Tag Archives: Autumn

Autumn, Autumn, Autumn…

I love autumn.  It brings back the best days for cuddling up with books. I have gotten into the habit now of splurging on one new seasonal book each season to expand our basket.  My spring basket is full and healthy.  My summer basket is alright for the most part.  My fall and winter baskets both suffer shortages in my opinion.  It’s time to remedy that.  Last year’s autumn splurge was the lovely, perfect “Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip.” You can always count on Elsa Beskow or Sibylle von Olfers for excellent seasonal books.  But I want to get a little variety in my Autumn basket before I start overindulging on just one author.  So, my purchase this year will be one of the following:

Nightsong by Ari Berk. This is new and I don’t have much to go off of other than the author’s web page… but I like what I see and my only other bat book is Stellaluna . I like when books can demystify bats and Nightsong’s hero seems so cute that any creepy bat fears simply HAVE to go away after reading it, right?

Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser. This may be my choice after all. I was so enamored with this book when I first read it, I would really, really like to add it permanently to our collection. My only hesitation is that it’s a great late autumn book and I’d really like to see something more early autumn/harvest related added to my stash.

Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh. If you know me, you know I’m a huge, huge fan of biographical picture books. Autumn is apple time and what better ways to celebrate apples than to have a book about the man who made them famous across the US. The artwork by Kathy Jakobsen in this book is excellent… reminiscent of Barbara Cooney.

Apple Picking Time by Michele Slawson.  I’m just so eager to get some apple books!  I want to take the children to an orchard to go picking this year and this would make a lovely precursor to that event.  We’re Washingtonians for goodness’ sake!  We need some apple books!

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson.  I just need to give in and buy this already.  Sweet and gentle… early fall.  I like it.

So you see my dilemma folks.  What will my purchase be?   Ooh, the excitement!  (Before I do anything, I need to get a solid look at the Goodwill’s bookshelves first… I might be able to come away with some autumn treasures there!)


Bear Has a Story to Tell: Pick of the Week

Newly released last week is title by one of my increasingly favorite husband/wife duos: Philip and Erin Stead: Bear Has a Story to Tell.

Around here, this would be a great book for early November. In other parts of the country, winter comes earlier or later so if you are particular about acute seasonal timing, know that this is about winter knocking at the doorsteps of fall and animals getting ready for it. All the while Bear is looking for someone, ANYONE to give him some time to hear his story. A tiny little curveball gets thrown by the time his friends are ready to listen.  It’s a beautiful book, some books are great to gobble up quickly, others give you a sense of slower pace and savory appreciation right at the get-go… even with the paper its printed on!  This is one of those books.

I am in love with the illustrations by Erin Stead, as per usual. For anyone who still doubts that creating children’s books is truly a unique and detailed art form, check these pictures out from her website that show her woodblock printing technique:

and the book trailer:


Flicka, Snapp, Snurr.

Do you know Maj Lindman? Seeing how she’s a Swedish author and during the wintertime, I’m hot and heavy over all things Scandinavian, I thought it a good time to rave about the wonderful little series she created in the 1930s and 40s. They’re still in print today!

Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr are three young triplets who get into all sorts of fun predicaments before a happy ending and good moral end the story. We’re not talking phenomenal storytelling here. But don’t be deceived by the Dick and Jane vintage illustrations either… there is a real, good, edifying story to be told. It’s so charming and happy and just the sort of thing to read to a houseful of rowdy boys to perhaps interest them into wanting a respectable sort of day.
My personal favorite is Snipp, Snapp, Snurr, and the Gingerbreadbecause you are guaranteed giggles over three batter covered boys…
Of course, there’s also Flicka, Ricka and Dicka who were something of heroines to me when I was a young girl. I always wished they could have been quadruplets and I could’ve been, oh I don’t know… Nicka? Sticka? Blicka? Whatever… I just wanted to have a gaggle of girls around me to have as much fun as these three had. I loved the story of Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the New Dotted Dresseseven if it was terribly predictable.
See what’s so charming about these books is that they are so happily virtuous. They would never exist in today’s children’s literature world. The drama would be amped up. The girls would be seeking their individuality. But it’s quite refreshing to read a sweet, simple story about sweet, simple girls. And I think kids are inwardly hungry for this kind of innocent goodness. Think of Snipp, Snapp, Snurr, Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka as you would a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning topped off with a dollop of honey and cinnamon… wholesome, sweet, simply good for you.
Here’s a quick, random video that shows the inside of Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and their New Skates. The new edition comes complete with paper dolls!

Library Pick of the Week: Brother William’s Year

New in 2010 was a wonderful, living picture book called Brother William’s Year: A Monk at Westminster Abbey written and illustrated by Jan Pancheri. This was definitely our Libraray pick of the week (Maybe even month? Quarter? Pick of the year seems lofty but it would definitely be in contention for that prize!) Pancheri was the lead gardener of Westminster Abbey and has used this position to do research into “the way things used to be,” i.e., when the abbey was filled with Benedictine Monks before the property was stolen from the Church.

The book is a look at what medieval abbey life would’ve looked like each month of the year and since it’s January, the time is ripe for a picture book overview of seasonal life. Each page includes what’s happening in the gardens, which were of course the sustenance for the monks back then, not the pristine, manicured displays they are now. There are a couple recipes (Leek Soup!) and fun little tidbits to delight… like the building of a snow-monk. I want to build a snow monk this year!
I’m a fan of the book for a few reasons:
1-It’s historically accurate.
2-It’s reverent to the spiritual life without being a book meant to proselytize, thereby making it accessible to people of all faiths.
3- The art is just as lovely as the text.
4- I find the footnotes in the back very interesting.
Highly recommended.

Top 10 Best Autumn Books

Welll you’ll have to forgive the quiet month of September as I’ve been settling in with my sweet, new bibliozealot: Henry Benedict. Now October is waning by and I’ve not said a peep about all the excellent fall literature out there. This season offers quite a feast of delights; it’ll be difficult to narrow it to just ten. I’m also not going to dwell on specific holiday reads either just to keep the list focused. So come on in from these cold, dark days and grab a steaming mug of apple cider as you snuggle under a blanket with one of these lovely books:

 Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall. Well this was a rather obvious first choice for me as I’m absolutely smitten with Barbara Cooney’s illustrations in ANY book. But this story is really great for harvest time, following the natural season of work and self-sufficiency in a rural family. Despite it’s extremely simple story line, there’s a lot of material here for all kinds of studies should you feel so inspired with your children.

 Autumn Story by Jill Barklem. You may think I’m boring and redundant by always listing a book from Jill Barklem’s little series but you’re wrong. I’ve often thought that if I could only have a few seasonal books on my shelf, this whole series would be there. The stories, illustrations, rich botany lessons and sweet characters really are honey for a child’s heart.

 Woody, Hazel and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow. It really is no wonder that pagans love Elsa Beskow and put her consistently in their reccommended author lists; she celebrates the magic of nature in a beautiful, spritely way… but I promise that you don’t have to belong to any sort of alternative religion to appreciate her work, The art is divine and the story is as sweet as always. It’s just pure whimsy and who doesn’t love that?!

 Now it’s Fall by Lois Lenski. It just occurred to me that my Top Ten Summer list forgot to include Lenski’s On a Summer Day.Boo. Because, like Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge books, these titles would easily win a contest for shelf space if they needed to. Lois Lenski books are small and unassuming and perfect for introducing and celebrating the season with small children. (Probably best for the 8 and under crowd)

 Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor. Well, booklovers everywhere will recognize the name of this excellent author-illustrator. This isn’t my very favorite title of hers but it is absolutely worthy of mention. The reason why it’s inclusion is important in this list is because Pumpkin Moonshine is the only “Halloween” book I know of that isn’t “Halloweeny.” (You like that made-up word… smooth isn’t it?) If you do or don’t celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, this book still is still relevant to celebrating the season. It’s the sweetest, gentle story about a girl hunting for the perfect pumpkin and then carving it. No ghosts, goblins or gore need apply. And no mention of candy either… nice.

 Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky. One of these days, I’m going to write an entire post on Jim Arnosky and the importance of his books. But let’s just start you off with this one, yes?! Good. Don’t expect a traditional story with Arnosky, he takes on more of the fly on the wall role in simply narrating a particular scene with a particular animal in a particular time of year. Good stuff this is.

 Apple Picking Time by Michele Slawson. I love this “living book.”  It tells the simple story of a little girl picking apples with her family.  The sentiments evoked here are really nice, and it’s so great to see exactly where apples come from and how they’re picked.  I’m a Washingtonian… so I am predisposed to loving this book.  🙂

 Snowsong Whistling by Karen Lotz. Confession: I don’t know anything about Karen Lotz and I wouldn’t make a point to seek out her other work because although the rhyming here is fine and fun, it’s pretty unremarkable. This books wins a coveted spot on Ellie’s Top Ten list because it’s Elisa Kleven illustrating. And it’s Elisa Kleven illustrating with a fall motif. Imagine the eye candy. (Save this book for a late November day or early December, just before the winter transition…)

 The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger. Here is another one to save for later in the season as we see a little leaf who can’t bear to let go of the tree and accept the changing season. There is something very poignant about this and it’s touched in a unique style by Berger throughout the stories pages. A gem.

 Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser. This book is another one to save for those late November days, unless winter comes earlier in your part of the world. I’m in love with these illustrations; they are scribbly pencil drawings and really give a nice life to the season as squirrel and a few friends try to beat out mother nature and see this thing called “snow”. It’s quite funny what they consider to be snow and the kids will giggle. The best part is that when that magical white stuff finally does fall, the text in the book stops… it spends the last few pages just letting you watch the story unfold and end. I love it.


Library pick of the week

I mentioned this book in my Top 10 list for spring, but we don’t actually own it. Yet. After going through the library books that we’ve gotten this week, it looks like pretty standard fare (except for the fact that this branch had a Tin Tin book that the boys haven’t read yet… so that was exciting. But Tin Tin really does deserve his own post.) so I’m going to have to choose this as our book of the week. I need to just buy it already as we’ve checked out this (and it’s companion An Egg Is Quiet) enough times to convince me that there really is long-term relationship possibility here that needs to be assessed. The boys have loved finding which seeds we recognized in this book and are eager to identify monocots and dicots now. I had some old navy beans from last week’s soup that we covered in a wet paper towel and put them in a plastic baggy to see what would happen. A few days later, they began sprouting and shell shedding and now are ready to plant. Probably the easiest and most beginner-friendly science experiment ever. So without further ado, I can not recommend enough A Seed Is Sleepy.