Tag Archives: gerda muller

Day 148 – Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears has been a favorite of our youngest for quite a while, and we are all fans of Gerda Muller’s work, so we were thrilled to find a Gerda Muller version of this classic fairy tale to include in our May reading list. There are countless interpretations available out there. Nevertheless, Ms. Muller’s retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is not only charming and beautifully illustrated (as we have come to expect from her), but the tale is also subtly nuanced – adding interest without veering too far from the time-tested tale that I think most of us are familiar with.

goldilocksMs. Muller’s Goldilocks lives in a caravan with her parents, who are performers in a travelling circus. One evening, when the circus has stopped at the edge of a forest, Goldilocks asks permission to go into the forest to pick flowers. After picking a beautiful bouquet, she realizes she has wandered off the forest path (of course!) and she eventually happens on the Bear family house. When the Bear family discovers Goldilocks in Baby Bear’s bed, she wakes up and dashes to the window – but the Bear family does not chase her, they are just unhappy at the intrusion. “Don’t you know that you should knock first if a door is closed?” shouts Daddy Bear. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” she cries back apologetically. She never sees the Bears again, but she never forgets to always knock first.

We really enjoyed the little variations that Ms. Muller inserted in her story – at least in comparison to the versions with which we were familiar. One of my favorites was the juxtaposition of the (modern) caravans and trucks from the circus outside the forest, while inside the forest there is a sort of magical time-warp to the Bear family’s old-timey cabin.  I also liked the fact that once she is far off from the cabin, Goldilocks can hear Baby Bear’s voice faintly calling out “Would you like some more porridge”?  Our absolute favorite part of the book, however, were the enchanting storybook illustrations; we really can’t say enough about them.


goldi dinosaursBonus: if you are in the mood for some laughs and are looking for another (thoroughly irreverent) variation on Goldilocks, we suggest checking out “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs” by Mo Willems. It’s quite entertaining, and very “meta” – plus: Dinosaurs!


Day 107 – How Does My Garden Grow?

Today, in keeping with one of our monthly themes, we read another spectacular Gerda Muller book: “How Does My Garden Grow?” The book is crammed full of information about gardening, with language that is easily accessible to younger listeners. Ms. Muller (as she always does) decorates the pages with her wonderfully colorful, expressive, and comforting images. In this particular book we enjoyed the illustrations of a family working together to plant, tend, and harvest crops on the farm.garden

Sophie is a city girl, but this summer she is going to stay with her grandparents on their farm in the French countryside, where she is looking forward to doing all kinds of fun things in the garden! Over the summer Sophie learns about planting seeds, mulching, composting, and caring for the vegetables in the garden.  She learns about the impact – both positive and negative – that birds, insects, worms, burrowing mammals, and even bats (!) can have for plants on the farm. Perhaps most importantly, she gains an appreciation for the mouth-watering flavors and amazing varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be grown on the farm. Even when the summer ends and she must go back to school, Sophie keeps coming back through fall and winter to visit and help around the farm. At the end of the year, Sophie is sad to be packing up all the gardening equipment for the winter, but her grandfather has a surprise present for her to help her feel better when spring rolls around: a package full of herb and vegetable seeds to start a garden in the big city!

I have had my eye on this book ever since it was placed in our April basket because of the beautiful cover image of Sophie watering plants plants in the garden – surrounded by artichokes, carrots, beets, and a towering tomato plant. Ms. Muller does an excellent job, as we have seen her do in other books, of telling a compelling story that also happens to be a great learning experience. I love the emphasis on family, on spending time outdoors, and on enjoying fresh home-grown produce. The large format of the book really does Ms. Muller’s illustrations justice – it is a stunning overall production and a joy to flip through again and again.

Day 94 – Where Do They Go When It Rains?

Inspired by April showers, one of the themes we are exploring in our reading list this month is the water cycle. We’ve gathered several books that touch on this theme, including our Sunday evening read aloud picture book “Where Do They Go When It Rains?” by Gerda Muller. It is a lovely story about children exploring outside and reveling in the beauty and wonder of nature, complete with Ms. Muller’s characteristically delightful illustrations.

WhereMarion and Luke are twins who live in an apartment building in the big city. On this warm, sunny morning they head out to visit their cousin Stef at the country house where he lives with their grandmother. The twins spend their day with Stef, wandering the countryside: chasing grasshoppers, laughing at sparrows taking dust baths, visiting with the animals on a nearby farm, and wading in a shallow pond to find a snail for Stef’s fish tank. Before making it back to the house they are caught in what I assume is a spring shower, which leads Marion to ask the question in the book’s title: “Where do (the animals) go when it rains?”

As they walk back to the house Stef and the twins find the answer to their question by observing how each animal they pass reacts to the rain. Some hide under leaves, some huddle against a fence as a shield from the wind, and some seem not only unperturbed but rather invigorated by the wet weather. Perhaps inspired by the ducks playing in the pond, and already too wet to care about staying dry anyway, the three explorers begin an impromptu dance in the rain, splashing and playing in a big puddle…and that is where grandma finds them. After donning some dry clothes, and downing some hot chocolate, the twins see a beautiful rainbow from Grandma’s porch, complete with a little science lesson from Stef; he tells them how rainbows are formed, and how they can find one in the sky.

“Where Do They Go When It Rains” is vintage Gerda Muller: the illustrations are detailed, colorful, and charming and they convey a childlike wonder that I can imagine the twins must feel as they marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds grandma’s country house. I particularly enjoyed the comforting idea of just enjoying a carefree day in the country, and the joyful abandon on display as the twins and Stef splash around in the rain. We also appreciated the lesson on rainbows toward the end of the book – right on time for “National Find a Rainbow Day!” It’s always gratifying to find a book that combines a great story with attractive illustrations and bit of information about how the world works. Gerda Muller books are wonderful for that, and it’s one of the reasons why we have so many.


Day 88 – Circle of Seasons

Today’s book, Gerda Muller’s “Circle of Seasons”, is a simple and soothing introduction to the seasons, complete with playful and captivating illustrations in Ms. Muller’s characteristic style. While paging through this lovely book, we kept feeling as though we wanted to be inside each of the seasonal scenes, and we could feel a love of nature and of natural beauty shining through each of the drawings.

Circle“Circle of Seasons” is actually a compilation of four “Seasons” board books that were individually published in 1994. The four original books have no text, just Ms. Muller’s charming pictures. This “Circle of Seasons” compilation adds only minimal prose to these illustrations, and does a really nice job of maintaining a slow and inviting pace. After reading the cover page for Spring, (“You know it’s spring when…”) the reader is presented a wordless 2 page bucolic scene of a little country house with flowers in bloom, buds on the trees, baby sheep in the field, and many other sweet details that children can come to associate with the season. Each wordless spread, two per season, presents a welcome invitation to stop and explore the illustrations, to discuss what is happening in the picture and to pick out the details that might be associated with the season depicted. I love the timeless nature of the seasonally-appropriate games and activities taking place in each scene, and I thought it was neat that Ms. Muller included both Christmas and Hanukkah as representative of winter.

We have had Ms. Muller’s Seasons books in our collection for several years, and they have been solid favorites with our youngest for quite a while. I had a bit of a hard time locating a copy of this compilation, but I am so thankful we found one to add to our Gerda Muller collection.