We Help Mommy

bobby-and-martha2There is no question that I love finding new books for my kids and me to enjoy for the first time together. However, as fun as that is, it can’t compare to watching them fall in love with a book I also loved as a child. And in the case of the Little Golden Books, We Help Mommy ranks as one of  my top five favorites. Fortunately, my sweet son and daughters love it too!

Written by Jean Cushman and illustrated by the great Eloise Wilkin, this precious story follows young Bobby and Martha through a day at home with Mommy, showing how they help her with shopping, housework, and cleaning from the time they wake up until it’s time to go to bed at night. The brother and sister sweetly set the table, put away cookies, dust the furniture, watch the clothes swirl around in the washing machine, pick up their toys, and more. It’s a normal day for these two young ones at home, lacking any unusual happenings, and yet there’s something so very special about their love and care toward Mommy and Daddy and each other that the missing excitement isn’t even noticed. The story itself is simple and sweet, but the artwork is breathtaking and truly makes the book worthwhile.

Times may have changed somewhat since this classic book was originally published, but Ms. Wilkin’s illustrations of fresh-faced children are as lovely today as they were fifty years ago. Her pictures of the everyday doings of a family at home are cozy and warm, drawing readers in to the peaceful scenes. I honestly can’t think of another children’s illustrator whose work I like more.

If your kids are anything like mine, they are eager to be a help to you all day every day. I’m quite sure they too will enjoy this book (also available in this collection of stories illustrated by Eloise Wilkin).

Did You Carry the Flag Today, Charley?

512zx4ec4l-_sy291_bo1204203200_ql40_Did You Carry The Flag Today, Charley? is another Rebecca Caudill favorite in our home. It’s another story about a poor family living in the Appalachian Mountains. Five-year-old Charley is unendingly curious and in constant motion, traits that combine to make him a bit different than the other students at Little School. It’s Charley’s first time to go to school, and every day he discovers something new that amazes his eager mind. Unfortunately, his discoveries don’t exactly help him to be a calm, quiet pupil. Instead, Charley is outside when he’s supposed to be inside, washing his hands when he’s supposed to remain dry, wiggly and distracting when he’s supposed to be still and unobtrusive. In a word, Charley is charming. He’s a little guy out in the world for the first time, and his excitement over everything he sees is contagious. How my girls giggled as we read about all of silly Charley’s antics!

Every day, the most helpful student is honored by being the one to carry the flag as he leads the other students out to the bus. Every day, Charley’s family ask if he was the one who carried the flag. And poor Charley replies in the negative day after day. Finally, though, on a truly extraordinary day, Charley’s answer is decidedly different!

The illustrations accompanying the story are skillful pencil drawings made by Nancy Grossman. They offer a lovely visual for little ones, and beautifully communicate Charley’s nonstop energy and excitement. They really do complement the story in a wonderful way.

Boys and girls alike will enjoy this tale tremendously. I look forward to reading it again to my own children before too long!

Happy Little Family

51qrvxloirl-_ac_ul320_sr208320_I love finding books for my kids that model a kind, loving family life for them. So many children’s books seem to rely on the stereotype of ridiculous parents, fighting siblings, and an “it’s all about me” kind of attitude. When I do find a nicely written story about a family who loves each other and takes care of one another, in spite of their faults, I am eager to share it with my children in the hopes of encouraging right attitudes and expectations for our own little family.

Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill is such a book. Here we first meet the Fairchild family, consisting of hard-working, loving Father and Mother and five children: Althy, Chris, Emmy, Debby, and Bonnie. The main character is little Bonnie, just four years old and so hopeful of being included in all that her big brother and sisters do as they enjoy everyday life on their farm in the hills of Kentucky.  Together the family experiences the joys and struggles of hill country life, from finding arrowheads in the dirt to searching the woods for lost Bonnie. My daughters were only four years old when I first read this book aloud them, but even at such a young age they were very excited each day to find out what was going to happen next to the little family. I will warn you that the chapters are a bit long for such small listeners, so you might consider reading just half a chapter at each sitting in order to keep little ears more attentive.

Another wonderful aspect of this book is the wealth of eye-catching illustrations frequently found between its pages. Decie Merwin’s simple black and white drawings bring alive the settings and experiences of days gone by.

If you’re ever looking for a good book that focuses on the activities of a sweet, loving family, be sure to check out Happy Little Family! I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

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Dance at Grandpa’s

1309727-_uy200_One of my all-time favorite series of books is the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Because of those remarkable stories of American pioneer life, I grew up longing for nothing less than a little house on a happy farm filled with people I love. And I always held a great desire to someday churn my own butter! I’ve been waiting for my girls to be old enough to enjoy those dear books as well, but before they were I stumbled across this beautiful set of stories that are perfectly adapted from the classic novels for a younger audience. They’re called My First Little House Books, and the stories are just the right length and level of difficulty for young pre-readers to enjoy hearing aloud, or for young readers to enjoy reading all by themselves. The wonderful sweetness of the original tales comes through in this adaptation beautifully, and my daughters have thoroughly enjoyed every one we’ve been able to locate thus far.

Dance at Grandpa’s was the first of the books that I purchased, and it tells the story of a winter time party held at Grandpa and Grandma’s house in the Big Woods. Neighbors gather for a delicious meal, music, and dancing, and the little Ingalls girls enjoy playing with other children who they don’t get to see very often. The book is simple, sweet, and a delight to read.

Illustrator Renee Graef provided lovely, full-color artwork for the books that imitates the well-known style of Garth Williams in a charming way, providing even more connection between the original novels and these delightful picture books. I’m so thrilled to be able to share with my children such wonderful stories from my own childhood in a way they can fully appreciate while not quite ready for the full chapter books. I’m sure your family will enjoy them too!