3

Rasmus and the Vagabond

rasmus and the vagabond

Poor Poor Rasmus.  If only he had curly hair and better yet- was a little girl instead of a boy with straight hair. Surely if he was, the nice families would come and adopt him from the orphanage, Right?  While the older boys try to tell Rasmus to stop hoping for a family, he simply can’t give up the dream and settle into the orphanage life, which is all he has ever known.  Rasmus is a pretty good boy, but he just cannot take the orphanage anymore and he runs away wishing for freedom and hopefully a family.  It turns out, freedom is scary when you are a little kid in a dark, cold and foodless world.  Oh, he forgot about hunger! And Man, is he cold!  Thankfully our little friend bumps into the friendly Oscar not too long into his newfound independence.  A disheveled, friendly man who declares himself to be God’s best friend.

Together Rasmus and Oscar travel the countryside in search of food.  They sing for their supper (Oscar is a wonderful accordion player how can earn decent money when he tries) and do various chores to get by.  The country setting makes me want to get out of the city immediately and go for a stroll down some dirt road and just enjoy the world for a bit.  In fact, I was jealous of it all if I am honest and can see why Oscar chose to be a wandering bum.  The world isn’t all rosy for our friends.  The police suspect them of stealing all the time, and they bump into two very bad men.  I do not want to wreck the surprise or storyline, but this isn’t just a cute story about a friendship between a lonely boy and a nice man.  There’s action in it to keep the kids entertained.  Action with guns, and rolling fist fights, Jail-time and secret hideouts.

For a book written in 1956, Rasmus and the Vagabond sure is a timeless and wonderful read.  Astrid Lindgren does a fantastic job writing books that kids and adults both love.  There was emotion that made me want to hug poor little Rasmus and his fantasy of a mom to hug him when he is sick, and action enough that kept me reading late into the night to see what was going to happen. When I closed the book… I literally sighed a happy sigh and went to sleep with a big silly smile on my face. I thought I knew how it would end, but I didn’t guess correctly! I have read a number of Lindgren books, and this one is my favorite so far.  I am so glad that Plough Publishing re-released this story (using the same illustration as the older hardback versions) the book world is a better place because of it.  New York Book Review is releasing two other Lindgren books in May that I am eagerly awaiting so I can read them too. Mio My Son, and Seacrow Island so be on the lookout for those too.  It has gotten to the point where I don’t have to know what the book is about, if Astrid Lindgren wrote it, I’m going to read it.  I know it’s early in the year still, but for now Rasmus and the Vagabond is my favorite read of 2015.  I received a copy of this book for review and its going on my favorites shelf to read to my girls when they can handle chapter books.

  • Author: Astrid Lindgren
  • Illustrator: Eric Palmquist
  • ISBN: 978-0874865974
  • Publisher: Plough Publishing House
  • Copyright: 2015 first published 1956

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Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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1

The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards

I couldn’t resist one more St. Patrick’s day book review even though it will be too late for anyone to check it out in time for the big day itself.  This one is more touching than most I have read so the happy good morale should make it worth the read for most parents.

The Leprechaun's Gold -Pamela Duncan Edwards

The Leprechaun’s Gold -Pamela Duncan Edwards

Summary

The Leprechaun's Gold - 0439754526

The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards, Scholastic Inc. 0439754526

This story begins long ago in a small village where we find a smiling old man name Pat.  He was a harpist, and a good one at that!  Pat is humble and kind and willing to play his music for all kinds of events whether the people can pay him or not.  Well, young Tom, who was trained in the art by old Pat thinks the man is crazy for not making more money from his skills.  Old Pat says “I am rich in friends, and that is enough.”  well, one day the king holds a harping contest (you know, because they had a lot of those back in olden days of course)  and our two friends decide to give it a go.  Mean young Tom decides that old Pat just might beat him and breaks a string on his harp when he isn’t looking.   Poor poor old Pat has no extras, he can’t afford them!  He knows he won’t be able to win the contest now, but is going to give it a try anyway.

By this time, the wood is dark and as everyone knows, there are Leprechauns lurking there ready to play tricks on people for mean sport.  Suddenly our musicians hear a cry for help.  Unable to ignore the plea, old Pat goes to help the poor soul while Tom high-tails it out of there to safety.   Good thing for Pat, Leprechauns are nice if you help them out of a jam. Especially when you are as humble and kind as Pat was.  Just wait and see how that little Leprechaun decides to return the favor to our generous friend!

Review

The Leprechaun's Gold - 0439754526

The Leprechaun’s Gold – Pamela Duncan Edwards Scholastic inc.

The pictures are thoughtfully done and most pages have an intricate border around them.  There are 16 four leaf clovers hidden in this book for kids to find.  You won’t find any beautiful maidens or even cute furry animals in this one- so I think my daughters weren’t as excited about it as they might have been… but, as the mother, I get to pick the books we read sometimes and the story is so great, that I would force-feed it to my daughters if I had to.  (I mean, I don’t mind drawings of kind old men, but it’s not a super draw for my girls just yet… sigh!)  This is one of those stories that you hope is true; that good wins and kindness matters.  So, while I haven’t had to make my girls finish this story with me, they also haven’t asked me to read it on their own. Which kind of makes me sad, but I will keep trying. Repeat after me… Kindness matters more than princesses!

  • Author: Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Illustrator:Henry Cole
  • ISBN:0439754526
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Copyright: 2005

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0

Jamie O’Rourke and The Big Potato – Tomie DePaola

Tomie DePaola and PaperStar publishing

Tomie DePaola and PaperStar publishing

Happy St. Patrick’s day everyone!  Who wants to learn about Leprechauns?  Well, I don’t actually know much about them, but this is a super cute story with Leprechauns, pots of gold and… potatoes.   Surprisingly, in my hunt for a good St. Patrick’s day book, I didn’t find one with a rainbow and a pot of gold in it.  So if you have some suggestions, please let me know in the comments below.  While Jamie O’Rourke is not a definitive work on the wee little men, it does give you a hint of their craftiness and fun.

Summary

jamie o'rourke  Tomie DePaola

Jamie O’Rourke happens to be the laziest man that ever lived (in Ireland at least) Thankfully, he is married to a woman who is willing to work when her husband will not.  Eileen, hurts her back pulling up their potatoes and so poor old Jamie becomes scared that they will starve that winter.  Does he go out to the garden to get the potatoes for his family since his wife no longer can?  No!  He decides that he better go to the priest for one last confession before he starves to death!

Old Jamie comes to this conclusion at midnight and doesn’t want to wait (or work) so he heads out then and there to Father O’Malley’s. On the way he finds a Leprechaun making shoes for the fairy folk (that’s how they have all that gold you know)  and he catches the little man, demanding his gold. This Leprechaun was cleverer than most, and tells Jamie he only has a few gold coins because he is new to making shoes.  He offers our friend a wish instead, and coaxes him into wishing for the biggest potato (Pratie) in the world, all with no work.  Jamie decides that no work for a big potato is a great trade and he lets the little man go.

Jamie O'rourke  and the Big Potato PlantNow, I would love to tell you that Jamie learns his lesson, works hard for the giant potato and all of that, but that simply is not the case.  He is as lazy as ever!  He plants that seed and soon has a ginormous potato plant in his yard.  It is such a spectacle that soon all the town comes to see it.  Since this book is widely available I won’t spoil it for you, but that giant potato makes a nuisance of itself, but in the end, it all works out for our lazy friend. (Thankfully not everyone is as lazy as Jamie O’Rourke)

 

Review

My daughter couldn’t believe that on the last page we see that same little leprechaun smiling over his giant pot of gold.  “He’s a liar!” she kept saying and I just smiled and said: “Well, you have to be careful with the leprechauns, they don’t give their gold to just anyone, you have to be smart to get it.”  My oldest is still mad that the leprechaun lied! I like this story because it’s festive and Tomie DePaola wrote it, and I would buy almost anything of his. (Even though that gray cat and brown dog look awfully familiar) This is a fun one to read for Saint Patrick’s day, and a classic, but not a favorite.  There really isn’t a morale to the story, it’s just silly and I think that’s fairly accurate for leprechaun lore.  I will keep reading to find more stories for this holiday, but am glad to have this one in my collection (even if my daughter is a bit traumatized!)  She is warming up to the story now and thinks she’s pretty smart for not falling for the Leprechaun’s tricks. I guess I can rest easy knowing that, should she run into any little men dressed in green, she won’t be letting them go for just any old prize.  Whew! I can check that off my list of things she needs to know now.

  • Author: Tomie DePaola
  • Illustrator:  Tomie DePaola
  • ISBN: 978-0-698-11603-0
  • Publisher: PaperStar Book
  • Copyright: 1992

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Jaime O'Rourke  - 978-0-698-11603-0

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato- Tomie DePaola and PaperStar Books.

 

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Bubble Bubble – Mercer Mayer

Bubble Bubble Mercer Mayer 1-57768-348-X

Bubble Bubble by Mercer Meyer 2003 Gingham Dog Press

Bubble Bubble has been one of my kids favorites.  I would say the best age for this book is as early as one years old and then again for early readers.   There aren’t a ton of words in this book, in fact the first edition did not have any text to it.  That should tell you just how expressive and interesting the pictures are to this book.  My then 4-year old daughter had the whole thing memorized and liked “reading” it to me.

bubble-buy

Bubble Bubble- Buying the “Magic Bubbles” Mercer Meyer- Gingham Dog Press

The story is pretty simple,  A little boy buys a Magic Bubble maker and blows some animal shaped bubbles.  Some of them are kind of freaky like a snake, but he then blows a bubble shaped like a cat to get the mean snake, but then…

The cat turns into a large cat and is going to attack us.  Quickly, he blows another bubble. “And that took care of that”. After this same pattern a number of times, our little boy gets tired, and decides to pop all the bubbles.

Spoiler Alert:  This is the last gorgeous page:

Bubblebubble

There is a repetitive pattern in this book where a cute animal bubble appears, but then attacks so we blow another animal to get that animal that kids love.  Seriously, even my 2 year old loves this book. I think because she knows what’s going to happen.  The pages are bright and there are tons of details to see.   Now for the bad news- this book is out of print!  I managed to find a hardback copy to save on my special shelf for a good deal and read a paperback one to my daughters.  Selfish, I know, but I don’t want to give this book up now. It has too many memories for us.

  • Author: Mercer Mayer
  • Illustrator: Mercer Mayer
  • ISBN: 1-57768-348-X
  • Publisher: Gingham Dog Press
  • Copyright: 1973 and 2003

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3

Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo – Mercer Mayer

cover image of Professor Wormbog  9781607467656

Professor Wormbog By Mercer Mayer 9781607467656

Not to oversell this one, but it is seriously one of my all-time favorite books.  It’s been around long enough that it could have been a childhood favorite of mine, but I didn’t discover it until a few years ago.  This is the same author/illustrator of the “Little Critter” books, but I like these even more.

Professor Wormbog in Search of the Zipperump-a-Zoo is funny and fun with a surprise ending.  Spoiler alert: I will be telling you the surprise in the last paragraph but don’t worry, the pictures are fun to look at and I still find new things when I read it because there is a lot to see in this book. Professor Wormbog collects beasties.  He has a wonderful collection of all the rare beasties from A-Y and is missing his letter Z, the elusive Zipperump-a-zoo!  He needs his Z animal so being the great animal hunter he is, he decides to catch one.

Professor Wormbog 9781607467656

Professor Wormbog’s Beastie Collection. Mercer Meyer

He tries every trick he knows, from traveling across the ocean, into deep dark caves, and even disguising himself as a feathered Croonie to see if Zipperump-a-Zoo’s fly through the air.  Alas, he cannot find it.   After a few close calls, and many animal catchings and releasing later, our poor professor calls it quits and goes home.  Exhausted and kinda sad, he falls asleep in his recliner in defeat.

IMG_20150310_0002_NEW

Uh-Oh! That’s not a Zipperump-a-Zoo! it’s a Blowfat-glowfish!

Our poor professor will just have to learn to be okay with his A through Y collection of rare animals.  The funny part that kids love is, as he is sleeping, his room becomes filled with little Zipperump-A-Zoos dancing and playing right in front of his sleeping nose. My daughters laugh almost every time at this, and like to make sound effects for each of the zipperump-a’s in the room. (There’s 13)  I have good news , this book is still in print and not too hard to find.  Definitely check it out at the library, or buy yourself a copy because it’s pretty fun for everyone.

  • Author: Mercer Mayer
  • Illustrator: Mercer Mayer
  • ISBN: 9781607467656
  • Publisher: FastPencil PREMIERE
  • Copyright: 1979 and 2011

Amazon link: Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo (Classic Collectible Series)

Disclaimer: I purchased this book with my own money.  I am hunting for a low priced 1979 version because that would be fun to own, but am happy with my copy here.

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Cinderella – KY Craft

cinderella ky craft

If I could only have one version of Cinderella, this one is it.  The pages are beautiful, stunning even, and look appropriate to the Victorian era (but don’t hold me to that, I am not versed in art history or fashion whatsoever)  Amazing illustrations are not enough though, the story has to be a good one, and this is the main reason I love this book.

The story begins the same as the traditional tale with our neglected heroine.  Cinderella is kind though, and actually meets the prince one day in the woods.  She found a hurt bird and was tending to it when he came riding by.  He notices her kindness and beauty right then but Cinderella quickly leaves because she is embarrassed of her raggedy appearance.    Cinderella thinks of the prince after that day.   Eventually a ball is held and she wishes to go, but of course her wicked family does not let her.  The storybook describes how Cinderella continued to brush her sisters hair until it was “perfect and smooth”  which I love because she is being kind even in the face of rudeness.

Now for the twist,  as she is crying her heart out she sees the little bird whose wing she mended.  The bird then turns into her fairy godmother (who is far from elderly and plump) she sends Cinderella to the ball with mice footmen in a flying coach.  Cinderella amazes everyone at the ball, and the prince falls in love, feeling as if he has known her from before.  On the second ball, Cinderella has a great time, but does not get home before midnight.  The prince then goes looking for his love and tries the shoe on all the maidens in the kingdom.  Cinderella asks to try on the slipper and the Prince says yes, making a reference to the bird she rescued.  With both slippers on, she turns into the ravishing princess.  The step sisters recognized her and fall at her feet, begging forgiveness for their rude treatment. Cinderella embraces them and they are forgiven.  The prince apologizes for not fully recognizing her “heart whether clothed in rags or regalia.”  Because he saw how humble and kind she was he falls even more in love and they are married and live happily ever after.

I love this version because it shows examples of Cinderella being kind and good not just telling us she was so.  If it’s so important to be that way, the story should take some time showing it!  I also like the prince more in this book than others because he admires Cinderella before the ball, and loves her even more after he knows her full story.  I think this is my favorite because if my little girls were going to dream of becoming a princess or meeting a prince, I would want them to behave this way, and find a man who sees beauty in many forms.

  • Author:  K. Y. Craft
  • Illustrator: K. Y. Craft
  • ISBN:1587170043
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Copyright: 2000

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Disclaimer:  I bought this book with my own money. It’s still in print and plentiful at the library.