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Childcraft: Exploring the World Around Us

Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2009 in children's books

Now that I’m up to reviewing the seventh volume, the text is getting much denser and the graphics fewer. I have no memory of this book. Maybe it’s because it begins with “Animals of Zoo and Circus” neither of which I had ever seen.

Photo of page about elephants from Childcraft, volume seven

Stories about the zoo and circus animals are told from the animals’ viewpoints. “Little Ram’s ears were torn. His tender trunk was bleeding.” The stories about trapping elephants and bears are scary. But later we are assured “Ranta and Ram had good memories. Soon they learned to know what was expected of them. Ram was very popular with children, who often fed him melons.”

The volume ends with articles on plants. The chapters by Margaret McKenny are very engaging. Her paragraphs on the dandelion makes me feel a bit guilty about how I treat them. “Perhaps you, too, have sent these tiny troopers dancing on their way by blowing the parachutes from the dandelion’s head.” I’d forgotten how fun that can be.

What I learned

Tiger hunting is a popular sport of rich princes in India.

Photo of horses from Childcraft, volume sevenA baby kangaroo,” even with the nipple in its mouth, cannot suck. So the mother has to pump the milk into the baby. She does this as you would blow up a balloon or bubble gum, or pump air into a bicycle tire.” Huh? I found this to be a wee bit disturbing. There are no references in this book about the lack of kangaroo flatulence. Perhaps that is a newer discovery.

When an opossum is playing dead “it may be picked up by the tail and swung about in a circle, yet its feet continue to stick out stiffly.” I didn’t try that when the cats and I were confronted by a possum last spring. I don’t think I could make myself even touch its tail. But now I think I might substitute opossum for cat when referring to how much room there is to swing one.

I’m happy that I had just a normal pet mouse. “A most interesting kind of tame mouse is the waltzing, or dancing, mouse…. This pretty mouse spends a large part of its waking hours spinning gaily around in dizzy circles.” I’ve now learned that it’s also particularly susceptible to disease and sensitive to changes in temperature. If your mouse waltzes, you should take it to the vet immediately.

“Pigs raised near cities usually are fed on garbage.” All the hogs I ever knew got grain. But I’ve never known any suburban pigs.

Some Amazing Ant Customs, Childcraft, volume sevenAnts have customs, just like foreign people do.

The praying mantis is the only insect that can look over its own shoulder.

Spider silk is used to make “the cross lines for surveying instruments, telescopes, and gun and submarine-sighting equipment.”

If you pick a trillium flower will likely cause the plant to die. I never considered picking one.

Children used to go for a ramble. I’ve meandered and walked idly a few times, but I’m not sure if I rambled as a child. Well I probably did ramble on and on while talking to my parents. But I never looked for flowers while rambling. Not even a ramblin’ rose.

Dick Whittington’s cat was once famous even though that particular folktale didn’t make it into the early Childcraft volumes. I had to go look up the story.

So today’s trivia question is …

   What made Dick Whittington’s cat famous? Answer.

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. […] 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 | Tags: Childcraft « Day at the farm Childcraft: Storytelling […]

  2. I don’t know how early is early, but the 1961 edition has the story of Dick Whittington. It’s in volume 3, Folk and Fairy Tales.

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