Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

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Title: Whistle for Willie

Author and Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats

Published: 1964

Main Characters: Peter, his Mother and Father, Willie the dog.

Short Synopsis of the Story: Peter wishes he could whistle. He wants to learn how to whistle so that he can call his beloved dog named Willie. He tries and tries different ways to whistle but no sound comes out from his lips. He goes home and tries on his Father’s hat and then tries to whistle again but even that fails. Peter hides in a cardboard carton that he finds in the street and tries to whistle yet again and this time a whistle is heard! Peter’s dog Willie rushes towards him and responds to the whistle.Later on, Peter’s mother asks Peter to run an errand for her. Peter whistles all the way there and back followed by faithful Willie.

Favorite Part of the Story:  The story is such a simple one. The images are very striking and are drawn with sweeping, colorful brushstrokes that immediately conjure a lively image of city life. We are immediately drawn by the pictures to a young boy’s visualization of his place in a busy city. The story teaches us of the importance of persistence and determination but this is done in such a subtle way that we do not feel that the story is overly moralistic. The way Peter puts his Father’s hat on and feels that this would magically conjure up his whistling powers made me smile. Lastly, the love between a small boy and his dog are endearing.

Library Haul Week Sixteen-2015

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We’ve had glorious weather this past week. The snow has melted, birds are chirping, the first of the gentle buds are forming on the tips of branches. Nature is poised to leap into Spring. We went on a glorious picnic on the weekend. I read a Betty Neels book- ‘Sister Peters in Amsterdam’ on the picnic. I had never read Betty Neels before and was recommended this book by a friend on Instagram. When I received the book from the library I laughed at the funny cover design!

IMG_0470Since then I’ve read a couple of her books and have come to the conclusion that her stories  are a nice, very light read but are a tad formulaic. There is usually a young British nurse, a Dutch doctor and the romances are very genteel… at least the ones I’ve read. What I liked most were descriptions of food, nature, clothing and how charming the books are, if a little repetitive. They are set in interesting locations. Madeira, Amsterdam, Delft and rural England featured in the ones I read. The books are not always very complimentary to women, however. The women always forsake their careers for marriage- which seems to be the be all and end all purpose of life. So if you are willing to overlook the ‘datedness’ of these book you may enjoy them.

‘Whose Body’ by Dorothy L Sayers was my first book by this author who I have been meaning to read forever. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story and am eager to read more about Lord Peter Wimsey. Find the full review of the book here.

‘I Want my Hat Back’ by Jon Klassen was an interesting book for Little M. It was funny and quirky and just a tad cruel. Little M  did not fully comprehend the ending and I didn’t force the truth upon her.

Lastly we have been hooked on the dramatization of the Outlander. Last year I read the book and had mixed feelings about it. I loved the premise of the book- a woman slipping back into time several hundred years into medieval Scotland with a chance to change history. I found the book rather long and some of the descriptions gruesome but overall  I enjoyed it. When I saw the DVD at the library I leapt at the chance to see it. The picturization of rural Scotland is just captivating and the dramatization very well done. Cannot wait to catch up with the second half of the series which is airing now on television.

A good week. I will leave you with my journal entry for the cover of Sayer’s ‘Whose Body’

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Whose Body by Dorothy L. Sayers


Title: Whose Body?

Author: Dorothy L Sayers

Published: 1923

Main Characters: Lord Peter Wimsey (amateur detective), Inspector Parker (Wimsey’s friend and accomplice), Inspector Sugg (Scotland Yard), Bunter -Lord Peter’s butler, a host of different suspects.

Book Setting: LondonEngland in the 1920s.

Short Synopsis of the Story:  The body of a man is discovered in the bathtub of a Mr. Thipps, wearing nothing but a pair of pince nez. Nobody knows anything about the identity of the man and even less about how he came to be in Mr. Thipp’s bathtub.On the same day that the body is discovered Sir Reuben Levy, a wealthy  financier goes mysteriously missing. Could the two incidents be connected? Lord Peter Wimsey puts his wits to the test in order to get to the bottom of the question, aided by Parker and his faithful butler Bunter.

Thoughts About the Book: I’m a great enthusiast of the mystery novel genre especially books that hail from the ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction. It seemed natural that I should look towards the works of one of the stalwarts of the genre – Dorothy L Sayers herself. Initially I found the character of Peter Wimsey delightful but a tad superficial. He reminded me a little of Bertie Wooster with all the hallmarks of the English aristocracy. In the opening page, Sayer’s quirkily and memorably describes Wimsey’s appearance as follows:

His long, amiable face looked as if it had generated spontaneously from his top hat, as white maggots breed from Gorgonzola.

Lord Peter lives in a block of new expensive flats opposite Green Park, dines at the Club, buys expensive rare antiquarian books, plays the piano, keeps a butler and dabbles in detective work in his spare time to amuse himself. However, as the story progresses and more details of Wimsey’s character become apparent we start to gain a greater understanding for his actions and motivation in his life. Wimsey has a great regard and respect for his butler Bunter. We learn that they both were comrades in the Great War. Bunter is therefore privy to Wimsey’s weaknesses, especially his nightmares that are the result of shell shock during the war.

Wimsey is highly conscientious. When he finds himself deeply embroiled in the mystery, he confides in Parker-

“That’s what I’m ashamed of, really,” said Lord Peter.”It is a game to me, to begin with, and I go on cheerfully, and then suddenly see that somebody is going to be hurt, and I want to get out of it.”

Parker responds to Lord Peter-

‘Life’s not a football match. You want to be a sportsman. You can’t be a sportsman. You’re a responsible person.”

The ever jocular Peter Wimsey responds –

“I don’t think you ought to read so much theology,” said Lord Peter.”It has a brutalizing influence.”

Conclusion: Its very difficult to write a review of a mystery story without giving something away but I will say that Sayer’s presents an intelligent plot in this mystery novel. What sets Sayers apart from others is the depth of her intelligence. This is evident in her wit and her ability to humanize a character. By the end of the novel not only do we start to respect Lord Peter Wimsey but we are also eager to learn more about his character and all his future detective endeavors. A great start to a detective series.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

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Title: I Want My Hat Back

Author and Illustrator: Jon Klassen

Published: 2011

Main Characters: A bear, a rabbit, a pointed red hat and several woodland characters.

Short Synopsis of the Story: A bear has lost his hat. He politely asks several woodland creatures that he passes whether they have seen his hat or not. One particular woodland character, a rabbit (wearing a pointed red hat) rather strongly denies that he has stolen the hat and quickly dismisses the bear. Later on the bear rather sadly lies down on the ground and worries he may never see his hat again. One woodland creature comes up to him and asks him what the hat looks like. The bear says it is red and pointed and only then is struck with the thought that he has seen the hat recently on someones’s head! He travels back to the rabbit and accuses him of stealing the hat.

Next we see the bear sitting down with the hat back on his head. A passing squirrel asks the bear if he has seen a rabbit. The bear protests very loudly that he has neither seen nor eaten a rabbit. He asks the squirrel not to ask him anymore questions.

Conclusion: I enjoyed the part of the story where the rabbit and the bear protest too loudly especially when they are in the wrong. This made me laugh. However, the fact that the bear had eaten up the rabbit to retrieve his hat was a hard story to deliver to my three year old. When I told her, she very aptly responded with,”Did he need to eat the rabbit up?”

Did he indeed?

Library Haul-Week Thirteen -2015

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Week 13 is the week that Spring was supposed to arrive. Instead we had snow in Massachusetts. Admittedly, not knee deep, masses and masses of snow. But enough snow to remind us that the idyllic springtime picture of daffodils, violets, cherry blossom, green buds on trees and chirping birds was a far cry away. On a positive note, cold temperatures are conducive to staying indoors and enjoying books and movies.

We brought home books for Little M- namely The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and video content in the form of Bambi. This was a re-watch, clearly Little M liked this movie enough to want to see it again.

For me this week was hit and miss- I followed up my recent reading of Christianna Brand’s wonderful mystery novel ‘Green for Danger’ with its Criterion Collection movie counterpart. As (nearly) always the movie failed to live up to the original book. One of the major problems was that the book was still very fresh in my memory- I remembered all the subtle nuances of plot and had already even etched out how the characters looked in my mind. One of the major characters had been omitted and also a major love story completely wiped away and this thoroughly upset me. Do read the original book if you get a chance and have an inclination for reading crime fiction. I loved the book so much that I even painted the cover in my journal.

‘Nightingale Wood’ by Stella Gibbons was a beautiful, 1930s Cinderella story told to perfection. Read the full book review here. Cannot wait to read EVERYTHING else by her starting with Cold Comfort Farm. I will leave you this week with an attempt at sketching the cover of Green for Danger in my journal. Cheerio!


The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

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Title: The Story of Ferdinand

Author: Munro Leaf

Illustrator: Robert Lawson

Published: 1936

Main Characters: Ferdinand the bull.

Short Synopsis of the Story: The story is set in Spain. Ferdinand the bull is a placid creature. When his fellow bulls are busy playing aggressive games and fighting with one another, nothing pleases Ferdinand more than to sit  quietly by himself and enjoy the scent of the flowers. One day when Ferdinand is much older, several men arrive form Madrid to pick a bull for the fighting. They try to pick the most aggressive bull. On that particular day Ferdinand gets stung by a bee and jumps up and down like crazy. The men from Madrid think he will be the perfect bull for the bullfight and pack him into a cart to be taken to Madrid. On the day of the bullfight, the stadium is packed with excited onlookers. The Banderilleros, Picadores and Matadors enter the stadium and are shivering with anticipation and fear. At last Ferdinand emerges into the ring and to everyones surprise sits down quietly and sniffs the fragrance of the flowers in the ladies’ hair. There is no bull fight that day and Ferdinand is escorted back home where he continues to lead a peaceful life.

Favorite Part of the Story: The message of non- violence is an important one to be taught to children from an early age but I think the concept of bull fighting was beyond the scope of my three year olds understanding. Nevertheless, a worthwhile read to go back to in a couple of years I think.

The Day the Crayons Quit

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Title: The Day the Crayons Quit

Author: Drew Daywalt

Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers

Published: 2013

Main Characters: Duncan, The different colored crayons.

Short Synopsis of the Story: One day during class, Duncan goes to opens his crayons and discovers a stack of letters with his name written on them. Each of his crayons has written him an individual letter airing their grievances regarding Duncans usage of that particular crayon. Duncan in an effort to please each and everyone of his crayons draws a beautiful picture incorporating all the colors of his crayons.

Favorite Part of the Story: The beautiful picture drawn in crayons at the end of the book is perhaps the highlight of the story. All the colored crayons mentioned in the previous pages makes a special contribution to the picture which is characterized by wild animals, sea creatures, boats, wizards, locomotives, and even a special appearance from Santa Clause himself! Of special interest are the green sea, the yellow sky, orange whale and other anomalously colored entities.

My three year old listened with fascination to the individual stories each of the crayons had to tell, the descriptions and pictures of the characteristic objects that the particular crayon in question is used to illustrate. For example red  is used to draw apples, strawberries, fire engines and Santa’s costume.

It is a nice lesson in color for small children, and a visual treat for children and adults.

Moreover, it reminds us that artistic creativity knows no boundaries. We have the artistic license to paint green seas, orange whales and pink sea monsters.