Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cranberry Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving tale set in brisk and chilly New England, Cranberry Thanksgiving is a sweet story of kindness, generosity and judgment of others. The first of the Cranberry series, Cranberry Thanksgiving is widely recognized as the most popular.

Grandmother and Maggie each invite a Thanksgiving guest every year, and this year Mr. Whiskers makes the guest list, much to Grandmother's chagrin. When Grandmother's famous cranberry bread recipe disappears, she's suspicious of the unkept Mr. Whiskers who smells of clams and seaweed.

With adorable 1970s illustrations reminiscent of the Rankin/Bass holiday specials of the 60s and 70s, Cranberry Thanksgiving is sure to stir a bit of nostalgia back into your Thanksgiving celebration.

Cranberry Thanksgiving ends with a lesson for everyone and a copy of Grandmother's famous recipe!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

When Elizabeth was in the first grade, she came home one afternoon talking incessantly about Edward Tulane. I listened with one ear as she regaled me with storied of Edward's various adventures, leaving out connecting details, as first graders often do. When the book fair came to Elizabeth's school and they offered this hardback copy at a reasonable price, Elizabeth begged and begged me to buy it to read it again to her. I relented...and a love affair began.

The following autumn I picked up The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to read aloud to the kids. (Philip had just started kindergarten at the time, and I probably would have waited if I had read the book myself before I read it to the kids. He's a sensitive one, although ultimately, he handled this book very well and eagerly awaited each chapter.) I was no stranger to Kate DiCamillo, having read Because of Winn Dixie, but I was completely captivated by the language of Edward Tulane. His personality was so intricately developed that although his thoughts were arrogant and vain, you loved him in spite of his flaws as his spirit is continually broken during his despairing journey.

He travels from Abilene, who truly loves and cherishes Edward, to the bottom of the ocean floor, to the fisherman's wife, to the transient, to sickly, poor little girl, to the doll shop. Along his miraculous journey, he learns about life, and the various lessons that each owner teaches his eventually melts his frozen heart.

The ending is too precious and moving to give away here, but you'll be hard pressed to make it through the coda without a tear in your eye. The illustrations of Bagram Ibatoulline really lend an air of soft sensitivity to the story. He has a way of making a cold-hearted china rabbit look scared and distraught that really confers an emotional edge to the writing. I have to say that along with Inga Moore, he's one of my favorite illustrators of children's literature.