Barbara Cooney

25 Days – Book 22: The Story of Holly & Ivy (Cooney)

Day 22 has arrived and with it a long, lovely picture book. There have been many illustrated versions of this picture book. I have two of them: one illustrated by one of my favorites, Adrienne Adams, and this one. This is the one that I have very specific memories of from childhood. I don’t remember owning this book. It must have been a favorite from the library. But I remember the pictures like I made them myself. They bring a flood of memories. And someone must have read me the story, or perhaps I could read for myself at the time; but this one leaves an impression on your heart. Come enjoy a story about wishing. This is The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden, pictures by Barbara Cooney, 1957/1985.

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Book Review: The American Speller By Webster & Cooney


With the passing of July 4 and all the celebrations around the United States for Independence Day, I found myself thinking about this book that combines Noah Webster’s delightfully pithy sayings from the old Blue-Backed Speller with Barbara Cooney’s charming illustrations. In her introduction to the book, Ms. Cooney talks of her admiration for Mr. Webster’s lovely sentences which illustrate his spelling rules so uniquely as well as his excellent teaching, philosophizing and deep patriotism. As Ms. Cooney was such a marvelous writer, I struggle to summarize her reasons for creating this edition of the famous little speller and so I quote one of my favorite portions from her intro:

“Some children may learn something of phonics from this new edition. Others may simply look at the pictures. But many, I hope, will find the words of Noah Webster sticking to their ribs like good roast beef.”

And with that I give you a peek at this dear old book, The American Speller: An Adaptation of Noah Webster’s Blue-Backed Speller, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, 1960. Read the full post…

Barbara Cooney On A Robust Literary Diet

“I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting…. It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand… a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to—or draw down to—children.”

— Barbara Cooney

25 Days – Book 10: The Year Of The Perfect Christmas Tree

Day 10 is a lovely story written in 1988 by Gloria Houston and illustrated by the wonderful Barbara Cooney. It is The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.

Set in 1918, in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains, the story is about young Ruthie and the Christmas she would never forget. With her papa off in the Great War, Ruthie and her mama must figure out how to honor their family’s promise to provide the perfect Christmas tree for the village church that year. Read the full post…