A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Jan Pienkowski (Little Monsters, Haunted House), Candy Dawson Boyd (Daddy, Daddy, Be There; Forever Friends).
- In 1945 The United Nations Charter is signed by the United States, the third nation to join. Read We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures by Amnesty International.
- In 1974, U.S. President Richard Nixon announces his resignation. Read The Watergate Scandal by Kathleen Tracy.
- Itâ€™s Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighborâ€™s Porch Day/Night. Read Zucchini by Barbara Dana, illustrated by Eileen Christelow, The Accidental Zucchini: An Unexpected Alphabet by Max Grover, and I Heard It From Alice Zucchini: Poems About the Garden by Juanita Havill, illustrated by Christine Davenier.
- Itâ€™s also Happiness Happens Day. Read The Garden of Happiness by Erika Tamar, illustrated by Barbara Lambase, The Wonderful Happens by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Coco Dowley, Happy Birthday, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton.
Today we celebrate the birthday of a writer who had no intention of crafting a book for childrenâ€”nor was her classic published as one. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlingsâ€™s The Yearling appeared on the Scribner adult list in 1938. Edited by the legendary Maxwell Perkins, who also worked with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, The Yearling became the bestselling adult title in 1939 and also won the Pulitzer Prize. A year later, an exquisitely illustrated edition with art by N.C. Wyeth helped shift the readership of the bookâ€”it became a staple of family reading, ideal to share with ten- to fourteen-year-olds. Hence this adult bestseller became a childrenâ€™s book classic, one loved by adults and children alike.
To create the book, Rawlings drew on the history, flora, and fauna of North Florida, where she moved after leaving her husband. She learned that in 1876 Reuben and Sara Long set up a homestead on Patâ€™s Island, now part of the Ocala National Forest. Their son Melvin found and adopted a fawn. Rawlings incorporated the actual setting of this homestead and a few facts about the Longs into herÂ famous book.
In The Yearling, the Baxter family struggles to survive in this Florida scrub country, often with barely enough to eat. All of the Baxter children have died, except Jody, who finds the natural landscape a kind of paradise. He hunts, fishes, and rambles through this world, alive to all of its beauty. On one of his trips, Jody finds an infant fawn and convinces his parents to let him adopt the animal, now named Flag. This lonely child and unusual pet become inseparable. Realistic in its treatment of the poverty and dignity of the family, the novel does not provide a happy ending. When Flag dies, Jody stoically faces his life going forward: â€śHe did not believe he should ever again love anything, man or woman or his own child, as he had loved the yearling. He would be lonely all his life. But a man took it for his share and went on.â€ť
Acclaimed childrenâ€™s book writer Lois Lowry commented on The Yearling in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Childrenâ€™s Book. â€śIt was the first book that allowed me to see how the writer could elicit an emotional reactionâ€”she made my mother cryâ€¦.The book transported me into the life of the little boy and that family. It took me to another place and helped me to understand their livesâ€¦.The Yearling made me understand what fiction could accomplish and what a writer could do with words.â€ť
If by any chance you are headed to North Florida, you can actually visit the remains of the homestead and the setting of the book. Otherwise, you can go there simply by reading. Happy birthday, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. She created such a great book for children, even thoughÂ she never intended to do so.
Hereâ€™s a section from the The Yearling:
He skirted the carcass and parted the grass at the place where he had seen the fawn. It did not seem possible that it was only yesterday. The fawn was not there. He circled the clearing. There was no sound, no sign. The buzzards clacked their wings, impatient to return to their business. He returned to the spot where the fawn had emerged and dropped to all fours, studying the sand and the small hoof-prints. The nightâ€™s rain had washed away all tracks except those of cat and buzzards. But the cat-sign had not been made in this direction. Under a scrub palmetto he was able to make out a track, pointed and dainty as the mark of a ground-dove. He crawled past the palmetto.
Movement directly in front of him startled him so that he tumbled backward. The fawn lifted its face to his. It turned its head with a wide, wondering motion and shook him through with the stare of its liquid eyes. It was quivering. It made no effort to rise or run. Jody could not trust himself to move.
He whispered, â€śItâ€™s me.”
Originally posted August 8, 2011. Updated for .