Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Robert Lawson

Ben and Me
by Robert Lawson
Recommended Age: 8+

This favorite story is a piece of lighthearted historical fiction of the "talking rodent" subgenre, from Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator and Newbery Medal-winning author Robert Lawson.

The narrator, Amos the mouse, is humorously conceited as he tells how he and Benjamin Franklin collaborated in inventing the Franklin stove, how Franklin played a dirty trick on him during his experiments with electricity, and how he led a revolution of mice at the French court. He also slyly suggests that if he hadn't gone with Franklin to England, the crisis between England and her colonies may not have erupted into the Revolutionary War. Full of humorous incidents and interesting historical detail, it's a fun and educational book for kids and it doesn't talk down to them, either.

I am informed there is a similar story called Paul Revere and I, by the same author.

Rabbit Hill
by Robert Lawson
Recommended Age: 8+

The author of Ben and Me and illustrator of Mr. Popper's Penguins won a Newbery Medal in 1945 for both writing and illustrating this story. And in my opinion, it should be a children's classic.

Little Georgie is the youngest child of Mother and Father Rabbit, the last one still living in the hutch. And all in the spring and summer in which he proves to be a nearly-full-grown rabbit, he is the most excited of all the little animals on Rabbit Hill. For new folks are coming to the abandoned house, coming to revive the decaying garden and lawns, coming to provide food for the rabbits, field mice, woodchuck, skunk, fox, deer, and other denizens of the field and wood.

The hired men who do the work of preparing the garden and grounds have certain ideas about how to get alone with these little creatures. Fence them out of the garden. Use dogs, guns, traps, and poison to drive them away. But the new Man and Lady who come to live in the house have ideas of their own--strange ideas, maybe ideas that come from reading so much that the brain goes soft!

The little animals have nothing to complain about... until one of Little Georgie's adventures gets him in big trouble. Then comes the big test, the test of whether little animals and big folks can get along with each other.

Here is a cheerful, warm-hearted story packed with natural beauty, a bit of danger and suspense, and a daring message: "There is enough for all." It does not talk down to you or sacrifice truth for cuteness, as some tales of adorable little bunnies are perceived as doing. And besides, I think you will fall in love with Little Georgie.

No comments: