Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 204: Andrew Henry's Meadow

Before I go on and on about how amazingly fabulous this book is, I have to give a big thank you shout out to my fellow picture book lover and blogger, Read Aloud Dad, who first introduced me to this book a month or two ago when I read his review of it here.  As soon as I read his glowing review, I logged on to my library system's website and set out to find a copy that we could borrow.  Surprisingly, there were only 3 copies of Andrew Henry's Meadow in the whole system.  Only 3!  Why every library in the world doesn't own this book, I have no idea.  It is truly one of the most wonderful stories I have read in a long time, and I'm so happy to have discovered it. Thank you, Read Aloud Dad!

Andrew Henry Thatcher lives with his family in the small town of Stubbsville.  He has two younger brothers who are always playing with each other, and two older sisters who are always with each other, leaving Andrew Henry alone most of the time.  Fortunately, he doesn't much seem to mind, happily passing the time creating clever new inventions.  He makes a helicopter in the kitchen, an eagle cage in the living room, and a merry-go-round from his sisters' sewing machine.  Unfortunately, though, Andrew Henry's inventions aren't exactly appreciate by his family.  

One day, after thinking about it for some time, Andrew Henry packs up his tools and runs away, setting off through the woods to build a house of his own.  He soon finds the perfect place for his house -- a lovely meadow, complete with a stream and a tall, strong fir tree.  "He set to work, and before long the house was finished.  The walls were made of clay and rocks and poles.  The roof was made of fir boughs, and outside one window there was a fine landing field for dragonflies.  But Andrew Henry wasn't alone long..."  

Soon, other children from the town, with unique qualities and interests of their own, are eager to join him.  Andrew Henry sets to work building the children their own customized houses, perfectly suited to their tastes and talents.  Alice Burdock's house was just right for a person who loved birds, high up in a tree with birdbaths, feeding stations, and "even a hand rest for Alice's binoculars when she wasn't using them."  George Turner's house is perfect for fishing, Joe Polasky's underground quarters are ideal for him and his many pets, and Margot LaPorte's house is well-suited for her music rehearsals.  The children all live quite happily in their meadow for a few days and nights, but back home, their families are frantically searching for them.  Where could they have gone?  Finally, of course, everyone is reunited, and the families are more accepting of their children in the end.  It's sad, in a way, that it took the children running away for this to be the case, but without doing so, we'd have missed out on all of the wonderful magic of that meadow.  

The little details throughout this book are simply perfect, in both the illustrations and the story, itself.  I love Doris Burn's descriptions of the houses, and her black and white sketches are even more wonderful and clever.  My son gets such a kick out of the different houses Andrew Henry builds for the other kids in the meadow, and it's always fun to brainstorm what type of house we would want to live in there.  I love the way this story inspires creativity and imagination, for Andrew Henry's inventions and houses are truly fantastic.  More than anything, though, I love the way this story reminds us all to appreciate our children's unique gifts and talents and love them exactly for who they are. 

Andrew Henry's Meadow was first published in 1965, with its most recent edition coming out last year in 2012.  It's a longer than your average picture book -- more like a chapter book, but without the chapters -- so probably better suited for children ages 4 and up.  That said, though, my 2 1/2 year old is quite content to sit and read this with me and my 5 year old.  This is one book that has certainly made itself on to our "must own" list, and is one that I'm sure we will treasure for years to come.  If you can manage to get your hands on a copy of this amazing book, please do.  I promise you won't be disappointed.


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