Easter Basket Board Books...

Eloise Wilkins. Garth Williams. Tibor Gergely. The Provensens. These are the names of some of the best illustrators in Golden Books history.  Some of the old Golden Books are superb. And publishers are now waking up to the fact that we MISS those books, so they are slowly bringing back into print some of the nostalgic pieces of yesteryear. We are happy.

What is even happier is when the Golden Books upgrade from their fairly fragile spines to the sturdiness of board books! Here is a list of some of these board books that are the best of that grouping... the ones that are readily available to arrive in prompt shipping style for a certain upcoming holiday (other little treasures can, of course, be found and patiently waited for from third party sellers...)

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World, and a Giveaway!

"How many ways do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."

The find of the year (so far) for me is this piece of glory from Julia Rothman called Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World.  The entire thing is the what makes me love to homeschool (and I needed a new boost in loving that lately).  The book is fabulous, and everything one could wish for in a "textbook."

First, it's chock full of interesting facts covering various areas of geology, botany, biology, meteorology and astronomy.  In being such a broad book, do we turn up our noses claiming it can't offer depth in any one area? Sure. You may look down if you like. But what it DOES offer is so beautifully presented and academically enriching that you'd be missing something great by choosing a dry science book over this one.

And then there are the illustrations. Folksy, detailed, handwoven with love and care and interest.  My goodness, I'm in love!

This author is the same one who brought us Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life a few years ago. It had raving reviews but it was brand new to me this year.  I figured that I didn't have a whole heckuva lot of interest in farm life on a technical scale so what would I get out of it?!  Little did I know that I'd lovingly turn each page in this too, admiring the art and the information each page provided.

Both books would be phenomenal springboards for deeper studies into any one area.  Nature Anatomy especially is such a breath of fresh air in this home.

I have the highly lauded (in Charlotte Mason circles anyway) Handbook of Nature Study and while the information in that is excellent, the photos are in greyscale and limited by their time period. And much to my ever-burning shame, it doesn't get used nearly so much as I had planned. I'd like to think of this new Nature Anatomy filling in the gap in some way as being something fresh, useful, beautiful and worthy to include in our morning basket studies a few times a week. A must have in my opinion... you can virtually browse through it here.

I'm so in love with this book that I'm going to send it to one lucky person during this upcoming Easter season. I don't know how I'll choose a winner, but it'll be non-scientifically random of course. If you have read through this post and are interested in receiving the book, just post a comment about something, anything, I don't care— by Divine Mercy Sunday.  That day is my birthday and it would give me great delight to share the gift of this book with someone!

Therapy in Picture Books

This post is for my sister—a soon to be licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  She asked for my opinion on books that deal with difficult subjects in a delicate way... to aid children in making sense of trauma or sadness or difficulty in their lives.

Note that I have NOT read every single one of these books. What I did, was pore over many, many lists, follow many rabbit-trails, read a few message boards, evaluated many reviews and compiled 24 titles that looked to be the most promising. This is certainly not exhaustive—I don't doubt I'm missing some great titles.  But I did go ahead and ignore 90% of what was recommended for therapy books precisely because that's what they were designed to be (e.g. "Mommy and Daddy Dinosaur Got a Divorce" or somesuch). In this scope (as in most others) I seek stories primarily... good messages secondarily.

There are some exceptions, but I do think the art of subtlety in this area is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when reading books with children. Kids aren't stupid. They see through things that moralize or patronize very quickly.  But again... I have not read all these books personally so maybe a few of them do exactly this... let me know! I am only bookmarking this list for people to peruse who may want to investigate ways to cope with life stressors through the welcoming, non-threatening medium of picture books.  If you know of something that I'm missing here, please comment!!!
  1. Rabbityness (non-specific but sudden loss, grief)
  2. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (death of grandparent, love this book!!!)
  3. Horton Hatches the Egg (adoption classic!)
  4. Loon Summer (divorce)
  5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (enough said, by the way... the movie was pretty good!)
  6. Charlie Anderson (divorce, normalizing step-families)
  7. The Quarreling Book (stopping the cycle of anger.  Classic and fun.)
  8. My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother (sibling rivalry)
  9. A Terrible Thing Happened (an exception to the "story first" rule, because it seems this could be really helpful in helping kids heal from witnessing or experiencing trauma—especially for things that are hard to find the right words for like sexual abuse, etc.)
  10. How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger (another exception. I own this book. My then-8 year old read it... it's now being passed down to his brother. It didn't "cure" anger. But it helped him to remember some strategies for dealing with it in a healthy way.)
  11. Always and Forever (death)
  12. When They Fight  (parental fighting)
  13. My Many Colored Days (for the preschool set to help put names to feelings)
  14. A Mother for Choco (adoption)
  15. The Invisible Boy (teaching empathy/inclusion)
  16. Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are (bullying)
  17. You've Got Dragons (OCD or anxiety)
  18. Now One Foot, Now the Other (coping with physical disability)
  19. Michael Rosen's Sad Book (a beautiful book on grief; it doesn't try to 'fix' it. It just owns it and explores it.)
  20. Ian's Walk (a sibling with autism book)
  21. Those Shoes (wants vs. needs, making sense of poverty)
  22. A Day's Work (poverty, honesty, dignity... not just for kids in therapy!!!)
  23. If Nathan Were Here (non-specific death of a friend, making peace with that loss)
  24. Rudi's Pond (death of friend)


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