Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


illustrated by Louis S. Glanzman
One of my all-time favorite chapter books as a young girl, had to be PIPPI LONGSTOCKING (published in 1945).  Have you ever met her?  She is the strongest girl in the world, has bright red hair done up in braids that stick straight out on each side, wears odd stockings with men's shoes, and lives all alone in a wacky house ("Villa Villekulla") with her horse and a monkey named "Mr. Nilsson".  She is completely independent and does things in her own, unique way:  she sleeps with her feet on her pillow and her head under the covers, she makes cookies on the floor, and takes on burglars single-handedly.   Her mother died when she was a baby, and her father was lost at sea.  She befriends her neighbors, Annika and Tommy, and they share many adventures with her.  (PIPPI GOES ON BOARD (1946); PIPPI IN THE SOUTH SEAS (1948).   (Please don't waste your time on any of the adapted films - some things are just better left to the imagination!)
Illustration by Nancy Seligohn

Another series of books written by Astrid Lindgren is THE CHILDREN OF NOISY VILLAGE.  Think of Laura Ingalls Wilder's LITTLE HOUSE books, only set in Sweden.  Charming stories of a simpler time.  These delightful tales include CHRISTMAS IN NOISY VILLAGE and HAPPY TIMES IN NOISY VILLAGE, with quaint illustrations by Ilon Wikland.  There are three Swedish farm houses that make up "Noisy Village", named so because of how many children inhabit these homes!.  The story is told in first person by 9 year-old Lisa about the mischievous adventures of the children.  All the adventures are innocent and full of fun, and will be enjoyed by boys and girls alike.

A third set of books by Astrid Lindgren that I'd like to mention is THE TOMTEN and its companion story, THE TOMTEN AND THE FOX.  These two gorgeously illustrated picture books were favorites of my youngest son.  The setting is a quiet farmstead, deep in the forest:  "Here is a lonely old farm, where everyone is sleeping.  All but one..." a  little dwarf-like creature (think of a gnome*) from Swedish folklore, called a "Tomten" who guards the farm.  No one has ever seen him, but sometimes his little footprints are visible in the snow.  He checks on all the barnyard animals and talks to them in Tomten language (a silent little language they can understand).  He tiptoes to the house and peeks in on the sleeping children before going back to his cozy corner of the hayloft, where he dreams of the coming summer.

The second story is much the same with it's moonlit scenes - as the Tomten sees a fox, Reynard, who is prowling around the hen house.  He shares his porridge with the hungry fox and the chickens are kept safe... for another night.  The restful watercolor illustrations were done by Harald Wiberg.

* THE GNOME CRAFT BOOK The Gnome Craft Book includes instructions for making Astrid Lindgren’s classic gnome, the Tomten. 
"Childhood is not age, but a state of mind".  Astrid Lindgren

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