Rilla and I were quite surprised to find ourselves and Huck in the opening pages of this book. I mean, really, it’s like Matt Phelan was peeking in the window. A charming story, quite appealing to the four-year-old big sister in this household. (She wouldn’t let Huck blow away either.) Flora is frustrated when baby brother Crispin gets into the paints and ruins Flora’s picture. Their frazzled mama sends them outside to play, despite Flora’s protests that the wind is too strong and will blow them away. Sure enough, a hearty gust scoops Crispin into the sky, and Flora must abandon her boots and go rescue him. Seems every high-flying creature in the big blue and beyond wants to claim Crispin—who is, admittedly, utterly irresistible in that long-tasseled hat—for a helper. Dragonfly, sparrow, eagle, rainbow, cloud, even the moon! Flora’s exchanges with these entities quite enchanted my Rilla. And my goodness, Matt Phelan’s art just blew me away.
Flora & Crispin will join Max & Ruby and Maggie B. & James in the company of great big sister-little brother pairs in children’s literature.
Serendipitously, we picked up this book for the first time on the very day that Rilla discovered two pairs of rainboots in the hall closet. Pink and blue, not red and purple, but still.
(A Cybils Shortlist Reading Challenge book)
When all is said and done, “She went boneless” is going to go down as one of the great lines of American literature.
• Christina Katerina and the Box by Patricia Gauch, illustrated by Doris Burn
One of my own childhood favorites. Now a Rilla fave, requested every couple of weeks. (I’ve mentioned it before, here and here.) (I’m back this morning to add another little bit of squee over this book. The art especially, which has just as much hold over my heart now as it did when I was small. The expressions on Christina’s face, and her mother’s! The magic of her bright imagination, which rebounds from every disaster! The ball in the summer mansion was always my favorite bit.
• Count! by Denise Fleming
Number books may be the delight of the toddler, but they can be dull business for the parent forced to flip their pages infinity times. Not so with Fleming’s Count. The bold, bright paintstrokes of the art bring to life a menagerie of mischievous animals whose questionable manners delight my children and amuse their mother. The (4) crocodiles bite each other’s tails. The instruction on the toucan page may be “Share” but you just know the bird with the berry ain’t gonna. It takes a master to pull off a simple concept book with this much energy and appeal.
• Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, pictures by Betsy Lewin
Me: “Honey, what would you say about Click, Clack, Moo?”
Scott: “What would you say about Click, Clack, Moo?! Sheer storybook perfection! Sheesh!”
• If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by the great Felicia Bond
Oh, Mouse-cookie, you have made the world a better place.
• A Mouse in My House by Nancy Van Laan
This little gem has a pub date of 1996, the year after Jane was born, so I’m betting it was a present to us from one of our publishing-world pals, and a very fine gift it was indeed. Another gathering of impish critters—ape, lion, snake, and more—wreak delightful havoc on a gentle home through the course of a day. Sort of. Our guide is a young boy who describes the beasts in galloping rhyme, and his insider’s understanding of their antics begins to look mighty suspicious….My little people, who (like the narrator) spend much of their time as cats and other creatures, consider this kid a kindred spirit. I think this book is out of print, but maybe you’ll luck out and find it in the library.