Updike children’s book considered a classic

EatReadSleep blogger Cheryl Teal, a collection development librarian, yesterday posted an entry on A Child’s Calendar, by John Updike and Trina Schart Hyman,” in which she shares her rediscovery of the book and her affirmation that it’s worthy of being considered a classic.

“Our library system runs a report to find titles that are getting low on copies, and we selectors review it to find the gems that need to be re-ordered. Some titles and series are deservedly going out of print, but others are beloved classics that every library should keep forever. I was intrigued to find A Child’s Calendar—which I had never read—on that report, so not only did I order more copies, I also checked out a copy for myself.”

“Perhaps the best part of this discovery was that Updike chose one of my favorite illustrators for the updated edition. Trina Schart Hyman uses rich colors and black outlines to create busy, charming family scenes. Her diverse children and adults live in mostly rural and small-town settings, displaying both the labor and laughter of everyday life. . . . Surprisingly, Updike and Hyman were both born in Pennsylvania and later moved to New England.”

“Originally published in 1965, Updike made many changes and reprinted the volume in 1999. There is a poem for each month of the year, sweet and nostalgic, with traditional families and realistic humor. Here is the last stanza of the March poem:

“‘The mud smells happy
On our shoes.
We still wear mittens,
Which we lose.'”

The result? “This is a book to treasure for generations,” Teal concludes. “A lovely way to feed little souls.”


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