November 21, 2017

Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

        Here’s a lavish edition of Lydia Maria Child’s classic 1844 poem about Thanksgiving, illustrated with wood block prints.  Yes, I’m always thankful for block prints!
        I’m one of those who learned the song with “woods” and “Grandmother’s house,” but I’m also one of those who lived in a place where snow at Thanksgiving was not all that unusual.  I only ever really knew the first and third verses, but had I known that in the fifth stanza Grandmother says, “The children are here, bring a pie for everyone” I would have found that quite inspirational!
        As for these wood block prints by Christopher Manson, they have that lovely punch of black  carved wood over painted color.  These illustrations are set in the original era, with period clothing and architecture to go with the old-fashioned references in the lyrics.  I like the texture of the snow and trees, and the border around the picture.  The book also has attractive endpapers with these lovely Thanksgiving baskets, a pleasing little block print, and a nice design detail.

        Then there’s the boy inspecting the pie, and as I alluded to earlier, Thanksgiving is all about the pies.  I can identify with this boy.  Turkey?  Whatever.  Pie is where it’s at.  Manson’s little vignette captures the warmth and glow of a kitchen with hearth and oven for that crucial baking.
        If you’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, may you have much joy in family, friends, and food.  Especially pies.

[Pictures: Illustrations from Over the River and Through the Wood, colored wood block prints by Christopher Manson, 1993.]

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