So, it's definitely spring, right? The Polar Vortex has ended? Around here, there is a full clothesline to show for the bright, breezy weather and a large garden space is being prepped by a third tilling. It's been warm enough to finally paint the trim on our house, and Eliana's Garden is fixing to be weeded and filled with rose bushes and wildflower seeds. Windows flung open? Check. Grilled food back on the menu? Check. All sorts of Spring Books filling up our shelves? Double-check.
And this one is at the top of our favorites stack. In this week's delicious little story, (that takes place almost entirely underground!) a perfect marriage is made between prose, artwork, education and warmth.
In My Dreams I Can Fly
by Eveline Hasler
illustrated by Käthi Bhend
"Above the ground
a strong wind was blowing
the leaves from the trees.
Fall had arrived.
Below the ground,
five friends were getting ready
for the long, cold winter ahead:
and a caterpillar.
Their homes were connected by tunnels."
And with that, we are visually pulled into a world below the world... instantly, your child wants to connect each creature with its' home, so you must pause here, and let their fingers trace the lines from friend to home. Above the winding tunnels and holes is a blowing landscape of golden leaves, evoking a feeling of warmth from the protected dirt below.
The relationship between friends is described alongside full-page drawings of each nest; roots and pebbles, dirt and tunnels inhabited by busy ants. In the grub's home, every third evening, they play cards together among the roots. As winter approaches, the worms proudly show their friends the bits of leaves and nuts for food that are scattered about their home, which is lit by lanterns. The beetle is not worried, for he has "tasty morsels" hidden under his bed. (Here, your five-year-old might cry out, "Hey, you're not supposed to put things under your bed!")
And when the caterpillar leads her friend through the tunnels to show what she's done to prepare for winter, they are amazed at the beautiful colors and woven threads that shine from her walls. From her woven bed, she tells them that she doesn't need food. Only dreams.
And then, the grub shares his dream...
"I dream every night too...
In my dreams, I can fly."
As winter unfolds and spring winds begin to blow, the friends learn secrets about each other as their little homes below the ground begin to warm up. The grub finds a bulb cracked open that he has saved for food, and the caterpillar no longer responds to their calls; all they find is a tightly woven, empty ball lying in her bed of gossamer threads. But when the friends gather together on that saddest of all days, a miracle happens...
First published in Switzerland and translated into English the following year, this story has a simplicity of words that beautifully compliments the intricately detailed pictures. Never underestimate the ability of your children to appreciate highly detailed illustrations- they want to pore over the pictures while you read and sometimes? The simpler the prose, the more magnificent the drawings, the more delight and inspiration can take flight. Ask me how I know. :)
p.s.- I just did a quick search of my archives, and it would appear that I've written over 125 book reviews for Children's Book Monday?!? What?? Goodness. I really love reading to my children. And I love to share that delight with you! So as I'm working to get back to a normal rhythm of posting, feel free to peruse the archives to help build your library lists. I love the thought of some of these precious gems being read by you to your children!