Category Archives: Birth year books

Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Bartholomew and the Oobleck, by Dr. Seuss, was published in 1949, so I grew up listening to this book and his other Bartholomew book, The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Both books were, and still are, so much fun!  When I was researching books written in my birth year, I was happy to find the Oobleck book on the list!  As a kid, as a Mom, and now as a Grandma, I have always adored Dr. Seuss!  And even though this book is seventy years old, it still provides timeless fun and humor.

Bartholomew is just a regular kid in the Kingdom of Didd, where King Derwin is not the smartest king on record. It was wintertime, and King Derwin was very tired and bored with the weather.

And that winter when the snow came down, he started shouting! “This snow! This fog! This sunshine! This rain! Bahh! These four things that come down from my sky!”

“But King Derwin,” Bartholomew tried to calm him. “You’ve always had these same four things come down.”

“That’s just the trouble!” bellowed the King. “Every year the same four things! I’m mighty tired of those old things! I want something NEW to come down!”

Call the royal magicians!

If you’ve already heard the story of The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, you know that the royal magicians are a bit bumbling. They can start magic, but can’t seem to finish it very well. They don’t have a lot of control over what happens with their spells! So, when they put together a spell to add something new to the weather, OOBLECK is what they got. And we all know that oobleck is very green and sticky stuff.

Thank goodness for level-headed, clear-thinking Bartholomew!

If you or your children or grandchildren want to make some Oobleck, here’s a link to the recipe for the green goop! Enjoy!


I read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.



The Big Snow

The Big Snow, by Berta and Elmer Hader, won the Caldecott Medal in 1949. It’s a lovely book for children about the animals in the forest getting ready for a long winter. The illustrations are wonderful, and it shows how each of the animals prepares for “the big snow.”  Some animals pack away food, some hibernate, some migrate south, and some simply stay for the winter. In this story, however, the winter was a particularly hard one for the animals that stayed put, so the kindly couple that lived in the stone house (most definitely Berta and Elmer Hader!), helped the animals by spreading seed and corn, hay and bread each day during the snowiest time. It was a book that definitely deserved the Caldecott Medal!

I read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old. This book won the Caldecott Medal in 1949, my birth year.

Embracing Seventy

At the end of January, I turn seventy. It feels like a big deal to me, similar to the feeling I had when I turned 30. I’ve always embraced my age and looked forward to each milestone, and I’m particularly excited about this birthday and look forward to this 8th decade of my life.

So I decided that I will celebrate 70 by putting together a list of books to read this year, all related to my age in one way or another. Some are birth year books, some are books about turning seventy, some are by authors born in the same year as me, or on the same day, and some have main characters that are seventy years old!  I’ll try to review most of them and provide interesting links, as well. And if I find more books that aren’t listed here, or that might work better, I’ll add them to my list or make some substitutions. I think I’ll throw in some movies from 1949, and perhaps some music and art from that year, too.  It’s a birthday celebration that will last all year for me! Please check back here occasionally during the year to see how I am coming along with this milestone-birthday project.


  1. At Seventy, by May Sarton
  2. Doing Sixty and Seventy, by Gloria Steinem
  3. I’m Too Young to be Seventy: And Other Delusions, by Judith Viorst
  4. Charles at Seventy — Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams, by Robert Jobson
  5. 70 Things to Do When You Turn 70: More Than 70 Experts on the Subject of Turning 70, by Sally Wyman Paradysz and Ronnie Sellers
  6. 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole
  • A book published in 1949 by a favorite author: Here is New York, by E.B. White
  • A Classic published in 1949:  Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther
  • Book by a male author born in 1949:  Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
  • Book by a female author born in 1949: A Small Place, by Jamaica Kincaid
  • Newbery Medal winner for 1949: King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry
  • Caldecott Award winner for 1949:  The Big Snow, by Berta and Elmer Hader
  • Pulitzer Prize for Drama for 1949:  Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
  • Nobel Prize for Literature for 1949:  William Faulkner: Light in August
  • American mystery book from 1949:  The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
  • British classic mystery from 1949: The Case of the Famished Parson, by George Bellairs
  • Children’s Book from 1949:  The Secret Seven, Enid Blyton
  • A Short Story from 1949:  The Golden Apples, by Eudora Welty
  • A Memoir from 1949:  This I Remember, by Eleanor Roosevelt
  • A Book to Movie from 1949:  The Red Pony, by John Steinbeck
  • A Book of Essays from 1949:  Willa Cather On Writing
  • A Novel from 1949:  Kinfolk, by Pearl S. Buck
  • A Non-Fiction book from 1949:  The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir
  • A “Birthday Buddy” (born on the same day, though not the same year) book:  Beyond the Wall – Essays from the Outside, by Edward Abbey
  • A Book of Poetry from 1949:  Collected Poems of Robert Frost 1949
  • A book to reread: Pied Piper, by Nevil Shute (main character is 70!)
  • A Dr. Seuss book from 1949: Bartholomew and the Oobleck
  • A Fiction book from 1949: Vittoria Cottage, by D.E. Stevenson
  • A book by an artist born in 1949: WOMEN, by Annie Leibovitz

Movies from 1949:

  • Kind Hearts and Coronets (I love these old Alec Guiness movies!) I was able to stream this old movie through my library. Alec Guiness plays all the different characters in this darkly humorous story of revenge. One note: Towards the end of the movie, there are some racist comments that are not acceptable in today’s world, but that reveal the ingrained racism of the culture of that time.
  • Little Women (the one with Elizabeth Taylor)
  • The Secret Garden (with Margerat O’Brien)
  • The Third Man (with Carol Reed and Joseph Cotton)
  • The Red Pony (with Robert Mitchum and Myrna Loy)
  • Stray Dog (a film by Akira Kurasawa)

Other Ways I’m Celebrating Seventy:


The Door in the Wall

The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli, was published in 1949 and received the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature in 1950. It is a book I remember reading and loving when I was ten or eleven.  And as a school teacher, I used it for a novel study when I taught my 6th Grade unit on the Middle Ages. It’s a wonderful story and teaching tool for that period of history, and for that age group.

The story takes place in the 14th century, and Robin, who comes from a noble family, is expected to become a knight.

Ever since he could remember, Robin had been told what was expected of him as son of his father. Like other sons of noble family, he would be sent away from his mother and father to live in the household of another knight, where he would learn all the ways of knighthood. He would learn how to be of service to his liege lord, how to be courteous and gentle, and, at the same time, strong of heart.

Robin’s father was away fighting in a war, and his mother was called to serve as a Lady-in-Waiting to the queen, so Robin was supposed to start his long training for knighthood. However, before he could leave home, he and the servants that were caring for him while his parents were gone became ill. Most of the servants died, and Robin was left alone, ill and forgotten. A kindly monk, Brother Luke, heard that a child was left alone and came to help him. He nursed him until he was well, but the illness left Robin extremely weak and without the use of his legs. The story of his recovery and of how he overcame his limitations both physically and emotionally is what makes this book a wonderful read.

Brother Luke was a kind and gentle teacher and caretaker. He and the other monks took Robin underwing, and taught him to read and to do many things for himself.

“Always remember that,” said the friar. “Thou hast only to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it.” “I will remember,” Robin promised, but he wasn’t sure that he knew what Brother Luke meant to say.

“Whether thou’lt walk soon I know not. This I know. We must teach thy hands to be skillful in many ways, and we must teach thy mind to go about whether thy legs will carry thee or no. For reading is another door in the wall, dost understand, my son?”

The language of the book is challenging for young readers, but the story is compelling and captures the reader. The history and culture of that period of time are masterfully presented and it’s a wonderful immersion into Medieval daily life.

But my favorite thing about the book is that it focuses on what is really meaningful in life, then and now. It’s a story about overcoming adversity and learning to understand and accept one’s own strengths and weaknesses. It shows the importance of doing one’s best and being open to opportunities that help you find an enjoyable and meaningful way to give back to the community. And it’s a story of a boy learning how to embrace life, despite the difficulties he faces daily. It’s a story full of wisdom, and our classroom discussions about the ideas in the book were wonderful. 

None of us is perfect. It is better to have crooked legs than a crooked spirit. We can only do the best we can with what we have. That, after all, is the measure of success: what we do with what we have.

A wonderful read and highly recommended!

This book was on my list of 50-books-to-read-in-five years for The Classics Club. It was also on my list of Birth Year Reading, a personal challenge.

Birth Year Reading: Blueberries for Sal

The other day, as my family and I were munching on blueberries from the Farmer’s Market, I once again thought of Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey. I adored this book when I was little, and my children adored it when they were little, too!  When I pulled our tattered copy off the shelf to look at it, I discovered that it had received the Caldecott Honor Medal in my birth year, 1949!

For those of you who might not be familiar with with this classic of children’s literature, Blueberries For Sal is a story of two mothers who each take their child up the hillside to pick blueberries. Sal and her mother were humans. The other mother and child were bears! They all love blueberries, and when the children get mixed up and start following the wrong mother…well, it’s a kind book and things get gently sorted out.

If you haven’t read it yet, please do. And have a container of blueberries to munch on while you enjoy it!

A book read for my “Birth Year Reading.”

Birth Year Reading: The Important Book

Robin in 1949…

I’ve noticed that around the blogosphere there are a number of challenges for reading books published in your birth year. Since I’ve already taken on a number of reading challenges for this year, I’m not going to join any of the official birth year challenges, even though I’m very interested in them. Instead, I’ll review each book I read in a special “birth year post.”  I love the idea of reading more books published in 1949, since that year was the beginning of my lifelong love of books and reading!

The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown, was published in my birth year of 1949. Her book, Goodnight Moon, is one of our family favorites. The Important Book, with its illustrations by Leonard Weisgard, is a book that I used more in the classroom during my teaching years.  It’s a simple idea, each page starts with “The important thing about…” and identifies an object and then lists numerous characteristics of that object. It always ends with the most defining characteristic, saying “But the important thing about ___ is that____.”   The repetition and the simple, daily objects that are focused on, capture children’s interest and expands their way of looking at things and expands their vocabulary as well.

I used this book as a teaching tool in my poetry unit when I taught  6th grade and later when I taught 2nd grade. The format of the book really is a form of poetry. The students always seemed to enjoy the book, the ideas, and the challenge of describing interesting objects by their characteristics and then nailing the most important characteristic of all. Each student then would write and “publish” their own “Important Book.”

The Important Book is an idea book, and although it’s not warm and fuzzy like Goodnight Moon, I know that children enjoy it and I think it’s an important book to share with them.