The boys and I finished reading a great book which I want to share with you. As I was perusing a website which had a long book list which contained many of the more obscure books I'm always pushing at you, I came across a comment recommending a pair of books I had never heard of, nor had I ever heard of the author. Trust me when I say this doesn't happen very often. I was intrigued and immediately searched for them in our library's catalogue. I was thrilled to find them both there and placed them on hold. (I could go into long raptures about how much I love being able to do book searches at home and then reserve the books and have them delivered to the library one an half blocks from my house, but I'll save that for another time.)
The books are The Lost Island and The Island of Horses both by Eilis Dillon, an Irish author who wrote mid-century. The books are set on the western coast of Ireland and portray life there as well as on the islands off the coast. We just finished The Lost Island last night and it was wonderful. It had a great adventure story where the danger was real, but never became too much. It had humor and an interesting view on life on the coast and on the islands. And it had a great ending. We ended up reading two chapters at a time because we wanted to find out what happened. In The Lost Island, a boy goes off to find his father who had been lost searching for a fabled lost island that was supposed to contain treasure. I highly recommend it. We'll start The Island of Horses tonight. I love finding new old books that I love.
The island parts of the book made me think of the Katie Morag picture books. While these are not new to me, I love them and perhaps you have never heard of them. Katie Morag lives on a fictional island in the Inner-Hebrides of Scotland. She has adventures and you get a peek at life in this remote locale. We love them.
But on to the other new old book I discovered. When we go to the library, the picture book crowd often just picks a pile of books at random from the shelves. I do a little sorting before we check out, but I'm never quite sure what we have until we get home. (Only sometimes has a book been quietly removed and returned.) Usually, most of the books are fairly mediocre and I'm glad to return them at the end of the month, particularly if one of the mediocre book became a favorite with someone. Every so often, though we come across a really good one. Such is the case with this past library visit because we have discovered a new friend... Bruno. Bruno is a beaver and he is charming. The book we came home with is Bruno the Baker by Lars Klinting, and sadly it appears it is out of print, though it looks as though you can get used copies fairly inexpensively. This is just such a gentle and wonderful story for preschoolers.
The story is simple. It is Bruno's birthday and so he and his friend, Felix, bake a birthday cake together. The thing I love is that it fills the need that preschoolers have to learn things, and it does it without making of joke of it. Have any of you noticed the trend that when talking about homemaking skills to children, the tendency is to make it into a joke... some how or other something goes wrong, either through not caring or inability, and ha, ha, isn't it funny, this must not really matter enough to work at it. Well, Bruno does none of the these things. He bakes the cake accurately and the children are given names for tools and a good picture of what it looks like to really bake a cake. He enjoys what he is doing, and while the kitchen does get a little messy, Bruno and Felix clean up together (without drama or grumbling) while the cake is baking. It gives the child the idea that this baking business is both enjoyable and doable. There are other Bruno books including Bruno the Tailor and Bruno the Carpenter that I think I really need to investigate. Wouldn't it be wonderful if enough people fell in love with Bruno to convince a publisher to put it back into print?