‘The Good Ol’ Days’

Your bee-buddy’s turning his red specs to yesteryear with his “The Good Ol’ Days” theme. The books he’s chosen are about an era when life was simpler, but not always easier, when the only “net” people used was to catch fish, and keyboards were found primarily on pipe organs in church and pianos in main street saloons. So pull up a chair, young readers, and kick off your boots. It’s time to “Page On” as we “Page-Back” for a spell.

‘Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea, A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants’ by Tony Johnston.

Ready for a tale as tall any told by Paul Bunyan? Outfit yourself with a honey, “Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea, A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants,” by Tony Johnston.

So it seems ol’ Levi is responsible for providing sturdy drawers for miners out California-way when they were rushin’ West to capitalize on nuggets they pulled from the streams.

Sakes’ alive, these guys needed jeans; Levi hit solid gold when he used fabric from tents. With a few snips and spools of thread those miners no longer had to be “naked as jaybirds,” and wear barrels when their flimsy duds gave out; no longer were the streams jammed with remnants of garments that gave out and floated in the “rills and rivulets.”

Cleverly illustrated by Stacy Innerst, this western uses text as art too.
It’s a barrelful of fun that will have you bustin’ a gut.

Written in verse, “May B.” is a fast read, but a book with staying power that will captivate from the first page.

‘Born and Bred in the Great Depression’ by Jonah Winter

“Nine mouths to feed with no money” is a heavy load to bear.

In “Born and Bred in the Great Depression,” by Jonah Winter, a boy recalls stories his dad told him about a time in history that pressed hard on the hearts of those who lived through it.

Plenty of pluck and muscle was necessary to make ends meet, and everyone had chores to do — building fires in the woodstove, pumping water from the cistern, milking Bessie and weeding the garden. During the Depression, many only had food if they grew it and eggs if they raised chickens.

Hoboes rode the rails and depended on the kindness of others to feed them in exchange for work. Evenings were spent listening to the radio, playing checkers or sitting by a kerosene light reading a library book.

All the hard work and homespun pastimes of those years come to life in this marvelous book, adorned with warm-hued illustrations by Kimberly Bulcken Root.

‘May B’ by Caroline Starr Rose

Courageous beyond belief is the only way to describe “May B.,” the heroine of a book by the same name, written by Caroline Starr Rose, who’s already making a star of herself with this her first book.

It’s the 1870s and May B. lives on the prairies of Kansas with her parents and brother. Everyone must sacrifice to scratch out a living, but May B.’s sacrifice is a heartbreakingly, lonely proposition.

“We’ll get you home by Christmas,” May B.’s parents say as the date approaches for her to move away, into the sod house of a newly married couple arrived from the city. May B. will cook and clean for the wife. It’s a fate she detests, but one she must fulfill, even more when she arrives at the homestead.

From the onset the experience is fraught with trouble, but things go from bad to worse and before long May B. is forced to reach deep to survive a winter on the plains neither she, or her parents back home, can even imagine.

Written in verse, “May B.” is a fast read, but a book with staying power that will captivate from the first page.

Reprinted with permission, Missourian Publishing Company. Copyright 2012.