Friday, 27 February 2009

The Tawny Scrawny Lion

Childhood Favourites # 1

Tawny Scrawny Lion
Author~ Kathryn Jackson
Illustrator ~ Gustaf Tenggren
New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.
First Published: 1952

Little Golden Books were among the few I remember having around the house as a small child. Tossed in the toybox with wooden blocks, Pebbles and Bam Bam dolls, Slinkys and pull toys you could find The Poky Little Puppy, The Little Red Hen, The Happy Whale, The Shy Little Kitten and The Little Red Caboose. What you wouldn't have found was The Tawny Scrawny Lion. Tawny Scrawny was mine! You see, I was the oldest of four little girls and in order to protect my book from the ravages of crayons and the carelessness of mud-pie hands, I kept Tawny Scrawny at my Grandmother's house. Mixed in with this great story that teaches children the days of the week and the virtues of vegetables are all the wonderful smells, sounds and memories (not to mention the individual attention!) that I treasure from my childhood.

Tawny Scrawny chases (and eats) the jungle animals but remains skinny with so much running around. Sitting with some distance between them to talk things over with the lion, the nervous animals think their problems are solved when a fat little rabbit comes hopping on the scene. Enticing the lion with the thoughts of his five fat sisters and four fat brothers more so than the carrot stew bubbling back at his house, the rabbit is spared by the lion. Picking berries and catching a few fish along the way, the two finally make it to the rabbit's house and there it is: a big pot of delicious smelling carrot stew! All those fine rabbits move fast to fill the lion with bowl after bowl of stew then top him up with berries. Alas, Tawny Scrawny is now "fat as butter and sleek as satin". Hooray! The little rabbit saved the day and left the lion with an affinity for carrot stew.

Is it any wonder my love of reading (and stew) began with this book!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

The Black Stallion My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Published: 1941
Pages: 241

The Black Stallion was one of my favourite childhood reads. I first read it as a horse-loving 8 year old, re-read it until my Scholastic copy became dog-eared and visited with The Black & Alec again as a 40 something child at heart.

I believe this to be the premise that makes The Black Stallion a classic, a book remembered fondly from childhood days, pieces of the story remaining with you over the years, then upon re-visiting as an adult the wonder of this fantastic tale comes flooding back.

The story begins with young Alec Ramsay and the wild black stallion as the only survivors of a shipwreck. It explores the developing bond and the mutual love between boy and horse developed over weeks on a deserted island, through rescue and return to Alec's family in New York. Neighbour & former racehorse trainer Henry Daily recognizes the Black's phenomenal potential for speed, thus man and boy team up to train the spirited horse & show his talent to the world.

Walter Farley brings readers a wonderful adventure with oodles of emotion. The match race between Sun Raider, Cyclone, and the Black in the final chapter had my heart racing. A must read story of timeless magic for children & any young horse-lover.

Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
I can read it all by myself - Beginner Books

This is my own copy from my childhood. A 1968 edition bought for me by my mother when I was 5.
As you can see, it's slightly beaten up!

This is my favourite Dr. Seuss book. I loved the idea of green eggs and ham!

As usual this book is great for learners as it's full of repetitions of rhyming words, helping young readers to recognise and learn them.

Here's an extract from the book

And here's a great picture from it.

A wonderful book. One of my most treasured.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Hop On Pop

# 13
Title: Hop On Pop
Author: Dr. Seuss
Genre: Childrens
Challenges: Childhood Favorites Reading Challenge, TBR Challenge 2009, What’s In a Name 2009, 2009 Support Your Local Library, 20 Books in 2009, Pages Read Challenge 2009, PB & J Challenge, 101 Books in 1001 Days Challenge,

Rating: 5/5
No. of Pages: 64
Published: 1963
From the back:
First published in 1963, Hop on Pop remains a perennial favorite when it comes to teaching kids to read. Here, as in most of his extensive body of work, Dr. Seuss creates uncomplicated, monosyllabic rhymes to foster learning and inspire children to read. But what was radical about this little book at the time of publication (and what makes it still compelling today) is Seuss's departure from the traditionally dull pictures and sentences used in reading primers. In contrast, the illustrations here are wild and wonderful, and the accompanying language, while simple, is delightfully silly. For example, the rhyme "THREE TREE / Three fish in a tree / Fish in a tree? / How can that be?" is brought to life with a trio of plump, self-satisfied fish perched atop globular branches as two stymied hybrid dog-rabbit-humanoids look on in consternation. Hop on Pop does much more than teach children the basics of word construction, it also introduces them to the incomparable pleasure of reading a book.

As always – what a wonderful book. I used to read this to my brother when he was a child. I have now had the opportunity to read the book to my nephews. The rhyming makes the whole story come to life.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Book Review-The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

I read this book as a kid and thought it would be fun to read again. I always thought it would be such a blast to have a magical cupboard that would make your toys come alive..
This book is about a medicine cupboard that a young boy got for his birthday. His mother gives him a special key to use for the cupboard. He put his toy Indian in the cupboard and when he wakes up in the morning he finds that the Indian has come alive!!!
Omri is a very smart and responsible boy, he realizes that these men are actually real live people and not just toys and he is responsible for their lives. His friend Patrick is not so responsible and quite careless with the men..Together the Patrick and Omri realize that as much fun as it is to have real life cowboys and indians, it is a lot to be responsible for, so they decide to send them back ... for now...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Ludwig Bemelmans trained to be an artist and had no aspirations of being a writer. First published in 1935, Madeline was the second piece of literature done at the urging of a Viking Press book editor. It was Madeline which brought Bemelmans his fame in a children's book modeled after his daughter, Barbara.

I thoroughly enjoyed Madeline books when I was young since Mr. Bemelmans books seemed to do something no other children's author had done. He took children on whirlwind adventures to Paris, the Louvre ; all over the globe. I used to dream of the life of Madeline but at that age, could never quite understand why she lived in a house of twelve girls and Miss Clavel.

Madeline is simply Madeline, a precocious little redheaded Parisian schoolgirl with an attitude kept in check under the tutelage of Miss Clavel.
In this book, Madeline is rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy and all the other girl's are envious of the attention. Miss Clavel, the nervous caretaker takes the girls on a trip to visit the ailing Madeline.

It was quite fun, rereading Madeline after all these years and I wonder. I wonder if little girls still read Madeline. I haven't seen an influx of Madeline dolls on the market and have never heard a little girl speak of her. It would be sad if Ludwig Bemelmans Madeline didn't live on....

Thursday, 5 February 2009


From the Back Cover:
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents." So begins the memorable tale that introduces readers to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy - four sisters who, despite the Civil War, manage to keep laughter on their lips and love in their hearts. Through illness and poverty, disappointment and sacrifice, the March girls never forget what is truly important - their family.

I loved this book! It brought back so many memories of my childhood. I always wanted to be in the March family and be a Little Woman. That the girls all more or less got their wishes in life was a fantastic thing. I had forgot about Beth being sick. So that was a little bit of a surprise, but I did remember it once I got to that part.

TWO LITTLE WOMEN by Carolyn Wells

The Premise: Dotty Rose moves into the house next door to Dolly Fayre. Both girls are just shy of their 15th birthdays and they become fast friends. Carolyn Wells give a glimpse of what life was like for two moderately well-to-do families in the early part of the 20th century. This first book in the Two Little Women series takes us through the end of their 8th grade year and the summer before they begin highschool.

My Take on the Book: I remember loving this book as a tween. It is one of the first book I remember reading that was more character driven. There really isn't a plot line other than the girls daily lives. For me, one of the most memorable m oments was when they decorated their rooms in matching styles, Dotty in pink and grey and Dolly in green and white. I wanted my room to look just like theirs, only I would have done green and yellow:)

This book was published in 1915 and although their houses sounded much like the one I grew up in, there are some glaring differences. In the book, the households had servants (plural) as a matter of course which we most definitely did not. It bothered me this time around that Wells made specific mention of the black cook who traveled with the Roses to the mountains when they went for their summer vacation, and her speech (completely uneducated) was mildly offensive. I realise that at the time the book was written, this was the norm, but now, it rankled. Other than that, it was enjoyable to revisit two very good friends from my past.

Side note: for all the pregnant bloggers out there looking for different and unusal names, this book had a few -- Girls were Dorinda (nickname Dolly), Flossie, and Maisie May. Boys were Todhunter, Tademus, Clayton and Lorillard. Bet you won't see many of those on the playground!

Rating: four stars

My Rating system: five stars - couldn't put it down and will read again

four stars - enjoyable read, but had some flaws

three stars - really didn't affect me one way or the other

two stars - too many problems to make the story enjoyable

one star - didn't even finish the book

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Five Go Off in A Carvan by Enid Blyton

Five Go Off in a Caravan by Enid Blyton

Amazon Product Description:
A caravan holiday for the Famous Five is bound to be an adventure! And when they stumble across a circus troupe, the gang are thrilled. But some of the circus people have more sinister plans than just clowning around....

First published in 1946, I read these Famous Five books when I was in primary school in the 60's early 70's. They were wonderful - full of adventures and good clean fun.

Now they do seem a little dated with their clean living, ginger bear and jam sandwiches, and class distinctions.

However, the stories are still endearing and if not as popular now, this book brought back lots of happy memories.