The Prydain Chronicles

Book cover for the Prydain chronicles. Shows a young celtic young man holding a sword aloft.Alexander, Lloyd

  • The Book of Three. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1964.
  • The Black Cauldron. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1965.
  • The Castle of Llyr. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1966.
  • Taran the Wanderer. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1967.
  • The High King. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1968.

In honor of Lloyd Alexander’s birthday (January 30), I present these wonderful adventure tales. These five books tell the tale of Taran, Assistant Pig Keeper of Caer Dallben.  Taran longs to know his parentage. An orphan raised by the wizard, Dallben he has lived quietly. His life seems dull as he tends the oracular pig, Hen Wen and learns homely gardening skills from Dallben’s loyal retainer, Coll. He longs for adventure, to learn the art of sword fighting and to go abroad in the world to right wrongs.

Although each of these books can stand alone, read as a group they show the growth of Taran from boy to man. He grows through experiences of hardship, pride, shame, courage and sorrow.  Taran, like many young people, struggles to find his true path.  He makes mistakes and seeks to correct them. He makes friends and enemies. On his adventures he travels the length and breadth of Prydain and learns about its people.

Like Frodo, he has steadfast companions.

  • Dallben, ancient wizard and Keeper of the Book of Three.  He found and raised Taran.
  • Coll, retired warrior, Head Pig Keeper, and farmer of Caer Dallben. He teaches Taran how to care for Hen Wen.
  • Eilonwy, a sorceress and Princess of Llyr.  She is practical and opinionated and feisty.
  • Gurgi, a creature of the forest, who proves his worth many times despite his moanings and groanings.
  • Flewder Flam, the Bard King of a small country.  He has a special harp from the Bard Taliesin. The harp’s string break  whenever Flewder exaggerates. Despite his frequent tall tales, Flewder is faithful and brave.
  • Prince Gwydion, son of King Math, really Taran is his companion. Gwydion is strong, wise, and faithful. Gwydion and Math are descendants of the Sons of Don, who come to Prydian from the Summer Country to defend Prydian from Arawn, the Lord of Death.
  • Doli, a dwarf.  Although it irritates him, Doli’s magic is that of invisibility.

Here are books worthy of a reader’s attention.  Pick them up and follow Taran on his adventures.

Lloyd Alexander

Five things to know about Lloyd Alexander

  1. The child of well-to-do parents who suffered bankruptcy, he shocked them at age 15 with the news he intended to be a writer.
  2. King Arthur was one of his heroes.
  3. He won the Newberry Award for The High King in 1969.
  4. The Black Cauldron was a Newberry Honor book in 1966.
  5. He met his wife Janine in France. They came back to the United States when Lloyd realized he needed to be home to be able to write.

You can go on and read more about this author at these websites.

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Each Peach Pear Plum

eachpeachAhlberg, Janet and Allan.  Each Peach Pear Plum. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1978.

In this book
With you little eye
Take a look
And play “I spy”

Do you remember playing “I Spy”? I remember playing this game on car trips with my girls.  It was fun and helped to pass the miles.  Here is “I Spy” you can play anywhere!  Who needs to wait for a car trip!  Snuggle up with this fun book and look for all the storybook characters.  Can you find Tom Thumb, Cinderella and the Three Bears?

I didn’t have this book when the girls were little.  I bought it when I was teaching preschool.  It is a wonderful rhyming book that is almost musical to read.

Tonight as I was writing this blog, Alexis wandered through the kitchen.  She looked at the book and said she didn’t remember it.  I handed it to her to read. As she did, she chuckled.  She liked the rhymes and the pictures. Her recommendation was that Baby Bear shouldn’t have a shotgun.  Now you will have to pick up a copy of the book and discover for yourself, why Alexis made this comment.  You can look for all the things you can spy with your little eye.

It’s a car trip don’t be glum
Remember Each Peach Pear Plum
We can play “I Spy”
It will make the miles go by!
We can’t look for Robin Hood,
But one of us will spy something good.

Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Janet and Allan were an English wife and husband team.  Allan wrote the stories and Janet illustrated them. They had a wonderful collaboration.  Unfortunately, Janet died at age 50.  Allan went on to write many more books.  His lively stories and Janet’s vivid drawings make their stories wonderful to read and to share.  If you are interested in this illustrator and author, you can read more about them on these websites.

Popcorn – A Book for National Popcorn Day

popcornAsch, Frank.  Popcorn. New York: Parents’ Magazine Press, 1979.

To celebrate National Popcorn Day I offer you this story.  It is one of Frank Asch’s delightful Bear stories.  Mama and Papa Bear go to a Halloween Party.  They leave Sam at home and promise him a treat when they return. He decides he needs a party.  He calls his friends and asks them to come in costume and bring a treat.  What treat does everyone bring?  They bring unpopped popcorn!

Can you imagine what happens after they put a large pot on the stove and begin to pop the corn?  Oh, my what a mess! The house is buried in popcorn.  This reminds me of Big Anthony’s disaster with Strega Nona’s pasta pot. Sam and Big Anthony have to clean up by eating all of their mess.  Fortunately, Sam has friends to help him! Does he get the house cleaned up before his parents come home?  What do you think his treat was?

When I was teaching preschool, I had to keep a bulletin board updated.  I chose to devote it to authors.  Every couple of weeks I would change my bulletin board to a new author, whose last name matched the letter of the alphabet we were studying.  Frank Asch was my choice for the letter A.  My preschoolers loved this bear story and all the other Bear stories I read to them.  I am sure we shared some popcorn at snack time after all you can’t read about popcorn without eating some, can you?

Frank Asch

It sounds to me like Frank Asch is a lucky, hardworking man.  He published is first story before he graduated from college with a BFA in painting. Here are 5 things you might or might not know about this author.

  1. His heroes were his big brother, Roy Rogers, Bob Dylan, Maurice Sendak, and Billé Pickard Pritchard.
  2. His favorite authors are Jack London and James Thurber. I love James Thurber.
  3. He collaborated on a book with Russian author, Vladimir Vagin. Mr. Asch has received the Russian National Book award.
  4. He lives in Vermont. He leads a group meditation on Sundays.
  5. His son Devlin is also an illustrator and they have collaborated on books together.

You can read more about this author/illustrator on these websites.

Five Little Ducks

fiveducksRaffi. Five Little Ducks. Illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey

Did you or your child have a favorite bath time toy? Today is a day given in celebration to that iconic bath toy, the rubber duck.  Happy National Rubber Ducky Day! This is the day in 1970 that Ernie’s friend, Rubber Duckie made its debut on Sesame Street. Don’t know, if it is video of Rubber Duckie’s debut, but here is a cute video of Ernie singing the Rubber Duckie song. My girls and I loved to sing this song. The song along with thoughts of that little yellow duckie made our day sunnier.

I am sad that don’t have a book about rubber duckies to share with you on this January day. I do however, have a book about ducks in song format.

Five Little Ducks, a Raffi Songs to Read book, is one of my favorites. It is an incredible experience to sing this book with young children. They sing it with much gusto and enthusiasm and movement. Can you make the Mama duck’s bill open and close with your hands while you sing “quack, quack, quack, quack”? A preschooler can! Where do those five little ducks go when they don’t come home to their Mama? Ask preschoolers this question. I am not certain you can prepare yourself adequately for their answers. Poor Mama Duck! Do you think she was worried? Yes, preschoolers think she was worried and if they don’t know the end of the story, they are worried as well. Spoiler Alert! Sad mother duck calls one more time and all five little ducks come back this time. Whew! A happy ending! Pick up a copy of this book and read it and sing it to a young child you know. If you aren’t sure of your own singing skills, you can always read along as Raffi and his audience sing this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN2N89KkA7I.

Jose Aruego

Here is an illustrator that followed his passions. He was born in the Philippines in 1932. He was supposed to be a lawyer. He studied law and practices for a brief time before deciding to some to the United States to study graphic arts and advertising. He worked in advertising for a time before becoming a cartoonist for The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker¹.

He was a private person and I cannot find much information on this illustrator. Here is what he had to say about his work¹.

Each project teaches me something new and makes me a better artist. Each book brings me closer to children,” he said. “I have found from making appearances at schools that when kids draw for themselves, most of them like to make funny pictures. So I show them how to draw an alligator. It’s a simple drawing and the teachers tell me that after my visit, Aruego alligators show up all over the school.

¹https://www.harpercollins.com/cr-100564/jose-aruego

2016: A Year in Review

collage1_2016Happy New Year! I am starting 2017 with a review of books from 2016. Here is the consolidated list (libraryrecap).

I have enjoyed writing this blog. I began writing to explain to my new nephew, why I chose the books he received as a birth gift. My family encouraged me to write a blog.  They seem to think that I know something about children’s books.  They are so lovely and kind!  What I know about children’s books is that I like them.  If I could, I would inspire every child with the love of reading.  I like reading books. I like paring books with ideas, events and activities.

Since they encouraged me to write, I have been writing this blog for my pleasure and practice. Sometimes, but not often, it gets me out of dinner dishes (I can’t do dishes tonight, I have to work on my blog).  If I had stopped with the volumes purchased for my new nephew,  it would have been a very short blog. When I finished his list I segued to the rest of my children’s book collection.  Many of these books are old favorites of mine. It has been a lovely walk down memory lane. As I reread and write about these books, I remember snuggling up with my girls and sharing these stories.  Reading to children is a wonderful activity. It was fun, fun, fun to read and discover these books with my girls. It was fun, fun, fun to remember that time through this blog.

My family has become accustom to keeping a list of their readings for the monthly reading report. I hope that you have enjoyed these reports.  2016 was a very enjoyable reading year!  I hope it is another good year for reading and for all other endeavors.

Happy New Year to everyone! May your year be productive, satisfying and fun! Find some good books to read. Here are some of the books that were read in Haus Reimund in 2016.collage2_2016