There is a little color in this cool-toned scene, but you have to look for it. Inside the bookstore, on the other hand, there is color everywhere, and today I want to feature a new book especially lively in that regard.
The Woodscrit Chronicles: A Story for Children from Six to Ninety-Six, written by grown-up child Thomas M. Shoaff of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and East Leland, illustrated by his son Matthew-John Shoaff, tells the story of summer people from the point of view of the wild animals who live around them. What do furry year-round residents make of those who come to play on the lakes when days are long and nights are warm? Author Shoaff imagines the “critters” spying (benevolently) on human activities and keeping written records “in giant tomes for future reference,” and thus a central character in this fanciful tale is an old box elder tree, named (according to the story) for the ancestral record boxes kept in its generous heart. One night, however, the revered tree is felled by a storm—and thereby hangs the tale!
David and I were fortunate enough to read this book in manuscript and to see first-hand Matthew’s vivid and magical paintings. There are photographs in the book, too—of the original tree that inspired the story, of the young humans spied upon by the “critters,” and of the little red house to which the old tree finally came home to rest. This is a story to warm hearts and delight eyes on cold winter days! The images I’ve included here give the merest taste of what you will find inside the covers.
Now for a little change of pace: It’s been a while since I’ve reported on what David’s reading. To say he’s reading Thoreau would not be news, because he’s never not reading Thoreau. “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes” is one of his favorite quotations. (Our lives are cluttered with books, not new clothes.) At home or on the road, Thoreau is always near at hand. This past week, however, an unusual book has been claiming my husband’s attention. The book is Sheep: Life on the South Dakota Range, by Archer B. Gilfillan. Gilfillan lived from 1886 to 1955, and Sheep was first published in 1929 by Little, Brown. Illustrations are by Kurt Wiese. There’s a lot about dogs, which we enjoy, of course (he’s been reading bits aloud to me from time to time), but it’s more the quality of the writing than the subject matter that has David enthralled. The author is a wonderful writer, with an unusual sense of humor and a gift for turning a colorful turn of phrase.
We are very lucky to spend our days surrounded by delights and treasures and to be able to welcome new and old friends in to share them with us.