During this very busy week, we have been reading books in celebration of springtime. I hesitate to designate this as an Easter post, really, because I prefer to focus on the real reason we celebrate this holiday. However, we do usually do the Easter bunny thing–sort of. The girls get Easter baskets full of goodies, we hunt eggs, etc. I don’t think, though, that they’ve ever been confused about what Easter is really all about. In fact, we have a whole mini-library of Easter books which focus on the real reason for the holiday, but I haven’t gotten them out yet. Actually, most of these are probably too young for the girls now, so I might just wait to read them to baby brother. I decided this year to focus on some springtime/Easter storybooks this week and then next week to really focus on the real Easter story. These are some Easter storybook gems we’ve read this week.
This first one really deserves its own Friday’s Vintage Find post, but I’m consolidating posts. So many books, so little time! Like The Easter Egg Artists, this is a story I remember from my own childhood. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is a story of an unlikely heroine: a mother bunny who once dreamt of being one of the five real Easter Bunnies that delivers Easter eggs on Easter morning. However, she finally realizes that this might be one dream that motherhood has disqualified her for. When the Old Grandfather Bunny has to pick a replacement, though, it is her wisdom, kindness, swiftness, and cleverness, all of which came to her through the experience of motherhood, that actually qualify her for the job. In the end, she proves to be not only wise, kind, swift, and clever, but also brave. Apparently this book started out as a story that the author, DuBose Heyward, told his daughter, Jenifer. (Her name also appears on the cover of the book!) Marjorie Flack’s (yes, the one responsible for this and this) illustrations are vintagey-looking, colorful, and completely charming. I can guarantee you that if you are a mother, you will enjoy this book! (Sometimes we do have to read things for ourselves, right?)
Miz Fannie Mae’s Fine New Easter Hat by Melinda Milich is a sweet and funny book about a poor African American family that is rich in love. Tandy and her father set out by horse and wagon for the nearest town, Meridian City, to buy Mama an Easter hat. This isn’t to be just any Easter hat, though–it’s to be a “fine new Easter hat.” In addition to not overspending, Mama gives Tandy the responsibility of not letting Daddy buy “no ugly hat.” Daddy heads straight for the best millinery shop in Meridian City, and he and Tandy settle on a splendid hat–one with flowers and fruit and even a little nest of green cradling four tiny bird eggs. Daddy has to pull a rather funny prank to get Mama to wear such an obviously expensive hat, but it’s at the Easter service at church that the hat really begins to take on a life of its own–literally. My girls found this book hilarious! It’s full of the cadences and rhythms of an African American church service, which is fun for a read-aloud. Yong Chen‘s illustrations are warm, and almost every single person in this book is smiling. This is just an all-around happy book!
Have I mentioned before how much we like Patricia Polacco here at the House of Hope? Yes, I think I have. Rechenka’s Eggs is a must-read for this time of year! This is the story of Babushka, who spends her year painting eggs to take to Moskva to sell before Easter. She rescues a goose that has been apparently shot by a hunter, and to thank Babushka for nursing her back to health (and to pay her beak for breaking the eggs Babushka had made), Rechenka the goose lays a dozen truly spectacular eggs, one at a time. These eggs are a huge hit at the market, of course, but when Babushka returns home, she finds that Rechenka has left her the best gift of all. This is a charming story, but it’s Patricia Polacco’s inimitable illustrations that make it unforgettable. Visit Patricia Polacco’s amazing website to view some of the artwork from this book. I believe this book appears in a later Five in a Row volume than the one we’ve been using, so activities that accompany this book abound. In fact, we’ve done a few. We’ve looked at Pysanky eggs (Ukrainian Easter eggs) online, and my girls have had fun playing with my set of Matryoshka dolls. I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Russian (or Ukrainian or . . .you get the idea) since I took a year of instruction in the Russian language while in high school. I also love twentieth century history, particularly eastern European history. This book was a big hit with me and my girls!
Last, but certainly not least, I have to tell you about Jan Brett’s new book, The Easter Egg. After our adventure, how could I not? This book is truly gorgeous, with Jan Brett’s trademark sidebar illustrations, etc. After reading her Christmas books for so long, I find this springtime book and all its nature-inspired illustrations to be especially refreshing. The Easter Egg is the story of Hoppi, a rabbit who wants to win the Easter egg decorating contest so that he can help the Easter Rabbit hide eggs on Easter morning. The problem is, Hoppi is uninspired. He observes all of his friends and neighbors with their respective talents decorating eggs that reflect those talents, but he comes up empty-handed. That is, until he rescues a robin’s egg that has fallen out of its nest. Hoppi’s true talent, it seems, is caring. Of course, the story isn’t as heavy-handed as I am. Instead, Jan Brett has created a lovely, lovely springtime story and a feast for the eyes, all at the same time. Highly Recommended! (If you’d like to see more of the artwork for this book, be sure to visit my post about our trip to Jan Brett’s spring tour booksigning or her website.)
Well, that’s it, folks–at least for the time being. I’m sure we’ll read a few of our old Easter titles next week, as well as enjoy a few more new ones I’ve picked up at the library. Has your family been reading any Easter or spring-inspired books? Please share what you’ve been reading by linking up your Read Aloud Thursday blog post, or simply by leaving a comment.
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Next week will be the last week that Read Aloud Thursday will be here at my old blog. My new blog goes live on April 5, so the Read Aloud Thursday for April 8 will be over there. Please update your links!