Friday, June 24, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book one hundred and seventy-five

Most of us cannot imagine what it would be like to live in a time where having a proper bathtub is considered a luxury. For the children in today's picture book story, being able to buy a real bathtub, versus having to use a metal washtub, becomes a goal that they all work towards. Their story is uplifting, gently amusing, and meaningful. 

Frances Kennedy
Illustrations by Sheila Aldridge
Picture Book
Ages 6 to 8
Tricycle Press, 2004, 978-1582461120
   One Saturday in January, Donna Delle discovers that her legs are too long for the metal washtub that her family uses as a bathtub. Clearly, they need to get a new and longer bathtub, but Mama says that they need to spend their money “on more important things.” Being a persistent sort of girl, Donna gets her sisters and brother together in February to discuss the problem. They realize that they would all like a bathtub, but a careful review of the perfect bathtub in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog reveals that a bathtub would cost a whole $10.75 with shipping.  Donna decides to begin raising money and she starts the process by contributing her Christmas dime to the bathtub fund.
   In March Donna sees a sign asking for “Cucumbers for Pickling. Free Seeds. She decides that growing cucumbers would be a great way to raise some money for the bathtub, and in April Donna gets seven cucumber seeds and she plants them. All summer Donna works hard taking care of her cucumber plants, sweating away under the hot sun, picking insects off the precious vines.
   Fall arrives, and though so many cucumbers were grown, and so much work was done, the children are still a dime short. How will they get the money so that they can buy the bathtub that Donna has set her heart on?
   Illustrated with wonderful, lively paintings,  and ‘decorated’ with clippings from newspapers, an order form from Sears, Roebuck  and Co., photographs, and other interesting items, this wonderful story gives us a very personal picture of what it was like to live in the Missouri countryside in 1925. A story about hardship and “making do,” Donna’s tale is inspiring, and it is all the more powerful because it is true. Donna Delle Phip was the author’s mother, and we get to find out more about her story in an Author’s Note” that can be found at the back of the book.

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