How is it possible that I made it into my 30s before discovering this fantastic children's book series? How?
Well, I don't know.
But now we've discovered it, and we've been enjoying every word and every picture.
Reading these books is the literary equivalent to snuggling up by the fire with a warm cup of hot cocoa.
So sweet and full of warmth!
The author and illustrator, Jill Barklem, wrote the first books in this series in 1980. They are stories about a little community of mice who live in the woods.
The illustrations are absolutely phenomenal. I particularly enjoy the cross-sections of the homes. (inside the trees where the mice live.)
This particular book is from our library. I believe it's out of print now. (booo.)
This book a collection of all four stories--one story each of the seasons. The book opens with spring. Here is an illustration of Lady Woodmouse waking up to a flood of warm sunshine, streaming in through her window.
(sidenote: In a few of these photographs, Pumpkin insisted upon pointing to her favorite part of the illustration. Fun for me to see what she admires most on each page.)
The flow of the plot in each of these stories is so darling. And then--on top of that--you can sit there with your little one and pore over each illustration, treasuring each little element on the page.
In The Summer Story, Poppy Eyebright and Dusty Dogwood prepare for their upcoming nuptials.
And then, at the end of that section, they get married whilst floating on a decorated raft on the creek.
"The raft floated gently past fields of buttercups and meadowsweet, and the voles tending the fires in the Pottery came out to wave as the wedding party drifted by."
Oh, be still my heart.
Is that not precious?
(sidenote: Ellie & H, this particular story made me think of another wedding party floating down the river on a boat! But alas, in this story there are no space blankets. Blog readers, that is another memorable story for another blog post someday.)
And here is one of my favorite illustrations from The Fall Story (below.)
This one features Primrose Woodmouse, who has joined two elderly harvest mice in their home for a cup of tea.
And lastly, in The Winter Story, there is a huge snowfall in Brambly Hedge.
Mrs. Eyebright, who is the eldest of the mice, remarks, "I haven't seen snow like this since I was young...."
All of the mice decide to "follow in the tradition of our forefathers" on an occasion such as this....
So, Mr. Apple annouces to the gathering of mice, "I declare that a Snow Ball will take place at dusk tonight in the Ice Hall."
Next, the mice get to work building the Ice Hall deep inside one of the snow drifts.
And you'll just have to check this book out from your library (or buy a used copy if you're lucky!) to be able to see how lovely the Snow Ball turned out to be.
"All of the dances were very fast and twirly, and were made even faster by the slippery ice floor."
* * * *
I would like to note that although you might think these type of stories will appeal more to girls (and that might be true to a point), I've noticed that when I read these stories to a mixed crowd, there seems to be an equal appreciation. In my humble opinion, a young boy needs a healthy dose of Little House, Beatrix Potter, and the like. (In addition to all of the typical "boy" stuff that he will experience as well. Insert Tim the Toolman grunt here.)
* * * *
As I was writing this post, I tried to think back....where did I first learn about these books? I know it was somewhere on the internet, and I know that it was sometime in the last 2 yrs.
Finally I remembered--I read about these books in this post: Book Review : Brambly Hedge.
This blog, Storyformed, is written by Sarah Clarkson. (You moms out there might have read one or more of Sarah's mother's books. Her mom is Sally Clarkson. Clay Clarkson is the dad. He's also a published author.)
I haven't visited Sarah's blog in a long time, but now that I'm reminded of it I'll be sure to head back over there for a visit.
* * * *
Also, here is the official Brambly Hedge site: The World of Brambly Hedge.
* * * *
A few more of my own posts which relate to books/reading can be found here: