Jackson and Scarry's A Story a Day
Children's book review by Suzanne Holland
When I was a little girl (back in the Jurassic Era) I tended to be home sick quite a bit. Nothing major, just a lot of colds, etc. During these respites from school, my favorite thing to do was to read from this particular book. There was something so cozy and comforting reading these little stories and poems. I loved the concept of a story or poem for each day of the year. Naturally, I read all the entries for my birthday, my families’ birthdays, holidays and so on. It made no difference to me whether the story was about animals or people; I loved them equally.
Well, years went by, the book was misplaced and the stories remained in the back of my mind. I couldn’t remember the title or author so I never hunted it down. This was before Richard Scarry became a phenomenon with puppets, TV shows and pull toys.
Imagine how over the moon I was to discover it about five years ago!! The book was renewed from its original 1955 publication date (even older than I) and it is exactly the same.
Scarry’s illustrations have that wonderful gentle and friendly feel. The colors are bright and primary. The animal characters are so adorable and children can’t help but respond to the funny antics of the bunnies, or the little city mouse and country mouse.
The stories vary in length, but none are more than one page so they can easily fit into the bedtime routine. All the stories are happy, with the flavor and wording of an earlier time. In fact, today’s children are probably unused to stories about little boys who long to be cowboys, or girls who go hat shopping!
Personally, I find Kathryn Jackson’s old - fashioned stories and language charming. I like reading “merry smiles”, “happy as larks” and Jill baking cookies all by herself because Mother had an allergy. There is nothing overtly sexist about the stories so I don’t think contemporary children or parents would be offended.
The tales are from a simpler time, before video and computer games, DVDs and electronic toys. There are probably novel concepts for this generation such as making acorn dishes, and playing detective around the neighborhood. There is even a reference to a brother and sister doing the dishes and a boy on roller skates!
In fact, the entry for November 14 is called “Rainy Day Fun” and says, “with paper and crayons and scissors and glue, there is no end to the things we can do” and then lists a host of crafts!
My children were a little too old when I finally got hold of this book. First through third graders would delight in this, however. I did not use it often in my classroom, as it is quite a production herding everyone onto the rug for a half page story!
I fully intend to keep this gem until the day I become a grandmother and can woo another generation with these lovely little stories!
Richard Scarry’s A Story a Day: 365 Stories and Rhymes, written by Kathryn Jackson, is a year’s worth of cozy, sentimental fun.
Read more of Suzanne's reviews.
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