Choo-Choo by Virginia Lee Burton. (She’s one of Huck’s favorite author/illustrators, going by how often he requests her books.)
Freight Train by Donald Crews. (You may detect a theme.)
Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. (Chapter 1, to Rilla. I remember riding my bike to three different library branches in search of this book—not all on the same day—because I’d read it and loved it so, and couldn’t remember the author’s name later, only that it began with B. Today it would take my mom ten seconds on the library website to locate a copy. Back then it meant a bona fide, muscle-burning quest, and all in vain. I couldn’t find it. Years later, when I took a job at HarperCollins, I discovered that it was a Harper book, still in print. And yet somehow I didn’t reread it. This go-round with Rilla will be my first time in decades. I’m eager to see if it holds up to the glowing memories I have of that first reading so long ago. Minikin, nicknamed Minx! I got goosebumps. It’s out of print again, I see: pity.)
Speaking of Little Witches, it’s time to put another round of Dorrie books on hold at the library. One, two, three, ten…there, I’m done, no bicycle required.
Karen Edmisten made my day with a delightful account of a Prairie Thief luncheon held by her daughter’s book club. Potato chowder, dried berry scones, a bucket of hazelnuts (brilliant!), and brownies, of course. They even brewed some horseradish tea, which demonstrates an impressive degree of commitment. Thanks, Karen, for that wonderful post.
This morning we discovered that the passionflower vine I planted ages ago had snaked its way halfway across the butterfly garden. We untangled the wandering tendrils and tied them up along the back fence. I have every suspicion that it is out there right now, busily untying itself, and I’ll find it embracing the hibiscus bush tomorrow.
Rilla isn’t sure she likes the look of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. “Hmm.” She eyes it skeptically. “It doesn’t really look Intresting.”
“I think you’ll like it,” I say. “It’s about a big city growing up around this little pink house.”
Pink is the key word in that sentence. She’ll give almost anything a chance, if there’s pink involved.
“Hot pink,” she murmurs approvingly, studying the cover. There is no higher praise.
“Let’s give it a try,” I suggest. “We can read something else afterward.”
She has a laugh her sisters call the Evil Chipmunk. “Of course! It’s my favorite book.”
Huck climbs half on top of me and begins to count the trees around the little pink house. He’s very into counting, these days.
I love quiet books like The Little House, the kind that tiptoe their way into a child’s heart. The house is built, the countryside blooms, the seasons change. The sun arcs across the page and this must be pored over, wait, Mommy, don’t turn the page yet. And then the next spread, the calendar of moons. We must pause while Rilla touches each crescent and disk, naming the days. The road comes rolling out from the distant city; that’s Huck’s page to study. Steam shovel, big rocks, little rocks, tar, steamroller. He could stay there all day. But the city is encroaching, surrounding, swallowing the little pink house, and Rilla has picked up the urgency. We have to read quickly now; she needs to know. Trolley line, elevated train, subway, skyscrapers, you can hardly see the poor house.
It’s magical, you know, when the movers come to carry it away. A house on the back of a truck! Both children are astounded at this marvel. They’d have taken unicorns and dragons in stride, but a house riding along the road to a new hill in the countryside: clearly this is a wonder of the world.
Later, when Huck is napping, Rilla pounces on me, brandishing the book. The pink house winks from the cover.
“Yes. It’s my favorite book.”