On Market Street, vendors of items from apples to zippers all wear (or are made of) their wares. I’ve loved this beautiful alphabet book from the first time I saw it as a child. The boys prefer The Racecar Alphabet, but this is the week when I share some of the books that I currently enjoy more than they do, in honor of Mother’s Day.
Author: Arnold Lobel
Illustrator: Anita Lobel
Posted in Picture Books
Tagged alphabet, Anita Lobel, Arnold Lobel, Caldecott Honor, Christmas, food, Frog and Toad, I read this as a kid, knitting, Machines, Mama's Choice, On Market Street, The Racecar Alphabet, toys
The last time I wrote about Frog and Toad, this series didn’t interest the boys much. But recently they developed a strong interest in A Year with Frog and Toad, a musical based on the books (and a wonderful show, if you ever get a chance to see it in person), and now really enjoy the books.
Like Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggy series, the two best friends in this series have very different personalities. The Frog and Toad series is less laugh-out-loud funny than Mr. Willems’, but is still humorous and often tender. Some of our favorite stories are “Shivers,” from Days with Frog and Toad; “Spring” and “A Lost Button,” from Frog and Toad are Friends; “Cookies,” from Frog and Toad Together; and “Down the Hill” and “Ice Cream,” from Frog and Toad All Year.
Author: Arnold Lobel
Illustrator: Arnold Lobel
Posted in Chapter Books, Early Readers
Tagged A Year with Frog and Toad (Original Cast Recording), Animals, Arnold Lobel, Caldecott Honor, Christmas, Days with Frog and Toad, Elephant & Piggie, food, Frog and Toad, Frog and Toad All Year, Frog and Toad are Friends, Frog and Toad Together, garden, I read this as a kid, Mo Willems, Newbery Honor Book, Robert and Willie Reale, series, songs
This collection of short stories and poems is one of my very favorite books. I loved it when I was a kid and now I love reading one or two of the stories to the boys each night before bed during the lead up to Christmas. The stories are absolutely charming and the pictures are beautiful and I wish this version (from 1969) wasn’t out of print (the version currently in print cut out a few of my favorite stories–I have no idea why). Don’t let the missing stories stop you from picking up a copy of the new edition, if you don’t have one already. This book is contains so much holiday joy; it really shouldn’t be missed.
Author: Kathryn Jackson
Illustrator: Richard Scarry
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree is a touch too big for his space. So the top is lopped off and given to his upstairs maid. But it is a touch too big for her space, so the top is lopped off and discovered by the gardener. But it is a touch too big for his space, so… Well, you get the idea. One big tree brings a lot of happiness to a lot of people (and animals too).
Author: Robert Barry
Illustrator: Robert Barry
Leaving cookies (chocolate chip!) and milk for Santa, plus carrots for his reindeer, is an old and happy tradition. Little did we know who else might be hitching a ride on the sleigh…
Suffice it to say that wombats still love carrots (and we still love wombats). So, this year, we will include some extra carrots on the plate.
Author: Jackie French
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Each double-page spread in this intriguing book highlights one of the twelve sets of gifts listed in the title song. The twist is that each of these (gorgeous!) spreads has all of the previous gifts lurking within it (so, for example, a partridge in a pear tree and two turtledoves are hidden somewhere in the spread highlighting the three French hens). Some of the previous gifts are easy to find, some of them we still haven’t found yet. But it is a true pleasure to try.
Illustrator: Laurel Long
My brothers and sister and I grew up on a farm of steep, wooded hills and fields with rocks as big as your head. There was work enough on that farm to keep us busy all year long from dawn till dusk.
On winter nights, as the wind whistled ’round the house and snow piled up against the windows, our mother told us stories of how our Scottish ancestors left their rocky farms to journey to America for a better life.
We thought of the rocks here, of Vermont’s long, bitter winters, and of the hundreds of trees that had to be cut down to make a farm, and my brothers would say, “Why’d they ever move here?”
Then they’d argue about where they wanted to move to when they grew up.
“Think of all the things you’d miss,” I told them.
“Miss?” they said. “What would we miss?”
For the rest of the book, the author and her brothers provide points and counterpoints of the difficulties and joys of farm life. It sounds incredibly difficult and wonderful and very exotic to us suburbanites. The author ends by noting:
A few cousins moved away, to New York and Michigan and even one to Africa, but my sister, brothers, and I, and most of my cousins, are still here, sugaring and haying and cutting wood. We also cross-country ski and canoe and gather together to eat, laugh, and tell stories. And no one talks about leaving.
Author: Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
Illustrator: Mary Azarian
Posted in Non-fiction, Picture Books
Tagged Animals, Christmas, farm, food, From Dawn till Dusk, immigration, Machines, Mary Azarian, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, out of print, USA
“Mom,” said David, “when will it snow?”
“I think soon,” said Mom. “Why don’t you help make
cookies while you wait.”
Everything that David does makes him think of snow. Is it coming yet? And when it does come, will it be Big Snow?
We wait and watch with David as his day progresses and the storm rolls in. We see the skyline of his overcast neighborhood slowly disappear into ever growing clouds and snow (the boys really like this part), we watch the roads get covered and uncovered. We watch the light outside disappearing and homes’ lights appear (including his neighbor’s menorah). We watch (the very capable, if somewhat distractible) David help his Mom with an impressive number of getting-ready-for-holiday-guests chores. When naptime comes, we watch David’s dream of Big Snow come a bit too true (I’m amused by how his mom keeps right cleaning throughout) and the book ends as he wakes up to play with outside with his family.
The further away from snow we get, the more popular this book becomes.
Author: Jonathan Bean
Illustrator: Jonathan Bean
There was once a good shoemaker
who became very poor.
At last he had only one piece of leather
to make one pair of shoes.
“Well,” said the shoemaker to his wife,
“I will cut the leather tonight
and make the shoes in the morning.”
The story that follows is full of craftsmanship, thoughtfulness, generosity, good fortune, and magic. I loved this book as a child (my mom bought it from someone going door-to-door pulling a wagon full of used books, if I remember correctly) and the boys really enjoy it now.
Author: Freya Littledale/The Grimm Brothers
Illustrator: Brinton Turkle
Countless artists have illustrated this poem, many of them beautifully. This may not be the most elegant version, but it is the one I grew up with and keep coming back to. Happily, the boys love it; we read it together just before they headed to bed tonight, knowing that cookies, carrots, celery, and milk are waiting on the hearth and Santa is on his way.
Happy Christmas to all,
and to all a good night.
Author: Clement C. Moore
Illustrator: Douglas Gorsline