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Childcraft: Animal Friends and Adventures

Posted on Friday, August 28, 2009 in children's books

Photo of title page for Animal Friends and Adventures, Childcraft

Animal Friends

For some reason, I never got around to reading out of this book and no one ever read it to me. I was never very good about sitting and listening to a story. Mom couldn’t read to me at night because as soon as she got me in bed I fell asleep. And if it was daytime, then I wanted to be outside or doing something. Once I could read on my own, however, I became addicted.

Photo of illustration for "The Pulling Bee" in Childraft, volume fourReviewing the list of authors, I only recognize one name: Rudyard Kipling. But I also see that there’s a Dr. Dolittle story. My third grade teacher read to us from those books after recess every day. I’m ashamed that I didn’t know that Hugh Lofting wrote those books. And there’s a story from Justin Morgan Had a Horse. I loved other stories from that book. It’s too bad I didn’t know that another one was on my very own bookshelf.

The lead story in this volume is a Hindu tale, “Bunny the Brave,” about a young rabbit that outsmarts a hungry tiger. Every culture must have a story like this, about a small and brave child or creature who outsmarts the larger and cruel oppressor, about the trickster. I bet you can name other small heroes and stories: Ber Rabbit, coyote, Anansi, Aesop’s “The Lion and the Mouse.”

Photo of illustration for Meals for Mickey, ChildcraftThe next story is by a Czeck author, Josef Kozisek, who wrote A Forest Story. “Bidushka Lays an Easter Egg” was influenced by the Bohemian girls Elizabeth Orton Jones, the author, knew growing up. There are several stories set on farms or ranches. There are stories by authors famous in the 1930s and 40s. It’s like I’m on a literary archeological dig. Several of these stories are worth bringing back.

Wheels, Wings, and Real Things

Photo of an illustration for "The Little Old Truck."
I think they did a great job naming this section.  But it might have been the reason why I wasn’t interested in this book as a child. Stories about trucks and planes just didn’t interest me. I think Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel turned me off to such tales. Even a story in which the machine is female, “Susie Stock Car,” wasn’t enough to draw me in.

Now if I’d just noticed the wonderful story of “The Family Who had Never had Roller Skates.” It’s a tragic tale of little girls being forced to be little girls and not allowed to skate. But finally the family doctor comes to their rescue. “Their petticoats grew mussed and torn, but their cheeks grew rosy.” Pa-pa and Ma-ma Pettingill were won over. It’s a tale that says “Yes, join in. Try out the latest thing.”

Photo of a Hildegard Woodward illustration for Childcraft

MORE on the Childcraft collection:
Poems of Early Childhood
Storytelling and Other Poems
Folk and Fairy Tales
Animal Friends and Adventures
Life in Many Lands
Great Men and Famous Deeds
Exploring the World Around Us
Creative Play and Hobbies
Art for Children

  1. […] Childcraft collection: Poems of Early Childhood Storytelling and Other Poems Folk and Fairy Tales Animal Friends and Adventures Life in Many Lands Great Men and Famous Deeds Exploring the World Around Us Creative Play and […]

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