Monday, January 17

Wintry book basket...

Warm, cozy moments curled up with good books seem to be the order of the day around here. Here are some well-loved titles from our kindergarten book basket right now.

Ola, by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'aulaire

This thrift store find is a treasure trove of Norwegian culture. Our copy is from 1934...I beleive the first edition is 1932, so that gives you some idea about the tone of this book; it is not only from another land, but another time. Ola lives on a mountain so far north that "the sun is afraid to show his pale face in the winter". He wakes up to the flair of the Northern Lights and sets out on his skis for an adventure one morning.

The story takes him down the mountain, to a wedding at a farm, to the company of a traveling peddler, to a visit with Lapplanders and their herd of reindeer, to a fishing village where he hears strange tales of the ocean, to an island where eiderducks nest, and on and on! The story ends with Ola heading home laden with riches from his travels. The drawings are amazing.

Winter Poems , illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Ok...Does it even matter what the text of a book is if the illustrations are by Trina Schart Hyman? I am a huge fan of A Child's Calendar and was so delighted to see the same family of characters appear in Winter Poems . It is explains in the front pages of the book that the illustrations are based on real people, places & things: the mother, father, and children depicted are Trina Schart's daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons! The poems, selected by Barbara Rogasky, are not the usual juvenile fare...these are wonderful, evocative, valid pieces. Toucie loves "The Germ" by Ogden Nash and the conversation between a mistress and her cat in "Cat on a Night of Snow" by Elizabeth Coatsworth. We have used other poems from this book as our inspiration for our winter watercolor paintings.

Winter , by Gerda Muller

This is a Waldorf staple...most likely you have seen this before, but I can't help singing its praises again and again. This is a board book that is part of a 4-book series - one for each season. The images within are so charming, wholesome, inspiring, and engaging...these books have fascinated Toucie for all her life so far! (I began sharing them with her when she was 9 months old). I have seen a volume that combines all 4 books, titled Circle of Seasons and I do not recommend re-arranges the illustrations and adds text which completely ruins the special nature of these books, in my opinion. Their wordless full-spread pages are precisely what make them so magical. I think every household with children should have these books.

Winter Days in the Big Woods , adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sweet, old fashioned, and prettily illustrated in the style of Garth Williams. I enjoy sharing these "My First Little House Books" with Toucie as a way to help me be patient until the time is right to launch into the Little House chapter books...I am chomping at the bit to bring to her some of that experience which was so delightful to me as a child.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening , Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers

One thing I love about Waldorf education is the presence of recitation in the curriculum. Mado, in 3rd grade, recited the 94 line extract, Hiawatha's Childhood,  from Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha. I suspect that the repeated readings of this winter poem by Frost, with the stunning and supportive illustrations by Jeffers, will soak into Toucie's memory and that one day she will realize she can recite it to herself (that is what happened to me over the course of the years reading it to her!) To have poems that imprint themselves on one's heart is pure joy to me.

Anna and the Flowers of Winter , by Nettie Lowenstein

A softly illustrated fairy tale...very much along the lines of Mother Holle. A mistreated stepdaughter is sent out in the dead of winter to bring back violets by the order of the haughty stepsister. In despair at the impossibility if the task, she stumbles through the snowy woods and encounters 12 strange figures. These turn out to be the months of the year and they help her with her dilemma. Upon her return home, the stepmother and stepsister become greedy for other things and set out to find the 12 strange figures. Of course they get what is coming to them and the young stepdaughter is rewarded for her goodness.

Annie and the Wild Animals , by Jan Brett

My copy of this book is autographed by Ms. Brett and was a gift from my mama in 1985 when i was still in high school...its been a long love affair that I've had with this one! I try to reserve it until the very end of is perfect for Imbolc/Candlemas season as it reflects the thawing of winter and the promise of spring. Annie's cat disappears and, in an effort to attract a new pet, she begins baking corn cakes for the animals in the frozen, snowy forest. She attracts all kinds of hungry creatures, none of which are quite the right fit, and then runs out of corn. Luckily, the seasons begin to turn and nature puts everything right again. Lots and lots to look at in Jan Brett's gorgeous illustrations.


  1. We have many of these books and love them all. Did you ever notice the yellow snow in the Winter board book? Too funny.

    I will check out the Anna book for sure as I have a flower girl living in our house!

    I also love your tooth fairy gifts - way better than money! I am inspired to do the same.

    Much love, Nicole

  2. Can't wait to see Ella or Vivian with a gap-toothed grin!

  3. Thank you so much for this list -- there are several that I haven't heard of, which is refreshing... :) +Chelsea