Monday, January 7, 2013

The Milkman by Carol Foskett Cordsen

The Milkman by Carol Foskett Cordsen, illustrated by Douglas B. Jones

Rating: 5 stars

I am smart enough to know that the 1950s weren't exactly the best time to be a woman, especially a stay-at-home mother like I am now.  But that doesn't keep me from love, love, loving this book we came across at the library a few weeks ago.  The the sweet story, unique rhyme, the nostalgic illustrations, leave me with my fingers crossed that one of the kids will choose THIS book for bedtime every night while we are lucky to have it home with us.  The Milkman is Carol Foskett Cordsen's first children's book; I sure hope there are a whole lot more comin'.

First, the sweet story: With the moon and stars still overhead, the milkman, Mr. Plimpton, and his sleepy cat load up the milk truck, hop in, and head into town to deliver fresh milk to his customers.  He whistles merrily (didn't everyone whistle merrily back then?) as he goes from house to house.  Mr. Plimpton makes mental comments on each one--he knows them all by name (didn't everyone know everyone by name then?).  The same home-made sign keeps popping up "Lost my dog! Love, Caroline" in the text and illustrations until, at the end, he finds the pup and returns him to Caroline.  When he's done being the hero, he goes home to the best part of his day: breakfast with his own family (didn't all dads eat all meals with their families back then?).

Second, the unique rhyme:  I do love a good rhyme, but this one is the first I've seen that rarely involves full sentences.  The quick beat make it a fantastic read-aloud book (for older kids like Lorelei, it was fun to point out how this poem was different).  Check it out for yourself:
Past the schoolhouse.  Past the park.
Straight down Main Street.  Quiet.  Dark.
Red light.  Stopping.  Green light.  Creeping.
Milkman humming.  Milk cat sleeping. 
Finally stopping.  Orders ready.
Cat still sleeping.  Snoring steady.
Double milk for Morgan twins.
Red house full of Kansas kin. 
Next house empty.  New folks soon.
Bensons left in early June.
Hope the Bensons like the Bay.
Hope the new folks want to stay.
Third, the nostalgic illustrations by Douglas B. Jones are just wonderful.  They are clear and crisp and cool.  The milkman strides long across the sidewalks of the sleepy town.  There is an easy smile set on his face.  As soon as he sees the first missing dog sign, that same dog begins to appear in each illustration, usually lit up a little to help readers find him.  Any smart author and illustrator know that a little look-and-find aspect to any book bumps it up a notch!

Definitely, this is one of the sweetest books we've read in a long time.  A fantastic find!

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