Welcome to The Book Basket, a place for sharing seasonal reads and other literature we’re enjoying in our home.
This summer, we’ve been reaching for All the Places to Love, written by Patricia MacLachlan (remember Sarah, Plain and Tall?) and illustrated by Mike Wimmer.
Recommended age range: 4-8 (I would expand this from 3-10, but who am I?)
(You can buy it here, but I’m sure your library and local bookstore would be tickled if you checked with them first.)
All the Places to Love is a quiet narrative of family. It opens with a young boy describing the day he was born.
“On the day I was born / My grandmother wrapped me in a blanket / made from the wool of her sheep.
“She held me up in the open window / So that what I heard first was the wind. / What I saw first were all the places to love: / The valley, / The river falling down over rocks, / The hilltop where the blueberries grew.”
He describes the place in the barn where his grandfather carved his name, and the various ways his family members share the treasured places of their pastoral landscape with him.
“My grandmother loved the river best / of all the places to love. / That sound, like a whisper, she said; / Gathering in pools / Where trout flashed like jewels in the sunlight. / Grandmother sailed little bark boats downriver to me / With messages. / I Love You Eli, one said.”
Next, the boy describes the present day — the day his sister is born, wrapped in that same wool blanket and held up in the open window.
The boy has the privilege of being with his grandfather as he carves the new baby’s name on the barn rafter. He imagines all the places he will show his new sister in the coming years.
What my kids like: the bark boat Grandmother sails down the river, and of course, the animals. The pages are brimming with birds, horses, cows, fish, dogs, and turtles.
One particularly magical place for them is where the boy spots a soft, rounded bed where a deer had slept: “The bed was warm when I touched it.”
What I like: the stunning, sweeping illustrations and flawless prose, teamed with the sacred thread of tradition that runs through the pages — the idea that the simplest acts of living are made holy when carried out with the ones we love.
This book stirs some sort of longing within me. When I first came upon the book, I teared up by the second page and wondered how I had never heard of this gorgeous book before. I’m deeply grateful I found it, or it found me. It is a treasure for adults and children alike, and I do hope you’ll enjoy it with the little ones in your life this season.
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I hope you’ll come again!