Monday, January 01, 2007

Children's Book Monday

In our household, there is no end to the conversations we hold about how grateful we are to the people who made their way across the West, settling in an unknown, unforgiving land. We love to study about the Oregon Trail, and explorers like Lewis and Clark; guides such as Sacagewea, and the animals of the territory.

Here is a gem I found that focuses on a different kind of settler, an immigrant, and how she made her way in this strange new land. Gather your chicks around you and read to them this story. It is history. It is beautiful to the eyes. You will not be disappointed.

Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel
Written by Leslie Connor
Illustrated by Mary Azarian

Miss Bridie (sweet name, yes?) sets out from her home in Ireland, rejecting the lovely, impractical things she could take to remind her of her roots. Instead, she chooses a shovel to accompany her to New York City in 1856. And there is no end to the helpful things this shovel can do, especially when it is wielded by a woman such as Miss Bridie.

It is an anchor to her as she is tossed about on the ship. It digs holes for the flower garden she will plant and sell, supplementing her income from the hat shop where she works. Through the years, she uses this unassuming tool for many a task; it even leads her to the man she will marry, and warms her children with the coal it drops into the stove.

It is a real story, and includes death with its many lessons. Spare prose leads you to look closely at the woodcut illustrations; you and your children will delight in the expressions and detailed pictures that are not addressed in the story. I know we did.

I love this book. I would very much like to own it, for it is not only a history lesson, but a life lesson as well.

What would you take on a journey such as this, little one? And listen to their ideas; impractical, but with a little sensible thrown in for good measure. I was surprised that my boys thought they should take extra underwear rather than chocolate milk, if given the choice. But then, they also argued the necessity of legos over dried fruit, so what's a Mama to do? (Pack their bags for them, that's what!)

Would she have been better off with the chiming clock she was tempted with at the beginning? A lesson in practicality, and necessity.

Do you think her life was easy?

Quiet thought, as we scanned the pictures again, and found a little smile on Miss Bridie's face.

"No, Mama, but it was good."

Lesson learned.

I hope you can find this at your local library! If not, check out the link I provided, and you can find an inexpensive used copy if you wish.

3 fellow travelers shared:

Anonymous said...

Another are an endless resource for me of excellent reading for our family. And oh how we love to read. My favorite moment of the day is actually curling up, my head on my beloved's lap, our children snuggled in and around us, and listening to the love of my life read to us. It is a TREASURE. I can't wait to listen to this one!

Andrea said...

this looks great!Thanks.

Katherine @ Raising Five said...

Sounds sweet - I want to look for this one.

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