Little Girl With Seven Names by Mabel Leigh Hunt

Before there was Tikki-tikki-tembo-no-sa-rembo-chari-bari-ruchi-pip-peri-pembo, author Mabel Leigh Hunt (b.November 1, 1892, d.September 3, 1971) told the story of a little Quaker girl named Melissa Louisa Amanda Miranda Cynthia Jane Farlow, a girl with a great long name almost as long and almost as troublesome to her as Tikki-tikki-tembo’s name was to him.

Melissa Louisa is named after her two grandmothers and her four maiden aunts, and even when the other children make fun of her very long name, she finds that she can’t get rid of any part of it, for fear of offending or hurting one of the family members that she dearly loves. What is a little girl to do?

This beginning chapter book of only sixty-four pages is just the right length for beginning readers who are working their way up into books with more text than pictures. Melissa Louisa is about six or seven years old in the stories, and she acts like a six or seven year old. The ensuing misunderstandings and adventures are tame enough but also surprising and delight-filled for young readers.

Author Mabel Leigh Hunt is not to be found in Jan Bloom’s two volumes of Who Should We Then Read?, but she is a worthy author with a gift for storytelling. Two of her books won Newbery Honors: Have You Seen Tom Thumb? in 1943 and Better Known as Johnny Appleseed in 1951. Ms. Hunt was born into a Quaker family herself, and as an adult she became a librarian and then an author, often writing about Quaker boys and girls in her books. The books, which have an old-fashioned air and a childlike sense of humor, are fresh and lively and suited to a new generation of children who like to read about “olden times and places.”

Other books for young readers about Quaker children:
The Double Birthday Surprise (or Present) by Mabel Leigh Hunt.
Cupola House by Mabel Leigh Hunt.
Tomorrow Will Be Bright by Mabel Leigh Hunt.
Lucinda, A Little Girl of 1860 by Mabel Leigh Hunt.
Beggar’s Daughter by Mabel Leigh Hunt.

The Arrow Over the Door by Joseph Bruchac.

Thee, Hannah! by Marguerite de Angeli.

The picture book series of Obadiah books by Brinton Turkle:
Obadiah the Bold
Thy Friend, Obadiah
Obadiah and Rachel
Adventures of Obadiah

For middle grade and young adult readers:
Lark in the Morn by Elfrida Vipont. About a Quaker family in England.
The Lark on the Wing (The Haverard Family, #2) Carnegie Medal winner, 1950.
The Spring of the Year (The Haverard Family, #3)
Flowering Spring (The Haverard Family, #4)
The Pavilion (The Haverard Family, #5)

They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth.

Downright Dency by Caroline Snedeker. Newbery Honor book.

Books about real Quaker heroes and heroines:
The Quakers by Kathleen Elgin.
The Thieves of Tyburn Square: Elizabeth Fry (Trailblazer Books #17) by Dave and Neta Jackson.
Key to the Prison by Louise A. Vernon. Historical fiction about Quaker founder George Fox.
Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry. Fictional story of Quaker artist Benjamin West.
William Penn: Quaker Hero (Landmark Book No. 98) by Hildegarde Dolson.
Penn by Elizabeth Janet Gray.
The World of William Penn by Genevieve Foster.
John Greenleaf Whittier: Fighting Quaker by Ruth Langland Holberg.
Windows for the Crown Prince by Elizabeth Gray Vining. A memoir about Ms. Vining’s experiences just after World War II in tutoring Crown Prince Akihito, the heir apparent to the Japanese throne. Ms. Vining was a convert to Quakerism.

2014: Quaker Books for Quaker Kids by Elizabeth Bird at A Fuse #8 Production.

Born August 3rd

Two of my favorite novelists have birthdays today: Baroness Phyllis Dorothy James (b. 1920, d.2014) and Leon Marcus Uris (b. 1924, d. 2003).

Although I like her detective novels very much, my favorite P. D. James novel as of now is Children of Men, a dystopian novel about a world where no children are born. I suggest that those who are prone to look askance at large families and pro-life ideals read James’ rather chilling picture of a future with no children at all. Read my review here. The movie version of Children of Men skews the themes and the plot of the book to make it more about refugees and anti-refugee sentiments than about fertility and the tragedy of a world without human reproduction.

Leon Uris is sometimes described as a “Zionist” and one obituary in the British newspaper The Guardian referred to him as a racist for his portrayal of Arabs in his admittedly pro-Jewish novels. I think this is an unfair accusation, but if you are Palestinian, or sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, you might not enjoy Uris’ novels as much as I do. Exodus, Mila 18, and QB VIII are all great stories with lots of historical information about Israel and the experience of modern Jews in Europe during and after World War II.
My thoughts about Uris and James and their books on this date in 2004.

Uris’ most famous book,Exodus, was made into a move with Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint in the lead roles. Reviews of the movie are mixed (I’ve never seen it), however, composer Ernest Gold won the Academy Award for Best Original Score of the movie Exodus at the 1960 Oscars. I recommend both the movie music and the book.

Pat Boone wrote the following lyrics for the Exodus main theme:

“The Exodus Song”

This land is mine, God gave this land to me
This brave and ancient land to me
And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plain
Then I see a land where children can run free

So take my hand and walk this land with me
And walk this lovely land with me
Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

To make this land our home
If I must fight, I’ll fight to make this land our own
Until I die, this land is mine

Also born on this date:
Mary Calhoun, picture book author of Hot-Air Henry and other books about Henry the Adventurous Cat. I like the story of Henry getting trapped in a hot air balloon and going for a wild ride.
Ms. Calhoun also wrote Cross Country Cat, High-Wire Henry, Henry the Sailor Cat, and Henry the Christmas Cat—all about Henry, a cat of many adventures. And she is the author of the Katie John series of books about a girl growing up in a midwestern family in the 1960’s. The books in order are Katie John, Depend on Katie John, Honestly Katie John!, and Katie John and Heathcliff. Be aware that Katie John grows over the course of the four books from tomboy and president of the “Boy-Hater’s Club” to a fan of Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and a boy admirer. The books were published over fifty years ago, however, and the boy-hating and the romantic elements in the final book are quite innocent and unobjectionable. And Katie John is a lovable and irrepressible character throughout the series.
I have High-Wire Henry and the first three Katie John books in my library, available for check out.

Holling C. Holling, b. 1900

August 2nd is the birthdate of author Holling Clancy Holling, who wrote several books that are wildly popular among homeschooling moms and their children:

Paddle-to-the-Sea. A native American boy carves a small canoe and sends it off on a journey from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean. It takes four years, an many mishaps and adventures, for the canoe with its tiny carved paddler to reach the ocean. And there’s something fascinating about tracing the journey through the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, and the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean at last. Paddle was a Caldecott Honor book in 1942.

Tree in the Trail. A cottonwood tree grows near the Santa Fe Trail somewhere in Kansas, and as it grows events and travelers make history from the time of the native Americans and the buffalo hunts to the time of the American settlement of Kansas in the early 1850’s.

Seabird. Similar to Paddle in some ways, in this story an ivory scrimshaw gull carved by a young sailor travels the world on a whaling vessel, clipper ship, steam ship and finally on an airplane.

Minn of the Mississippi. A three-legged snapping turtle swims south from the source of the Mississippi to the Mississippi delta, and readers find out all about the geography of the river and the life cycle of the snapping turtle.

These four books I have in my library, available for check out. These others by Holling, I don’t have, but I would like to own them. If you happen to have an extra copy of any of these, please send it my way.

Pagoo. Explore the ecosystem of the tide pool with Pagoo, the hermit crab.

Book of Cowboys. Lots of information about cowboys and cattle drives, folded into a simple story.

Book of Indians. A review from my blog-friend, Amy at Hope Is the Word.

Rocky Billy: The Story of the Bounding Career of a Rocky Mountain Goat. Doesn’t this one sound interesting–just from the title?

Mr. Holling wasn’t always known as Holling Clancy Holling. He was born Holling Allison Clancy, and his he only changed his name to the “pen name” that he is know by today as a result of a signature misapprehension. He wrote his first name, Holling, in fancy letters underneath his printed name “Holling Clancy” on his paintings, and people assumed his name was Holling Clancy Holling. So he had it legally changed. Oh, and his wife, Lucille, also an artist, helped with the books and their illustrations.

Christmas in Maine, 1858

Earmuffs for Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy.

Chester Greenwood was born on December 4, 1858. He allegedly had large, cold ears and invented earmuffs to protect those ears at the age of 15. Well, according to author Meghan McCarthy, Chester at least improved the idea of earmuffs and got a patent for his new, improved earmuffs.

Ms. McCarthy’s illustrations are not my style, bug-eyed people with big heads and little beady pupils. But others might find the cartoonish people set in simple scenes to be just right. To each his own.

I do think Ms. McCarthy does a good job of telling Chester Greenwood’s story, the story of an inventor and an entrepreneur who didn’t “change the world” but did make his own small mark on it. In 1977, the Maine legislature declared Dec. 21 (the first day of winter) as Chester Greenwood Day.

Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken

Before there were “steampunk” and “alternate history” and multiple volume fantasy series in children’s books, there was Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase sequence, made up of twelve middle grade novels “set in an imaginary period of English history which never took place: the reign of King James III, in the earlier part of the nineteenth century, when England was still sadly plagued by wolves.”

Black Hearts in Battersea is the second book in the series. Joan Aiken’s website, created by her daughter Lizza Aiken, is full of treasures, including this bibliography of the over 100 books that Ms. Aiken wrote. The Wolves sequence in order consists of:

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Black Hearts in Battersea
Night Birds on Nantucket
The Stolen Lake
The Cuckoo Tree
Dido and Pa
Is (Is Underground)
Cold Shoulder Road
Limbo Lodge (Dangerous Games)
Midwinter Nightingale
The Witch of Clatteringshaws
The Whispering Mountain
(prequel to the series)

Black Hearts is a great stand-alone story, but it probably makes more sense and carries more depth if you read the books in order. I’ve read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and reading Black Hearts made me want to go back and re-read it and then read all of the others in the series, something that not too many contemporary fantasy series can inspire me to commit to. If you like Maryrose Wood’s Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series or perhaps Leon Garfield’s atmospheric and very British historical fiction, the Wolves sequence might be just up your alley.

Many of the characters who dominate the later books in the series are introduced or developed in Black Hearts, including Simon the orphan, his good friend Sophie, and Dido Twite the ragamuffin offspring of Simon’s neglectful and suspicious landlords. The story also features ships and piracy, bombs and plots, a very useful tapestry, and a rose-colored hot air balloon.

Joan Aiken was born on September 4, 1924 in Sussex, England. She grew up in a country village with a mother who “decided that I’d learn more if she taught me herself than if I went away to school” and an American father, Conrad Aiken, who was a Pulitzer-prize winning poet and author himself. Joan’s parents divorced when she was a child, and her mother married another author, Martin Armstrong. Ms. Aiken wrote books for children and adults, and she received the Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction in 1969 and the Mystery Writers’ of America Poe Award in in 1972. She died in 2004. The last two books in the Wolves sequence were published posthumously.

The Silver Pencil by Alice Dalgliesh

A 1945 Newbery Honor book, The Silver Pencil really isn’t a children’s book at all. It’s more of a young adult fiction book in the tradition of L.M. Montgomery’s sequels to Anne of Green Gables or her Emily of New Moon books, or maybe more like Little Women, the book that The Silver Pencil alludes to and depends upon for its framing device. (The main character, Janet, is a fan of Little Women, and hence of the United States, a country she has never seen until she comes to New York to study in her late teens, except in the pages of Alcott’s inspirational book.)

The Silver Pencil is also quite the autobiographical novel:

“Born October 7, 1893 in Trinidad, British West Indies, to John and Alice (Haynes) Dalgliesh, Alice immigrated to England with her family when she was 13. Six years later she came to America to study kindergarten education at the Pratt Institute in New York City. She eventually received a Bachelor in Education and Master in English Literature from the Teachers College at Columbia University. While she was at school Dalgliesh applied for and received her naturalization as an American citizen. She taught for 17 years at the Horace Mann School, while also leading courses in children’s literature and story writing at Columbia.”

The Silver Pencil‘s protagonist, Janet Laidlaw, also moves from Trinidad to England and then to the United States, to study kindergarten education. She has some health issues and also spends some time recuperating in Nova Scotia, Canada. Janet becomes a kindergarten teacher, but finds that she is better suited to be a writer. She struggles with young adult sorts of issues: finding her vocation, responding to the men who come into her life, deciding in what country her true citizenship should lie. I daresay most young adults don’t need to make the final decision, but they do decide how much of a citizen they will be and what citizenship and civic duty entail.

I liked the book, but it’s not going to appeal to the masses. For teen and twenty-something girls who like stories about bookish and thoughtful young ladies growing up in and earlier time period (again fans of Montgomery’s Emily books, perhaps), The Silver Pencil might be just the thing.

Happy Birthday Mr. Houseman and Mr. Frost

I am taking a blog break for Lent, but I thought I’d share some of my old posts from years gone by. I’ve been blogging at Semicolon since October, 2003, more than eleven years. This post is copied and edited from March 26, 2010.

A.E. Houseman, b.1859.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry

Robert Frost, b.1874.
The Door in the Dark
Fire and Ice
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
A Time to Talk
A Prayer in Spring

Happy Birthday, Monsieur Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne, b. 1533.

Advice for bloggers from Montaigne:
Don’t discuss yourself, for you are bound to lose; if you belittle yourself, you are believed; if you praise yourself, you are disbelieved.

When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.

It is more of a job to interpret the interpretations than to interpret the things, and there are more books about books than about any other subject: we do nothing but write glosses about each other.

It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.

There were never in the world two opinions alike, any more than two hairs or two grains. Their most universal quality is diversity.

He who has not a good memory should never take upon himself the trade of lying.

I speak the truth, not my fill of it, but as much as I dare speak; and I dare to do so a little more as I grow old.

Happy Birthday, HWL

“The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

American Authors of the 19th Century - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, b. 1807.

It Is Not Always May:
“Maiden, that read’st this simple rhyme,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay ;
Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime,
For O ! it is not always May !”

Paul Revere’s Ride:
“In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.”

Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie:
“Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way-side,
Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!”

Travels by the Fireside:
“Let others traverse sea and land,
And toil through various climes,
I turn the world round with my hand
Reading these poets’ rhymes.”

The Children’s Hour:
“Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.”
*Why is it that the Children’s Hour lasts all evening at my house?

Excelsior:
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star,
Excelsior!

The Wreck of the Hesperus:
He wrapped her warm in his seaman’s coat
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
And bound her to the mast.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere:
“So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!”

What The Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist:
“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
and things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art; to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”

A little inspiration from from Mr. Longfellow.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Grimm

Wilhelm Carl Grimm, b. 1786. While he and his brother Jacob were in law school, they began to collect folk tales. They collected, after many years, over 200 folk tales, including such famous ones as Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, The Bremen Town Musicians, and Rumpelstiltskin. Both Wilhelm and Jacob were librarians. Here’s a Canadian website with stuff for children: games, coloring pages, animated stories, etc.

True story: I once worked in the reference section of a library in West Texas. We often answered reference questions over the phone. One day a caller asked me, “How do you spell Hansel?” “H-A-N-S-E-L,” I replied. The patron thanked me and hung up. About an hour later, I heard one of the other reference librarians spelling into the phone, “G-R-E-T-E-L.”

Here’s a list of some of the most famous of Grimm’s fairy tales, along with a short list of books and other media based on each tale. Do you like to read fairy tale revision novels?

Cinderella, or Aschenputtel
The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson.
Bound by Donna Jo Napoli.
Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.
Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley. Brown Bear Daughter’s review.
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry.
A picture book series of Cinderella stories from around the world by Shirley Climo, including The Egyptian Cinderella, The Persian Cinderella, The Korean Cinderella, The Irish Cinderlad, etc.

The Fisherman and His Wife
The Fisherman and His Wife by Rachel Isadora. (picture book)
The Fisherman and His Wife by Margot Zemach. (picture book)

The Valiant Little Tailor
Mickey Mouse appeared in a Disney cartoon, Brave Little Tailor, based on this tale.

The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Elves and the Shoemaker by Paul Galdone. (picture book)
The Elves and the Shoemaker by Bernadette Watts. (picture book)
The Elves and the Shoemaker by Jim Lamarche. (picture book)

The Goose Girl
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.
Thorn by Intisar Khanani.
The Goose Girl by Harold MacGrath.

Snow White and the Dwarves
Black as Night by Regina Doman.
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.
The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson.
Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen.
1937 Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The 2011 TV series Once Upon A Time features Snow White, Prince Charming, and the Evil Queen as the main characters.

Snow White and Rose Red
The Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman.

Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman, Beautiful picture book version of the traditional tale.

Rapunzel
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli.
Letters from Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes.
Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass.
Rapunzel Let Down by Regina Doman.

Hansel and Gretel
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin.
The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli.

The Bremen Town Musicians

Rumpelstiltskin
Straw into Gold by Gary D. Schmidt.
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde.
A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce.
Rumpelstiltskn’s Daughter by Diane Stanley.
The Witch’s Boy by Michael Gruber.
Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli.
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff.

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