Too Many Pumpkins

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White is a kids book about a lady named Rebecca Estelle who hates pumpkins because when she was a child and poor that’s all she ate.  But one day, a truck drives by her home and a pumpkin falls out, smashing all over her lawn.  These pumpkin seeds sprout and Rebecca Estelle refuses to acknowledge them.

Until the fall when her yard is overflowing with pumpkins.  Now what will Rebecca Estelle do?

Rebecca Estelle ends up having a party with all the bakery items she made from those pumpkins and giving all of her items away. She plans on planting pumpkins agains next year.

My kids loved this story.  It’s a great story of how one lady who had an aversion to something due to her childhood experiences grew to eventually love that something.  Parallels can be drawn through this story to trying food you once didn’t like again or trying anything you thought you didn’t like for one reason or another at a different point in life because who knows?  You may like it again.

It reminds me of not discounting things due to previous held convictions, prejudices, or notions formed during my childhood or even adulthood.

The Magic Tree House Series

I have been completely remiss in talking about this series by Mary Pope Osborne–I guess because it’s just so popular I assume everyone knows about it.

My 7 year old was reading Eve of the Emperor Penguin out loud to me when I heard a part that I had to share with you all.

For those who don’t know, The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne follows the adventures of a brother-sister team called Jack and Annie as they travel through time around the world in their Magic Tree House.  They are sent on Missions by Morgan Le Fay and Merlin of King Arthur fame and frequently have adventures in Camelot.  They are officially classified as chapter books but the later ones are much longer.

In this book, Jack and Annie are searching for the fourth secret of happiness, which is summarized in the end.  The third secret that spoke to me was this, “Every day he (speaking about Leonardo da Vinci–a previous book) felt happy when he learned something new.”

This is me.  Definitely me.  I’m like a kid in a candy store when I learn something new and every time I read one of these books I learn something.  The time periods are all historically researched and sometimes with real people such as Leonardo da Vinci.  You learn facts in the midst of history.

I guess this is why I love to read historical fiction too.  I like stories with characters that take me back to a period I would have liked to have seen, lived in, and experienced.

I guess this is why Isaiah speaks to me so much: a real person in a historical time.  And combined with God it creates an insatiable appetite within me to know more.

The website is amazing as well.  You can create an account and go on more “Merlin Adventures”, where you are asked questions and facts from the books.  My daughter loves this.  I’m not a fan of computer games but this site I allow my children to use.  I always help them with it but it’s fun, easy, and emphasizes facts from the books.  Learning doesn’t get any better when these elements are combined.

My daughter can’t get enough of this series and as a parent I cannot recommend these highly enough.  We always get the newest one from the library and we also devour the non-fiction Research Guides that accompany the series.

I wish I had these when I was a little kid (amongst many other things!).  Good thing I still get to be one.  This probably explains why I spend hours each day reading kids books with my kids.

Miss Rumphius

Alice (or Miss Rumphius) wants to do two things when she grows up:  go to faraway places and live beside the sea.  Her grandfather adds one more:   she “must do something to make the world more beautiful.”  She agrees, not knowing what that could be.

She accomplishes both the first two but is puzzled by the last one.  Then she has an idea.  She decides to plant lupines all along her town to make her town more beautiful.  Now known as the Lupine Lady, she tells her niece the same thing her grandfather told her.  Her niece agrees but is unsure as well what that may be.

I like this book because it emphasizes doing things for others and the outside world as part of living.  Also, it shows how it’s okay not to know what that “thing to make the world more beautiful” may be.  Miss Rumphius comes across the idea one day as she sees a patch of lupines and wants to see more.  It shows how if you look around for an opportunity, it will present itself and you don’t have to strive and push to find such a thing.  I further like how the message is passed on from one generation to the next–a great reminder of how the world is improved.

Miss Rumphius is also retired when she discovers how to make the world more beautiful.  It is simple and easy.  A great message that we can always do something no matter our age, circumstances, or difficulty level.  Also, it is the little things that can make a big difference.

Miss Rumphius is now known as the Lupine Lady by the neighborhood children and she passes her days telling stories and telling others to “do something to make the world more beautiful.”

Miss Rumphius is written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

My Chincoteague Pony

I hadn’t meant to blog about this book but I had to share the message because I think it’s powerful.

This was actually a book I placed on hold, thinking it a mere pony book (and my girls like most love ponies)!  But the message turned out to be anything but simple.

It’s the story of a girl who has dreamed all her life of owning a pony.  So, she works all summer in order to attend the Chincoteague auction so she can buy a wild pony.  She travels to the auction with her mom and she bids on every pony but is outbid by everyone.  She slowly realizes she doesn’t have enough money to buy a pony and starts to cry.  The woman next to her says, “Don’t give up.  Keep calling out your bid.  Persistence pays off,” and she hands her $20.  Then everyone around her starts handing her dollars.

She has enough money to buy the last pony auctioned which is the one she actually wanted.

Here’s the best part:

“I have a lot of work to do,” the girl tells her mom.  “I have to save all of my money and come back next year.”

“Isn’t one pony enough?” her mother asks.

“No.  I am going to give my money to another girl so that she can buy a pony of her own.”

Now, I’ve read A LOT of kids’ books but this is the first one I’ve read where paying it forward is the central theme.  It’s so simply taught that even the littlest ones will catch the message of the importance of helping others just like you have been helped.

God is everywhere, isn’t He?

This book is by Susan Jeffers who is an excellent author and story-teller.  We’ve read many of her books but this one is by far the best I’ve read.  In her forward, Jeffers says this is based on a true story she witnessed when she was at Pony Penning Day in Chincoteague.  This just makes this story even better.

It touches my heart when kids help other kids and with all the negativity out there this is the kind of story I want my kids to hear over and over again.