Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Four Wonderful Children's Books

Yesterday was a very nice Valentine's Day, Gary surprised me with a few goodies as well as the Bakepop pan set that I have been eyeing.  I look forward to baking up some and blogging my results.  He also brought home a beautiful bouquet of red roses over the weekend, which are brightening my kitchen window.  We also decided catch a movie together while the kids were at school for a fun Valentine date.

Valentine evening my daughter had her physics project partner over to work along with Gary, on designing their Catapult - they will be having a contest on Friday to see how far everyone can get their catapult or trebuchet to launch.  Sarah really loves her physics class and is looking forward to this project.

Spring is definitely around the corner, two bulbs have just blossomed in my front yard, always nice to see the color returning to my garden.  A little dwarf iris and a clump of Narcissus.

Today I thought I would share about a four of my favorite children's books.  I just love children's literature, and can't visit the bookstore without a stop to the children's section to see what new wonderful stories are out and what old classics I can find.  Here I the four I chose to talk about today.

I'll start with my oldest favorite in this group- A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond  I have loved Paddington Bear stories since I was a child.  This story introduces the reader to Paddington Bear, who emigrated to London from Darkest Peru, where he used to live with his Aunt Lucy, but she now lives in a home for retired bears.  Paddington has a little tag around his neck that say Please Look After This Bear, and loves to eat Marmalade (so do I).  He is found by the Brown family at Paddington station, and they bring him home and name him Paddington after the station where they found him.  Paddington is a sweet little bear, but gets into all sorts of troubles and mishaps, making him, in my opinion, all the more endearing.

Paddington stories are wonderful chapter stories for children starting out with chapter books, and also make a great book to read to a younger child for story time.   I loved Paddington so much, I decorated my children's nursery in Paddington Bear when they were babies.  It would be very fun to have a Paddington Story time, then serve Marmalade on toast.

Here is my Amazon affiliate link for this book.

As I was looking up this book on Amazon just now, I came across another Paddington favorite- when my children were young, we were also fond of the old stop motion Paddington cartoons, we also enjoyed the newer Paddington Cartoon that came out in the late 90's, but no where near as much as the old stop motion series.  For years I have been carefully keeping my old VHS copies as I was unable to find the series on DVD.  They now have the entire series (56 short episodes!) on DVD for an extremely good price.  This is a wonderful cartoon for kids, much slower paced than some of the cartoons out now, which is nice for quieting down time, or if you want a nice sweet children's show for the children or grandchildren to watch.  I am looking forward to having this on DVD.

The next book I thought I would review is Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle written by Betty MacDonald.  I first read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories when my children were in grade school, and we all really enjoyed these fun stories that were written in the 1950's.  Mrs. Piggle -Wiggle is a kind old woman, who loves and understands children, whenever parents are having a struggle with their children's bad behavior they can call on Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for a cure.  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has an old sea chest full of magical cures for children, that was left to her by her husband, a pirate- Cures such as leadership pills, or crybaby tonic, or show off powder.  All of these cures have an interesting way of curing the behavior problem.  These are fun, read aloud stories, and a nice way to discuss behavior issues as well.  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories are great for 1st- 3rd grade story time.

I am a big Elsa Beskow fan, and little by little am attempting to collect all of her books.  One of my very favorite stories by Elsa Beskow is Peter's Old House.  Peter is a retired sailor who lives in the village.  He speaks many languages and welcomes visitors to the village and is able to be a translator for them.  He tells the village children stories from his travels around the world, he plays musical instruments, and feeds the sea birds.  Peter makes sailing boats and gifts them to village children.  He is the village doctor and veterinarian.  If anything is broken, the villagers bring the item to Peter who can fix it.  Peter was always busy, working very hard.  But he was very poor, because no one ever thought of paying Peter.  His house was in quite a sad state.  One day an inspector came, and told Peter his house was a disgrace, and if he didn't mend it by next week, it would be torn down.  Peter had no idea what to do because he had no money to buy the items needed to repair his home. The children of the village wanted to help- so the carpenter's son, the bricklayer's son, the painter's son, the wagon driver's daughters etc. all pitched in along with their parents and other members of the village pitching in work and supplies to fix up Peter's old house.  They fixed up the house and had a nice party.  The inspector came, ready to pull the house down, and was surprised to find it all fixed up.

This is such a nice story about community effort and working together, I just love it.  The illustrations are beautiful and sweet.  A wonderful story for any children's library.

Lastly I thought I would talk about The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall.  I first discovered this Caldecott Medal children book at the pediatrician's office when my children were babies.  I just fell in love with this simple, beautifully illustrated book.

The story starts with the Ox-Cart man loading up his wagon with all of the  bounty that him and his family have made or grown on the farm all year that was left over.  Things like extra wool, a shawl his wife made, mittens his daughter made, candles they made, linen from flax they grew, shingles he split himself, birch brooms his son carved, various produce, goose feathers, maple, honey etc.  He loads it all up in his wagon pulled by his ox, and walks with it all the way to town for ten days.  He sells all his goods, including the wagon, ox yolk and harness, and even the ox who he kisses goodbye on the nose.  He uses some of the money to buy an iron kettle, some new sewing needles for his daughter, a new knife for his son, and two pounds of wintergreen peppermint candies.  He then makes the long journey home with his new purchases and left over coins.  He returns home to his family who is eager to see him, they have a nice supper cooked in the new kettle, and a candy treat for dessert. Then they all start to work, the daughter sewing, the son whittling, the man stitching a new harness for the young ox in the barn.  The story then goes through the other things they make on the farm again in the following year.  

Wonderful illustrations of New England style country-side and towns, wonderful description of the farming year.  A nice simple story, describing the seasons and cycle of the year, wonderful book to share, just as enjoyable for the adult to read as it is for the child listening.  I just love this book.

All of these books would be great additions to a children's book collection and perfect to check out if you spot them in the library!

Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day!  Any bulbs popping up around your yard yet?


  1. Hi April, Thanks for the tip on Peter's Old House. I also adore Elsa Beskow! Love reading your posts!

  2. Great book ideas. We are always looking for recommendations - we get through books at a tremendous rate. xx

  3. Are we drinking the same water or something? I've been thinking about Mrs. Piggle Wiggle this week and even made a trip to the thrift store to see if I could find a copy of the books to send to my granddaughter. They were my favorites when I was her age. Did you ever notice all the wonderful varieties of cookies she had? It inspired me to always have cookies on hand and a shoulder to cry on for all the neighborhood children. Love Paddington and those cute little animations. "Giving a cold hard stare" is one of our family's catchphrases.And Elsa Beskow's illustration are simply magical. BTW, I could find Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, so looks like your Amazon button will be getting some more use!

  4. We adore Paddington here. Thanks for the other recommendations!

  5. All great books. I love paddington bear :)

  6. Thanks for all of your comments, nice to see other Paddington fans!

    Jane~ I love Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, she reminds me of my grandma with the cookies, my grandma has her neighborhood children visit and they know she has cookies waiting. All the kids call her grandma it is very cute, and I think makes her pretty happy. I also love Paddington's "Cold Hard Stare" that is one of my favorite Paddington things as well. I love hunting for children's books in thrift shops, such good finds! :)

  7. I awarded you a Versatile blogger award...please stop by and check it out!

  8. Thank you for your nice selection of kids books. Will be sure to check them out.


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