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Home > GreenSense Directory > Books > Kid's Books > Olden Days

GreenSense Directory

Olden Days

Children are fascinated by tales of what it was like to live in the past. Learning about other historical times gives them great fuel for their fantasy play, and of course, its always interesting to talk about what life was like before running water, central heat, cars and supermarkets.

Talking about old times also gives us a chance to talk to our kids about values that are still important to us today in spite of our busy, electrified world. Self-reliance, teamwork and respect for nature as well as the simple beauties of our agrarian past are presented with skill and artistry in these books.

So curl up with your little one on your lap, and while the March winds blow ouside, take a trip to "the olden days".

New

A Dog For a Friend - - by Marilynn Reynolds; illustrated by Stephen McCallum Orca Book Publishers, 1994. An isolated girl on a western farm wants a dog for a friend but finds a pig instead. Jessie is a lonely little girl growing up on a wheat farm who longs for a dog. Her parents are too busy running the farm to bother with a pet. Jessie earnestly helps out with the farm work, to try to prove that she can take care of a dog by herself. Then one night, a litter of pigs is born in the barn, and Jessie gets to adopt the runt. After a rough first night, in which Jessie's mother breaks down and snuggles with the new born baby pig in bed, Jessie's pig thrives and turns out to be almost as good a pet as a dog. In the end, Harold becomes a prize winning pig and Jessie gets her puppy at last. This is a warm gentle story about a loving family living in a simpler time. I particularly like the character of the mother, who at first seems rather severe but in the end can't resist the cries of the little pig. It is also nice to find a farm story about a pig who isn't imminently threatened by being turned into bacon. Jessie and her mother both come through as strong, resourceful, female characters The illustrations are lively and expressive and fit with the gentle tone of the story. Good for children who can sit through a longer story.

Firehorse Max - - by Sara London; illustrated by Ann Arnold Harper Collins, 1997. A lively tale of a yiddish peddler in a small Vermont town who loves children, horses and music. Firehorse Max is the story of a retired firehorse turned peddler's horse who believes he has a job to do. Every time he hears the fire bells clang he races to the scene of the fire, and can't believe that no one strokes his sides or praises him the way they used to. Meanwhile, in his rush to get to the fire, he is scattering the peddler's goods all over town. The old peddler finally figures out how to keep Max under control using their mutual love of music. The old peddler, Grandpa Lev, is a great character, a viloin player in the old country, who is patient and loving with both his horses and his lively grandchildren. The illustrations are vibrant and bright, and really bring this tale of a small Vermont town to life. This book has lots of clanging bells and fire scenes to keep interest high, but it has a gentle tone and message overall.

Haystack - - by Bonnie Geisert; illustrated by Arthur Geisert Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. A beautifully illustrated account of a lost American tradition - the haystack! Before the onset of mechanical balers, farmers used to create haystacks which were not only practical but were also things of great beauty. This simple book takes you through the whole process, from the cutting of the hay in spring, through the long hot process of stacking the hay, and on through the snowy winter when the haystack serves as both food and shelter for the animals. By the next spring there is nothing left of the haystack but a big pile of manure, which is spread over the fields to feed the new grass and begin the cycle again. This book gives a powerful message about living is harmony with nature and using resources wisely. The whole family pitches in with the farm work, including the mother who is shown as an active participant. The book is illustrated with delicately colored etchings which are full of details of rural life. As the haystack if built and used, trains roll by, prarie dogs build their towns, kids go to school. This is a simple book with a lot of depth. The text is not too wordy for little kids, but the detailed illustrations will keep older kids interested as well.

Sod Houses on the Great Plains - - by Glen Rounds Holiday House, 1995. A simple factual account of life among the early settlers, with beautiful, unusual illustrations. Using very simple words and pictures, Glen Rounds transports you to life in a sod house on the great western plains. What a great use of available resources this folk technology was! The text is straightforward and factual, but interspersed with enough humorous anecdotes to keep a restless audience interested. The unique illustrations, which are very sparse, have a sketch-like vitality that brims with life and humour. A very enjoyable book for early to mid-level picture book listeners.

***

A Dog For a Friend - - by Marilynn Reynolds; illustrated by Stephen McCallum Orca Book Publishers, 1994. An isolated girl on a western farm wants a dog for a friend but finds a pig instead. Jessie is a lonely little girl growing up on a wheat farm who longs for a dog. Her parents are too busy running the farm to bother with a pet. Jessie earnestly helps out with the farm work, to try to prove that she can take care of a dog by herself. Then one night, a litter of pigs is born in the barn, and Jessie gets to adopt the runt. After a rough first night, in which Jessie's mother breaks down and snuggles with the new born baby pig in bed, Jessie's pig thrives and turns out to be almost as good a pet as a dog. In the end, Harold becomes a prize winning pig and Jessie gets her puppy at last. This is a warm gentle story about a loving family living in a simpler time. I particularly like the character of the mother, who at first seems rather severe but in the end can't resist the cries of the little pig. It is also nice to find a farm story about a pig who isn't imminently threatened by being turned into bacon. Jessie and her mother both come through as strong, resourceful, female characters The illustrations are lively and expressive and fit with the gentle tone of the story. Good for children who can sit through a longer story.

Firehorse Max - - by Sara London; illustrated by Ann Arnold Harper Collins, 1997. A lively tale of a yiddish peddler in a small Vermont town who loves children, horses and music. Firehorse Max is the story of a retired firehorse turned peddler's horse who believes he has a job to do. Every time he hears the fire bells clang he races to the scene of the fire, and can't believe that no one strokes his sides or praises him the way they used to. Meanwhile, in his rush to get to the fire, he is scattering the peddler's goods all over town. The old peddler finally figures out how to keep Max under control using their mutual love of music. The old peddler, Grandpa Lev, is a great character, a viloin player in the old country, who is patient and loving with both his horses and his lively grandchildren. The illustrations are vibrant and bright, and really bring this tale of a small Vermont town to life. This book has lots of clanging bells and fire scenes to keep interest high, but it has a gentle tone and message overall.

Haystack - - by Bonnie Geisert; illustrated by Arthur Geisert Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. A beautifully illustrated account of a lost American tradition - the haystack! Before the onset of mechanical balers, farmers used to create haystacks which were not only practical but were also things of great beauty. This simple book takes you through the whole process, from the cutting of the hay in spring, through the long hot process of stacking the hay, and on through the snowy winter when the haystack serves as both food and shelter for the animals. By the next spring there is nothing left of the haystack but a big pile of manure, which is spread over the fields to feed the new grass and begin the cycle again. This book gives a powerful message about living is harmony with nature and using resources wisely. The whole family pitches in with the farm work, including the mother who is shown as an active participant. The book is illustrated with delicately colored etchings which are full of details of rural life. As the haystack if built and used, trains roll by, prarie dogs build their towns, kids go to school. This is a simple book with a lot of depth. The text is not too wordy for little kids, but the detailed illustrations will keep older kids interested as well.

Sod Houses on the Great Plains - - by Glen Rounds Holiday House, 1995. A simple factual account of life among the early settlers, with beautiful, unusual illustrations. Using very simple words and pictures, Glen Rounds transports you to life in a sod house on the great western plains. What a great use of available resources this folk technology was! The text is straightforward and factual, but interspersed with enough humorous anecdotes to keep a restless audience interested. The unique illustrations, which are very sparse, have a sketch-like vitality that brims with life and humour. A very enjoyable book for early to mid-level picture book listeners.

 

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