Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Little Vintage Easter Treasures from the Library

Oh, how I love the library!  I love searching Polaris late at night, looking for old treasures buried at some branch or other.  Today I have two adorable vintage Easter books, written by two wonderful authors, Tasha Tudor and Charlotte Zolotow.

A Tale for Easter by Tasha Tudor.  
Henry Z. Walck, 1941.
(Re-issued by Simon & Schuster in multiple formats - see here.)

I always think of Tasha Tudor at Christmastime, or even in autumn.  All those pictures of her in her handwoven and handknitted clothes, so cozy.  But Tasha Tudor and Easter?  Even more perfect.  This sweet book begins, "You can never tell what might happen on Easter.  You're not always sure when it is coming, even though you go to Sunday School."  We turn the page to learn, "You can guess it is near when Mama makes you stand still while she fits a new dress on you."  Sigh.  How I regret that I never learned to sew properly!  I want to live in a Tasha Tudor book.  On the next page:  "But it is only when Good Friday comes, and you have Hot Cross Buns for tea, that you know for certain Easter will be the day after tomorrow."  Okay, we can do Hot Cross Buns.  The girls are out of school for inservice this Good Friday...

The book then ventures into Dreamland.  "If you have been very good the whole year through, the night before Easter you will dream the loveliest dreams."

And she isn't kidding.  In her dreams, you ride on the back of a beautiful fawn, who shows you rabbits, sweet little mice, adorable lambs, and Easter ducklings.  Then the fawn takes you flying, because this is the most beautiful Dreamland ever.

When we wake up, we may have left Dreamland, but we're still in the world of Tasha Tudor, where Easter morning brings colored eggs "in your shoes or in your best bonnet;" a basket of ducklings "beside your bowl of porridge;" or a bunny "in Grandma's rocking chair."

Sigh.  I want to live in a Tasha Tudor book, if only for one day.

Our next book was written by author and editor extraordinaire Charlotte Zolotow, who passed away late last year.  The beautiful spring-hued illustrations are by Betty Peterson.  I tried to find information about Betty Peterson, but this book seems to be the only one I could find.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has republished the book with all-new illustrations by Helen Craig, of Angelina Ballerina fame.  I love Angelina, but I think I prefer the original Bunny Who Found Easter.

The Bunny Who Found Easter by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Betty Peterson.
Parnassus Press / Houghton Mifflin Company, 1959.
You can find used copies of this version at Amazon.
HMH Books has a current edition, with illustrations by Helen Craig - see here.

A little bunny wakes up from a long nap, and longs to play with other bunnies.  He asks the owl in the elm tree where he might find some.  The owl tells him, "Why there always rabbits at Easter."  The bunny doesn't know what Easter is, and the owl falls asleep without telling him.  The bunny thinks Easter must be a place, so he sets off - headed east - to find it.  He finds a pool of trout and a field of daisies.  He gets caught in a summer storm.  He finds mountain laurel, wet from the rain.  Nowhere does he find another rabbit, though.  Sadly, he crunches an apple as the air starts to smell of autumn.  One day, the snow begins to fall.  He sees other animals preparing for winter, but still no rabbits.  The lonely rabbit curls up inside a hollow tree to sleep.

When the bunny wakes up, spring has arrived!  He begins hopping about, ready to resume his search for Easter.  He comes across paw prints - familiar paw prints, much like his.  He follows the paw prints until he finds another white bunny, bright-eyed and white, just like him.  He forgets all about his search for Easter.  All he wanted was another rabbit for company.

The two rabbits are very happy together, and as you see in the picture below, they start a whole family of rabbits.  The old owl has the last word.  "Aha!  Didn't I tell you?  At Eastertime there are always rabbits."

In the end, the book isn't so much about Easter, but about spring and the renewal of nature.  The book ends with the following:
The bunny felt his little bunnies around him and the earth blooming beyond them, and all things growing.  And he understood at last that Easter was not a place after all, but a time when everything lovely begins once again.
I will have more vintage Easter goodies to share tomorrow! 

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The World in the Candy Egg

The World in the Candy Egg by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin.
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., Inc., 1967.

Easter is less than a week away.  A Holy Week away, to be exact.  While the week leading up to Easter is more solemn, I wanted to devote a few days to some books I plan on breaking out on Sunday!

First, I have a delicate, vintage copy of The World in the Candy Egg by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by one of my very favorite illustrators, Roger Duvoisin.  I first saw this book on Once Upon A Bookshelf and knew we needed our own copy.

Mine is a forlorn library discard, complete with stamps dated between 1968 and 1973.  This is the cloth cover under the jacket.

The premise is simple.  There is a candy egg in a toy shop, and inside the egg is a magical world.  Each animal and a doll take their turns peeking inside, but the world of the egg belongs to a little girl.

And let's show a little love for the endpapers, shall we?

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Weekend

And how was your weekend?  Here in south-central Kansas, our weekend was lovely.  Friday was warm and sunny, albeit a bit windy.  We headed straight to a big old park right in the Riverside neighborhood after school.

The city replaced all the cool old playground equipment at all the parks.  This poor, closed-up, slideless rocket is all that remains, a ghost of fun and scary playtimes past.

Saturday morning, Little Sis and I drove back to Riverside, where we met her Daisy Scout troop at Botanica.  Everything was in beautiful bloom, maybe even more so than last week.

After we ate lunch at home, we headed back to Riverside to visit the Keeper of the Plains.  Big Sis brought her camera, Little Sis brought her sketch pad.  We walked, we clicked, we drew.  We even witnessed a wedding, which was happening at the Keeper's feet as we were walking back across the bridge!

We were so overheated after our walk - it was almost 90 degrees outside! - that the girls came home and ran in the sprinkler for a while.  Sunday morning, we attended a lovely Palm Sunday service at church, then the girls ran home and played in the sprinkler again.  As they changed clothes for lunch, a storm rolled into town.  The temperature dropped.  We went to a birthday party.  The temperature dropped again.  We went to see a super live production of Into The Woods downtown.  It was getting very cold.

This was the view out my front door this morning.  Ah, Kansas.  If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.  It will change.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Emily Dickinson In Picture Books

While gathering books from the library for Women's History Month, I came across two picture books about poet Emily Dickinson.  I had so many books to cover for WHM already, but I decided to wait until April to read these with the girls.  After all, what is National Poetry Month without a little Emily Dickinson?

My Uncle Emily by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.
Philomel, 2009.

We checked My Uncle Emily out before, but the girls were small enough that they don't remember.  Since that time, the book appears to have gone out of print, which is such a shame.  Jane Yolen is such a wonderful writer, and she takes a small amount of known information about her subject and imagines a day in the life of Dickinson and her young nephew.

Thomas Gilbert Dickinson, called Gib, lived with his family next door to the Dickinsons in Amherst.  He and his "Uncle" Emily were especially close.

In real life, it is known that Emily gave Gib a poem and a dead bee to take to his teacher at school.  Emily Dickinson was already very reclusive, but she was popular with children.  She would often lower a basketful of gingerbread from her bedroom window for the neighborhood kids.

Yolen imagines a scenario in which another boy picks a fight with Gib over Emily and her strangeness.  Both boys wind up in trouble and are punished.  However, when the time comes to write "thank you" notes to Emily, the naughty boy's note, written in verse, is one of the best of the bunch.

Gib tells his older brother about the incident.  He warns Gib not to tell Uncle Emily, as it might spoil the day. Instead, Gib recounts the day as a success, leaving out the fight.  Emily knows Gibb too well, though, and asks him to tell her what else happened that day.  Gibb runs outside in tears.  Later, Emily finds him, and presents him with one of her most famous poems.

I remember that the first time I checked out this book, it was to see more of Nancy Carpenter's work.  As you can tell from these pictures, she is a fabulous illustrator of picture books - one of my favorites.  In the author's notes, we discover that young Gib died of typhoid only two years after bringing the bee poem to school.  You can read more about Jane Yolen's writing of the book here.

Emily and Carlo by Marty Rhodes Figley, illustrated by Catherine Stock.
Charlesbridge, 2011.
 Another beloved companion of Emily Dickinson was her dog, a Newfoundland named Carlo, after a dog in Jane Eyre.  

Emily and Carlo tells how Emily Dickinson was happy to spend her days at home, writing poetry.  When she was 19, however, the house seemed very empty.  Her sister went away to school, while her brother was busy at college.  Her father presented her with a large puppy to keep her company.

The book quotes letters and poems Emily wrote, referring to her beloved pet.  With Carlo, Emily found the courage to go into town and take walks in the countryside.

Gib and his older siblings make an appearance in the story.  When Emily's brother married, he built his grand house, The Evergreens, next door to the Dickinson family home.  Carlo loved to play with the children.

When the pair stayed at home, she would write poems, such as this one.

Emily and Carlo were only separated when Emily had to go away to see a doctor for her eyes.  She did not want Carlo to be confined in the small room where she knew she'd be staying.

Eventually, the inevitable happened.  Carlo grew old and slow, and eventually, he died.

Emily Dickinson never had another dog.  She seldom left her house now, but the memory of Carlo and their explorations lingered in her poetry.

Emily and Carlo is a touching story about the love of a pet, and the use of Dickinson's own words is lovely. Let's not forget to give a shout-out to the artist, too!  Catherine Stock, who also illustrated The Daring Miss Quimby (featured here last month), is marvelous.

For more on Emily Dickinson, visit the Emily Dickinson Museum website.  You can also find her poetry on, the website for the Academy of American Poets.

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