Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lessons from a Hummingbird

Ah, Saturday. How I love Saturday mornings, the one day a week when our family does not have to rush off (sometimes in three different directions, seemingly all at the same time) and be somewhere at a certain time. We've taken to giving ourselves sleep-in time (I didn't get up till 7:30!) and also leisurely breakfasts, usually featuring fruit smoothies made by Mommy and egg omelettes made by Daddy.

This morning D. had some things he had to attend to, which left me and the sweet girl with an extra hour or two at home after breakfast. I had some cleaning to do, but I also knew we would likely get in some good cuddling and reading time. And so we did. She stayed in her jammies and after a while we crawled back into our just-recently-remade big bed, along with her huge pink bunny Flopsy and a stack of library books. One of the books I'd pulled from the stack for us to read was Thimbleberry Stories by Cynthia Rylant. This is a new Rylant book for us, though it was published several years ago. Still, she's an author that in general does not fail us, so we opened the book with great anticipation.

It's a lovely collection of four stories featuring a chipmunk named Nigel and some of his other animal friends who live on a beautiful country road called Thimbleberry Lane. The illustrations by Maggie Kneen are lovely too. All the animals dress nicely, have adorable little homes and furniture, and talk a lot. If you're not into talking animals, then I'd skip it, but if you are, you'll love it. We're in the latter category.

My favorite moment thus far (we've only read two of the four stories) comes in the first story when Nigel meets Dipper, a hummingbird who has recently moved into the neighborhood. Dipper has a tiny, round home which he zips in and out of with great zest. It turns out that Dipper is also an artist. He paints pictures by dipping his beak in paint. When he asks Nigel if he'd like to see some of his paintings, Nigel politely says yes, of course, but he doesn't quite know what to expect. He's a bit surprised...

The hummingbird hovered near a flat rock and began placing tiny squares on it.

"My paintings," Dipper said proudly.

Nigel peered at each little square. Never had he seen paintings so tiny. Tiny as sunflower seeds.

"Why, these are landscapes!" he said in surprise.

"Yes," answered Dipper.

"I thought you would paint small thinigs," said Nigel.

"I live small but I see big," answered Dipper. "Do you like them?"

"I live small but I see big." Out of the beaks of hummingbirds. I'd love to be able to say this about myself. Sometimes the wisdom of story gives us just the words we need when we need them.


Erin said...

Ooh, I like that philosophy! And, of course, the fact that you've given me a new Rylant book to check out! I thought I'd just about exhausted her in March... I still have three or four Mr. Putter and Tabby books to review; I figured I'd wait until another promotion-heavy month... We haven't seen any hummingbirds yet this summer, but we filled up the feeder last week and are eagerly waiting!

Beth said...

Every time I think I've exhausted Rylant, I find more new books to try. The woman is amazing. Just recently I found an early reader series she did featuring a couple of animal detectives (I'm forgetting their names). The humor was way over S's head in the one we tried, but it was cute. I'll bet you'd like them! If I can ever remember the name of the series, I'll let you know...

I have a bunch of books to review and keep wondering if I should hold off on the all the "first reviews" until next month. I may just go ahead and write them as they come to me, but then hold back publishing the first ones. Of course, there's always the possibility that someone will get to those books before I do...but given the number of reviewers actively reviewing children's books, I doubt it's too likely! :-)