Favourite illustrators: Paul Galdone

Apricot Sky

I recommended this light-hearted Romance by the author of Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary, also set in Scotland, to Rachel yesterday – though my copy is in storage I remember how much I enjoyed it and loved the dustwrapper. In fact, I’ve been picking up any super cheap copies of the the Hungarian born, American illustrator Paul Galdone’s folktales whenever I see them in charity shops for the last few months. His versions are always sunny and witty, but are definitely in the “classic” tradition, and I’m hoping they’ll be useful for Miranda starting out teaching and building her own “primary library.” There are a few adult books that he has illustrated that I treasure as well. Not so easy to find reasonably priced attractive copies now I’m afraid, but well worth the search if you can find them on a charity shop shelf. Here’s a brief biography:

Paul Galdone was born circa 1907 in  Budapest, Austria- Hungary and immigrated to the  United States in 1921. Galdone studied art at the  Art Student’s League and  New York School for Industrial Design. He served in World War II in the U.S. Army, Engineers. The author and illustrator of children’s books also was employed as a bus boy, electrician’s helper, and fur dryer, in addition to four years in the art department at  Doubleday (NY). His work was awarded runner up for the Caldecott Medal (  Eve Titus,  Anatole, 1957 and  Anatole and the Cat, 1958) and selection by the  American Library Association for notable books (  The Little Red Hen,  Winter Danger, and  Flaming Arrows). He died of a heart attack on 7 November 1986, in  Nyack, NY.

Galdone Henny Penny LoveInaColdClimate The Road through the Wall Joyinthemorning


Favourite Homesteading Books

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872)  Settler's HouseCornelius Krieghoff’s Settler’s House image via here

We’re just at the point between winter and spring here in Dorset. There’s daffodils, crocuses and polyanthus flowers brightening up the garden and plenty of blackbirds hopping about for berries still, but it’s rather drear too with grey skies and chilly mornings. Nothing nicer then to curl up with my favourite homesteading titles to re-read and a pot of coffee, my favourite mug and a cuddly afghan blanket. Hope some of these will be similarly comforting to you.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

angle-repose-wallace-stegner-paperback-cover-artimage from here 

Angle of Repose is a 1971 novel by Wallace Stegner about a wheelchair-using historian, Lyman Ward, who has lost connection with his son and living family and decides to write about his frontier-era grandparents. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972. The novel is directly based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote, later published as A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West.

By the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

OnTheBanksOfPlumCreekimage from here

Having left their little house on the Kansas prairie, the Ingalls family travels by covered wagon to Minnesota and settles in a dugout on the banks of Plum Creek. Pa trades his horses Pet and Patty to the property owner (a man named Hanson, who wants to go west) for the land and crops. He later gets two new horses as Christmas presents for the family, which Laura and her sister Mary name “Sam” and “David”. Pa soon builds a new, above-ground, wooden house for the family, trusting that their first crop of wheat will pay for the lumber and materials.

Caddie Woodlawn and Magical Melons by Carol Ryrie Brink

index.phpimage from here :-

Set in the 1860s, Caddie Woodlawn is about a lively eleven-year-old tomboy named Caroline Augusta Woodlawn, nicknamed “Caddie”, living in the area of Dunnville, Wisconsin, and her experiences with her nearby native american cousins.She is troublesome and the despair of her ladylike mother and sister. The sequel to the book, Magical Melons (1939), continues the story of Caddie and her family. I find it hard to believe Carol Ryrie Brink’s children’s books are not better known: she is one of my favourite children’s authors. Homesteading and the children she writes about spring alive in these books.

Grandfather Symons’ Homestead Book by R D Symons

Grandfather Symons

Through drawings and stories from his own extended family,  Symons tells his grandchildren in this wonderful picture book what life was like throughout each month of the year for homesteaders on the Canadian prairies. Sadly out of print, it’s well worth looking for a second hand copy for the prints alone.

Clover and In the High Valley by Susan Coolidge (the fourth and final books in the What Katy Did series – free on Kindle!)

n176253Image from here

Clover and Phil go to Colorado so that he might recuperate in the mountain air. Their cousin Clarence lives nearby on his ranch and with him his partner Englishman Geoff Templestowe. In the High Valley continues the story, adding a brother and sister from England as the brother, Lionel Young, is set to join Geoff and Phil as a rancher. His sister, Imogen Young, has to be one of the hardest-to-like heroines in Young Adult fiction, but Coolidge soon has you caring about Imogen and willing her to adapt to her new life and find happiness in the Colorado wilds.

Nothing To Do But Stay and Prairie Cooks by Carrie Young


Nothing to Do but Stay is a daughter’s tribute to her pioneer mother. Carrine Gafkjen was a real heroine who traveled by herself to North Dakota in 1904, to stake a lonely claim and start a farm on 160 empty acres before she married and began her family. In Prairie Cooks, Young recalls recipes and stories of her mother’s (and other Norwegian American cooks’). Both books are warmly recommended for their warmth and humour.

In a Polish Country House Kitchen


New to my Kindle – this fascinating cookbook by Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden features some delicious Polish dishes traditional but with a modern twist. I’m made the blinis with some caviar (salmon cheaper type!) and sour cream which are wonderful, but I’m loving most of all the taste of rural Polish life and a commitment to thoughtfully prepared local food. Must try the blackcurrant vodka later this year too!


Three Skips on the Floor

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Sketch of a Doorway with a Water Barrel by William Dyce

As a child, I pored over A Golden Treasury of Poetry: Selected and with a commentary by Louis Untermeyer and illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund. It is still one of my favourite poetry anthologies and sits on my bedside table. For Valentine’s day, here’s one I learnt by heart from it: a not-so-serious ballad (originally Scottish I believe) about a long standing marriage and the tussles between one goodman and his wife. I always rejoiced in and empathised with the goodwife’s three skips- obviously a stubborn little thing myself even then!

Get up and Bar the Door

It fell about the Martinmas time,
	 And a gay time it was then,
	 When our goodwife got puddings to make,
	 And she’s boiled them in the pan.
The wind so cold blew south and north,
	 And blew into the floor;
	 Quoth our goodman to our goodwife,
	 "Get up and bar the door."
"My hand is in my household work,
	 Goodman, as ye may see;
	 And it will not be barred for a hundred years,
	 If it’s to be barred by me."
They made a pact between them both,
	 They made it firm and sure,
	 That whosoe'er should speak the first,
	 Should rise and bar the door.
Then by there came two gentlemen,
	 At twelve o'clock at night,
	 And they could see neither house nor hall,
	 Nor coal nor candlelight.
"Now whether is this a rich man’s house,
	 Or whether is it a poor?"
	 But never a word would one of them speak,
	 For barring of the door.
And first they ate the white puddings,
	 And then they ate the black;
	 Tho' much the goodwife thought to herself,
	 Yet never a word she spake.
Then said one stranger to the other,
	 "Here, man, tak ye my knife;
	 Do ye take off the old man’s beard,
	 And I’ll kiss the goodwife."
"There’s no hot water to scrape it off,
	 And what shall we do then?"
	 "Then why not use the pudding broth,
	 That boils into the pan?"
O up then started our goodman,
	 An angry man was he;
	 "Will ye kiss my wife before my eyes!
	 And with pudding-broth scold me?"
Then up and started our goodwife,
	 Gave three skips on the floor:
	 "Goodman, you’ve spoken the very first word,
	 Get up and bar the door.

What to read whilst you’re waiting for the Persephone Biannually…


Image from here

It’s that time of year. I’m excited about the two new Persephone books for Spring. I shall undoubtedly buy them both, but I’m especially pleased that they’re reprinting Helen Hull’s Heat Lightning (first published in the US in 1932). Hull is deservedly known for her wonderful novels revealing the undercurrents of American domestic and family life in the first half of twentieth century America. She captures her protagonists brilliantly at moments of insight or change and explores the essential strength women find to learn, manage and carry on, making the best of what is often a difficult lot and gaining a sense of achievement and even love and self-esteem in the process. Rachel has written brilliantly about two of her novels, Morning Shows the Day and Heat Lightning on Book Snob here and here.

I’ve had fun in the mean time reading a couple of Hull’s short stories one, from the treasure chest that is the Persephone Book of Short Stories, and written in 1941 and another available to read online. En Route, published on 18th February 1928 in Collier’s: The National Weekly is a super example, albeit on a necessarily smaller scale, of Hull’s gifts and is perfect to get you in the mood for the Persephone reprint. Driving rain is the motif here rather than scorching hot summer lightning. I especially like the taste of quirky small town 1920s America that Hull gives us and Monica’s memories of her childhood visit to Mrs Hardwick’s home. The story starts on pages 15 and 16 here and continues here (scroll down to page 42). Happy Reading!


“Chase Em in Tea Room” a 1920s lunch and tea room in Maine, presumably not dissimilar to the one Philip and Monica ride out the storm in – image from here

Shrove Tuesday Cheating

Semlor bunsPancakes for two or three or even four I can do, but for a crowd or in Shrove Tuesday quantities I start to lose the will to live! You can buy crepes of course, but they’re such a pale imitation of the real thing – I end up thinking I’ve neither used up anything in the fridge nor used my hard-earned ££ wisely. Not the sort of cheating in fact I feel is worth the deceit.

Now what is (for me!) are Scandinavian Cream Buns. Made from scratch, which I’ve done, (this recipe here online is delicious, my tweaked cheat version below) they are just to die for and what a wonderful Scandi tradition! I’m too lazy though to go to all that fuss for just me and a couple of friends so have worked out an acceptable cheat version I’m happy to share. You want some nice sweet soft type buns (the best you can find). I find 5 is about right for the two or three of us normally. I’ve spent years looking for cardamon spiced ones, but have never been lucky enough to find any so I just go for buttery and soft from my local bakery. Just before you want them, cut off the tops and place to one side, scoop out the bread in the base with teaspoon, leaving shell and mix crumbs in bowl with 50g really good marzipan (my favourite is an Odense one they sell on Ocado) and 50ml of best quality (bought!) custard. Spoon mixture back into buns then shake up a tin of Isigny Ste Mere Creme a la Vanille de Madagascar (what would I do without Ocado?) and use the squirty cream to fill in the top attractively. Bun lid back on and then dust with some icing sugar through a sieve. Eaten off my prettiest china with cups of strong black or creamy coffee on the side, they’re about my favourite pre-Lent treat.