I checked out Hugh Lofting and learned that his stories were pieced together from letters he wrote to his children while either bored or doing his best to block out service in the trenches in World War I! There’s more of his stories, but first on my list are from Awards winners. Rechecking the list I found that I’d missed the first one, The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (1922). No problem. Putting books on hold is one of my favorite things to do.
In the meantime, I started The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes (1923). I had dreaded starting it because I expected a gruesome pirate story, but Hawes was such a magnificent writer and had the gift of winding an enticing tale. Four chapters into it and I was hooked but yes, it did turn into a gruesome story.
Next from an author’s favorites, I read The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters (1986) by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and their The Jolly Christmas Postman (1991). They were a step back in time to a funny, friendly world of people and animals. I saw how the Christmas book became an annual ritual.
Someone on a group call mentioned Little Critter by Mercer Mayer, which didn’t ring a bell. I got two story book collections, one with seven stories and one with six from 2004-05, and Little Critter and the Best Present (2020). Looking at a back cover showing them as singles, I barely remembered our kids bringing them home – ha, ha they didn’t. Maybe grandkids? They’re okay, but I related to Hugh Lofting’s weird world more than their messy mishaps. (Cabin fever?)
Finally, The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest by Heather Land (2021). Her story of growing up as a very shy girl in Elmira, N.Y., and not being taken seriously in college was bitter sweet. Figuring out how to study the rainforest on her own led her to work alone in treetops. Lowman created canopy walkways that became eco-tourist attractions. She traveled around the world exploring tree canopies, and brought her two young sons with her after she became a working mother. When she wrote up her research she commented, “If only I could have achieved as much as the tree!”
My latest blog post. https://rokeefehistory.com/blog
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