Wednesdays in the Tower

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George

Wednesdays in the TowerThis is the sequel to one of our favorite chapter books, Tuesdays in the Castle.

We return to magical Castle Glower, and to Celie (a strong and resourceful young princess) and her family.  Castle Glower is behaving strangely.  Oh, it still is creating new rooms, or moving rooms around on Tuesdays (when King Glower, Celie’s father, hears petitions), but the castle is doing peculiar things that start to worry the royal family.

Castle Glower shows Celie a new tower room (on a Wednesday), reached by stairs that go beyond the school room, and only appear to Celie.  And, there is an egg – Celie is sure it is an egg – shaped like a pumpkin, and orange, and hot, resting in the middle of the room.  Celie is not sure what kind of egg it is, and hopes it won’t turn out to be a dragon egg.

Still, Celie is drawn to the egg.  She brings up blankets and pillows, and spends time sitting with the egg, reading, and talking to the egg.  The castle brought her to the egg, and isn’t showing it to anyone else, so Celie is sure the castle wants her to take care of it.

When the egg hatches, and the baby griffin imprints on Celie, things get pretty tricky.  Celie manages to get the baby griffin, whom she names Rufus, to her room, but runs into her elder brother, Bran, the royal wizard on the way.  Celie swears Bran to secrecy, and Bran puts a spell on her door to make people think they’ve already done what they came to do, and continue on their way.  Castle Glower approves of Celie telling Bran, and Pogue (a family friend), but won’t let her tell her parents or her other brother or sister — when she tries to tell any of them, the castle slams a door, or drops something down a nearby chimney.

Celie and her other brother, Rolf, begin looking for clues to Castle Glower’s history – why is there a griffin on the flag?  Where do the rooms come from, and where do they go when the castle makes them appear and disappear?  Celie and Rolf collect everything they can relating to the history of the castle, and everything they can find with griffins on it – tapestries, pillows, even an anvil.

Celie finds taking care of a young griffin a bit challenging – especially as the castle wants her to keep it a secret.  She asks the castle for help:

“I’m trying to take care of Rufus, really I am…and I’m trying to be mindful of your wishes and not tell anyone by Bran about him.  But you have got to work with me.”

Castle Glower responds by cleaning up her room, repairing damage Rufus has done to it, providing water and food for him, and a new feather bed for Rufus.   The castle also adds a new door in her room, leading up to a new tower – with empty space, woven floor mats, assorted toys, and a water dish – a new playroom for Rufus.

Castle Glower continues to do strange things – special rooms appear out of season; a second stables appears – one that doesn’t seem built for horses; rooms shift in ways that make getting around the castle more difficult; and Celie and her family become more aware of a twisting sort of feeling in their heads each time the castle moves rooms, or changes.  The arrival of a high wizard, whom the royal children don’t trust, adds to the feeling that something is wrong.  Celie feels that Castle Glower is in danger.

Readers learn some history of Castle Glower – where it came from, how it got there, and even a bit about where the rooms are when they aren’t in the castle with Celie and her family.  Rufus grows rapidly and learns to fly – Celie learns to ride him.

The book ends with Celie, Rufus, and some trusted siblings and friends at the beginning of a new adventure – one that will save Castle Glower from whatever danger it faces.  I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

 

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me Billy is a boy who frequently walks by a boarded-up old sweet shop near his house.  He wishes someone would open up a new sweet shop there – he even wishes that he could make it into a sweet shop again.

Someone does buy the shop, and installs a very tall door.  Writing on the window identifies it as the Ladderless Window Cleaning Company.  Billy then meets the very unusual individuals that make up the window cleaning company:  the Giraffe, the Pelican, and the Monkey.

The group receives a message that the Duke of Hampshire would like to have them clean his windows (all 677 windows plus a greenhouse), so they set off with Billy showing them the way.

When they get to the Duke’s estate, he is urging a gardener to pick the highest cherries from a tree.  As the gardener can’t reach those particular cherries, the Pelly (pelican), with Billy riding in his beak, flies up to pick the cherries.  After some confusion (the Duke thought a monster was stealing the cherries), they agree to pick apples in the fall, and settle down to talk about windows.  The Monkey sings:

 “We will polish your glass

Till it’s shining like brass

And it sparkles like sun on the sea!

We will work for your Grace

Till we’re blue in the face,

The Giraffe and the Pelly and me!”

The window cleaners get to work:  the Giraffe is the ladder, the Pelly is the bucket, and the Monkey is the cleaner.  The Giraffe has a magical neck that can stretch to be a long as she wishes – in this case, as high as the top floor of windows.

“The speed with which the team worked was astonishing.  As soon as one window was done, the Giraffe moved the Monkey over to the next one and the Pelican followed.  When all the fourth-floor windows on that side of the house were finished, the Giraffe simply drew in her magical neck until the Monkey was level with the third-floor windows and off they went again.”

The cleaning team sees a man rummaging through drawers in one of the bedrooms on the third floor, so they tiptoe back to the Duke to tell him.  The Duke declares that someone is stealing the Duchess’ jewels.  The Pelly thinks quickly, flies upside down to dump out the window cleaning water, and swoops into the room with the robber.  The Pelly returns to the group moments later with his beak bulging, the robber inside.

In typical Roald Dahl humor, the Duchess, who was once a famous opera singer, runs out of the house saying her diamonds are gone – and breaks into a version of My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean (….bring back, bring back, bring back my diamonds to me…).

The police arrive, the Pelly opens his beak, and the police take away the notorious thief, the Cobra.  The Duke is grateful to the window cleaning team, and offers to have the Giraffe, the Pelly, and the Monkey live forever on his estate, in exchange, they can have all the food they want (the Duke has special trees for the Giraffe, a salmon river for the Pelly, and walnut trees for the Monkey).  The Duke does ask that they clean his windows, and pick his cherries and apples – and that the Pelly give him a ride every now and then.

The Duke asks Billy if he has “just one extra special little wish all for yourself.”  Billy tells him about his wish for the sweet shop.  The Duke is enthusiastic and says they will make it into the sweet shop.

“We’ll make it into the most wonderful sweet-shop in the world!  And you, my boy, will own it!”

They do rebuild the sweet shop – and stock it with candy from all over the world, including some from Wonka’s chocolate factory.

The Monkey sings a farewell at the end:

“All you do is to look

At a page in this book

Because that’s where we always will be.

No book ever ends

When it’s full of your friends

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.”

This is a relatively short chapter book (less than 100 pages), with a few black and white illustrations throughout.  This is a good book for readers ready to move beyond early readers and into chapter books – and for Roald Dahl fans.  There is mention of violence twice – when the Duke thinks they are stealing cherries, he jumps around waving his walking stick and warning them; and the robber shoots a hole in Pelly’s beak (which doesn’t hurt) when they are waiting for the police.  Overall, a wonderfully silly book.

Kid Lit Giveaway Blog Hop

Kid Lit Giveaway Blog Hop in Honor of Children’s Book Week

Kid Lit Giveaway Hop - Button

I’m trying something new here with Bookworm Bear:  the Kid Lit Giveaway Blog Hop in Honor of Children’s Book Week.  Bookworm Bear will be giving one lucky reader a $20 gift certificate to Amazon.com.  All you need to do to enter (one entry per person, please) is leave a comment with the title of a favorite children’s book, and complete the Rafflecopter entry below.  Good luck, and thanks for stopping by Bookworm Bear!

Since I’m asking you to tell me one (or more) of your favorite children’s books, I’ll share some of mine with you – ones I’ve reviewed on this site already.  So if you want to know more about any of the books, just click on the cover.  Happy reading.

Picture Books

Bears-picture-review-BookwormBear.comMouse-MessIsh-review-BookwormBear.comBear Snores On-review-BookwormBear.com

Bear’s Picture and ish have themes that deal with self expression, and being yourself – and art as you, the artist, want to make it.  Mouse Mess and Bear Snores On are cute, sweet, and were big favorites in this house.

Beginning Readers and Chapter Books

Meet Mr and Mrs Green-review-BookwormBear.comGooseberry Park-review-BookwormBear.combecause of WinnDixie-review-BookwormBear.comTuesdays at the Castle-review-BookwormBear.com

Meet Mr. and Mrs Green is a wonderful beginning reader, sweet and silly.  Henry and Mudge is a good series for beginning readers, too.  Gooseberry Park is a sweet story of friendship and adventure for readers ready to move into chapter books.  Because of Winn-Dixie and Tuesdays at the Castle are great books for 8-12 year old chapter book readers.

 

Giveaway Details:

To enter, make a comment with the title of a children’s book you like.  The book can be a picture book, beginning reader, or chapter book — this also helps me know that yours is a real entry, not made by a random computer on its own.  One entry per person only, please.  Entering several times will disqualify you (sorry, but just trying to be fair here).

This giveaway uses Rafflecopter to collect entries and randomly select a winner.  The winning entry must have made a comment with the title of a children’s book to actually win.  The Giveaway starts at 12:01am on Monday, May 13, 2013, and closes at 11:59pm on Sunday, May 19, 2013.  (Times are EST.)

The prize:  The winner will receive, via email, a $20 gift certificate to Amazon.com.

To enter:  So, to enter the Bookworm Bear Kid Lit Giveaway Blog Hop for a chance to win a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate, enter through the Rafflecopter form below. Don’t forget, you need to leave a comment with the name of a children’s book.  Thanks, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Kid Lit Giveaway Blog Hop in Honor of Children’s Book Week is hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews.  If you get a chance, stop by their blogs.

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The Hundred Dresses

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

The hundred dresses coverThis is a story about Wanda.  But, it is also a story about Maddie, and about Peggy.  It is a story about being a little different, and a story about bullying and how a group treats someone who is a little different.

Wanda was a little different than the other girls in her class.  She lived with her father and brother on Boggins Heights, a little way out of town.  Her last name was Petronski, which was different from the other last names in the class (like Smith, and Allen).  And, she always wore the same light blue, faded (but clean) dress.  The teacher had her sit in the back of the class with the rowdy boys (although she was quiet).

Maddie was poor, too, but not as poor as Wanda.  Maddie sat in the front row of the class, and got good grades.  She was best friends with Peggy, who was the most popular girl in the class.

Nobody really thought much about Wanda, until one day on the way to school.  The girls had gathered around to admire someone’s new dress.  They all were happy and talking excitedly.  Wanda walked by with her big brother, then hesitated, and slowly joined the group.

“Everyone was talking to everybody else.  Nobody said anything to Wanda, but there she was, a part of the crowd…Wanda was somehow enveloped in the group.”

 

“…maybe she figured all she’d have to do was say something and she’d really be one of the girls.  And this would be an easy thing to do because all they were doing was talking about dresses.”

Wanda did say something.  Wanda told Peggy that she, Wanda, had a hundred dresses at home.  Peggy shouted this information to the crowd, which turned silent, and turned toward Wanda and Peggy.  When the school bell rang, the girls ran off laughing and talking, and forgetting about Wanda….until Peggy remembered each day to have ‘fun’ with Wanda by asking her about the hundred dresses.

Maddie wasn’t happy about the ‘fun’ they were having with Wanda.  It made her feel uncomfortable inside, and made her wish Peggy would stop.  But, Maddie didn’t say anything.

“She wished she had the nerve to  write Peggy a note, because she knew she’d never have the courage to speak right out to Peggy…”

 

“She pictured herself in the school yard, a new target for Peggy and the girls.  Peggy might ask her where she got the dress she had on, and Maddie would have to say that it was one of Peggy’s old ones that Maddie’s mother had tried to disguise with new trimmings….If only Peggy would decide on her own accord to stop….”

One day Wanda wasn’t in school.  She wasn’t there the next day, or the day after that.  Maddie noticed, and wondered.  Peggy noticed, too, because she looked for Wanda to have ‘fun’ with her.

The school had a drawing contest for each class – one for boys and one for girls.  Everyone assumed that Peggy would win because she could draw so well.  On the day the winners were to be announced, the children entered their classroom and found it covered in beautiful, colorful pictures of dresses.  The teacher announced that Wanda had won the contest with her one hundred drawings of different dresses.  Everyone admired them.  But, Wanda wasn’t there.

A little later, the teacher read a letter to the class written by Wanda’s father.  The letter said that Wanda and her brother were not going to that school anymore.  The family had moved to the city.  They had left because of teasing and generally feeling unwelcome.

Maddie felt horrible.  She and Peggy walked up Boggins Heights to see if Wanda really had left — the house was empty, the family gone.  Maddie did some serious thinking on her own.

“This was the hardest thinking she had ever done.  After a long, long time she reached an important conclusion.  She was never going to stand by and say nothing again.  If she ever heard anybody picking on someone…she’d speak up.”

Maddie and Peggy wrote a letter to Wanda, intending to apologize, but ended up just being a friendly letter.  Just before Winter break, the class received a letter from Wanda, telling them to keep the drawings of dresses, and saying that one in particular was for Maddie, and one for Peggy.  When Maddie got home, she cried and stared at drawing carefully hung up in her room – and realized that it was a picture of her, and that Peggy’s was a picture of Peggy – in dresses Wanda had created and described to them when they were having ‘fun’ with her.

This is a strong story with some messages about bullying and treatment of others –  but, it is not preachy, and it doesn’t talk down to the reader.  Maddie makes her own realizations and decisions not to stand by ever again while someone is being mistreated.

This story was first published in 1944, so it has a few things from that era that readers may notice.  All of the girls wear dresses to school.  The school desks are lined up in rows, rather than grouped or in tables as many classrooms do now.  And, there is a drawing contest – the girls are to draw dresses, and the boys are to draw motorboats.  I don’t think these things take away from the story.  When my daughter noticed, we talked about different attitudes and expectations in different times in history.

Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

because of WinnDixie

“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”

So begins this compelling middle grade novel by Kate DiCamillo.

Opal, the main character, has just moved to a new town with her father.  She is lonely.  Her mother left when Opal was very young, and Opal’s father, whom she calls ‘the preacher,’ is occupied with his sermons and his church.  Opal’s father cares about her, and knows she is lonely, but he still misses her mother and retreats inside himself on occasion.

So, on that day when Opal goes to the grocery store and finds a stray dog wrecking havoc running around the store, she names him Winn-Dixie and takes him home to save him from the dog pound.  Opal’s father, the preacher, allows her to keep Winn-Dixie even though he says they don’t need a dog.

“I found a dog,” I told him. “And I want to keep him.”

“No dogs,” the preacher said.  “We’ve talked about this before.  You don’t need a dog.”

“I know it,” I said.  “I know I don’t need a dog.  But this dog needs me.”

Winn-Dixie, has a way of smiling at people, and seems to sense moods.  He listens quietly while Opal tells him things she is thinking about and worrying about.  After talking with Winn-Dixie, Opal feels brave enough to ask her father to tell her ten things about her mother – one thing for each year she has been alive.  Opal thinks about her mother a great deal, and mentally collects stories she would like to tell her mother if they ever meet again.

Winn-Dixie helps Opal meet people in town, and make new friends.  Opal and Winn-Dixie become friends with the librarian, who tells her interesting stories about the town and its past; with an old woman who is going blind, who some children call a witch, and who makes wonderful peanut butter sandwiches; with a man who works in the pet store who likes to play his guitar to the animals and was once in jail; with a girl Opal dislikes at first, then begins to like after Opal learns the girl’s little brother died the year before; and with some boys who seem mean and tease her at first.

Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal is happier and less lonely.  And, Opal grows and makes new friends.

This is a book for readers ages 8-12 who can handle the themes of a mother leaving a child, and a lonely child finding a companionship and a place for herself in a new town.

The Cobble Street Cousins

The Cobble Street Cousins series by Cynthia Rylant has a sweet, old-timey feel – with everyday things making the stories, and nothing really upsetting happening.  These books are great for newer readers who are ready to tackle chapter books (around 55 pages), but still enjoy having smaller illustrations on most pages.  The series has at least 5 books.  I’ll discuss the first two here.

In Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Aunt LucysKitchen coverIn this first book of the Cobble Street Cousins series, readers meet Aunt Lucy and her three nieces.  The girls’ parents are touring the world with the ballet (the parents are dancers), so the girls are staying with their Aunt Lucy for a year.  This seems like a good arrangement for everyone.  The cousins (all 9 years old) are good friends – their very different personalities seem to compliment each other.

Rosie is sweet, likes stained glass windows, paper dolls, and crafts.  Her twin sister, Lily, likes to write poems, collects stuffed animal bunnies, and wants to be a writer when she grows up.  Their cousin, Tess, is outgoing, loves to sing (and has a good voice), has a cat named Elliot, and wants to be a famous singer when she grows up.  Aunt Lucy is warm, friendly, and fun – and enjoys spending time with her nieces.  Aunt Lucy owns a flower shop around the corner from her comfortable, old house.

The cousins live in Aunt Lucy’s attic.  They each have a room (created by hanging quilts or folding screens), and have a big area they call the playroom – with blankets and pillows spread on the floor – that has stuffed animals, books, and paints.

AuntLucys girls walkOver the summer, the cousins decide to have a cookie company.  They put up signs and take orders on the phone.  They bake batches of cinnamon crinkle cookies and deliver the cookies.  (Note:  They are dealing with strangers, and do go inside houses to deliver the cookies.  I pointed out to my children that it is not safe to go into strangers’ homes.  But, in the story, the three girls always are together, and nothing threatening ever happens.)

Through the cookie company, the cousins meet Michael, who becomes Aunt Lucy’s beau.  They also meet Mrs. White, a friendly 90 year old woman.  They hold a performance and tea for their new friends.

A Little Shopping by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

ALittleShopping coverThe cousins decide they need a fun project to do after school.  Lily suggests they make a model of Aunt Lucy’s flower shop as a surprise gift for Aunt Lucy.  The others love the idea.

They make a plan, gather materials – and make a trip to The Olde Craft Shoppe for the little things they need to furnish and decorate the flower shop.

They have a wonderful time making the dollhouse-like version of Aunt Lucy’s shop.

ALittleShopping make shopAnd, of course, Aunt Lucy is thrilled with her surprise.  The cousins are happily creative in making the gift.  Other events include going out for ice cream and another trip to the craft shoppe.

The books in The Cobble Street Cousins series deal with friendship, family, and small, fun adventures like having a cookie company or creating a model of a shop.  They are great books for young readers ready for chapter books.

Upstairs Mouse, Downstairs Mole

Upstairs Mouse, Downstairs Mole by Wong Herbert Yee

upstairs-mouse-downstairs-moleMouse and Mole are neighbors, sharing the same tree.  They are friends, and they have their differences.  But, as friends, they try to work out any conflicts with some creative problem solving.

Mole sweeps his hole every morning to keep it tidy.  Mouse sweeps her house every evening – and the dirt falls down into Mole’s hole.  When Mole complains, they come up with a solution.  Together they sweep Mouse’s house, then sweep Mole’s hole.

Mole invites Mouse to lunch.  But, Mole’s hole is dark (Mouse can’t see very well), and damp (Mouse shivers), and she doesn’t like worms.  Mouse invites Mole to dinner.  But, Mouse’s house is bright (Mole can’t see very well), and the smell of Limburger cheese makes his stomach upset.  The solution:  Mole gives Mouse some candles to bring to his hole, and Mouse gives Mole a pair of sunglasses to wear when he visits her house – and they go out for cheesecake and worms.

These are sweet stories – told in four chapters – with colorful illustrations on each page.  The overall feel reminds me of the Frog and Toad books (by Arnold Lobel), with friendship and interesting ways of looking at situations.  This is a good book for young readers who are ready for paragraphs and short chapters.

The Cricket in Times Square

cricket-in-times-squareThe Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, illustrated by Garth Williams

Chester Cricket was a country cricket.  He enjoyed hopping around in his meadow, sitting on his stump, and eating liverwurst.  Chester Cricket hopped onto a picnic blanket to eat part of a liverwurst sandwich – and found himself bundled up with the sandwich into a picnic basket and, via, trains and the subway, he ended up in a pile of dirt in the Times Square subway station.

Chester Cricket made some very good friends in the Times Square subway station.  Mario, whose family owned a newspaper stand, heard Chester’s chirp and carefully dug him out of the dirt and trash – and made a home for him in the newspaper stand.  Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse, who lived together in a drain pipe in the Times Square subway station, became Chester’s friends – talking with him or showing him around whenever the humans were away.

Chester had some adventures with Harry and Tucker like seeing Times Square at night, and sleeping in the newspaper stand cash register (and waking up to find he’d eaten some money).  When Tucker turned on the newspaper stand radio late one night, Chester discovered that he could make music like the tunes he heard on the radio.  Tucker, Harry, and Chester tried out different radio stations and types of music – from opera to pop – and found that Chester could play everything he heard beautifully.

Mario’s family didn’t have much money.  The newspaper stand barely made any money.  When Chester began to make music that humans recognized  – opera, classical, and popular tunes – people crowded around the newspaper stand to listen, and bought newspapers and magazines.

Eventually, Chester grew tired of performing concerts at the newspaper stand.  He gave one last private concert for Mario, then (with Tucker and Harry’s help) got on a train headed out to the country.

This is a wonderful story – full of friendship, problem-solving, and music.

The Blue Hill Meadows

The Blue Hill Meadows by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Ellen Beier

blue-hill-meadowsWillie Meadow lives with his family (mother, father, and big brother) in Blue Hill, Virginia – a green valley with mountains and lakes nearby. Things in Blue Hill seem to belong to a simpler, slower time.  This is a book about Willie and his family, told in four stories.

In the first story, the family adopts a stray dog.  They name her Lady, and they all dote on her in their own ways.  The mother brushes Lady’s coat.  The big brother wakes up early to feed her and take her outside.  The father sneaks her ice cream.  Willie seems to understand Lady the most.

“And when Lady wanted to play, Willie knew how to be a dog for her and tug and jump and roll.  Willie didn’t mind being a dog and sometimes wished he could stay one a good long while.”

When they realize that Lady will have puppies, the family is thrilled.  They find good homes for the puppies, and keep one for themselves (along with Lady of course).

In another story, the father in the family (Sullivan) takes a day fishing trip with one of his sons.

“Sullivan liked to take the boys fishing one at a time (‘to get to know them on their own,’ he’d say), and this delighted Willie.”

On the day of the fishing trip, Willie and his father wake up at dawn, eat a big breakfast, and set off.  They rent a boat on a lake, and spend the morning happily (and quietly) fishing together.  They have a grilled cheese lunch at a nearby restaurant where they talk and tell stories.

In the third story, the weather report says eight inches of snow is coming – and people get carried away, closing shops, getting off the roads, and sending children home early on the school buses.  Willie Meadow is supposed to take a bus home.  But, the buses park in different places and he can’t find his bus.  By the time he finds his teacher to help him look, all the buses have already driven away.  Willie and his family (who come to get him at his teacher’s house) end up waiting out the storm at Willie’s teacher’s house – playing games, making cookies, and playing with cats).

In the final story, Willie’s teacher reminds his students that Mother’s Day is coming.  Willie is worried about this, and wonders how to find the perfect gift for his mother.

“This year he could think only of one thing:  he must give his mother a gift that meant something.”

Two days before Mother’s Day, Willie finds his mother staring out the window watching a large wild rabbit.  And, Willie knows what to do – get her the rabbit.  But, since Willie knows his mother wouldn’t want a wild rabbit in a cage, Willie wants to make the rabbit stay around.  So, on Mother’s Day, Willie plants a garden for the wild rabbit, right under his mother’s tree.  It is the perfect gift.

This is a book of sweet stories of family life, perfect for beginning readers ready to move on to chapter books.  There are small, colorful illustrations on every page.  The text is in longer paragraphs.  There are four chapters.  The stories are full of family comfort and caring, told in Rylant’s flowing, easy-to-follow style.

The End of the Beginning

The End of the Beginning by Avi

End-of-the-beginningAvon was a snail who lived in a tree, read a great many books, and longed for adventure.

“It was absolutely necessary, he decided, to have adventures for himself.  Only then would he be happy.”

He set out to have adventures, and was joined by a new friend, Edward – an ant with some interesting answers to life’s questions.

The two made their way slowly along a branch of the tree, meeting other creatures, sheltering from rain, and discussing ideas.  Avon watched over a caterpillar as it created its chrysalis until it emerged as a butterfly.  Avon and Edward discussed dragons then met a young mouse.  They decided the mouse was a dragon in disguise, and even convinced the mouse that he was a dragon.

Avon and Edward met a a cricket, and inspired the cricket to be more creative than other crickets.

The cricket was bewildered.  “It’s what all crickets sing.”

“Surely”, said Edward, “you are not just the same as all the other crickets, are you?”

“I’ve never given it much thought,” said the cricket.

“Now’s your opportunity,” announced Edward.

After helping the cricket write a new song, and solving the problem of birds finding the cricket more easily, Avon and Edward set off again.

“Gosh,” mused Avon, “being creative does make a difference.”

Eventually Avon and Edward come to the end of the branch, discuss its significance, and head back the way they came.  When they encounter a house amazingly like Avon’s house, they decide that an invisible magician took an old castle and turned it into a house Avon would like – showing his gratitude for the snail believing in magical adventures.  So they decide to stay there and live together.  Creatures come to hear of their adventures, and some are inspired to set off on adventures of their own.

This is a silly story of adventures, full of puns and interesting comments on life.  Black and white illustrations on many pages accompany the text.  Recommended for young readers ready to move beyond beginning reader books – or for anyone who enjoys clever wordplay.