Book #195: The Maggie B.

The Maggie B -- coverOf this book, Elizabeth Bird, the children’s librarian at the New York Public Library, writes, “It’s not exactly a household name…but those familiar with it or that grew up with it will defend it with their lives.”

This is a story
of a wish come true.
Margaret Barnstable
wished on a star one night —

North Star, star of the sea,
I wish for a ship
Named after me,
To sail for a day
Alone and free,
With someone nice
For company.

And then she went off to bed.

The first thing Ray asked me when I started reading this book to him was whether or not the story was really true. I was sad to tell him that it wasn’t, although I was a little worried that he had to ask. Her wish granted, Margaret wakes up in the cabin of her ship with her baby brother. On the poop deck is a tiny farm, overflowing with verdure and animals, and down below is a lovely stove, where Margaret puts together a tasty stew of lobster and sea bass. Not much else happens in this book, except they eat a lot of food and sing a bunch of songs. There’s a storm, which adds a bit of intrigue and tension, but even that doesn’t turn out to be much.

Interestingly, the story ends on the ship, although there’s no sense of Margaret wanting to get home or of the whole thing being a dream or any such nonsense. It’s fascinating to me that this story is so captivating and comforting when nothing really happens. It must be the good, great writing, then, and the illustrations filled with soft details, like squashy furniture, stuffed animals, and an adorable baby brother. And all the while the storm howling outside.

The Maggie B -- storm outside

The Maggie B -- circle inside

 Look at this passage about the pot of stew cooking on the stove:

As she whipped off her apron, she closed her eyes and breathed in the smell of the good sea stew. All afternoon it would simmer and fill the air with its fragrance.

Isn’t that lovely? The “good sea stew” part just kills me.

Margaret’s brother takes his nap on a velvet pillow while Margaret paints his portrait. All is good in the world.

Photo on 2-28-14 at 8.51 AM

Picture books don’t get much better than this. Good food, good company, one’s very own boat. And look at the toucan!  I love it.  ABZ


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