• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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But will they change Titty’s name?

From tomorrow’s London Times:

BBC hopes youth of today will thrill to Swallows and Amazons
by Ben Hoyle, Arts Reporter

It’s as far from a toxic childhood as you are likely to get. Captain John, Able Seaman Titty and Ship’s Boy Roger are to set sail again in a big-screen adaptation of the Arthur Ransome classic Swallows and Amazons.

Inspired by the success of The Dangerous Book for Boys, the BBC is betting that camping, fishing and messing about in dinghies will seem as thrillingly exotic to modern children as any special-effects-laden superhero movie.

The producers believe that the resourceful young heroes of Swallows and Amazons and the book’s idyllic Lake District setting possess an allure that they did not have when the tale was last filmed in 1974, before childhood hobbies became as sedentary, solitary and technology-driven as they are today.

It is a hope backed by the National Theatre, where a musical of Swallows and Amazons is in the pipeline, and at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, where an exhibition on Ransome’s work will open later this year.

There are 12 Swallows and Amazons adventures and BBC Films is close to acquiring options on all of them. Jamie Laurenson, executive producer for BBC Films, is hoping for a cinema release next year. He said: “It’s a great story and a fantastic adventure.”

If Swallows and Amazons is to work, Mr Laurenson said, it also needs to make the natural world genuinely frightening. “For a modern audience you need to bring out that feeling of danger. It’s only implied in the action because of when it was written, but it’s about children taking on adult responsibilities. The youth of today are cosseted. We rail against couch potatoes and obesity in children but ban conker fights [see aforementioned Dangerous Book], so I think this is very timely.”

Ransome would have agreed. He was a charismatic man with a love of the outdoors. In a life packed with adventure he married Trotsky’s secretary and may have spied for the Bolsheviks before settling down in the 1920s to work as an occasional foreign correspondent and angling columnist for the Manchester Guardian. He made his breakthrough as an author with Swallows and Amazons, which was published in 1930. …

Purists should be reassured that they will still be set in the prewar years, he added. “I think that period feel is part of their charm.”

Geraint Lewis, chairman of the Arthur Ransome Society, said that the modest nature of the stories themselves was an important element of their appeal. “Ransome was a very good writer and his deceptively simple style has endured. They have never gone completely out of fashion but there does seem to be a welling of interest in them now,” he said.

And the related leading article, also in tomorrow’s Times,

No Duffers
Don’t just watch Swallows and Amazons — be them

From an ancient farmhouse on a peaty fellside, into the jump-cut mayhem of X-boxes and preteen blockbusters, come John, Susan, Titty, Roger and a gaff-rigged dayboat called the Swallow. They’ll fill her up with bread and cheese and tents stitched by their mother. They’ll sail her from a Peak in Darien to an island in the “great lake in the North”. They will find a secret harbour and the perfect campsite. Nearby, still warm, there will be embers. Undeterred, the Swallow’s crew will unroll their sleeping bags and wake to the hearstop-ping sight of an arrow in the gnarled bark of the great tree at the high end of the island.

Oh, to be under surveillance by a faceless enemy armed to the gunwales and master of the timing of her attack! Yes, hers, because the Amazons will soon reveal themselves, not just to the Swallows but to a global audience of millions courtesy of BBC Films. The rights to Arthur Ransome’s books may not be in the bag but they’re being hotly pursued. A feature is planned, and possibly a franchise. Time’s wheel has alighted on the most wholesome of all parallel children’s universes as the best bet for a filmic expression of everything that Nintendo is not.

Good luck to the producers. What greater thrill can there be for any child, in any age, than to create her own world in the real world and be allowed to risk her life in it? For that is the explicit premise of Swallows and Amazons, set out in the children’s father’s legendary telegram sent from his naval ship on service in the Far East: BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN. Tough love was never since so tough (and in any case has long since been outlawed by social services). But this was the green light that sent Roger hurtling down towards a mythic Coniston to tell his siblings their great adventure was a “go”. Let the film version spawn thousands more like it – real ones, rich with the smell of wet rope, burnt camp-fire sausages and lichen on granite. Because Tomb Raider takes some beating.

In other words, paddle your own canoe, and mess about in your own dinghy.

The latest news from deepest darkest Peru

I thought it was bad enough when I heard the other day that my beloved Paddington Bear was going to get the live action treatment (just thinking of poor Stuart Little makes me shake). I went to the, erm, official website and not only was the movie business confirmed but there for all to see was the gloating about Paddington shilling for Marmite of all things. Of course, what do you expect of a beloved children’s literature figure who has become a licensing opportunity? In fact, the home page of the “official website” has four main buttons — “Paddington’s activity area”, “Mrs. Brown’s bear facts”, “Mr. Gruber’s collector’s corner”, and, in bright red lest you fail to notice it, “Mr. Brown’s company info”. That Paddington has become a company with important info to share (“For companies or individuals interested in acquiring a licence to make or sell Paddington products then you should choose Licensing Information.”) is just, sadly, a fact of modern commercial life.

But here’s the latest “Company Info”, from The Times:

The creator of Paddington Bear has criticised those responsible for putting the world’s best known duffel-coat-wearing immigrant from Darkest Peru in an advertisement for Marmite.

Michael Bond was not consulted about the advert – in which Paddington breaks a lifetime’s reliance on marmalade sandwiches and decides he “ought to try something different” – and feels that it was a mistake.

Fans have been outraged by what they see as a betrayal of the character’s integrity, many telephoning Bond to harangue him. Like them, the author feels that the advert was a mistake because Paddington’s characteristics are “set in stone and you shouldn’t change them”. The bear’s preference for marmalade sandwiches, often stored under his hat is “fundamental”, he said yesterday.

During the 1980s, when Paddington’s popularity was at a peak thanks to the television series narrated by the late Sir Michael Hordern, Bond retreated from the growing commercial operation to concentrate on writing books.

Karen Jankel, his daughter and managing director of Paddington and Company, now has final approval on all merchandising decisions. Despite strong reservations she agreed to the proposal from the Copyrights Group, Paddington’s licensing agents, because she believed the advert would lift Paddington’s profile and bring him back to British TV. But Bond would rather the whole thing had never happened.

“Now there’s no going back,” he said. “Paddington likes his food and tries anything but he would certainly never be weaned off marmalade.”

In a letter published in The Times today, Bond, 81, defends himself against allegations that he sold-out his best-loved creation. He writes of an “ill-founded rumour that I was responsible for the script of a commercial featuring Paddington Bear testing a Marmite sandwich” and “that one of the reasons may have been that Marmite paid me a truly vast sum of money.

“I should be so lucky – particularly since I didn’t write it,” he says. “Although Paddington found the sandwich interesting, bears are creatures of habit. It would require a good deal more than the combined current withdrawals from Northern Rock to wean him off marmalade, if then.”

The advert, by DBB London, features the animation format in which Paddington made his TV debut in 1975. He finds Marmite “really rather good”, before stumbling into a chain of unfortunate events. Unilever, the makers of Marmite, hope the campaign will appeal to the nostalgia of older viewers while encouraging younger ones to try the spread.

Nicholas Durbridge, of the Copyrights Group said: “Paddington has always been inquisitive. Now he has tried Marmite. It’s unfortunate if Michael’s not completely happy but Paddington will always be associated with marmalade and our client supported our recommendation to make the advert fully.”

Ms Jankel said last night: “From my father’s point of view, he’s the creator and wrote the books. The Copyrights Group are doing their job, looking to do what they think is best from the commercial point of view. I think Paddington is so strong that he will rise above all of this.”

Someone certainly needs to rise above all of this, but I don’t think it’s Paddington. And I think I need something stronger than either marmalade or Marmite to recover from all the news.

Classic children’s literature, revisited: a special place in the heart

At the Yahoo nonsectarian Charlotte Mason group I started the other year (and where I tend to feel like a Well-Trained impostor), some members were discussing Horn Book editor Roger Sutton’s recent post about The Baldwin Project and Charlotte Mason, and one member, Julie, wrote,

I use the AO [Ambleside Online] program. I also make substitutions when I feel it is necessary. I am very open to using really good contemporary lit. We are reading My Side of the Mountain (pub. 1959) now. I would love to compile a list (by grade) of more contemporary books to supplement what we are doing now. Does Roger already have this kind of a list? It would be interesting to see what he recommends.

What would the rest of this group recommend as not to be missed, “twaddle-free,” contemporary children’s lit? (For K-5 or so)

When Julie said she had trouble posting her questions to his blog, I started racking my brains and bookmarks and remembered that yes, indeed, the Horn Book Magazine does have a page of lists, which is here, and which appears on the web page with the following explanation:

Promoting good books for children and young adults is the heart of the Horn Book’s editorial mission. Listed below are annotated booklists of recommended, mostly recently published titles [subjects listed include African-American, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Halloween, History, Paperbacks, Pet Stories, Poetry, Science, Translated Books, and Winter Holidays]. Also below are links to our Fanfare lists and Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners and honor book recipients. Our most popular booklist, Children’s Classics, prepared by Mary Burns, has achieved it own classic status as essential reading for all new parents, teachers, and librarians. For additional ideas, visit our Web Extras page, which regularly features booklists developed around current magazine articles.

Ms. Burns’s Children’s Classics list is available as a PDF; from her introduction:

Since it was founded in 1924, The Horn Book Magazine has celebrated notable achievements in the writing and illustrating of books for children. A logical consequence of this emphasis is the periodic compilation of lists of classics, beginning with an article by pioneering librarian Alice M. Jordan in 1947. Jordan
was particularly distinguished for the contributions she made as Supervisor of Work with Children at the Boston Public Library. In that position, she had ample opportunity to observe, to reflect, and to comment on the qualities that allow some books to endure for generations, thus becoming classics.

More than fifty years have passed since that first list was prepared. Tastes have changed; so have demographics and publishing. This list, like its predecessors, has been modified to reflect those changes. Yet many of the titles cited earlier have been included. Still read and enjoyed, they are indeed classics.

Preparing a list of classics involves some basic assumptions—not to mention a certain amount of presumption. It is hoped that these selections will provide some guidelines for developing a home library of books that are as accessible to young readers as they are worthy. The final choices are not the only possibilities; many a favorite has been eliminated so that the list would be useful rather than overwhelming.

Classics written before 1920 have been placed into separate categories, calling attention to books that are part of the literary heritage from times past. All other entries are arranged by genre with suggested audience levels. But, in the final analysis, a list is only the beginning. The real test of a classic is the individual
child’s delight in reading, sharing, and rereading a book again, again, and again.

The annotated list contains no major surprises for most book-loving home educators, especially the “living book”, Sonlight, and Five-in-a-Row crowds, but it might come in handy printed out and kept near the computer (for those who can order interlibrary loan titles online) or in the library bag.

New on the classic children’s literature front — and a thanks to Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy for the head’s up — are the plans by Gina MarySol Ruiz, who blogs at AmoxCalli, to “review and recommend some of those great children’s books from the past”. As Gina writes in her last month’s call for guest bloggers,

I spend so much time these days trying to review so many great children’s books out there, that I’ve sadly neglected what I originally wanted to do – review and recommend some of those great children’s books from the past. You know, books like Little Women, The Secret Garden, The Little Prince, The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, Oz books, etc. Any book you came across as a child or adult that made a profound impact, the ones that made you love kidlit.

If you’re interested in reviewing, add a comment with the title of your book/s that you want to review and then I’ll get you set up with a guest account so you can post away. It’s that simple. There is no deadline and no end date.

I’m hoping some of the wonderful Children’s Lit bloggers on my blogroll will contribute.

Gina posted her first review, of one of her favorites, Little Women, yesterday,

When I started AmoxCalli a couple of years ago my main goal was to get classic children’s literature in front of a new audience. I’m always surprised and dismayed when I talk to people about books that I think everyone grew up with and I get blank stares. It breaks my heart.

There is so much out there. I love all the new books that are coming out, books I’ve reviewed and recommended like Octavian Nothing, Hattie Big Sky, Anahita’s Woven Riddle, The Lighthouse Land, etc but I have a special place in my heart for the books that made me a lifelong reader, the ones that moved me and introduced me to new worlds. Because AmoxCalli is a book recommendation site (you won’t find any bad reviews here – if I don’t like it, I don’t post it), what better to recommend than those wonderful old books? I’ve been so busy reviewing the new stuff (not complaining, I love it) that I recently realized that I’ve not done what I set out to do with the blog – get people informed and interested in those old classics.

I think “a special place in my heart…” is a wonderful way to describe the favorite classics of our childhood. AmoxCalli and its new passionate, enthusiastic feature are a terrific resource for those of us who want to expand our children’s hearts, as well.

A Landmark decision

While starting to put together a list of children’s books set in and around Boston (what I really want is what doesn’t exist, the Boston version of Leonard Marcus’s Storied City), I came across some good news (requires free registration) in last week’s Boston Globe, “An adventure in finding books for boys” (emphases mine, as usual):

For years, the thinking in the book world was that adolescent boys don’t like and won’t read nonfiction books. Steven D. Hill and Peggy Hogan think that opinion is wrong, and they’re out to prove it.

Hill and Hogan, president and editorial director, respectively, of newly founded Flying Point Press, spent years in the 1980s and ’90s at Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Co., he as head of the trade and reference division, she as marketing manager for children’s books. A couple of years ago they met to talk about new ventures and hit upon the idea of publishing nonfiction books for boys ages 10 to 15.

They had noticed there’s a strong nonfiction market for men — adventure books such as Sebastian Junger’s “A Perfect Storm” or Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air.” But, said Hill, “it was clear that publishers were ignoring adventure, history, and nonfiction for 10-to-15-year-old boys.” Hogan said, “If you look at what men read, there was no springboard for boys. If they want to read the kind of books they will read as adults, there is nothing to lead them into that area.”

Then Hill, 57, remembered a series of books he had loved as a boy: the old Random House Landmark Books. Started in the 1950s by Random House co-founder Bennett Cerf, they featured narrative nonfiction, mostly history and biography. Cerf signed up such adult stars as John Gunther, C.S. Forester, Alistair MacLean, and William L. Shirer. The series sold millions of books, but Random House (which still publishes several Landmark titles) let many of the classics go out of print. Hill and Hogan got the idea of bringing them back. …

Hill and Hogan sought out the out-of-print Landmark rights-holders, usually the authors’ estates, signed new contracts, and are putting the books back in print. The first eight came out last fall, eight more are coming this spring, and another eight next fall. The list includes: Bruce Bliven’s “Invasion: The Story of D-Day,” MacLean’s “Lawrence of Arabia,” Forester’s “The Barbary Pirates,” and Shirer’s “The Deadly Hunt: The Sinking of the Bismarck.”

“A single book is not going to make a difference,” said Hogan, 65, “but a series for children is a powerful concept, as it was with Landmark. The idea is to have a list of all the titles in each book, so that if you like one, you know you can find something similar.”

Read the rest of the article for various thoughts (including some from Leonard Marcus) on the venture. Landmarks are particularly beloved, and often collected, by a number of home educating families, secular and religious, who treasure what Charlotte Mason called “living books” — quality children’s historical nonfiction — so this is great good news indeed; I’d be remiss not to mention that I have a child who lives, or at least sleeps, with Holbrook’s “Davy Crockett” under his pillow. A hearty thanks to Mr. Hill and Ms. Hogan, and great good luck to Flying Point Press.

More bits and bobs: algebra, kidlit, Dickens, and Chaucer

This post, Have algebra books changed?, by Maria at the always worthwhile Homeschool Math Blog, caught my eye. Good to read read even if your kids aren’t quite ready for algebra.

Kelly at Big A little a is ready with the 10th Carnival of Children’s Literature. Lots of good stuff, or “toasty posts” as Kelly calls them, to read on a cold winter’s day (or night)!

A classical homeschooling friend sent me a copy of this article from The Christian Science Monitor about more Charles Dickens for children. Columnist and parent Janine Woods gives some tips at the end for adding more great books, and Great Books, to your child’s life. I’d just add that for many, Dickens is a wonderful family tradition at Christmas, whether it’s reading A Christmas Carol aloud on Christmas Eve, or watching one of the many movie versions (we’re partial to Alistair Sim). And you can’t go wrong starting even young kids with simplified versions or abridged editions, such as Marcia Williams’s comic-strip style Charles Dickens and Friends, which includes, as the subtitle says, “Five Lively Retellings”: Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, and A Christmas Carol.

Marcia Williams’s classic retellings — of Shakespeare, King Arthur, Don Quixote, the Old Testament, and more — are so popular at our house and with friends that I was delighted to discover, while poking around Amazon for links, her just-published version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which I also just discovered The Globe & Mail‘s Susan Perren calls “a delightful introduction to Chaucer.” Another good review earlier this week in The Columbus Dispatch. And thumbs up too from The Washington Post; as Elizabeth Ward wrote last week about what she calls “exceptional picture books [that] tell of life and love”: “At first blink, Chaucer seems unlikely to appeal to children.”

A Christmas treasure in disguise

Karen at lightingthefires has a post with an absolutely lovely Christmas poem, A Merry Literary Christmas by Alice Low, which, since we’re smack dab in the midst of thank you card season, is more than timely. And might be rather nice printed on a handmade card with all the books I give my nieces and nephews…

My favorite lines,

But every year when Christmas went
I’d read the book my aunt had sent,
And looking back, I realize
Each gift was treasure in disguise.
So now it’s time to write her here
A thank-you note that is sincere.

So — thanks for Alice and Sara Crewe,
For Christopher Robin and Piglet and Pooh,
For Little Nell and William Tell
And Peter and Wendy and Tinker Bell.

Thanks for Tom and Jim and Huck,
For Robinson Crusoe and Dab-Dab the duck,
For Meg and Jo and Johnny Crow
And Papa Geppeto’s Pinocchio

For Mary Poppins and Rat and Toad
King Arthur and Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road,
For Kipling’s Kim and tales from Grimm,
And Ferdinand, Babar and Tiny Tim.

Thank you, Karen for the gems you find, and post! My favorite gifts, besides the handmade ones from my children, remain books, especially the ones my parents send. Poor Tom, unfortunately, without a nearby bookstore or being able to use the computer just can’t keep up with my ever-changing wish list!

Oh! Was just catching up on my blog reading and see that Mary Lee and Franki at A Year of Reading also posted the poem, earlier in the month on the other side of Christmas. I think I rather like the idea of it as bookends, to remind one about giving and receiving…

What to get your favorite kidlit character for the holidays

Gregory K. at Gotta Book has a wonderful holiday list brewing, and better than all those “best books of the year” lists one gets as the year winds down: a list of gifts you’d get your favorite kidlit characters.

He starts off the list with

The Pigeon — a ballpark dog with the works
The Baudelaire children — a fortunate event
Charlotte — a thesaurus
Charlie Bucket — good dental insurance
Harold — Crayola crayons (a 64 pack, at least)

and there are some more great ideas in the comments (my favorite so far is “The Elements of Style” for Junie B. Jones).

Greg adds, “The interesting thing on my list is how many characters I feel like EVERYONE would know, and how many would also need the name of their book(s) spelled out. OK, maybe that’s not ‘interesting’ but keep it in mind as you leave your comments. Cheap shots are certainly allowed (‘I hope the Hardy Boys get a clue,’ for example).” Does one really need any more of an invitation?

Christmas on Huckleberry Mountain

Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book (HB), offers his blog readers a very fair, well-reasoned review by Melinda Cordell, of the new Charlotte’s Web movie, over at the HB website.

While at the website, I happened to notice on the sidebar a link to a special Holiday Posting of Lois Lenski‘s memories, entitled “Christmas at Huckleberry Mountain Library“, published by The Horn Book in 1946, the year Miss Lenski won the Newbery for Strawberry Girl:

Huckleberry mountain library — the only rural library in Henderson County, North Carolina — is open for two hours every other Sunday afternoon to the mountain children, and was to be open on December 23. Packages of books from three of my publishers arrived on the 22nd, just in time for library day.

The library is a small log building, with a rock chimney at one end, sitting at the foot of the mountain, shaded by long-leafed pines. There had been three deep snows — more than this locality experiences in an entire winter — so the low-hung branches of the pine trees and the roof were white and glowing in the bright winter sun.

The children always come early, the young librarian, an educated mountain girl, said. The hours are from two to four, but often they are there by one-thirty. She has to open the door as soon as she gets there and keep it open, even at the risk of being very cold because the open door is a sign of welcome. If the children see the door closed, they may turn around and go home!

Through the weekdays, the building is unheated. So we went over early, to put up some greens and a little Christmas tree, and to get a fire started. Some young pine trees had been cleared out of the woods near by, and these Stephen chopped up. We had brought some dry wood, kindling and newspapers with us. The fireplace was filled with snow, and the chimney was very cold, so in spite of all our efforts, we never did get what you would call “a roaring fire” or any noticeable amount of heat in the room.

Read the rest here. A warm holiday thank you to the folks at The Horn Book for rekindling and sharing the memories.

Goodbye, Garth


From Fuse #8, a link to the Publishers Weekly article, “Little House Under Renovation“:

The prairie landscape of Laura Ingalls Wilder will soon be changing. HarperCollins, in an effort to keep the classic Little House on the Prairie series relevant to a new generation, is repackaging the paperback editions, and will replace the familiar covers by Garth Williams with photographic covers, and remove the inside art, starting in January. …

…according to Tara Weikum, executive editor of HarperCollins Children’s Books, sales of backlist properties in the competitive middle-grade market have been lagging. “For readers who view historical novels as old-fashioned,” says Weikum, “this offers them an edition that dispels that notion and suggests that these books have all the great qualities of a novel set in a contemporary time.”…

Kate Jackson, editor-in-chief at HarperCollins Children’s Books, … believes that Harper’s responsibility is to keep the books “relevant and vibrant for kids today. A childhood book is an emotional, tactile object, and you want it to be as it was,” she says. “But Laura Ingalls was a real little girl, not a made-up character. Using photographs highlights that these are not history but adventure books.”

I had heard a bit about the changes afoot some time after I heard about the plans for Anne-before-Green Gables, and one has to think that the HarperCollins tag line “Come home to Little House” will probably be replaced too, no doubt with something more, erm, contemporary, relevant, vibrant, and adventurous.

I realize that Garth Williams wasn’t the original illustrator of the Little House series. He was hired in the 1950’s by Harper editor Ursula Nordstrom, who didn’t think that the original illustrations, by Helen Sewell and Mildred Boyle beginning in 1932, suited the books; this page has an interesting comparison of the two styles, and I think an argument could be made that Williams’s illustrations do have a, yes, vibrancy that Mrs. Sewell’s lack, a vibrancy shared by the young Laura Ingalls herself. (Some might recollect Helen Sewell as the illustrator of two Alice Dalgliesh classics, The Thanksgiving Story and The Bears on Hemlock Mountain.)