May 21, 2013

Paul Bunyan Swings His Axe

Not until 11pm last night did I fully grasp what had happened with the tornadoes in Oklahoma. I don't have cable and I don't follow the news very much, because...I just don't anymore. When something awful happens to children, I can barely process it. I'm so sorry for those who lost their lives and their homes and who must have been so terrified.

I don't know what to say. But I'd like to share a story that is uniquely American today.

We've been reading 'Paul Bunyan Swings His Axe' by Dell J. McCormick and my very girly-girl has been LOVING IT. Confession time: I never read any Paul Bunyan stories when I was little. I had vague half remembered bits of his tales stuck in my head, like Paul's creation of the St. Lawrence River, and I had heard of his pal, Babe the Blue Ox. But I had never actually read any of these most American of folk tales.

That's the greatest thing about reading with your kids...you get to have a second pass at the stuff you missed during the first go-round....

These stories, best for ages 6-10 I'd say, are the funnest. I truly believe that should be a real word. Paul Bunyan and his men eat pancakes cooked on a griddle 10 acres wide, and they go ice skating on bacon strips to grease the pan. They grow beards six feet long in the winter that they have to tuck into their boots. They eat twenty pounds of biscuits and jelly. (We're been greatly enjoying reading about the huge quantities of food they eat)

There are popcorn blizzards. Blue snow. Shovelfuls of dirt that become islands. Felled trees that are used as toothpicks. When Babe the Blue Ox wears out his iron shoes on his hooves, Paul and his men have to create and then dig out an entirely new mine to find the iron for Babe's shoes.

Julia adored the stories ~ And she thought that Paul Bunyan was "very handsome".

Friends. You must read the Paul B. stories, if you haven't already. I never really felt like I was really living in America when I was growing up in Hawaii. Thus I remain fascinated by all stories of Native Americana type lore. The tall tales in this book are so tall, they had my kid laughing out loud at their ridiculousness, but then in the same breath she wanted to know if it was all true.

I love that about myths and legends. In the back of your mind, you always feel like they might be true.

12 comments:

  1. This looks awesome. We read some Paul Bunyon in school when I was a kid, learning what a "tall tale" was. My library stack is unwieldy again, but once we return some stuff, I think I shall look for this!

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    1. Danzel, I think you and your girls would really love these! I was surprised (not sure why) at how much Julia enjoyed it. Would be a fun one for summertime :)

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  2. Thanks for showing the Table of Contents - there were a few tales in there I wasn't familiar with. I'm going to look for a copy of this one. Isn't it fun when a book outside of their usual interests "gets" a kid? I love it.
    Dana @ Project Day

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    1. Oh yes!! I know just what you mean. I had a similar experience with a book called 'Canadian Wonder Tales' when I was young, it wasn't the type of book I usually read, but it became one of my great favorites. I'll be reviewing it here sometime, it's for slightly older kids. :)

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  3. I was wondering why you hadn't posted and was a tad worried. But I thought about the tornadoes and had the feeling you might have been too sad to post today. I feel so depressed thinking of all those poor people, now homeless and even worst, having to look for their missing family members :(

    I didn't know about this book! Thanks for sharing photos and the story! Being an expat, I don't know much about the American history and so these are good information for me!

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    1. I actually had this book planned for today. I debated whether I should run anything at all. But it's such an 'American' book and I thought I would go ahead and post. I can't imagine what those people are going through.

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  4. I've really been wondering what we should delve into for bedtime stories with the onset of summer. We've been reading The Spiderwick books and are only a few chapters away from finishing. I think you've answered my question here. A summer filled with Tall Tales for the Braegger Boys. That would be just perfect I think. Just Perfect.

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    1. Summertime just seems like a really great season for a tall order of can-you-believe-that!! xo

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  5. this looks like just the perfect thing for us! A fun read-aloud that we both can enjoy! I think I read a few of these stories as a kid, but definitely not all of them! I love babe the blue ox and a handsome lumberjack is always a good idea, in my opinion. :)

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    1. ha ha! men who build things are always a good thing! I was never more impressed with my husband than he was surrounded by a million Ikea parts and somehow managed to put it together into something resembling furniture :)

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  6. Oh! Oh! Oh! Thank you for the stroll down memory lane. Back in the 60's when I was about four years old we took a trip to Brainard, MN to Paul Bunyan Land. It's true! Can you believe it? There was a PAUL BUNYAN LAND! When we walked in, Paul spoke to us . . . call us by name and even comment on the matching sweatshirts with deer on them that my siblings and I wore. I remember (at four) wondering how he could be so smart. He knew where we were from and all of our names. I was one astounded four year old. I had to google it and that park's not there anymore. But, Paul and Babe have found a new home. Thanks for jogging my memory.

    http://www.thepieshops.com/2012/02/paul-bunyan-center-brainerd-minnesota_01.html

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  7. Well you are so so welcome! Always happy to be strolling on memory lane! :)

    Paul Bunyan LAND? Oh my STARS. Awesome! That must have been something to see.....

    ~ just checked out that link. fabulous! love the ox!

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