the new cycle to begin. In the cold earth there is still unseen growth and change happening.

spaceout16325752403_3b26c67e75Yet we object to this on an personal level. We resist the natural rhythms of the interior life and want to stake our tent firmly in the soft, yielding grounds of spring and summer and stay there forever. We praise God for hopeful inspirations. For sweet consolations. For the abundant harvest of spiritual gifts. And we run away from the spiritual winter. We protest when He removes the sensation of His presence. We cry out in anguish and wonder what’s wrong. What did I do to deserve this? Let me just hear your voice! Let know your presence! My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?!  The same words cried out in the end hours of Jesus’ life… during the winter of His soul that would bring His work to its final completion.

Where would we be without this winter? What if Christ ran away from the cold sting of His Father’s absence? He had to see it through. He chose Love.

Believing in Love is the only way to survive the spiritual elements. We have to expect a rhythm in our soul with the seasons of inspiration, consolation, fruition and desolation. If we are constantly chasing the summer of the soul, our sanctification can not mature properly and we will be spiritually stunted forever.

God’s presence will leave you. You can be sure of it if you are progressing in the spiritual life and we should try our hardest to close our eyes to the emptiness and the darkness and simply stay the course. Receive the sacraments, with or without enthusiasm. Move our lips in prayer… even if without devotion and while battling distractions, but with the worthwhile virtue of perseverence.  Our sentiments don’t matter; but our faithfulness does. The rhythm will always continue with a soul that is healthy. Indeed, experiencing the darkness is a surefire way to recognize that something isn’t WRONG with you, but that something is incredibly RIGHT. He is moving in our souls unseen. He has asked us to love Him deeper.

There’s an old quote that used to comfort me greatly as a military wife who endured long deployments without a husband… “Distance is to love what wind is to fire: it extinguishes the small and enkindles the great.” So it is with our feelings of closeness to God. Some winters will be easy; you just have to push through a few weeks of dryness or distraction.  Some winters will be hard. Even brutal. It may last months or even years. The emptiness and pain and bitter isolation will ache and the storm may try to steal the roof off your heart and hurl in a torrent of doubt and despair. Hold your flame through the darkness, regardless of how you feel. Turn your face to Mary. Appeal to the saints who have gone through this before you and are waiting, arms outstretched, to welcome you on the other side. His love is as great for you now as it is in the warm summertime of the soul. And through every winter, the new life of Spring is promised.  The Son will rise in the east and if you can hold tight and trust through your doubts, He will greet you on the other side with words that will fall like honey from His lips: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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Enter into Death

agnes 1Very soon, we’ll be transitioning into the “quiet seasons” of honoring the dead in November and then starting the liturgical calendar anew with Advent. I put quiet in quotes because my home is usually not quiet. In fact, I think the single most difficult thing about having a large family for me is not what it is for most others. Forget the mess, the financial strains, the small home, the public disapproval or the vehicle logistics.  The hardest thing about having a large family is the simply overwhelming volume of life.  I’m serious. Just how blessedly loud my days are is the biggest challenge! (This is followed closely by how long it takes illnesses to run the course through everyone in the family; staggered start and end times of coughs/flus can leave us out of commission for months!)

And so, I always look forward to the second half of autumn; the brilliant scarlet leaves are starting to die down and fall into the dead, crusted brown on the earth now. Everything is at the end of its life. I love so much how the patterns of our liturgical calendar follow the rhythms of earth.

I wanted to mention just a couple things going into November. This is the time to pull out the LATE autumn books. When I made my “favorite book post”, I didn’t really distinguish between the subtleties of each season. A March springtime is much different from a June springtime, etc. and that reality is usually reflected in picture books.

skullBefore we hit the Thanksgiving traditions I like to celebrate the dead and to honor the dead and to hopefully achieve some of the QUIET of the dead!  Look for books about El Día de Los Muertos like this or this… and try to find Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre  at the library since I don’t know WHY it went out of print so quickly (thought I am very happy that Anna Harwell Celenza is still continuing to add to her series on the music masters; I hope to collect all of them!) Know that it’s good and healthy and theologically appropriate to make light of death! Our faith is a very holistic one in both body and spirit… mildly macabre but that’s how I like it! Monks kept skulls by their desks to remind them of their mortality. We honor the bones and relics of saints. and we have entire, incredibly creepy, wonderful shrines to visit all over the world!  Being Catholic is so great because we put death in its proper place!

purpleLastly, if you have any desire at all to try and transition into doing the Jesse Tree entirely or partially with the help of picture books, now is the time to start ordering those cheap out of print volumes or to begin placing holds at your library. My lists should help you figure out which books to use for which days. I have been carefully monitoring the “Bible story” picture book publishing releases over this past year, and other than the MET’s excellent Noah’s Ark, nothing worthy has come up.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of this ‘quiet’ season and light a candle for the dead next month…

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All Things Folk Tales

What is a folk tale?

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I just wanted to take some time to celebrate how much I love folk tales in our home. I don’t fully understand why, but stories like The Three Little Pigs or Henny Penny are just timeless and my children love them in the same way I loved them when I was a child.

We always enjoy new library books we find with fun stories or beautiful illustrations (Honestly my favorite genre to enjoy ‘new’ is picture book biographies; the most brilliant books in this area have all tended to be published in the last 15-20 years and they are often only getting better!) but there is something about classic, simple stories that have been told for centuries to America’s children.

I often use folk tales to practice my oral storytelling skills to my children. I know most of them by heart and find it fairly easy to tell them from memory, with a few colorful details and voices, at times when oral stories want to be told. My children find it incredibly entertaining/impressive if I can whip out a story from my head at bedtime. I love being able to switch things up and embellish characters and practice excellent eye contact and facial expressions that my kids wouldn’t get in the standard written story.  Something about storytelling… I feel like different parts of the brain and heart are engaged when I do this and folk tales allow me to have an instant stock of base material from which I can draw.

I wanted to share one very awesome book with you that we recently discovered: The Folk Tale Classics Treasury  is brought to you by my favorite folk teller: Paul Galdone. The reason we love Galdone is that he is no-nonsense. He tells the story perfectly and faithful to tradition and he illustrates them simply. Now, I’m someone whose heart rate speeds up and practically salivates when she sees glorious, intricate illustrations like those done by Bimba Landmann or Kinuko Craft.  But those would not be fitting for the golden simplicity of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I mean, it’d probably look brilliant. But I wonder if it would just be too distracting from the story. Not all picture books need to be a six course, high feast… sometimes a simple bowl of oatmeal is perfectly satisfying in and of themselves.  Anyway, this treasury by Galdone is a gem because the stories are the originals that can be found in his stand-alone books and the illustrations are a generous full page, unlike the squished format found in so many picture book anthologies or treasuries.  The book would be an exquisite gift to anyone looking to kickstart a beautiful library for a child.

Another way to get your hands on some of the best folk tales (for cheap!) is to look at some of the classic Golden Books like The Little Red Hen, The Three Bears, or The Saggy Baggy Elephant.

Lastly, it’s such a fantastic experience to expose our kids to the folk traditions of other cultures. We adore Erik Kimmel’s treatment of Anansi the Spider the most in his books like this and subsequent titles.  And Isaac Bashevis Singer is another international storyteller favorite around here. And I would be remiss if I forgot to mention The Story of Little Babaji which my own mother read to me a hundred times and I loved it every, single time.

In subsequent posts, I’ll talk about fairy tales, fables, myths, etc… but for now, I hope you all take a minute to read (or tell!) a folk tale to your child today and appreciate their place in our cultural traditions. The simplicity and goodness of these stories are things that will stay with your child for their entire lives. Happy storytelling!

“For most of human history, ‘literature,’ both fiction and poetry, has been narrated, not written — heard, not read. So fairy tales, folk tales, stories from the oral tradition, are all of them the most vital connection we have with the imaginations of the ordinary men and women whose labor created our world.”
― Angela Carter

 

 

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A Garden of Ordinary Miracles

This book is the reason why I write about picture books.  I write about picture books because they offer a particular window into the genius and creativity of the human spirit. Picture books are able to touch on the simple, the complex, the whimsical, the sobering… all printed and bound and held in your hand. A Garden Of Ordinary Miracles: An Alphabet Book is not a normal, polished picture book. It is as if we are reading the exact, unedited nature journal of author Robert R. Zakanitch. Each spread of pages includes one side of raw sketches… really raw— you can even see the eraser smudges still on parts. And the other side of the page is a glorious, large scale watercolor of whatever flower he is illustrating for that letter. This is an important book.

morninggloryIt’s a book that is so beautiful it could be displayed on coffee tables. (Anthropologie thought so too.) It’s a book that makes someone like me want to rethink my whole resistance to doing a systematic ABC-preschool plan… just because I want to display a page from this book every day or week we cover that letter. Truth be told, I am not organized or dedicated enough to operate preschool in any sort of structured manner outside of “Let’s count how many Hot Wheels mommy pulls out of the toilet!” But still… the desire is there because of beautiful things like this.

I currently display pages from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady in the window box above my sink… but I would be absolutely thrilled to display Garden on a homeschooling shelf or even as a centerpiece to my table during morning lessons.  We have a divinely mandated duty to bring beauty in our homes… and owning, reading, displaying, and talking about this with our children would be an exemplary way to start.

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The Glory of Blue on Blue


Sneaking in at the end of 2014 is the book to rule them all.  My favorite title of last year… Blue on Blue.  I can’t help it. It’s everything I love: simple cadence, glorious illustrations, storms coming and passing, and enough imagery in the book to make it feel like it was sliced right out of my favorite kind of geography: saltwater, trees, farmland, green, blue, … oh the joy!

This is a book I’m putting on both my personal “To Buy” list and on my gifting list to others.  Such a keeper… I’m deliberately not posting any interior artwork (from Beth Krommes who is best known for her work in The House in the Night, but I loved her best in Grandmother Winter) because I believe the less you know the more you’ll savor the treat. Just promise me that when (not if!) you see this book, you’ll give it the proper time and pacing it deserves.  With a little deliberation in your reading… it’ll be magical.

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A New Noah’s Ark Book… and the Best One Yet

 Up until now, Jerry Pinkney’s gorgeous Noah’s Ark book was as good as one could ever hope for. I mean, it features his beautiful artwork and offers a faithful retelling of the story. I had no complaints and used it faithfully for my Jesse Tree Picture Book readings.

And then, along came the MET to one up him. Released a couple months ago is the most beautiful Noah’s Ark book on the market to date.  Linda Falkin’s Noah’s Ark takes the cake. This one is my new favorite, narrowly eeking past the Pinkney title just for the awesome art appreciation opportunities within its covers. The text is straight from the Bible and each page features a different artist’s full color, full spread reproduction of the famed scenes. It’s awesome and visually engaging and highly recommended. Anytime I can make the great masters part of my children’s everyday life, I will do so with gladness. If you own just one picture book on this story, make it this one.

Joseph_Anton_Koch_006 the_arkAurelio-Luini-Rising-in-the-Ark

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7 Picture Books for Grads

High school graduates throwing their mortarboards in the air --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

On graduation day, many people turn to the old standby of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! for a sweet gift to inspire those stepping into the world.  It’s a great book, to be sure, but I guarantee you that if it’s all wrapped up in a nice flat package, everyone will know what it is already.  Consider a book that is just slightly “left-of-expected” to inspire and encourage people of all ages.  Any of these titles below would be excellent for teens leaving junior high all the way thru post-grad students!

What Do You Do With an Idea? For innovators. For inventors. For artists. For thinkers. For all human beings who have the capacity for amazing potential but need a little encouragement to realize their dreams. The book touches on how to deal with people who’ll tell you your ideas are no good, and how to make your idea grow (spend time with it and feed it good food of course!)  A very inspiring sort of book…

 

 

If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow by Cooper Edens.  This treasure is sadly out of print but it’s well worth a dedicated hunt. I was given this book on my 16th birthday and it has stayed with me for years. It is perfect and whimsical and thoughtful.  “If tomorrow morning, the sky falls… have clouds for breakfast.  If you have butterflies in your stomach… invite them into your heart.”  Just a delight all around. One of my all time favorites.

 

 

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book (Little Golden Books. This is perfect for parents to give their (grown) children who were raised on Little Golden Books. It features all the best of illustrators like Eloise Wilkins, Garth Williams, Richard Scarry etc. along with sweet little reminders on how to get the most out of life…

 

 
 Just For Today is the new release by illustrator Bimba Landmann, of whom I am an admiring fan. It takes the words from St. John XXIII’s famous decalogue (also used by AA) and puts them into picture book form in an offbeat but reverent way.  It starts with  Just for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.” And ends with: “Just for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.” Wise words for all of us…

 

Maps is your treat for the up and coming world traveler or your domestic, wanna-be world traveler. I spent the better part of an hour oohing and ahhing over this book and drinking in the wonderful little interpretations by Aleksandra Mizielinska. Each page is a gorgeous spread filled with factual and beautiful details… all done in a whimsical, but not exclusively childish way.

 

 

 So Few of Me by Peter Reynolds is the book I would give someone like myself— someone who feels like the enormity of her to-do list is beyond her and wants a clone.  Well, the child in this book gets a clone… and then some, to help him with everything to do. In a busy, frenetic world, this simple book steps back and reminds us of the very profound idea that we don’t need to do more or BE more: “What if we did less… but did our best?”

 

 

 Whatever You Are, Be a Good One: 100 Inspirational Quotations Hand-Lettered by Lisa Congdon. Admittedly, this is cheating. It’s not technically designed for children… but it sure is lovely. And it’s perfect for inspiring people (okay, frankly… girls) who are headed into the world.  Many of the quotes in here are ones I’d want to cut out and frame and hang on my wall… because I like the quote, I like the person who said it and I like the art: case in point: “Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.”  —Beatrix Potter.

 

 

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Fear-mongering and the Price of Community

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a community. (In the upcoming issue of Soul Gardening, I have an article about one unexpected aspect of my life as an urban dweller. Tune in for that!) Of course we have the community of believers, and we have the community (be it ever so fluid) of family. But what about the literal, physical community in our neighborhoods?  How has that changed over time? I think we could all agree that it has changed drastically.  Not least of the reasons being due to global connectivity and the greater access to social networks which have the counter-intuitive effect of actually isolating us more.  Despite being more connected than ever, our communities seem to be more withdrawn than ever… not from other communities necessarily, but from the individual. Having the security of their families and friends on their online network, families often close in on themselves away from the neighborhood around them.

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illustration by Elisa Kleven in One Little Chicken.

Something else that I also think has had a large effect on community is what I personally see as an overblown concept of “stranger danger.” All parents can share stories of what things were like when they were kids—being allowed to roam the woods all the live long day, riding bikes across town at the age of seven, being able to eat homemade candies from strangers etc. While there were certainly “bad guys” back then, the dangers children faced certain seem to be far fewer than they are now. Today, we parents are fiercely protective. All Halloween candy gets inspected. Children are not allowed to talk to strangers. They are not allowed out of our eye sight in public places.  They are most certainly not allowed to roam the live long day in the woods! Don’t they know there are drunken predators lurking in there just waiting for innocent children to come along!!!  And while I don’t want to trivialize the very real gravity of childhood abduction or sexual exploitation that does exist and that does seem to make all the news headlines, it needs to be put in its proper place.

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The Little House by Virgina Lee Burton

The polarities are frigid, extreme places to dwell after all. While there is a grave danger of being a helicopter parent—hovering constantly over your children to protect them from every physical and emotional danger, it’s similarly dangerous to just abandon your kids to be formed by whatever influences they find in the streets also. Where is the happy medium? I believe with all my heart that the happy medium is not in trying to control our environments so much as it is in trying to control ourselves and our relationships with our kids. Statistically speaking, children who have loving, healthy relationships with their parents are much less likely to fall victim to predators. The ‘bad guys’ know this too; a child who is likely to tell mom and dad everything, who is secure in who they are and where they come from, will be a lot harder to abuse than kids from damaged homes where the parents are either absent, negligent or abusive themselves. Sadly those homes are far too common in society but we can only do our part to shape what we can.

I don’t really believe there are more bad guys looking to steal our kids now than there were in the 1950s (or even 80s). But what can we do to stay properly vigilant without becoming paranoid parents?! Forbidding children to talk to strangers or to go out alone in their neighborhoods inherently means they know their neighbors less, their communities less. And this will perhaps develop into a whole generation of individuals that do not have any sort of vested interest in protecting and nurturing their communities. Our children will grow up as people who have a very carefully guarded network of acceptable acquaintances and indirectly taught to view everyone else with either disinterest or suspicion. The consequences of what this means for us as a nation can’t be understated. How can we expect our little birds to grow their wings and fly when we are constantly forbidding them to fall from the nest?

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Seriously. Just read it.

They have to be proactively taught awareness (not fear) and how to handle situations that they may face. We’ve had uncomfortable conversations with our children starting at a very young age about “What to do if…” situations.  They weren’t fun to talk about and it hurt me to even think about someone trying to abuse or abduct my children, but I am confident that our children will know what to do if God-forbid a situation like that arises. We live in an urban area. There are some seedy characters in our neighborhood. Crime happens here. Sometimes we even put the children on house arrest while an incident is taking place outside. Some people I know raise eyebrows that I let my 8 year old walk to the church alone even though it’s only one block away and within sight of our house. I also let the boys ride their bikes around our neighborhood and play with children in the park that I don’t know. And as I type this, my boys are sleeping in a homemade teepee right there in my yard where the derelicts could find them if they wanted to. God have mercy.

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Belonging by Jeannie Baker

“Pray. Hope. And don’t worry.” Therein lies our solution. But the solution won’t look the same for all of us. We have to be at peace, not live in fear and trust our instincts. Every parent has to decide for themselves just what temperature of ‘free range’ they’re willing to allow. Like homeschooling or vaccinating or gluten-free eating, this is not a faith issue… and we need to remember that. It’s a parenting issue and we ought to do our best to give people the benefit of the doubt that they want what’s best for their children and are doing the best they can. That said, however, I do hope to see some deliberate efforts made to refocus on the concept of community living be it in a rural, urban or suburban setting. Being local and sustainable and community oriented isn’t just for the progressive, hipster demographics. We all need to have a vested interest in the people around us and in the place we live… not just to teach good stewardship of our community, but to foster real and meaningful relationships with people of all ages, sizes and colors in face-to-face encounters. That’s how we plumb the depths of the human experience; that’s how we can know the many faces of God.

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And now for something peculiar.


Have you met Treehorn yet? I just finished The Treehorn Trilogy and was delighted at the unexpected, unorthodox tales of this odd little boy and his completely aloof, dismissive parents. When Treehorn shrinks, all mother can say is “That’s nice, dear.” When money starts to grow on Treehorn’s tree, it’s a “You can’t go outside after dark, dear.” And when Treehorn has a birthday, he gets a sweater, leftover casserole and left alone with his birthday cake.

Modern parents will not like the Treehorn books. They will be disturbed by the morbid disinterest all the adults have for this child throughout his stories. Of course, the notorious Edward Gorey probably clamored to get this illustrating gig. I’m certain no one else could have so perfectly captured Treehorn’s dull face or the parent’s apathy. His pen and ink drawings are perfect here. I find these stories to be sheer delights. They aren’t the treasures to use for capturing the hearts or inspiring virtue in young children, to be sure… but they are certainly a peculiar and even thought-provoking diversion for slightly older readers: my 10 and 12 year olds found Treehorn dreadfully amusing.

And off-the-beaten-path items that capture their imagination at this age, are items to which I like to introduce my children. To be exposed to the various genres of literature, even in the picture book world, is a valuable thing I think, when properly timed on a developmental level.

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Top 10 Summer Family Read Alouds

While picture books are my bread and butter, all families should be reading aloud longer chapter books with their children.  With summer peeking over the horizon now, it’s a good time to plan out your summer read-aloud(s).  Reading as a family, morning, noon or at night, is an excellent way to stay connected with all the activities of a freewheeling summer.  Audio books make for a superb option as you are road tripping. And certain books are just perfect for this warm season in particular…  here are my choices for optimal summer reading that the whole family will enjoy:

 It’s a classic for a reason. The four siblings are slightly more grounded in this world than the Narnia children, but the similarities are still there.  I was unsure that my children would really get into the fairly descriptive, not-exactly-cliff-hangar-chapters, but they ate it up! Sailing, adventure, independent children soaking up summertime bliss. Something about Ransome’s style just weaves enough magic into the story to make a solid impression on children aged 7-13 in this house! The only unfortunate thing is that while this book makes its way on lots of “best of” lists, not a lot of people make efforts to continue the series; the books are a bit lengthy… but so worth it.  We are knee deep into the sequel: Swallowdale in our family and loving every bit of it.

Don’t be mislead by the sweet cover. While it’s tempting to want to curl up with your 5 year old daughter with this for a cute innocent adventure (try Milly-Molly-Mandy for that), the book is admittedly best suited for slightly older children… maybe age 10 or so. Feuding and intrigue and happy endings… all taking place in the heat of the south. Grab some iced tea and enjoy!

So, it sounds like a Roald Dahl comedy: boy finds a bunch of monkeys who escaped from a circus train.  A large reward goes to whomever can return them to the owner.  But the book isn’t a funny book by design. It’s full of adventure and suspense and for the sake of all that is good, do NOT get the paperback version which has a photograph of the boy on the cover. Photograph covers on books constitute a cardinal sin in my opinion (more on cardinal publishing sins to come)—no room is left for a child to form his own personal impression in their own minds; photograph covers ruin imaginations! Anyway, it’s a great book!

We love Homer Price in this family!  He is just the bee’s knees if you asked my boys and easy, independent chapters of his adventures back in the ‘good ol’ days’ will be perfect for lazy summer reading… don’t forget the sequel! Light, enjoyable reading at its finest.

Boys only please (okay, I would’ve read and loved them as a tomboy ‘tween but your mileage may vary).  These guys have a clubhouse, impressive IQs and adventures galore that would fill your child’s brain with plain old good stuff during summertime.


Summertime is E.B. White time!  This is the time to bust out the glorious, early chapter books to your 5 and 6+ year olds.  Be it Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little or The Trumpet of the Swan… all are so perfectly suited to long, slow summer days.  I re-read Stuart Little recently with my children and was reminded again at how unique White is in the children’s literature world: the ending is moving and poignant… but not your typical super-happy, loose ends tied up conclusion. Same with Charlotte’s Web now that I think about it. I remember feeling sad at the dear little spiders floating away to find their place in the world… (even though I can only WISH that spiders in my house would float away…)

Oh my! Oh my! Have you seen the “Puffin in Bloom” collection yet?! The covers are stunning!  Yeah, yeah, Heidi is fantastic summertime reading (watch out for the photograph covered editions, blech!). What could be greater than the Alps and a wild child and new friendships?! But seriously, check out this new cover by artist Anna Bond.  And there’s a whole set of them coming soon!  What a stunning gift even an individual title would make here.  Take a look at the individual covers here.

Often called “The boy’s Little House series”, Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers is great for boys and girls in my opinion.  And this title is where it all starts. And let me tell you: these stories are so incredibly satisfying for both parent and child. There is just enough of a hat tip to adult sensibilities to make these books fantastic for everyone.  I bought it on audio and we listened to it on our way to a camping trip last year.  So, so, so good. A must have for anyone who loves the value of hard work, simple humor, and excellent storytelling.

But of course!

Back in print! Back in print!  I’m so excited to find The Happy Hollisters revived in popularity. What is so lovely about this family of five children who get mixed up into lots of little mysteries and adventures is that they are always positive and fun. I devoured almost the entire series of these books when I was about 10 or so and longed for more titles. My cousin and I used to spend hours reading together, pretending we were just reading them to make fun of the funny, vintage language some kids used (“Gee whillakers!”) but that’s because we thought we were too cool to actually enjoy the fun in these books.  Thankfully, my children don’t think they are too cool for these books and they are eating up every copy I manage to acquire. They are all great reading, don’t need to be read consecutively, and some particularly summery titles are The Happy Hollisters on a River Trip and The Happy Hollisters at Sea Gull Beach

 

* * * The Honorable Mention “Next 10″or “After Further Thought” Additions to this list. * * *

 

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