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Having no imagination (like having no sense of humor) is a dire situation and can lead to terrible consequences. As is the case in today’s book Upright Hilda.

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Poor tightly wound Hilda just couldn’t abide any fun. Enjoying ones self was beneath her dignity.

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No playing, no singing, no silliness. “Only fools stand on their head. Only fools enjoy such a tumble.”

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That attitude persisted in Hilda as she grew. No birds, no swings, no dogs near Hilda’s tree. Look at those poor Hilda-afficted children across the street.

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Even her wedding was a no nonsense affair.

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Of course her own children led very stiff upright fun-free lives.

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Then Hilda became ill and, well . . . she died. No one was very sad “for if in life one cannot gladden. Then in death one cannot sadden.” The book also tells us: “Her husband thinking of the fee, bought a plot just three-by-three.”

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Not shown is a picture showing that the casket is partly built from the signs from “Hilda’s tree”; No Dogs, No Birds, No Swings.

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With Hilda gone, the family learns to enjoy life, playing in the sunshine. Love the Dad with his yo-yo.

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The final irony; Hilda will spend eternity on her head. How mortifying. giggle

So mind this lesson well: A life without imagination is nearly as bad as no life at all.

I picked this up at a library sale (what a shock) while on vacation a few years ago. Yes, even on vacation I will hit library sales. Oh yeah, we really looooove books. Picked this one up because I really liked both the story and the illustration style. Especially the small symbolic splashes of hot pink. These drawings remind me of Edward Gorey, whose work I am extremely fond of (I hit my love limit for this post).

So remember to practice your imagination, you don’t want it to get all rusty or undeveloped. Go enjoy something!

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Yes, I am going to go on as if this fun little imagination series of posts was not Rudely Interrupted by reality. So I’m sorry I’ve been gone but really; in the words of Han Solo “It’s not my fault.”

Imagination is a very powerful tool. So very powerful that it is important to remember to use it mindfully. Not carefully, imagination should be allowed to soar and swoop and go to places never before visited . . . but mindfully.

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Sam, Bangs & Moonshine is the story of a fisherman’s daughter Sam (Samantha) who has a expansive imagination. She tells people her mother is a mermaid, that she owns a kangaroo and she talks to her cat (Bangs) who understands and talks back.

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Sam spends her days riding in her dragon-drawn chariot and telling her friend Thomas to go to different places to search for the kangaroo (who’s always just stepped out).

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Her father tells Sam all the time to “talk real” and “stop all the moonshine”. Sam doesn’t listen much, she’s too busy playing imagining games.

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One day without thinking about it, she tells Thomas that the kangaroo went out to Blue Rock, which is far out in the harbor. A bad storm blows in and puts Thomas in terrible danger.

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Sam feels terrible and scared and tells her Father who rushes out into the storm and saves Thomas. Sam has learned a Valuable lesson about real and not-real. From now on she knows to use imagination in a mindful manner.

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The next day Sam’s father brings her a little animal he found on a banana boat while it was unloading. She says it’s a kangaroo, he says “No, it’s a gerbil.” She takes it over to Thomas who is very sick in bed and gives it to him.

This wonderful book shows us how vital it is to not lose sight of what’s around us while we are indulging in imaginative play. Don’t put yourself or others in danger, don’t forget that something is cooking on the stove, don’t forget to cage up the baby in the playpen so it can’t hurt itself, don’t ignore the baby if it needs a change or snack, and don’t sit on the dog/cat. But also do not forget to play around in your imagination, no matter how busy your everyday life gets. Make some time to play.

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I really like the illustrations in this book. The choice of doing them in pen and ink with ink washes and having only one other color (an olive green) really emphasizes that it’s the mind of the reader/imaginer that is populating this world.

Gosh, this has been a really herky-jerky post. I hope you have enjoyed Sam, Bangs & Moonshine any way. If you liked it enough to want a copy you can find a copy pretty easily on ebay or the net. I got mine years ago at a library sale — don’t you just love the library sales? So many books, so little space to put them in my little house.

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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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