I don't know why I keep putting off writing about this book. Perhaps it's just that my connection to it is so painful and personal.
I don't know why I keep putting off writing about this book. Perhaps it's just that my connection to it is so painful and personal.
footpath winds through green and shady meadows to the foot of
the mountains, which on this side look down from their stern and
lofty heights upon the valley below. The land grows gradually
wilder as the path ascends, and the climber has not gone far
before he begins to inhale the fragrance of the short grass and
sturdy mountain-plants, for the way is steep and leads directly
up to the summits above." (Heidi, chapter 1)
Since I skipped posting yesterday, I thought I would concentrate today on the series with the most number of sequels in my collection. I have 14 of them, and there are others that I don't have. And they're not really sequels either, after the first couple ... just additional stories in the Redwall Universe.
"Opposite the school was a big, wide court. Shaded with beautiful trees—maples beginning to flame, horse-chestnuts a little browned, it was lined with wooden toy houses, set back of fenced-in yards and veiled by climbing vines. Pigeons were flying about, alighting now and then to peck at the ground or to preen their green and purple necks. Boys were spinning tops. Girls were jumping rope. The dust they kicked up had a sweet, earthy smell in Maida’s nostrils. As she stared, charmed with the picture, a little girl in a scarlet cape and a scarlet hat came climbing up over one of the fences. Quick, active as a squirrel, she disappeared into the next yard.
“Primrose Court!” Dr. Pierce exclaimed. “Well, well, well!”
“Primrose Court,” Maida repeated. “Do primroses grow there?”
“Bless your heart, no,” Dr. Pierce laughed; “it was named after a man called Primrose who used to own a great deal of the neighborhood.”
But Maida was scarcely listening. “Oh, what a cunning little shop!” she exclaimed. “There, opposite the court. What a perfectly darling little place!”
“Good Lord! that’s Connors’,” Dr. Pierce explained. “Many a reckless penny I’ve squandered there, my dear. Connors was the funniest, old, bent, dried-up man. I wonder who keeps it now.”" (page 21)
Slake's Limbo by Felice Holman (1974)
"The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day--a day to
be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste.
Every floor must be spotless, every chair dustless, and every bed
without a wrinkle. Ninety-seven squirming little orphans must be
scrubbed and combed and buttoned into freshly starched ginghams; and
all ninety-seven reminded of their manners, and told to say, 'Yes,
sir,' 'No, sir,' whenever a Trustee spoke.
It was a distressing time; and poor Jerusha Abbott, being the oldest
orphan, had to bear the brunt of it. But this particular first
Wednesday, like its predecessors, finally dragged itself to a close.
Jerusha escaped from the pantry where she had been making sandwiches
for the asylum's guests, and turned upstairs to accomplish her regular
work. Her special care was room F, where eleven little tots, from four
to seven, occupied eleven little cots set in a row. Jerusha assembled
her charges, straightened their rumpled frocks, wiped their noses, and
started them in an orderly and willing line towards the dining-room to
engage themselves for a blessed half hour with bread and milk and prune
pudding." (and so the book begins...)
book can be found, full text at: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/157
Elaine and Mary are two very similar little girls. They both get abandoned by their parents and sent to live at a distance from their home with strangers. They are both quite spoiled and used to having everything done for them. But in their new surroundings they both blossom under the influence of nature and an active outdoor life.
The Secret Garden, full text:http://www.gutenberg.org/files/113/113-
"The little old kitchen had quieted down from the bustle and confusion of mid-day; and now, with its afternoon manners on, presented a holiday aspect, that as the principal room in the brown house, it was eminently proper it should have. It was just on the edge of the twilight; and the little Peppers, all except Ben, the oldest of the flock, were enjoying a "breathing spell," as their mother called it, which meant some quiet work suitable for the hour. All the "breathing spell" they could remember however, poor things; for times were always hard with them nowadays; and since the father died, when Phronsie was a baby, Mrs. Pepper had had hard work to scrape together money enough to put bread into her children's mouths, and to pay the rent of the little brown house." (page 7)
Unlike a lot of these books I've been reminiscing about, I remember exactly where I was when I discovered it. I was upstairs playing with some boys who were the children of friends of my parents. The parents were all downstairs playing penny poker. I remember finding "Five Little Peppers..." on one of the boy's bedroom shelves, and another book obsession was born! (And I still have that book... so I guess I took to book thievery early on...)
There are actually twelve "Little Pepper" books. I've read maybe half of them. (Interlibrary loan is a wonderful thing.)
The five little Pepper children (Ben, Polly, Joel, David, and Phronsie) live in a little brown house with their widowed mother who takes in sewing to make the ends meet. Things are pretty bleak for this family, monetarily at least, but the kids are all determined to do what they can "to help Mother."
Eventually they meet a bored little rich boy by the name of Jasper, and things go the way they often do in children's books when rich old people meet charming poor kids. (Looking at the books on my shelf I seem to have a thing for books like this...) But Jasper and his crotchety Father are soon brought around to the Peppers more positive outlook on life. These are kids who can take flour and water and raisins and make the creation of cookies into an event.
Perhaps I am just a sucker for a happy ending (with a few surprise twists) but these are books I have re-re-re-re-read. Before my own house got painted grey, it was known as The Little Brown House ... and I have a somewhat unreasonable attraction to one of the most obnoxious little girls names of all time -- Sophronia. (It's Greek for 'of wise and prudent mind.' How can you not love that?)
And of course [small spoiler] by book five or so, the baddest of the boys decided to become a Minister. And then he saves some people from drowning when the ship he is on catches fire. Whee!!!
Anyway... as with all these books of that era, it gets a little preachy about being good little boys and girls... but these kids are so damn cute that I just don't care!!
Links to info and some volumes full text:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
"What's the toll for covered wagons, Jack?" he called over his shoulder..." (pages 27-28)
Patriotism runs through this on several fronts ... Mike's son joins the Canadian Air Force in the early days of WWII to try and keep the enemy from the shores of his adopted country, the Preston family joins the Farm Bureau and raises crops and beef for the government, and when the attack on Pearl Harbor does come, they all band together to provide what they can for the war effort.
A great read, and actually really still quite relevant to today's issues...
"Two women in gingham dresses and white aprons came out of the house. One was old and one might be called young, just like Aunt Harriet and Aunt Frances. But they looked very different from those aunts. The dark-haired one was very tall and strong-looking, and the white-haired one was very rosy and fat. They both looked up at the little, thin, white-faced girl on the high seat, and smiled. "Well, Father, you got her I see," said the brown-haired one. She stepped up to the wagon and held up her arms to the child. "Come on, Betsy, and get some supper," she said, as though Elizabeth Ann had lived there all her life and had just driven into town and back.
And that was the arrival of Elizabeth Ann at the Putney Farm." (page 37)
Elizabeth Ann is a very indulged little girl living with two very uptight city Aunts. When one of the Aunts gets sick, she is sent off to live with her country relatives. Her journey from timid Elizabeth Ann to capable Betsy has always been one of my favorite stories.
She has heard nothing good about these rustic relatives from her city relations, but on her arrival she is simply wrapped into the daily life on the farm and finds, eventually, that the world isn't as scary as she was previously taught.
Coming from a lifeless city apartment, and after making a solitary train trip, Betsy finds herself in a warm farmhouse kitchen, stirring applesauce for the dinner, and being handed a kitten to cuddle.
And sign me up for any family in which dinner consists of all you can eat pancakes!!
"Fritz, enterprising and adventurous, persisted in his idea of swimming to land. Ernest, my second son, aged twelve years, intelligent, but timid and indolent, was frightened at the idea of such a venture, and proposed constructing a raft. I shewed him that such a conveyance, besides the time necessary to construct it, was very difficult to guide. These two considerations made him abandon his opinion almost immediately. "Now, my children," said I, "let us explore the vessel; and while reflecting on the means of gaining the shore, let us gather together on the deck everything which may be useful to us on shore." (page 4)
So I wonder when it was I first figured out that this was a book about a family from Switzerland. Probably about the time I figured out that the copy of this book I had been reading for years was an abridged version. I do remember being really pissed off at the nerve "those people" had to cut up a story!
A family of five is shipwrecked on an island, and the ship that they are on just happens to be provisioned to start a new colony in the South Seas. They take the skills they were going to use to build that home and create a new life on this deserted island.
I was always hooked on the ability they had to re-create nearly everything they needed... and let's face it... who doesn't want the adventure of running away to a desert island once in a while. And when you can have pet ostriches to ride??? Bonus!!
The language, and the religious bent never bothered me, but it's not the most accessible book in those areas... but still a great read!!
full text linked off this page: http://books.google.com/books?id=
I always wanted a large group of friends like these who would gather together and have frolics -- whether it was Christmas festivities, a candy scrape, making May Day baskets, participating in the local agricultural fair, amateur theatrics, picking apples, or sledding together -- jolly times were had!
I could use some jolly friends today... I might just have to curl up in front of the fire and re-read this book!
"A solitary figure escapes the huddle. She chugs over to the curb and mounts it to the sidewalk. She stands there and shows what a strange little figure she is, different from the rest. She wears a pongee pinafore, buttoned down the back and with long sleeves. She wears a navy-blue sailor hat with ribbons down the back, held under her chin with an elastic band. She wears ribbed black stockings and high black laced shoes with stubby toes, badly barked.
I know her in an instant; although I had forgotten all about her for years, had forgotten she ever existed. It gives me a shock to see her, looking so exactly like she should look, so everlastingly full of life and still on roller skates." (from, An Introduction to Lucinda, page 4)
Set in New York City in the 1890s, this is the story of ten year old Lucinda whose parents leave her with the two Misses Peters (Miss Peters and Miss Nettie, for of course they are very proper) for a year while they go abroad. Armed with a pair of roller skates and a knack for making friends, Lucinda has Manhattan in the palm of her hand by the time of her parent's return.
I just looked up "pongee" as I have always wondered what kind of fabric that was, and I don't think it was an accidental choice by the author.
"Woven from one's own loom" is actually a pretty good metaphor for little Lucinda. Clearly she is from a family with some money. She goes to a good private girl's school, and her parents can afford that year abroad after all. But she is clearly the black sheep of the family, and her tenth year is when she learns to value her uniqueness.
She befriends Tony, the son of an Italian immigrant who sells fruit from a cart on the street. They roast potatoes in tin cans in the park, and create a puppet theater version of "The Tempest" with costumes made from old kid gloves, and cornmeal for sand.
It's an odd "children's" book. With references to Latin grammar, English Spode china, and Jay Gould, not to mention a couple doses of sorrow, sickness, and death. But I like it all the more for that. It doesn't pull any punches, and you really feel like Lucinda has seen the good and the bad in life during her year of relative freedom.
When I was ten, we moved into a big old Victorian house in a new town. I know Lucinda coped better than I did. But I was shy and she was not. But even 100 odd years later, I understood the struggles of being told you "must not" do this and that.
Long before "American Girl" was a brand name... there was Lucinda and her roller skates...and I am glad that I know her...
...but in the end, are really just stories about bunnies made up by a guy who was trying to keep his daughters occupied on long car (or should I say hrududu) trips.
"The Fossil sisters lived in the Cromwell Road. At that end of it which is farthest away from the Brompton Road, and yet sufficiently near it so one could be taken to look at the dolls' houses in the Victoria and Albert every wet day. If the weather were not too wet, one was expected to "save the penny and walk." (page 7)
When I was seven or eight or so, my Mom signed me up for a series of ballet lessons. There was a little studio above the local movie theater. Every Wednesday night I got poured into some pink tights and shipped off to class. I don't remember much about the classes themselves. I remember we had a recital at the end of the year, and our music had something to do with weddings as I remember having lace sewed onto my leotard.
The theory was to take an awkward tomboy girl and turn her into a graceful swan. (Future tap and gymnastics lessons went along the same lines). But I didn't have it in me to practice enough to make it more than a passing fancy. Plus, those damn tights itched!
But I liked the idea of being a ballerina ... and Ballet Shoes is a book I've read over and over again.
( Read more... )
"If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling's whole life would have been entirely different. She would have gone, with the rest of her clan, to Aunt Wellington's engagement picnic and Dr. Trent would have gone to Montreal. But it did rain and you shall hear what happened to her because of it."
( find out more here... )