TCS: Giving Frigates and Fairylands to Kids

Good Morning!

Coffee cup


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.



On the Gift of a Book to a Child

by Hilaire Belloc

Child! do not throw this book about! 
   Refrain from the unholy pleasure   
Of cutting all the pictures out! 
    Preserve it as your chiefest treasure. 
Child, have you never heard it said   
   That you are heir to all the ages? 
Why, then, your hands were never made 
   To tear these beautiful thick pages! 
Your little hands were made to take 
   The better things and leave the worse ones:
They also may be used to shake 
   The Massive Paws of Elder Persons. 
And when your prayers complete the day,   
   Darling, your little tiny hands 
Were also made, I think, to pray
   For men that lose their fairylands.


Every December for the past several years, I have faced the challenge of buying holiday presents, first for one ‘adotable’ (a typo which I find is better!) little girl, and then for her baby sister as well.

My father and their great-grandmother were first cousins, but my dad’s branch of the family was very sparse, so kinship has been enough to make us all closer than we might have been in a larger herd of relatives.

Words are one of my greatest pleasures, so of course I give books — gifts that don’t need batteries, and won’t break before New Years.

Picking out books today is more complicated than when I was a small child. There are a lot more choices, and books these days are actually marked as ‘appropriate’ for particular age groups. I do want the books to be enjoyed right away, so I try to stick within the age parameters, but look for books with lots of word play —language should be fun.

I think by next year, I will be able to start upping the age bracket a bit for older sister — she’s scary-bright and really curious — those eyes are full of mischief and don’t miss much. Since she’s already playing games on her mom’s phone and computer, I’ve had to ask my ‘cousin’ to check with her son and daughter-in-law to make sure the girls don’t already have the books I have in mind.


This year’s choices:

Each Peach Pear Plum

by Allan Ahlberg, Illustrated by Janet Ahleberg

Tongue-twisters in the text and figures hidden in the illustrations for an ‘I Spy’ challenge! Recommended for Reading Age 4-6, but Interest Level 0+ — I thought Big Sis could read to Little Sis

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

by Bill Martin Jr. and John Aechambault, Illustrated by Lois Ehlert

“A told B
and B told C,
“I’ll meet you at the top
of the coconut tree.”

Alphabet rhymes in a board book for little hands


As usual, Emily Dickinson says it beautifully.


There is no Frigate like a Book 

by Emily Dickinson

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –






If you’re having a Much To-Do Monday, don’t forget to breathe!  

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
This entry was posted in Emily Dickinson, Literature, The Coffee Shop and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.