Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Palmer Brown Books (New York Review Books)

Palmer Brown was born in Chicago in 1920 and passed away in 2012. He attended Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania. He was also an author and illustrator of five children's books - Cheerful, Hickory, Something for Christmas, Beyond the Pawpaw Trees, and The Silver Nutmeg. Each of them was published by The New York Review Children’s Collection.

Cheerful is a mouse who lives with his parents and siblings - Solemnity, Faith, and Hope. All the mice are content living in the city church, all except Cheerful. There is fun to be had and plenty of wedding cake crumbs to be had. Cheerful's mother was a country mouse, who told her children stories about her childhood in the country. These appealed greatly to Cheerful, and it made him long to live in the quiet countryside. The little mice grew up. The two girl mice (Faith and Hope) got married and went to live in a bakery and deli, respectively. Solemnity followed in his father's footsteps and became a church mouse. He finally decided to leave the church, and wound up at an old woman's house, still in the city. He was content there for a time, but eventually grew discontent there as well. One day, he wound up in a bowl that got packed up and shipped to her granddaughter. She lived in the country and Cheerful finally felt at home. This was a very simple book with delicate illustrations and is great for children to read by themselves or have read to them.

Hickory tells the story of a family of mice who live in a grandfather clock. The children, named by their mother, were called Hickory, Dickory, and Dock. Hickory liked to talk to the field-mice, and one day they convinced him to leave. His mother and father were both worried for him, as he liked to play more games than he should, but they agreed, it would help him mature. At first, he was not happy with his venture. The barn smelled of pigs and he missed the ticking of the clock. He eventually befriends some other mice and a grasshopper named Hop. Hop and Hickory are very good friends, Hickory eventually learns that Hop's time is short and she'll only be around for a season. Hickory tries to fight this reality, but eventually comes to accept this reality and spends as much time with Hop as he can. Like Brown's other stories, this is a beautifully illustrated book. The story itself is hauntingly beautiful and tells a story of friendship, love, and loss.

Something for Christmas is a very short story about a mouse and his mother. It is Christmas Eve, and he is sad because he cannot find anything to give the person he loves for Christmas. He talks about making several different gifts, but he has none of the materials/ingredients to make any of the gifts. His mother then asks if there is anything of his that he could give as a gift. He goes through his possessions, but his mother says none of those would make good gifts. It turns out the best gift he can give to the person he loves is his love. This is a very short, but touching book. It serves as a great reminder of what really matters and is worth reading not only during Christmas, but frequently throughout the year.

These books were provided to me for free by New York Review Books in exchange for honest reviews.