Category Archives: For Kids

The Little Rabbit, The Little Goat, and The Little Kitten written by Judy Dunn with photographs by Phoebe Dunn

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how simple details and a few nice photos per page can make for a good story.

When I was growing up there was a long bookshelf in my living room that had books of different shapes. The tallest books came fist, then the Little Golden Books. Then came a bunch of paperback books that were just as tall as the Little Golden Books but wider. The Little Rabbit by Judy Dunn was one of these. For some reason, although this wasn’t a book I read all that much, the photos of the rabbit, Buttercup, sitting in a field with a thick, dark forest in the background always stayed in my mind.

Later I found out that there are other books in this series (such as The Little Goat and The Little Kitten) that are from the same author and photographer. According to the information on Google Books and other sites, Judy Dunn is the author’s daughter.

Theses are short, simple books with 32 pages, clear text (about four sentences per page) and lots of good photographs. And that was sometimes all I needed. (Now, apparently, there is a big book that has five of the these books in it. All the books seem to be in print still, which is very nice.)

Each one that I’ve found so far is about a different kid and his or her animal friend. They are full of little adventures and everyday happenings in the life of a child and an animal. They give a nice peek into what it’s like to have a certain animal for a pet. I for, example, have never had a pet goat or kitten. I enjoyed thinking about what it might be like to go on walks with a pet goat. I’m not sure I would be happy if my goat ate my granola bars, though.

I like that the text in these books tell a story. Often, it’s the story of the animal growing up. In The Little Rabbit, a girl named Sarah learns how to take care of Buttercup and finds her when she gets lost. When Buttercup later becomes a mother rabbit, she begins to do the same for the babies but then has to think about giving them away.

These books were published by Random House. On a corner of the cover, they have a couple of what look like Richard Scarry rabbits holding a book that says, “PLEASE READ TO ME.” Little details like that have tendency to stay with me.

Lastly, here is a link to a page from another blog featuring The Little Lamb.

 

Dunn, Judy. The Little Goat. Photographs by Pheobe Dunn. New York: Random House, 1978. Print.

Dunn, Judy. The Little Rabbit. Photographs by Pheobe Dunn. New York: Random House, 1980. Print.

Dunn, Judy. The Little Kitten. Photographs by Pheobe Dunn. New York: Random House, 1983. Print.

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Book-picking at the Library: The Trucker by Brenda Weatherby, illustrated by Mark Weatherby.

This book always catches my eye when I see it on the library shelf; this isn’t the first time I’ve picked it up. Unlike berries, books can be picked again and again!

One morning, Wesley is playing with his toy truck, his “red semi-flatbed rig” (that rolls of the tongue nicely). Strangely, Wesley suddenly finds himself behind the wheel of a real truck. He heads out onto the highway, journeying through hills and forests green and orange with Autumn leaves.

The author knows how to use words. At one point, she writes that, “The storm was so close, you could smell it.” In the back of the book, she tells you what some of the words and sayings in the story mean, like “bob-tailed” and “[b]ubble trouble.”

And the illustrator’s paintings make you feel like you are there in rain and sun and a deep blue storm, on a gray morning and a golden day. (Also, according to the front of the back, “sand and road dirt” were used in the paintings.)

Of course, the trucking life has its dangers. Right now, where I am, the roads are snowy; I can only imagine what it would be like to drive a big truck and try to keep myself and others safe. In the book, Wesley runs into danger of his own towards the ending when that storm comes along, followed by another surprise or two.

I am sure not everybody who picks up this book will want to be a trucker, but the book is still a fine portrait of a special world.

While not written so very long ago, it looks like the book may not be in print. Many libraries might have it, though.

 

Weatherby, Brenda. The Trucker. Illustrated by Mark Weatherby. New York: Scholastic Press, 2004. Print. ISBN 0-439-39877-0

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A book to talk about: “I’ll Meet You at the Cucumbers” by Lillian Moore and illustrated by Sharon Wooding

Note: I’m not sure how hard or easy this chapter book is to find. It’s from 1988, and was republished in 2001 with a new picture on the cover, I gather. It’s one that I just kind of pulled off the shelf and started reading.

While the verse in the Pooh books can be quite good, though in a foggy sort of way sometimes, I think the mouse poet in this book is at least as good a poet as Edward Bear. He certainly has a different way of writing.

There was something very adventurous yet soothing about this book. The characters, maybe, are not totally different from those in other books. But I really liked them, and I though they were very good in this story. I liked the poems that the author chose to include by other authors … “Grass” by Valerie Worth, “Poem” by Langston Hughes, and “Lumps” by Judith Thurman. The characters start reading “Fog” by Carl Sandburg but stop … for reasons that you might be able to guess.

The story is like of like the one about the town mouse and the country mouse, but it has a lot more characters and a very different ending. There are a lot more threads to this story, even though it’s not a long book.

The country dweller, Adam, has a friend who often visits the city and, we find out, is considering moving there, to Adam’s dismay. Accustomed to a quiet expanse of nature and farmland, Adam has never been to the city. I liked the way the author keeps a fairly slow pace, as Adam tries to decide whether he himself should visit the city. As it turns out there’s a mouse there named Amanda, a fellow poetry fan, who would really like to meet him and who wants to learn about the country. Finally, he decides to go. He finds the city full of wonders, such as a library and new foods. He is fascinated by traffic lights when he sees them for the first time (an event which, if I remember right, Amanda finds a bit odd and perhaps even makes her feel a bit impatient). But, SORT OF A SPOILER, none of these wonders cause him to forget his life in the quiet fields and how important that is to him. I liked that this book shows that city-born people are as likely to be afraid of the country as people who have always lived in the country are likely to worry about traveling to a big city.

Moore does a good job of getting the feel of the different places. The country is quiet, sometimes sombre, sometimes sunny. The city is full of smells, a few moments of panic, and lots of amazing things to see (and to read) in the company of a friend.

Other scenes sound sound like they would be boring … for example, it is hard to imagine being excited about getting a sunflower seed as a present, or reading about it … but didn’t sound strange it all when I read it. At least, not strange in a bad way. I guess, for a city mouse, a seed or piece of plant from the country brings to mind a far-away and amazing place. And also, for a mouse, a seed might be a decent-sized meal. Maybe like what a sub sandwich is to a person.
The last thing I’ll say for now about this short but well-written book is that I really like the title. I just found out that there is a sequel with a title that I really don’t like much (Don’t be Afraid, Amanda), at least compared to I’ll Meet You at the Cucumbers, which I think makes you very curious but is also very true to the book.

Moore, Lillian. I’ll Meet You at the Cucumbers. Illustrated by Sharon Wooding. New York: Athenuem, 1988. Print.

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My vote for the three funniest moments in A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh Stories

red squirrels sitting on books

I reread Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner this winter and spring, and they were even more hilarious then I remembered. Two of my favorite parts are in the second book. I wonder if maybe I never read all of Pooh Corner. I can’t imagine how I could forget Piglet’s very nervous, very confused, and very funny speech to Christopher Robin when he thinks Christopher Robin is actually a heffalump. Which leads me to my first choice….

#1: In the third chapter of Pooh Corner, Pooh and Piglet both fall into a deep pit. Pooh thinks they must be in a trap for Heffalumps, and he tells Piglet that when the Heffalump comes it will say, “’Ho-ho‘ twice, in a gloating sort of way” (Milne, page 210). Pooh plans out what he will say to frighten the Heffalump off, and  Piglet imagines himself talking to the Heffalump. Later, Christopher Robin happens to walk up to the pit (greeting them at first with a loud “Ho-ho”), and he has some trouble making sense of Piglet’s answer (which is a mix-up of what the Heffalump is supposed to say, what Piglet wants to say, Piglet’s directions to himself about what he is going to say, and a bit of carefree singing). It’s nice to see Piglet try to be brave, although he does so because he’s at least a teensy bit jealous of Pooh.

#2. My choice for second funniest moment is in Chapter Six of Pooh Corner when Eeyore is floating down the river after being bounced (or “boffed,” as Tigger tells us) into it. Eeyore is really not very nice to Pooh and Rabbit and Piglet and Roo, who all try to think of a way to get him out of the river. But they still help him. I enjoyed the part where Rabbit is up on the bridge and asks what Eeyore is doing down there, and Eeyore says that, among other things, he is definitely not in a tree “leaping from branch to branch” (Milne, page 262). I think it’s funny to imagine Eeyore doing that. It’s kind of funny to imagine any donkey swinging in a tree, but especially Eeyore. Apart from all that, I also like this chapter because Eeyore and Tigger act like they’re good friends by the end of it.

#3. My choice for the third funniest moment would be when Piglet pretends to be Roo and Kanga only discovers that the two have been switched once she is back home. So she decides to give Piglet a bath and Roo’s medicine and ignores Piglet’s yells, and it all turns out kind of painful and soapy and frightening for poor Piglet. Although this whole chapter is fun, I am a bit bothered by the fact that Rabbit and Pooh and Piglet would actually work together to kidnap Roo. But, as Kanga realizes, Christopher Robin is KING here, and he’ll look out for Roo.

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m making fun of Piglet. I find a lot of the parts with Piglet very funny, but Piglet is actually really brave. When Pooh and Owl are in trapped, he lets the others raise him up on only a piece of string so he can run and get help. And later, he gives up something very special to him, which is maybe even more brave.

By the way, I am using a book that has both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner in it. If you were looking at the page numbers at this post, you might have thought that the second book was actually over 800 pages long. That would be very long. Not everybody would be able to stand it. But I found this book, at the length it is, a lot of fun. It was kind of like watching a movie like Toy Story 2 or something like that.

I’ll probably be writing more posts about these stories soon. There are also some other animal books that I’d like to share. It might be fun to compare them with Milne’s.

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Milne, A. A. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1994. Print.


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A piece of a poem about a very brittle thing

I’d like to share some lines from a poem that talks about brittleness and bravery,  although I will warn you that it is very sad. The name of the poem is “Paul’s Fingers,” by  Mary O’Neill, from her collection of children’s poems Fingers Are Always Bringing Me News. Although the poems in the book are not part of any longer story, I like how many of them pay attention to small but amazing things … something which longer fiction and chapter books can do as well, within the story.

“My fingers have held a fallen baby bird,

And felt fright jump under its skin,

And felt the hope of rescue,

And living begin again.

As its claws, weak as threads,

Clamped my fingers. Brave, but

too hurt, too weak, too thin” (lines 25-31).

O’Neill, Mary. Fingers Are Always Bringing Me News. Illustrated by Don Blognese. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1969. Print. Pages 18-19.

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