Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summer Reading

The coffee table in my living room, desk (and floor!) in my office, and my bedside table are covered with stacks of books. Some for research for the several projects I have on the go, but most purely for pleasure. What to read, what to read. When in doubt...read a picture book! I had seen Nancy Hundal's Prairie Summer before, but had never read it. A classmate had looked it over closely when I was at school this summer as part of our discussion of picture books. Hundal is a wonderful writer. So lovely to see someone using descriptive, evocative language for kids and not trying to rhyme everything (or anything). Here's a taste:

Snack packed, we went field-roaming
treasure combing,
through burnt, scratchy grass, never smooth green,
wet-filled like at home.
Saw sloughs, cows lips suck greedily at the edge,
tear away chunks of muddy water.
And saw the sky skid off into forever.
Explored it, mapped it, named it -- the Plains of You,
the Rock of Me.

All the while the dung-tinged perfume of the prairie
tickled our nostrils
never stronger near a wild rose or haystack,
just always there.

Like the mosquitoes, whose tickle
left hard and red and hot imprints to scratch.
Scratch. Scratch.

- from Prairie Summer by Nancy Hundal (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1999)

In this book we explore the summer prairie through the eyes of country cousins who've come to visit their city cousins.

Another Hundal book, which I discovered on my childrens' bookcase when I was trying to cull it, is Twilight Fairies. Again, Hundal's strong, poetric prose comes through: "Mom made a cake, a circle of angel food frosted in pink, sugary bliss. She made dainty sandwiches of tomato and cucumber, pitchers of soursweet lemonade." or "Miranda coud hear the tinklehum of fairymerrymaking as she passed her cake, opened her gifts." Tinklehum and fairymerrymaking -- what great words.

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