Children’s Literature Supplement April 2023
Alas! I lost her in garden near
Someone needs to invent a word for that brief moment in spring when everything still seems dead, but if you look closely, a faint green haze covers all the underbrush and bushes like a veil. April has exploded, bringing with it torrential rain, vibrant grass, and (to Sarah’s delight) an overabundance of primroses. In this month’s CLS, we’re focusing on spring. From flowers to activities to birthdays, the Diamond Month holds numerous beauties waiting to be explored.
Diamonds are forever:
Yes, those lucky April babies have the diamond as their birthstone. As referenced before, the DK Eyewitness books are excellent reads on pretty much any subject, and they don’t disappoint in the gem department (DK Eyewitness Books: Crystal & Gem, 2007).
Hillsdale College’s Patricia Bart once taught a whole seminar on gardens in literature. While Sarah didn’t get to take the class, hearing about it certainly inspired her to pay more attention to horticultural references in various books. She’d be remiss to not mention Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911).
Over at Goldberry Arts, Bethany Kern has compiled a pictorial list of gardens in art. True art appreciation (as Sarah never tires of saying) can begin at any age. While picture books are a wonderful medium for introducing children to meaningful art, simply studying the masters and learning how to observe something well can be a useful (and fun) exercise.
Paul O. Zelensky’s gorgeously illustrated Rapunzel also portrays a garden, the setting of the infamous rampion theft and the catalyst for Rapunzel’s imprisonment.
The world of Brambly Hedge:
Sarah wrote recently about her love of Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge series. There’re something for everyone in this charming collection, which features detailed art and lovely stories:
Our Brambly Hedge mice are a wonderfully independent lot, and never have I wanted so much to live in a hollowed-out tree as when I first encountered these stories. Damp wood and bugs don’t plague you in the cozy cottages of the Hedge, and everything you see in each house is made or procured by the mice. We learn how they churn their own butter and mill their own wheat. They dye and weave blankets, fire pottery, and brew their own drinks. Is the Store Stump (the mice’s main food-storage location) out of salt? Have no fear: Simply take a boat down to the sea and visit the coastal mice to pick up your yearly portion. Many of the pages portray kitchens, picnic blankets, or festive tables filled with scrumptious spreads of food, and apparently, “all the food used in Brambly Hedge was created beforehand in Jill’s kitchen to make sure the ingredients worked.” Even now, you can visit the official Brambly Hedge website for recipes of various seasonal dishes.
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