by Donald Hall
pictures by Barbara Cooney
children's book 1979
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.