Books: Angus and the Ducks, told and pictured by Marjorie Flack
1943, Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Happy May! I checked the hedgerows and the may is definitely blooming, so it’s official. Here is what we’ve been up to lately.
I recently reread Angus and the Ducks, a very fun little book about a dog named Angus (no, not that one). The pictures are very interesting and striking as well.
I’ve also been reading some classic mysteries, as usual.
As the weather gets warmer I always feel like eating things that are fresh and raw, but I don’t want to fiddle with complicated salads. I normally just chop up whatever’s about.
This is even nicer when you put it in a jar with some sea salt, olive oil and lemon juice and leave it overnight, and it goes with pretty much anything.
Before the grass gets too long and the bugs too numerous, now us a great time to walk around barefoot. It’s a long school term for us here, everyone is cooped up with SATs and things, when we’d all prefer to be enjoying the first warm weather. So we try to grab any chance we can to get outside.
Books: The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring by Lucille Clifton; pictures by Brinton Turkle
1973, Dutton The Spring Rabbit by Joyce Dunbar; illustrated by Susan Varley 1994, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
Although we’re at the end of spring break, I have to say it’s still pretty chilly here, not to mention rainy. I know a lot of you are in mud season or even still socked under a load of snow.
Here are two books about how Spring can often feel a long time coming. The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring is about a little boy called King Shabazz who didn’t believe in Spring. One day he gets fed up of hearing about crops growing and bluebirds (which seem mythical to him), and about Spring being just around the corner. He sets off with his best friend Tony on a big adventure: around the corner.
Along the way they see many interesting things in their neighbourhood, and the illustrations are really fun and realistic, showing the ’70’s city scene as the kids walk through it. The clothes and the cars alone are great.
Of course in the end they do find Spring, and it’s as magical and wonder-inspiring as it should be, even though it’s only the tiniest of signs. Which is a nice message and a good reminder that wherever we live, Spring is for us too…even if we don’t currently have nice weather or wildflower meadows to frolic in!
This is a really fun story which has a powerful feeling of a specific time and place, but it’s also pretty timeless. It’s very effective at getting the reader into the mindset of a child and allowing us to feel the wonderment at very little things which kids (even those who think they know it all!) feel.
The next book is called The Spring Rabbit and is about a rabbit named Smudge who desperately wants a sibling to play with, but everyone keeps telling him to wait until Spring.
Smudge has a very hard time waiting through the Autumn and Winter. He keeps looking and hoping, but everyone continually tells him to wait until Spring.
Finally, Spring arrives and Smudge gets two brothers and a sister!
This book really conveys the frustration of waiting for something, whether it’s a new sibling or Springtime, so it would certainly be a useful read for a child who is impatient about something. The illustrations are light and airy and have a real springy feeling.
When I think of Spring food I automatically think of eggs.
When it comes to eggs, it’s best to get the highest quality ones that you can. We are very lucky to live near a farm where we can get eggs from very happy pastured chickens. You can tell from how orange the yolks are that they have a lot of nutrition. Here are three ways to make eggs that are almost as enticing as Weissman’s buns and the take-out shop bar-b-q.
Eggs with Spring Greens
4 pastured eggs
2/3 cup milk (or coconut milk)
1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
1 leek, chopped
2 cups sugar snap peas (mange tout), chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 handful fresh sprouts such as mustard or cress
Any other greens of choice (optional)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Hot sauce to serve (optional)
Heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat until it is a little sizzly. Add the garlic, leeks, peas, most of the sprouts, and any other green things you like. Cook down until the leeks are getting soft, about five minutes. Add the eggs and milk together in a bowl with the salt and pepper and whisk them until they are frothy. Then take the vegetables out of the pan and put them aside. Add a little more butter if you need it, and still on a medium heat, add the eggs. As they are cooking, pull the eggs in from the sides with a spatula to make big curds. When the eggs are mostly cooked (which should take no more than a couple of minutes) spoon the greens on top of them and cover the pan with a lid for another couple of minutes. To serve, top with the remaining mustard sprouts and hot sauce.
Two other nice ways to serve eggs are:
1. On toast with spinach and kombu.
2. With fried rice, green beans, carrots, peas, and sauerkraut.
Eggs on toast with spinach and kombu
Fried rice with green beans, peas, carrots, sauerkraut and eggs
Happy Spring, everyone! I’m sure it will be here soon enough.
Go on a signs of Spring walk and see what you can find. We saw these beauties today by the side of the road:
Book: Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode
2002, The Blue Sky Press
Doing this series has been a lot of fun and has introduced me to some new and interesting books, many of which I will certainly revisit. I think being the last day, however, is even more reason to finish with full festiveness, a little looking back, and a little looking forward.
Christmas in the Country is written by the prolific and varied Cynthia Rylant. It is told from the point of view of someone who lived with her grandparents when she was a little girl. It basically just describes what Christmas was like for her then, from bringing home the tree to taking it down.
My favourite thing about this book is the extremely relatable details, such as how the mismatched and homemade ornaments remind her of her whole life, or how they always got a tree that was a little too big and so they had to squeeze round it in the living room, but how it was the prettiest thing they had.
Or how they put their wet boots and gloves near the stove to dry, and how the dogs all bark at the commotion of Christmas Day. The overall impression is one of appreciation for the little details of life which we often take for granted as adults. The natural, lively and expressive illustrations really enhance this.
Another reason I wanted to recommend this book for today is that many people feel a bit gloomy after the holidays. Even though my family will be leaving our tree up (and squeezing round it in the living room) for a while yet, and the time of “cocoa and blankets” will continue for months to come, there will be a time when we have to pack up the ornaments, and sweep up the fir needles.
But this book, in the beginning and the end, reminds us of all the other things there are to look forward to in the year: “spring walks and summer tomatoes and fall apples,” and then Christmastime again!
I hope your holidays were something special and your New Year continues to be so.