Block City

I recently had some serendipity in my life. I look for serendipitous moments. Life seems to be full of them if you are open to it. I recently read a post on Ashley Wolff’s blog about her book Block City. The story she related was kind of a circular story about the making of this book. You can read the post for yourself HERE.

I thought it was a lovely story about art and books and boys. All meshed together. Ms Wolff is a very talented artist. I really admire her work. It has so much feeling in it. Well, shortly after reading this story about Block City we made a visit to our favorite shopping spot – Half-Price Books in Dallas, Tx. And what do you think jumped right off the shelf at me? Block City! Now, how cool is that?!

And this evening we took it to the library with us and my favorite library buddy, Sunshine, showed up to read it to me and Walker!!! Now, how cool is that?! Serendipity all around.

IMG_5246Block City is a poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson and taken from his book A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Illustrated by Ashley Wolff

Published by E.P. Dutton in 1988

Theme – poetry, building, imagination, the magic of play

Suitable for 3 and up

It begins-
“What are you able to
build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces,
temples and docks.”

The story within the poem Block City is similar to Where the Wild Things Are. Without the monsters. A boy is swept away on an imaginary adventure and returns home to his loving Mom. The boy in Block City builds a city of blocks and is then whisked away to a fantastical city by the sea. There’s a kirk and a mill and a palace. (I didn’t know what a kirk was – do you? Well, it’s a CHURCH! A Scottish church.) There are ships in the harbor and all sorts of fantastic folks and animals at the palace. The young lad has a grand time in his city. Then his Mom comes home and the boy is back on his sofa and the city comes tumbling down. But he’ll always remember his town by the sea.

IMG_5249A sweet story with fabulous artwork made especially special because the boy in the book was created from a real boy. I love this book!

And what activity to go along with a reading of this book? Well, pour out the blocks and build!!
Zoe at Playing by the Book has a really cool idea for making your own building blocks. You can check it out HERE.

And for a list of more Perfect Picture Books visit Susanna Hill’s blog.

Here’s a clip from Sesame Street that might provide some inspiration –

Now go out and PLAY!
That’s what I’m going to do!
Your friend at the library

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40 thoughts on “Block City

  1. Block City is WAY out of print, so it was serendipitous indeed to actually find a copy to buy! The dog in this story-a Bassett, lived across the street from me while i was working on the illustrations. His name was Rumpole. Now, I live in a completely different neighborhood and the little girl who lived with Rumpole is all grown up, with her own child and lives just around the corner. Circles just keep occurring–wherever we look!

  2. That’s lovely – wish more kids were reading R.L. Stevenson these days.
    Half-Price books sounds like an exciting shop!

  3. A poem about blocks written by Robert Louis Stevenson as the text for the book? Wow! I can only imagine that the poetry and illustrations are beautiful. I remember playing with blocks and building big cities. Happy times for kids.

    • That’s pretty cool! Did you know that kirk meant church? And Presbyterian is a Scottish religion isn’t it? Are you Scottish? I have a couple of Scottish friends. They’re little tuffies! i am excited that Ms Wolff dropped by to add to the story. Fun indeed!

  4. Those illustrations are a bit awesome! And this Half-Price Books you speak of…are the books really half price or is that just a ploy to get you in the door? (Not that it would matter…I’ll happily perch on any bookstore’s shelf!)

    • Ms Wolff does some awesome stuff. And Half-Price Books is an awesome bookstore. It’s a used book store and they buy and sell. And yes, books are 1/2 price or less. Usually less. And the flagship store in Dallas is HUGE. You can always find a treasure or 2 or 3. And the best part is that they are pet friendly! I get to go shop with the Mom Person. And I’ve seen people with giant lizards on their shoulder and birds and once a flying squirrel in someone’s pocket! That really caught my eye!!

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