Book: Henry and Mudge and the Snowman Plan by Cynthia Rylant, pictures by Suçie Stevenson
1999, Simon & Schuster
You can’t go wrong with Henry and Mudge. On Day 7 we have The Snowman Plan, which continues our snowy theme. In this story, Henry and Mudge see a sign for a snowman contest.
This is obviously very exciting!
Henry tells his father, who is busy painting a chair green, and has gotten green paint all over himself. But his father is as enthusiastic about the Snowman Plan as are Henry and Mudge.
There are many interesting snowmen in the competition, but most especially Henry and his father’s, which is a depiction of the father painting a chair green.
In the end they win third place, for “most original”.
It’s nice that Henry and his father are as excited about winning third place as if they had won first. This is a very charming book, extremely positive and fun, with expressive illustrations, and small children will find it very funny.
For this New Year, I hope we all find something we are as excited about as Henry is about the Snowman Plan, and as Mudge is about dessert!
Books: Mr. Putter & Tabby Catch the Cold by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Arthur Howard
2002, Harcourt, Inc. Henry and Mudge get the Cold Shivers by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Suçie Stevenson 1989, The Trumpet Club
Well, here we are again! I’m very sorry for the big gap in posts. I was so busy and tired that I just couldn’t keep up. However, I’ve since changed jobs and have much more time and energy. And I have a lot to catch up on!
Being so tired and stressed took a big toll on me, and I spent a long time being pretty sick. But this time of year many of us suffer from that one cold that goes around and gets everyone (especially if you have/work with kids). So I thought we’d start with a couple of books by Cynthia Rylant for sick days. Mr. Putter & Tabby Catch the Cold is part of the Mr. Putter & Tabby series. Mr Putter is an older gentleman who lives with his cat, Tabby. It would be suitable for kids of any age, but it would be good for those who are just starting to read chapter books, as it has four short, easy chapters and fairly simple text. It takes place during Winter. Mr Putter and Tabby love the snow and they love being cozy. They really know what to do on a snowy day: make tea and muffins, light the fire and watch the snow fall. Perfect! But then Mr Putter catches a cold by going out to get the newspaper funnies without a hat. When Mr Putter was a child, colds were fun. His mother brought him soup and tea and adventure books. But the plight of a grownup with a cold is different. You have nobody to look after you (and usually you have to take a lot of cold medicine and go to work…yuck). You can’t lie in bed with toys, soup, tea, and The Call of the Wild.
The rest of the story is about how Mr Putter’s neighbor, Mrs Teaberry, and her dog Zeke, help Mr Putter to get his soup, tea, and adventure book. Zeke brings Mr Putter a Thermos of chicken soup, and another with peppermint tea and honey sticks.
Mr Putter ends up having a great day, and goes to sleep “full of soup and tea and adventure”.
This book is a good read for a wintry day. The illustrations are fluid and charming. Sadly, we have not got a single flake of snow here this year, and I enjoyed looking at the pictures of the snow. If you are lucky enough to have snow, and have some time off, then light the fire, make some soup, muffins, and tea, get cozy, and watch the flakes fall. Still, even if we can’t spend the day in bed, minty tea and adventure books are something almost any of us can enjoy, at home or even during lunch at work. Another book by the same author on a similar theme is Henry and Mudge get the Cold Shivers: The Seventh Book of Their Adventures. Instead of a man and his cat, this series is about a boy and his dog. It has three short chapters and is similar in style and tone. Henry’s big dog Mudge likes it when Henry has a sick day and gets to stay home in bed. Nobody thinks Mudge can get sick, but one day he does, and he has to go to the vet. Henry is worried about Mudge, and the pages where he is sitting in the waiting room are actually quite sad.
It turns out that Mudge just has a cold, and the previous description of Henry’s sick days (Popsicles, comic books, and crackers) are contrasted with Mudge’s (ice cubes, a rubber hamburger, and crackers). Of course Mudge gets well and there is a happy ending. This is a fun book which actually does address how scared kids can be when their pet is ill. Having read this to a bunch of six year olds, they really liked it, particularly Mudge himself. The only food in the book is the Popsicles and crackers. I never had Popsicles when sick as a child, but I did have crackers in my soup. So here is my family’s recipe for classic chicken soup. Chicken Soup
1 chicken (preferably free-range or pastured), giblets removed
2 stalks celery
3 carrots Method
Put a big pot of water on the stove on high heat. You could cut up the chicken here, but I never bother. A 3 lb/1kg-ish chicken fits right in my big pot. The water does not need to fill the pot, it just needs to cover the chicken. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. As the chicken simmers, ‘scum’ will rise to the top. Get a big spoon and skim it off. This is mostly cosmetic, so I often don’t bother with this either. If you want a clear broth, you can always strain it later. Cut up carrots and celery into vaguely 1 inch pieces and add them to the pot. Cook, simmering, for about 1 to 2 hours, covered, or mostly covered. When the soup is done cooking, take the chicken out of the soup, cool chicken on a plate, then separate chicken meat from bones and skin. Put meat back into soup. Season to taste with salt. You can re-use the chicken bones by putting them in a crockpot with more water to make bone broth.
This soup should be a mild broth. It’s full of goodness and vitamins and will definitely make you feel better! You could add cooked rice or noodles, or have it with crackers.
Of course, if you are sick, and like Mr Putter have nobody to cook for you, soup from scratch might be too much work:
Lazy Chicken Soup Method
Prepare chicken and vegetables as above, put them in a crockpot with a little water, set to low, and go back to it in eight hours! Dilute the broth with water and serve as above.
Extra Lazy Chicken Soup Method
Use bought chicken broth and chicken. Whatever, you’re not feeling well!
Put on your flannel pajamas, crawl into bed with some comic books, and get some rest!