A Book That Brings Beauty- Beatrix Potter and Her Animal Friends

Beatrix Pic 1

What book do you think of when you desire to look at something beautiful? What stories come to mind when you want to read something wholesome and satisfying to your children? We’ve all heard of them, and a lot of us have read most if not all of them, but Beatrix Potter’s animal stories are some of the most treasured and classic of tales, beloved by children near and far.

Not only are these stories a delight to children, but they have been and still are a delight to adults as well. It has been said that even C.S. Lewis himself was captivated by the likes of Squirrel Nutkin. So why is this? What causes these stories to stand the test of time?

Maybe it is because what is conveyed through these stories is not bound by years or decades. What is gleaned in Potter’s pages is timeless because stories of value and substance, that lend direction and offer a moral compass, are as much needed today as they were in the early nineteen hundreds. From The Tale of Peter Rabbit to The Roly-Poly Pudding, children are reminded of the importance of obedience and honesty, and that there are very real consequences for the decisions one makes.

So many other great things can be awakened in a child as a result of delving into these classic tales: A love for animals, a desire to experiment with watercolor paints, sketching the natural world, or writing creative narratives about the creatures one comes across on a nature walk.

To help aid you in your rediscovery of Potter’s Complete Tales, I want to introduce you to a quaint and beautifully illustrated picture book biography of Beatrix Potter, written by Alexandra Wallner, simply titled Beatrix Potter.

 

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Her childhood becomes very real and relatable as this book portrays her time spent drawing, painting flowers, and secretly keeping pet rabbits, frogs, lizards, salamanders, and snakes.

 

Beatrix kept a diary written in her own code. The sights and sounds of the woods were like magic to her.”

Children are invited into the pages of this little gem to discover that things were not always easy for Beatrix. She often battled loneliness and was plagued with bronchitis and rheumatic fever which left her with a heart condition. These things, however, did not keep her from finding comfort in the natural world around her and recreating God’s creatures on paper with pencil and paint.

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If I have done anything – even a little to help small children on the road to enjoy and appreciate honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.

If you would like to delve even deeper after reading this charming picture book biography, , I recommend picking up Beatrix Potter: A Journal,published by Penguin Books. It is made to look like Beatrix’s own scrapbook with black and white photos of her and her family, journal cards, and original sketches and paintings.

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Delve into these wonderful books with your children and let the love of nature take root and blossom in a bounty of creativity and wonder. And go out and enjoy God’s creation with your children!

A Warm Drink for a Chilly Day!


I am so excited to be back home in Colorado, but I must admit the warm temperatures in California were a welcome break from the subzero cold! Maybe I should have a home in both places–in my dreams!

How can I get my body acclimated to the cold again? Staying in bed with the covers over my head perhaps? Oh yeah, I have responsibilities–that won’t work!

Warm drinks do help me! But I can only take so much caffeine! One of my favorite warm drinks to serve at teas and for my evening Bible study is spicy apple cider. Now I have made the traditional wassail and it is delicious. But there is an easy, “cheating” version, that I am more likely to do this time of year, when I have less time and energy to prepare.

The recipe is embarrassingly simple: in a crockpot, pour in a gallon of apple cider and a bag of Red Hots! Let it warm for an hour or so or until the red hots melt. I have also heated this on the stove and it comes together much more quickly in a pinch. The fragrance is like standing in an apple orchard with a bit of “zing” in the air. (My friends always ask me for the recipe and I just smile and say, “It is an old family recipe.”

Often, I will pour the red hot juice back into the Apple juice bottle and serve it up one mug at a time–just heat on the stove or in the microwave.

Let each of your children choose a favorite mug and enjoy warmth from the inside out! And maybe pull out Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter if you need some encouragement that this isn’t the longest winter ever!

Enjoy!

Christmas ~ A Time to Enjoy Reading Aloud!

Sarah’s Book on Books ~ a great Christmas gift idea!

On a storm-blown Sunday afternoon in a creaky old manor house in England, I rediscovered the timeless delight of classic children’s books. It took me by surprise. I was one of about thirty international students studying and living in England for the summer, and this was our first British teatime all together. A shy, awkward silence had fallen about us as we tried our best to balance philosophy, sophistication, and hot mugs of tea, when one of our tutors said something that sent us all staring.
“Let’s read Winnie-the-Pooh.”
A swift current of suppressed mirth ran the length of the room, but we were up for some fun, and the tutor assigned each person a part in the story. Pooh’s expedition to the North Pole was the story of choice, and before we knew what was happening we were immersed in the comical, compact world of the Hundred Acre Woods. The story had all of us — tutors, college students, post-graduates, old, and young — laughing until our sides literally ached.”
Read for the Heart pp. 113-114

Reading together as a family is a Clarkson tradition. Hours of memories have been made around good books. During the holiday season, busyness can rob you of precious time spent together as a family. Since all children should sleep at night, should being the key word, start the bedtime routine a little bit earlier and pull out a favorite book to read. If Pooh is a bit daunting by its size, try some holiday picture books or some shorter chapter books. Two that are recommended by Whole Hearted children are The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Cosmic Christmas. Enjoy their reviews!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a book I like each Christmas because it is a funny, family-friendly story.  It has inspired me to look at Christmas differently and a little more realistically.  For example, what if Jesus had colic?  The only thing about this book is that it has some questionable language so is better if Mom or Dad reads it aloud and edits as they read.
~ Reviewed by 10 year old young lady

Cosmic Christmas by Max Lucado ( also recently published as The Angel Story) opens a unique porthole into the uncommonly written realm of angels.    It is written from Gabriel’s perspective on his mission to give Mary the seed of Christ as Satan is desperately trying to stop him.   While it is written from a biblical Christian perspective, this soul stirring book provides a new look on the ” all is calm , all is bright”  normal theme of Christmas.

This book is a must read in our home each year.
~ Reviewed  by 13 year old boy

What books are you reading to your children this holiday season? May the Lord bless the time you spend together!

Great quotes! Louisa May Alcott’s home.

Too busy talking to friends, so I asked Joy and Christie, (my daughter and her bf) to write the past couple of days as they share some of their impressions. What fun I am having and how blessed I am to have a few days of pure fun! Here are just a few of the great quotes we saw as we walked through Louisa May’s home–the author of so many wonderful books, including Little Women.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
- Louisa May Alcott

So true.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
— Louisa May Alcott

“A faithful friend is a strong defense;
And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.”
— Louisa May Alcott

Great memories and tears coming to my eyes several times. What fun we have had running through halls of history, homes of great writers and talking, talking, talking as we go.

The girls brought tears to my eyes yesterday morning. “Who gets to have an education like this! To read their stories and then to see the lives these great people lived and to know the rooms where they lived and wrote, the places they fought battles–makes us so very grateful to have known and seen these things! It makes me want to think, “How am I going to live my life in such a way as to leave a legacy of faith or courage that will help and influence others.”

And so we have been busy every minute, and in the evenings we have had precious conversations with friends where we are staying and being treated to great meals, rousing conversations and heart-felt prayers. Such a blessing to me and a filling of my soul. All grateful to God for strewing my life with such blessings.

Deb, Jane, me and Shelley (below) staying up too late but having fun talking around the kitchen table. What great food and hospitality. 

Off to see Paul Revere’s home! and then training to New York City for more fun and friends. Have a blessed day.

Just a little something from Europe!

Seek first the kingdom of God,…..

My kingdom is not of this world.

Loud, noisy cars rushed through the changing lights, threatening our very lives. Honking, chattering, yelling, boats whistling, pubs, billboards, cafes, bikes, hundreds of pedestrians listening to ipods, the underground/above ground train swooshing through the bridge over to our side, and Joy and I thought we must be in the wrong place.

Looking for a small grave yard-where Susanna Wesley, John Bunyon and Isaac Watts were buried. Suddenly, we saw a gate. There in front of us, with a pathway through the grave yard–for walkways to and from the busyness of life, and between modern apartments–were the grave stones–some hundreds of years old-and we sought and found the very inconspicuous tombstone of the three we sought. Just a grave, small grave stone, with the years they were alive and when they died. John Bunyon had a little larger commemoration–but no mention of Pilgrim’s Progress–just his name. There were no lines or tickets to see these and to remember the greatness of what they had accomplished. 

These three spiritual giants, had faithfully lived their lives, influenced thousands–millions–Wesleys–to love God, start spiritual movements, (Isaac Watts–”When I survey the wondrous cross and hundreds more) to worship Him in music, (John Bunyon–15 years in prison–writing Pilgrim’s progress)to stay faithful on the obstacle course of life–to build children into godly leaders–yet the evidence of their influential lives and ways they were used by God’s spirit to literally change the course of their world was in no way marked or recognized–at least not in this world.  So important to the world of faith, hope, love and kingdom work. 

In contrast to this, Joy and I had spent two prior days in long lines spending too much money to pass by the crown jewels and marvel at the amount of gold used, diamonds, rubies, emeralds displayed in all their glory. We had seen castles from afar, clothes that royalty wore and marveled at the distance between the rich and the poor. The cathedrals we saw in England and especially in Paris, were built on the backs of the poor, who had not much food or ways to live well, but were built all glorious for the wealthy leaders who desired such places of glory. 

The palaces, art museums, cafes, gardens were attended by thousands, (lots and lots of googling Americans) to observe the splendor of people whose glory was a thing of the past–yet these had had a kingdom in this world, and now they were all dead. 

Whose kingdom am I building? Where am I looking for rewards? Whose glory will people look into my life to see–the things I collected or the people I influenced and the kingdom messages I left–food for thought as we have been traveling. 

I so love having these days, alone with Joy, to talk to her about these great ideas, the Lord, life, messages, love and enjoying it all alone without disruption of telephone, computer, email or cooking and washing dishes. A real gift to us, planned for for years, and reaping the deep rewards of making time for our relationship–I am so blessed. Grace and peace from Austria–my seconds on the internet are now up!