Monday, August 5, 2013
Lotta's Bike is a story about a little girl Lotta who really wants to have a two wheel bike like her brothers have. When on her birthday mom and dad did not buy a bicycle for her, Lotta decides to borrow it from "auntie Berg", a sweet and caring neighbor. Lotta surely will get in trouble with a two wheel bike, but everything ends well. Astrid Lindgren is a very engaging Swedish author, who is very well known and loved in Europe and Russia. Unfortunately very few of her books are known in the USA with the exception of Pippi Longstocking.
Other Lindgren's characters are Karlson, a flying man with a propeller; Emil from Lennerberg and Kalle Blumkvist, a detective.
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CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E.B. White is a masterful blend of whimsy, humor, gentle satire, and life-and-death drama and, above all, a powerful story of friendship. How sweet it was to share it with my friend, Myra. She could hardly get past the thought of the central characters being a pig, a spider and a rat but as we listened in on their conversations (Did I mention that these animals talked?) we were deeply moved by the loyalty, kindness and wisdom portrayed in this wonderful barnyard fable. Its a children's book which has much offer to adult readers. Complemented by the charming illustrations of Garth Williams, the story starts with an eight year old farm girl, Fern, who rescued a piglet about to be killed because he was the "runt" of the litter, and named him Wilbur. When Wilbur was weaned from the bottle he was sold to Fern's aunt and uncle just down the road where Fern visited him often. It was there that he was befriended by a very wise, loving and skilled spider (...yeah, one of those dreadfully scary, eight-legged, blood sucking creatures!) by the name of Charlotte and several other barnyard animals who could speak both with each other and with Fern. They were all a bunch of characters with distinct personalities and roles but one of the truly marvelous characters was Templeton the rat. Gluttonous, sneaky, often nasty, but curiously sympathetic and helpful, he's one you just hate to love but you can't help it! Templeton is what we call a great anti-hero. But the true heroine is the dear little gray spider, Charlotte who promises Wilbur she will save him from the way that most pigs go. (bacon and ham you know) And, she did, of course!
My favorite lines.....
A moment later a tear came to Wilbur's eye. "Oh, Charlotte, he said. "To think that when I first met you I thought you were cruel and bloodthirsty!" When he recovered from his emotion, he spoke again."Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you."
"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte."That in itself is a tremendous thing, I wove my web for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone can stand a little of that."
"Well." said Wilbur. "I'm no good at making speeches. I haven't got your gift for words. But you have saved me, Charlotte, and I would gladly give my life for you---I really would."
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YOU'RE ALL MY FAVORITES written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram is the sweet story of a mother bear, a father bear and three baby bears not unlike any loving family of five... not unlike my own. It shows that no matter if the baby is a boy or a girl, big or small or has different features each is loved unconditionally. I always felt I did a good job of making our three sons know this. No mater which on you might ask, he will tell you he has always been my favorite!
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MR AND MRS PIG'S EVENING OUT by Mary Rayner is a delightfully illustrated story, not so much about the joys of an evening away from their ten darling little piglets as it is about the wit and resourcefulness of the piglets to deal with what was suppose to be a very nice lady from "the agency". Unnoticed by the parents, anxious to get out the door after tucking their little ones into bed, they left them with one who turned out to be a very untrustworthy babysitter by the name of Mrs. Wolf. Parents returning to a babysitter in restraints is not usually the happy ending of a night out, but in this case, it was.
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A NECKLACE OF RAINDROPS is a collection of eight stories written by Joan Aiken and illustrated by Jan Pienkowski. These delightfully fanciful stories kept Myra and I entertained during eight of our visits there at the nursing home. We enjoyed each one, packed with whimsical scenarios and fun moments and kept bits of them stuck in our heads in between our visits. Unforgettable! Of course there is the necklace of raindrops, each with a special power, the girl who had to be washed with her dress on and hung out on the line to dry so it wouldn't shrink past her and her wishing mat, an old woman who accidentally baked a bit of sky in her pie, the three travelers who attended to the train station in the desert, the cat who ate the yeast, the patchwork quilt and the camels and the traffic lights from Beirut. What fun!
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Sunday, August 4, 2013
A POCKET FOR CORDUROY by Don Freeman is a book is filled with optimistic, caring, considerate human values expressed through the story, a sequel to "CORDUROY". Lisa has turned into a very responsible and caring not-so-little girl helping her mom with the laundry but not too big to unabashedly take her beloved little Corduroy wherever she goes. She is reluctant to leave without him but encourage by the certainty of her mom that they will find him when they return. The adults in her world from her mother to the artist, to the laundromat owner are good role models, demonstrating compassion and responsibility at every opportunity. Reunited with Corduroy it,s Lisa who has the connection to understand his need and provide the perfect solution. She has learned the skill of sewing now and is able to add "a pocket for Corduroy".
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LEO THE LATE BLOOMER by Robert Kraus with brilliant illustrations that bring the tale to life by Jose Aruego is an enjoyable read for any age child and a great way to explain that it's OK to be different. Leo the young tiger doesn't lead a "normal" child's life and his father is constantly worried that something is wrong with his son. Leo experiences many of the childhood frustrations that we are all too familiar with. e doesn't do anything particularly well. But, over time Leo absorbs what the his peers have been doing and eventually blossoms with a new-found love for life. This book brilliantly conveys the revelation of a child discovering his or her place in the big world.
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JOHN BROWN, ROSE AND THE MIDNIGHT CAT, story by Jenny Wagner and illustrations by Ron Brooks is a beautiful book that can be shared together with children and adults as I did with my friend, Myra. We related to the sweet story of longtime companionship between the elderly woman Rose and her large, shaggy, loving dog John Brown. Both were content with their close-knit friendship but while Rose was ready to open her heart and home to the the Midnight Cat, John Brown was reluctant to allow the addition of this black cat needing food and love. He was not sure he wanted to share his beloved Rose. By the book's end, John Brown has overcome his difficult and complicated emotion: jealousy. This is the perfect book to help children get ready for a baby brother or sister.
I remembered when a black cat adopted us one day. Cats choose their own home. I named him Snuggles.
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COME AWAY FROM THE WATER, SHIRLEY by John Burningham tells the same story from two different perspectives. The pictures and dialog on one side of each turn of the page tells of a perfectly ordinary trip to the beach from Shirley's parents perspective but the enchanting pictures with no text on the opposite pages tells what goes on in this young girl's imagination during that same perfectly ordinary trip to the beach with her parents. A delightful book!
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