Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!

Winter break is almost over. We go back to school on Tuesday, and it just never seems to be long enough of a break. But I do count myself lucky, I wasn’t assigned to read War & Peace over Christmas break like Charlie Brown.

I’m sort of confused. I always figured Charlie was a third or fourth grader. I’m pretty sure most adults would struggle with War & Peace, let alone a nine or ten year old.

Charlie’s life is further complicated by Peppermint Patty’s New Years Eve Party. She has decided boys will invite the girls and and us extremely obvious in her clues that he should ask her. (Why didn’t she make it a Sadie Hawkins dance and ask him?)

He wants to go to dance class, go to the party and read the book. I have to give him credit, he really tries. He takes the book to dance class but it doesn’t turn out well. Everyone else is gearing up for the party and he’s stuck with an unrealistic homework assignment.

Charlie decides to go ahead and invite a girl, but it’s the little red haired girl, not Peppermint Patty. She never responds to his invitation so he takes the book to the party.

The problem with taking a book with 1,100+ pages is that you’re going to get bored. So now it’s way past your bedtime and you’re bored out of your mind. Poor Charlie Brown; he’s asleep on the back porch and misses the biggest moment of his life:

The icing on the cake is that he only gets a D- on the report. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Years ago, I worked as a nurses aid in a rest home where we used walkie talkies. One of the guys gave everyone nicknames, because they were shorter than our real names. He was “Goose”, the guy he worked with was “Maverick”, a girl with the last name McClain became “Shirley” and I was called “Little Red-Haired Girl From Charlie Brown.”

Happy New Year!



We are enjoying a visit from friends who love to browse flea markets and thrift stores. This is the only time my husband and daughter will go to those types of stores with me. I always see a lot of things I want, but I have to pass them by. Here are some of today’s Ones That Got Away.

It seems Johnny Lion was a series by Edith Thacher Hurd.

I loved reading Dennis in the Sunday comics. I am sure I read more than a few of his comic collections too.

This was one I really wanted. The book was $8 and the dust jacket was badly torn…but I still hope to become a circus clown one day when I grow up.

My husband pointed out the Gumby book. He had to quote Eddie Murphy’s Gumby from Saturday Night Live,

I’m Gumby, dammit!

My friend and I saw a vintage Paddington Bear stuffed animal too.

I might be wrong, but I think I had this Little Golden Book.

You know I’m a sucker for Sesame Street.

I wanted every book in this booth!

I think if I had to pick, I’d get Here, Kitty. So cute!

But the star of the day want a book–I know, it’s shocking. I finally found a vintage ceramic Christmas tree!!!!!!!!!

Sid the Squid

A lot of us spend a long time finding a job that is the perfect one for us, and most of us have tried out more than a few. Today’s story is about a squid who is determined to find the perfect job too.

Sid is a squid with a mission. He wants to be useful and so he travels to the city to find himself the perfect job. David G. Derrick, Jr.’s story has many funny mishaps as Sid tries out careers.

But, even cooking isn’t quite perfect:

Sid is ready to give up, but then he sees a whale struggling in a net.

Sid realizes that he is meant to help with animals and gets a job at the aquarium.

It works out perfectly, and all because he never gave up.

This book would be fun to read to kids when they are learning about community helpers. I am trying to match curriculum with the teachers, so I’ll have to watch for it to come up.

Frederick’s Fables

I know I’ve written about Leo Lionni before, but I just have to show you today’s Thrift Store Score:

I’m really excited, so many of my favorites are in this collection, and some that I’ve never read. Included are:

I know that I need to read The Biggest House In the World, Geraldine, the Music Mouse, In the Rabbitgarden, Theodore and the Talking Mushroom and The Greentail Mouse.

Brother Hugo and the Bear

Sometimes I get asked questions that are hard to answer. If I know about the topic, I try to tell the kids what I know. Sometimes, I don’t know enough, so I honestly tell them that and offer to help them look it up. Then other times, the answer is just hard to explain. A student asked me why some books have a giant letter starting a paragraph.

I explained that it was a fancy way of writing that goes back to the time before machine printed books. Sometimes the letters and margins were even decorated or illuminated by the men who copied the books by hand. Yes, I explained it, but there was nothing to show them….until I remembered the story of Brother Hugo and the Bear.

Brother Hugo is a medieval monk who has borrowed the letters of St. Augustine, but cannot return the book because a bear ate the it, the words were so sweet to him.

The Abbot says Brother Hugo must borrow a copy of the Letters from another Abbey and then make a copy to replace what he lost. So Brother Hugo must travel to the other Abbey, explain why he must borrow the book and keep it safe from bears as he travels home to begin the long task of copying the text.

This layout shows great examples of the illuminated drop caps and it explains the process of making every single element of the book.

The book even mentions using a sharp pen knife to scrape away mistakes. The kids were blown away by this plethora of information.

Finally, he has finished the copy, within the season of Lent, and so he must return the original to the other Abbey. He is worried about that awful bear, but his Brothers give him poems and sermons on parchment to feed to the bear. When he has run out of parchments, Brother Hugo must face off with that word-hungry Bear once and for all.

It looks promising, but once you turn the page, you see that the bear ate the book anyway. The kids laughed at this turn of events, though they felt bad when the realized that Brother Hugo would have to repeat the whole process again.

This book is really a treasure. It could be used for studies on medieval Europe, or in an art class — these monks were truly amazing — or just for fun.

The Night After Christmas

Today I’ve got a bittersweet story about the night after Christmas.

It’s by James Stevenson, and he is also the illustrator. Teddy and Annie find themselves thrown out with the garbage after their owners get fancy new toys for Christmas.

They meet a very nice dog named Chauncey who offers them a place to stay.

Chauncey’s home isn’t fancy but it’s warm. Teddy and Annie try very hard to get used to it, but it’s a struggle. Teddy is sure that they can remake themselves into desirable toys, but Annie remains unconvinced.

One day Chauncey leaves and when he returns, says he has a special place for them.

He leaves them as a flood of children come out of the school, and when the crowd finally clears, Annie and Teddy are gone.

The story has a wonderful ending, but I’m sad kids would throw out their toys. Many times over the years I’ve wished I still had my My Little Ponies, my Strawberry Shortcake baby doll or other bits and pieces of my childhood. It’s nice to think that those toys may have found new homes just like Teddy and Annie.

The Christmas Cat

Is it really a surprise to see that I’ve chosen a cat related Christmas book for today? I don’t think so. The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes is a story about an abandoned cat who finds a bit of Christmas magic.

The little cat is traveling through a cold and snowy forest looking for a new home. He knows he isn’t safe but he keeps hoping he will find a new home.

At the same time, two brothers are preparing for Christmas in their warm and cozy home. They are thankful for their home and that their animals are safe and warm in the barn. One of the boys even says he’d let wild animals in to keep them warm too.

The little cat awakens in the forest and is drawn with the other animals to a mysterious stranger. The bearded man brings them food and greetings before noticing the cat.

He sees that the little cat doesn’t belong in the forest so he picks him up and takes him to a home where he will be welcomed.

This story touched my heart, I hate to think of animals abandoned or neglected during the winter. Last year a homeless kitten hitched a ride home in my husband’s truck engine compartment. Once we finally caught him, he was adopted by a friend and went from a scared, malnourished feral cat, to a sweet, plump house cat. He wasn’t brought to us by a familiar bearded stranger, but I think someone somewhere knew we would find Hemi a home. (He was in the Dodge truck’s hemi engine.)