Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall














Ox-Cart Man 
by Donald Hall
pictures by Barbara Cooney
children's book 1979
reread
print
finished 7/19/16

Donald Hall has made frequent appearances here in my letters. I mentioned once that in 1989 he, along with his late wife, poet Jane Kenyon, and the late poet Maxine Kumin made a visit to our town and gave readings at the elementary school. It felt like Tom and I had gone to literary heaven. We brought along this book so he could sign it. 


As you may imagine, it is one of my treasures. 

We have an old Larkin desk set up that holds all the children's books I saved from when my kids were little, some from Tom's and my childhoods, and a few I've bought just for myself.


Now that Hazel Nina is older, she goes over and picks out books for us to read. I was pleased the other day when this was chosen. As you can see we both took it quite seriously, because indeed it is not a frivolous book. It is a book of history - a book that tells children that life changes, that it wasn't always the way it is now, and that it may not be the same in the future.


This is a wonderful book for children and adults. In its pages, we learn what life used to be like in 'the olden days.' Days when a family spent much of their time together, working, yes, but enjoying that work. Children were necessary participants in the family. Their play was also their work. 

The book begins with the father about to depart on a long journey. You may click on the photos to see the words more clearly, if you wish.


The book then proceeds to show the reader what the family did during the past year.



And then the trip begins.




There he sells his wares.





And with the money he earned,


He then walks the long way back to his home.



And the cycle of the year starts all over again.



A very satisfying book that quietly shows the warmth and love of family life, and the good, honest work that keeps the household going. 

29 comments:

  1. What a charming book! And I would frame & hang that picture captioned "over hills, through valleys, by streams . . . "

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    1. I don't know how old your grandchildren are, but this is a great book for kids. My kids were 7 and 4 when it was autographed, and we'd owned it a while before that.

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  2. Treasure indeed! Donald Hall, along with Jane Kenyon and Maxine Kumin, are among my favorite poets. Have you read his book The Best Day The Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon?

    No matter what my age, I always love well-done children's books, too.

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    1. I haven't read that book - too sad for me. I'm not a great fan of JK, but love MK and DH. If you do a search in the upper left corner for Donald Hall, you will find a lot of posts. Same with Maxine.

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  3. This is a wonderful story with engaging illustrations! I read it to several different age groups at a local elementary school. Don't remember which grade levels I read the book, but the children loved the story (and so did I).

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    1. What a wonderful, and fun, thing to do! When my kids were in elementary school, I went into their classrooms occasionally and read. I loved it. Very fond memories.

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  4. I remember this book and wonder if I still have a copy in the attic or the spare room. (The one I cannot walk across because my son has so many tools there!) I will have to look for it is a wonderful book.

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  5. Delightful, and even more so because you have met the author personally and he has signed your copy. I imagine Hazel Nina enjoyed it, too!

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  6. I enjoy children's books too. I haven't heard about this one.

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    1. That makes me happy that I wrote about it. I'm sure you could find it in a library.

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  7. I love the picture of you and Hazel Nina!!

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  8. This is a book I did not know until just now. Thank you. I will be looking for it, for I surely would love it and love to share with my grands. Lovely, Nan. Thank you.

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    1. You and they will love it, I'm quite sure!!

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  9. What a lovely post! And thank you - I was not aware of this beautiful book. The pic of you and Hazel is just so nice. She will carry that love with her - wonderful bond.
    I have a Larkin desk too! I have printer paper and files where your books rest - like yours better!
    Mary

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    1. We love that girl, and her boy cousins, SO much! The top part of the desk has more books - bigger, chapter books that belonged to Tom and I, and then upstairs I have the middle-grade books that my kids read. On the very top of the desk - you know those little shelves- that's where Tom's wallet and our phones go so that Miss Lucy, the Labrador thief, doesn't get them!!

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  10. I didn't know this book, but would love to find it for my great-grands. A great lesson. Love the portrait of the readers. Do you know the book "Great-Grandfather and the Honey Tree"? I thought of it because when I was a child the author came to our small Library and did a reading; we inherited it from my parents.

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    1. I hope you can find it. And I shall look into GGandtheHT. Thank you!!!

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    2. Wow, I went looking and it is available but at a high cost. 40 or 50 dollars!! I'll see if the library can ILL me a copy.

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  11. That reading would be literary heaven, indeed. What a blessing. (Maxine Kumin is my favorite poet!) And what a lovely book, also. Was life better then? Probably not, but it certainly seems that way. At least there was a rhythm, when now it all seems to be hurry and disharmony. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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    1. There is quite a bit of her work in my letters. You can go to 'poems' under the blog header picture, and scroll down till you come to her name.
      It does seem like life had a very special quality then. Have you read Donald Hall's A String Too Short To Be Saved? It is wonderful, wonderful.

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    2. Thank you for reminding me to tour through Kumin and Hall in your poetry section. Yes, I have read "String Too Short To Be Saved" and loved it. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era, and certainly in the wrong state! Have you read "Seasons at Eagle Pond"? It's similar, but more about natural rhythms.

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    3. I am so pleased you looked back at those posts. Thank you. I haven't read the Seasons book but will look into it. Thanks.

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  12. A wonderful and rather moving story, Nan. I admit I hadn't heard of it before. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm so pleased. It is a lovely story.

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  13. What a wonderful collection of books you have to share with that sweet girl! I love how serious she looks, sitting in your lap, listening intently to you reading to her. Precious memories for both of you!

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