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Imagination is so very powerful and it is a skill that requires practice and should be encouraged. Playing imagination games with simple things that would ordinarily be thrown away is one of the greatest pleasures of childhood. That is what today’s story is all about.

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Christina Katerina & the Box is all about the fact that little children just love cardboard boxes. It begins with a new refrigerator being delivered down the street from Christina’s house. Her mother is all in awe of the new appliance but all Christina can see is the box, which she promptly gloms onto.

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First (with some help from her Dad) she turns it into a castle . . .

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Where she plays happily until her friend in the neighborhood comes home from vacation. Then the box becomes a clubhouse.

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That lasts for while, then in a disagreement over club procedures her friend sits on the roof and squashes the box.

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So she makes it into a race car. That lasts until the box finally collapses; but Christina still won’t let her Mother throw away the box.

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She colors it to make a mansion floor.

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Where everybody has a grand party. After the party her friend cleans up and the mansion floor gets wet and disintegrates. Raking up the box remains Christina’s Mother is glad that the box adventures are over.

But wait, Christina’s friends Mother just got a new washer and dryer . . .

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So off they go on an ocean voyage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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is a cute book in the vein of the Brambley Hedge books. The main difference between the two series is that the Foxwood books include different types of animals living in the community instead of the all mice residents of Brambley Hedge.

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The Foxwood titles were released as small individual titles and then later as two big collections of stories. This is one of the smaller books. I picked it up because I love little anthromorphic animals, what a shocker. The illustrations are really cute and I love the style. Also all the different little animals.

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Like these hedgehogs at the beginning of Treasure. That stone stove is incredible. Take a look at momma hedgehogs prickles sticking through her hat — how precious is that?

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This series definitely came after the Brambley books; proof of that is clearly shown in the jars of jam that are so ubiquitous in the “mouse books”. That aside, the Foxwood books have their own charm and the stories are fun and interesting. The settings are adorable.

Foxwood Treasure starts with Willy the hedgehog being bored and going to visit his grandpa. He and his friends Rue Rabbit and Harvey Mouse are with Grandpa when they find out that the villagers are trying to raise funds to build a village hall. They decide they should do something to help raise money.

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So they go to the library to learn how villagers have made money in the past. I love this library picture! Look at all those little drawers at the base of the shelves. Look at that post and beam construction. A big table to read books at; Wow! If I had a space like this to keep my books in I’d be in heaven.

Anyway back to our story. The kids learn that one of the most successful villagers of the past had an inn where he sold a special lemonade made from his secret recipe.

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So off they go to find and search the (now defunct) old inn. After some adventures, they discover the location of Fox Hall (it was hidden and secret), find the recipe and give it to the village as a whole.

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So they have a party at the newly re-opened Old Fox Inn.

So if you like little animals wearing clothes who live in their own village and are all friends and love to eat, drink and be merry; you should check out this lovely little series of stories/books about the denizens of Foxwood.

 

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A particular passion of mine is little dishes. Children’s or doll’s dishes, pots and pans and all things kitchen. So it makes sense that I also am quite fond of little cookbooks. Like this vintage Little Golden Book:

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Susie’s New Stove is cute, that’s it just plain cute. My copy is a bit grungy but still cute.

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Susie, who is cute as a button, has just gotten a brand spanky new toy stove — which in those days was a little metal electrical stove that did get very hot and really cook things. Which was a bunch of fun, I had a vintage one of these little stoves when I was little and we had bunches of fun using it. Mine looked more 1920s and stood up on curvy legs.

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Learning to cook is a process, like learning to do anything is. First you put on your apron so that not only do you look good (so important) but so you don’t goop up your clothes.

Then you decide what to make and look up (or ask your mother) what you need to make it. This is my favorite recipe from this book:

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You’ll notice it’s not so much cooking as heating up things. And that the essential last step is to turn off the stove. We don’t want to leave a hot little thing to accidentally start any fires. Or melt any of our play children.

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This is the table of contents. It is the last page of the book, sort of ironic placement. Which is the menu for Susie’s Daddy’s birthday meal which he says is delicious. (He’s one of those great dads these storybook children always get.) Actually my Dad was pretty happy with all the little things I cooked but I remember mostly making grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup from a can. My stove was big enough to put a small real saucepan over both burners to make a whole can of soup — boo-yah!

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This last picture is Susie and Mike getting ready to cook a real dinner on the real stove. Ha!

Reading over this post it’s pretty obvious that I’m trying fairly desperately to find a way to feel a little cheeriness/happiness in what seems like an increasing wack-a-doo world. This week I chose to think about silly little food. And cute aprons.

So though it was in a totally disjointed awkward way I hope I gave you a moments respite from the real world.

Remember, more silliness over on Pinterest.

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Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, pictures by Arnold Lobel, 1964.

Miss Suzy is a book that makes me feel all warm and safe. So I decided that today is the day to share it with all of you. It is Ucky outside! The story is about a lady squirrel who lives in a lovely tree house and gets chased out by a nasty squirrel gang. Then she ends up spending the winter in the attic of a house living in an old doll house. She befriends a group of toy soldiers who, in the spring, chase the squirrel gang out of her house. And they all live happily ever after.

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It has printed endpapers, which (as I have said before) I just love.

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Here she is in her house in the tree. It is a most charming house in a lush full autumnal-ish tree. It’s golden and inviting. I think that Miss Suzy’s house would make a spectacular doll house even though just the thought of creating at least the top part of the tree with the house is an extremely daunting prospect. Still, it would make an awesome doll house so it would be worth all the work.

Has anybody made this house? Does anybody want to besides me?

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Here she is cooking and cleaning. Her furnishings are minimal and made of the sorts of things a squirrel might find lying around outdoors. Note that the firefly lamps contain real live fireflies, I’m assuming she swaps them out every day or so that she isn’t keeping them caged until they die. She is after all, a kindly squirrel lady.

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Miss Suzy tucked up warm and cosy in her bed. Don’t you just want to climb in there and go to sleep?

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This is the doll house where she lives for the winter. She found the group of toy soldiers while exploring the attic for things she could use. They had been waiting a long time for someone to find them and play with them. So it worked out well for all of them and they spent the long winter together.

I love the illustrations in this book. The full color images are jewel-like and the limited color images balance the color pictures so that you don’t overload on color and become desensitized to it. By combining both types of pictures the book ends up being more than the sum of it’s parts.

I hope that you have enjoyed Miss Suzy, and remember if you want your own copy it turns up on Ebay and Amazon Marketplace regularly at reasonable prices. (No, I don’t get a cut — I just like to see good books find their people.)

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As promised, I tracked down the follow-up book by A Coney Tale author Paul Ratz de Tagyos. Yup, it’s time for Showdown at Lonesome Pellet.

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An old timey western with coneys (rabbits). What could be better?

This book is sillier and funnier than the first one and little kiddies are gonna giggle a lot when you read it to them. OK, the big kiddies too!

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First off it’s about these coneys who live in a dusty old west town named, yes you guessed it, Lonesome Pellet. Established in the Pellet Rush days it’s now just a quiet little town. Except for the Pointy Brothers.

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As with A Coney Tale a great deal of the charm and humor of this book is in the illustrations. Check out the names of the products at the feed store, my favorite: “We carry Rolinda Moss”. I just love the charges on the wanted posters: Feed Theft, Littering, Smoking, Pushing Coneys, Saying Bad Words, and Being Bad.

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But then a stranger does appear . . . wearing an entirely peculiar hat. A Radish Hat. Will he save the bullied residents of Lonesome Pellet? How?

Well our stranger, being polite as a proper coney should, visits the sheriff and introduces himself. His name is Saladin and his card has his motto “Have Fur — Will Travel”. Why am I not showing you this? Because this post is image heavy enough already.

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So let’s go right to the heart of any old west town: the saloon. In this case the Bunny Hop Saloon where our hero Saladin (sans hat) is having a carrot juice at the bar. Again, for me it’s in the details: the newspaper headline says “Archeologists Claim Discovery of Giant Carrot in Old Flanders” and “Feed Poisoning — We Thought They Were Raisins!”. The signage, the carrot tops littering the floor, the card players, the dumpy little stove, even the pink dressed floozie coney are all a delight to me.

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My favorite bar detail is the carrot juice dispenser. Anyone who’s ever had a cage-living pet has seen this bottle many times. How priceless to put it behind the bar among the bottles and barrels.

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So to reestablish peace, Saladin and the towns folk trap the Pointy Brothers and send them off on the noon train to face justice and jail time.

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And as in all good westerns our intrepid hero walks off into the sunset.

All and all I’m really glad I tracked down and acquired this book for my collection. Amazon has a number of used copies for reasonable prices so if you liked this you can easily get your own copy.

As my book is signed “See y’all on the ol’ bunny trail”.

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‘Cause if you do I’m about to make your day.

He has a new book in the works. And it’s a poem dear to my heart.

Goblin Market - Omar Rayyan

Yes, indeedy: Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. It’s on Kickstarter so go back it already!

I can’t remember where I first saw Omar’s work but it was likely either Spectrum or Cricket magazine. I do remember that it was love at first sight. He has a print of Alice and the Griffin playing chess in his Etsy shop that I just love — if only I could find the wall space. Oh, the curse of the itty little house. Ok, so I could likely shoe horn it in somewhere — the large is only 13 x 19 inches, but just now I defo can’t afford it and getting it framed too. It will have to be a “do it later” project for now.

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This is an image heavy post for which I give no apology; this book has so many great pictures that it was hard not to include even more.

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A Coney Tale combines two of my favorite things: Bunnies and 17th century Flanders.

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Peaceful walks in the country.

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Playing in the park. Have you noticed that coneys love to play ball?

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Practicing archery with your Dad and making a momentous discovery concerning that gianormous tree. Holbun the Younger seems a bit anxious about archery.

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Sharing the discovery with the community councillors. No coney needs to be asked twice to eat something. Coneys are widely renown for their eating proclivities. I just love that flemish council room decor. Can you spot the Old Master painting in this scene?

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Mining for carrot, complete with engineering diagram. Not only is this book silly, it teaches a thing or two about real life Flanders. OK so it teaches them in a very silly way but I think that makes for a better story.

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Everyone gathers for the pulling up of the giant carrot.

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Away it goes . . . skyward. My favorite part of this picture is the coney on the left clutching his face (reminds me of The Scream by Edvard Munch).

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Wow, that’s one big carrot! The coneys stand in awe, for a few minutes anyway. Then they mow down on the biggest feast they’ve ever seen.

I just love this line: No coneys were hurt, as they are generally a rather bouncy group.

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The story ends with a grand ceremony in the remodeled park where the Holbun family is honored for their delicious discovery.

This book is out-of-print but plenty of copies are still available on the internet for reasonable prices. So if you’ve enjoyed this post you can certainly lay your hands on a copy for you and any little coney loving children you might want to share it with.

The author also wrote another coney book called Showdown at Lonesome Pellet, which I’m certainly going to be checking out.

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