A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Anne McCaffrey (Dragon Song), Jan Wahl (Pleasant Fieldmouse), Edward Myers (Storyteller), Karen Wallace (Bears in the Forest), and Tad Hills (How Rocket Learned to Read).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Margaret Scherf (1908â€“1979) Glass on the Stairs, and Augusta Baker (1911â€“1998), Young Years: Best Loved Stories and Poems for Little Children.
- Best birthday wishes to the fictional pranksters Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
- Birthday greetings also go to the computer company Apple Inc., formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. Read Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak: Geek Heroes Who Put the Personal in Computers by Mike Venezia.
April 1 marks a lot of holidays. It begins Laugh at Work Week and International Pooper Scooper Week and has been designated Reading is Funny Day and National Fun Day. Â April has been set aside to celebrate National Humor, Pets Are Wonderful (PAW), and Dog Appreciation. When I saw all of these events, I had a revelation. I will talk about funny dog books, and only funny dog books, during the month of Aprilâ€¦April Fools!
Pranks aside, I didnâ€™t invent any of the celebrations listed above, so in honor of all these holidays, I will talk about funny dog books, just for today: Cynthia Rylantâ€™s Henry and Mudge series.
Cynthia Rylant did not have an easy path to crafting lighthearted humorous stories for children. Growing up in the home of her grandparents in Cool Ridge, West Virginia, she faced the divorce of her parents when she was four and lived in poverty. Later as a young woman in her twenties while working in the childrenâ€™s section of a library, she read her first childrenâ€™s book. She became fascinated with them and read obsessively to find the books she had missed. Rylant has written successfully in many formats, including novels and poetry. However, she began by creating picture books about the area of the country that she knew, When I Was Young in the Mountains and The Relatives Came.
In 1987 she began a series of easy to read books, ideal for preschool through third grade, about a boy named Henry and his 180 pound English mastiff Mudge. Essentially, the books are a love story between a boy and his dog, two friends who stay together all the time. In the first book, Henry convinces his parents to let him get a pet because he has no brothers or sisters. At first a small fluffball, Mudge grows to be three feet tall and delights in sitting on Henry. Although he is larger than Henry, Mudge still loves sleeping in Henryâ€™s bed.
Like all of Rylantâ€™s writing, a good deal of her real life has been incorporated into the stories. Henry was based on her son Nate, and her former husband owned large dogs like Mudge. With a strong sense of family, the books about these characters celebrate the everyday pleasures of lifeâ€”spring, snow, puddles, Thanksgiving. Each book contains several short stories told with a poetic text that captures the cadence of oral storytelling and makes the stories enjoyable to return to again and again. SuĂ§ie Stevensonâ€™s drawings bring both the characters to life and provide scenes and settings for these sunny, happy books.
Rylant once wrote â€śsome children who have suffered a loss too great for words grow up into writers who are always trying to find those words, trying to find meaning for the way they have lived.â€ť In the Henry and Mudge series Cynthia Rylant has found words for the joy and beauty of being a childâ€”and having a dog as a best friend.
I hope you enjoy April Fools Day. Mine has been made much more joyful by rereading several Henry and Mudge stories.
Here a page from Henry and Mudge: The First Book:
Originally posted April 1, 2011. Updated for .