This week, we read four lovely picture books
that I wanted to share with you.
The first was,
“The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane”.
This rhyming story was about Brother Theophane, who seemed a little out of step from his fellow monks.
He had passion and life just begging to spill over into his world.
And one day it did, when he discovered that different coloured inks could be made
to colour the texts the monks were copying.
The illustrations in this book were bold, colourful and gorgeous.
I just loved them.
And many of the pages included verses taken from verses written on leftover scraps of parchment by actual monks.
I loved how the text introduced us to these writers from past times.
Then next book that made an impression on us was,
“Across a Dark and Wild Sea”.
This book told the story of St Columcille and, in particular,
one episode were there was a battle over a book.
Brother Finnian showed Brother Columcille his treasured copy of the book of Psalms,
the likes of which had never been seen in Ireland at that time.
Brother Columcille desperately wanted to make a copy of the book and secretly proceeded to do.
Of course, Brother Finnian found out and was outraged.
And so the story continued.
This book highlighted for us how precious books were at this time.
We are so spoiled to have so many at our disposal.
Oh and Brother Columcille’s copied Book of Psalms is still in existence today!
So you know we jumped onto Google to find out what the book looks like.
Our third book, and possibly my favourite for the week, was,
“Brother Hugo and the Bear”.
This story was about Brother Hugo and the predicament that he found himself in
when a bear ate the monastery’s only copy of St Augustine’s letters.
Of course, another copy had to be made
and a detailed description was given of the process.
The story was just so wonderful
– there was forgiveness, kindness, love, generosity and so many other virtues in this story.
At the same time,
the language in this book was so poetic and beautiful.
But we couldn’t help wondering about that bear.
Why would a bear eat a book?
We had some wild theories.
There is mention that St Augustine’s words were as sweet as honey, so perhaps the bear was after that sweetness.
Or perhaps the bear could smell the animal skins from which the parchment was made.
Or maybe, the bear is a symbol of ignorance, and one taste of knowledge, made him lust after more.
However, at the end of the book, in the author’s notes
(a section we always love),
we found out that the bear was simply a bear, who, in real life, had actually eaten their book.
We did not expect that
and we loved it!
On a completely different topic, our fourth book was,
“Lon Po Po”,
a Red Riding Hood story from China.
We loved this story, more than our western version.
It was so unlike our well-known version, but at the same time, so alike our version.
In this version, the wolf comes to the children, when mother leaves the house.
The wolf disguises itself as their Po Po, their Grandmother,
and gains entrance to the house.
Don’t you just love the way the illustrations have been presented in panels.
Of course, good overcomes evil, as it should in all good children’s books,
and no one gets eaten.
(We’re now on the hunt for more Chinese fairytales).
Oh there are so many wonderful picture books to be devoured like a hungry bear.
I have a whole basketful that we are slowly working our way through.
The problem is that the more we read,
the more I find to add.
We don’t seem to be making any progress.
Oh but what a marvelous problem to have.