Sunday, January 24, 2010

Children's Book Monday

I'm thinking back to how I first became acquainted with Children's Book Monday.  I believe it happened this way...

My mom introduced me to Elise.  Mom said, "Have you ever read this book?"  and she handed me Henry Hikes to Fitchburg.  "I found this on a blog," she said.  "She recommends a children's book every Monday."  Those were the days when Owen (now three) was an infant and the search for quality literature for the other two children was necessary yet time-consuming.  But alas, we didn't own a computer so Children's Book Monday settled in the valleys of my very overwhelmed mama mind. 

Time continued its steady tick.   When I was expecting Benjamin, we bought a laptop and the world of blogs opened to me.  Just as I am selective about what my children have read to them, I am selective about what blogs I chose to begin reading so I asked my mom for suggestions.   "I think I know a blog you would like.  She is about your age.  She has two boys and a girl and is expecting another-- just like you.  I'll send you the link."  When I opened the link I was happy...surprised...intrigued to find it was the author of Children's Book Monday!

Now Elise and her blog mean more to me than a weekly column.  I continued to get to know Elise as our new baby boys were born two weeks apart and as we exchanged e-mails and swapped book suggestions and discovered that we were kindreds.   

"Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world."   (Anne of Green Gables)

Elise will be away this week and she has asked me to cover Children's Book Monday for her. I am honored to introduce to you a reading treasure...


Stagecoach Sal
written by Deborah Hopkinson
illustated by Carson Ellis

Oh, we found this book quite by accident.  We ventured to the library one frigid morning after Christmas.  Between colds, we needed a day of renewing--  a day of gentle refreshing.  And refreshed we were since the library's heating system was broken that morning.  There is nothing like searching for books with your coat on!  The children cuddled together in an oversized chair and read to each other and to Benjamin so I confined my search to the shelves in the chair's general vicinity.  So rare is the day that Benjamin is not eager to explore the library aisles on his own with me following on his heels (or that I don't have to scan stacks clutching him to my hip) that I was content with my limited search radius. 

The H author names were in my scope and on first perusal, I admit I was drawn by the rustic look and feel of the very un-glossy pages of this book.  And the words Inspired by a True Tale.   Who doesn't love a true story?  After most every book we read, one of my children is sure to ask, "Did that really happen?"  and it is such a joy to say, "Yes, it did." 

When we returned from our chilly morning outing, we ate lunch and I settled the littlest in for his nap, so it was a couple of hours before we were ready to read.  Whether she was drawn by the horse on the cover or the watercolor of a little girl in dress and braids, I don't know, but Stagecoach Sal was Maddie's first selection. 

"I was knee-high to a grasshopper when Pa first lifted me up to the shotgun seat."  Sal lives with her parents in California  and loves to ride along with her Pa as he carries passengers and mail by stagecoach across open country.  Sal is an outside girl.  She can holler and shoot a gun and took first prize in ropin', trick ridin', and singing, too.  (My boys especially enjoyed hearing my poor renditions of Sal's knee-slapping riding songs.)

And then one day, Pa falls into a hornet's nest and is too swollen to drive so Sal has to take the reins alone.  Mama frets about her driving at night with Poetic Pete, "the most polite bandit in all of California" roaming the countryside.  But with no one else to deliver the mail, Sal leaves on her journey and on "the lonliest bend in the road,"  she does indeed meet Poetic Pete.  But Sal doesn't hold first prize in her many skills for nothing.  She uses her quick mind and level thinking to...well, you'll have to read to find out. 

When we turned over the last page, I thrilled to read on about the real Stagecoach Sal, actually named Delia Haskett Rawson who was the first woman to carry the mail by stagecoach in California.  Poetic Pete?  He is the true-life Black Bart, a bandit remembered for his good manners. 

And, oh, I have not mentioned the illustrations.  Not limited to tops of pages or opposite pages, these pictures are tucked between paragraphs and swirl around groups of words.  With even some of the text printed artistically, the pages meld into one visual masterpiece.

As Elise would say...Happy Reading!


  1. Oh, friend, it looks like another beautiful story! Can't wait!

    And... I can't believe you wrote about us being *kindreds*! :) I wrote my post mid-afternoon today, and saved it as a draft until I got your direct link.

    I guess this proves it! We are, indeed, the most wonderful of kindreds. Blessings and thanks to you, Kristin!

  2. Yay, Kristin! I'm anxious to check this one out at our library. Thank you for hosting Children's Book Monday today...

  3. Thank you for sharing Kristin. I too have appreciated Elise's recommendations. Kindred spirits via the blog world are such a treat! I'm looking forward to heaven when we will meet some of our friends face to face. :)

  4. Thanks for the book idea, I will order it on line library now.

  5. Seems like we are often racing for Elise's recommendations these days, aren't we? ;-) Good thing we are willing to share! Have you returned Stagecoach Sal? Oh well, even if we have to wait, thanks for the suggestion!

  6. What fun! I'll have to look into that one some day. I tire of reading the same old books all the time and my kids are getting better at longer books. I just requested several kiddo chapter books from the library... I've never heard of them before reading a list of "Twaddle Free Books" tonight, so we'll see how they go. :)


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