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.
Block 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
“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.
A 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
Blocks are cool. I haven’t seen this book so need to go find it. Great video, too – thanks for adding it.
Good luck on your search! It is well worth the hunt.
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!
Oh! Thank you for stopping by and adding to this whole story!!! I love finding overlapping circles of time. Life is so fascinating to me! Rumpole is a big part of this story and book. Thanks Ms Wolff!!
I so love my copy of BLOCK CITY! It was one of my kids’ favorites. . . and I remember Rumpole!
I think it has become one of my favorites as well!
And in addition to Rumpole the bassett, my border collie Pumpkin makes a cameo, standing next to the little boy holding the queen’s cape in the staircase scene. The boy is Brennan and the queen is extremely pregnant-also with Brennan! Pumpkin went on to become Miss Bindergarten-hey-maybe there is a blog post there!
And the story continues! As all good stories do. I did notice the border collie and the very pregnant queen. And now I know more about Miss Bindergarten!!!
Good to know! My mother-in-law (M.L.G.’s auntie) taped a note in the book when she gave it to me all those years ago. She thought E.G. was the model for the boy!
That’s lovely – wish more kids were reading R.L. Stevenson these days.
Half-Price books sounds like an exciting shop!
It is an excellent tale of magical imagination, of which i think Mr Stevenson abounded. Is that a word? And Half-Price Books is a magical place where treasures can be dug up.
Legos and other blocks are the best toys we ever bought. Hands down. I haven’t seen this book yet –
Kids LOVE building things! And knocking them down! I like to watch.
Lovely serendipitous find, Rhythm!
Indeed Ms Marple!
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.
Both the poem and the illustrations are beautiful indeed! Toys that spark the imagination are the best to be found,
So much fun and so much serendipity! You are the best listener, R. And I bet Walker is, too. I love how you stare at the pictures in the book.
Love and licks,
Listening is my job! i love the sound of someone reading. It carries me away. The pictures in this book are something to stare at and ponder.
Sounds like a need to read book – and how cool Ms Wolfe stopped by too. I used to attend Kirkridge Presbyterian (and the church sat up on a ridge).
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!
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!!
Wow! It sound like a utopian paradise 🙂 I like their broad definition of “pets” too
That it is. That it is.
I’ll be checking this one out. What a wonderful idea for an artist to take such a poem and design a book. Thanks for telling me about it.
It is certainly a fine addition to any bookshelf.
Sounds like a great book! 🙂
It is indeed Erik!
Kids would love this and I’m sure I will too!
The kids at the library sure enjoyed it. There is a lot of detail in the illustrations that require pause to contemplate.
Good choice. I haven’t seen this one, but I will certainly look for it because Ashley Wolff is super-amazing! Nice link, too. Thanks.
Super amazing is spot on!
Feeling pretty lucky that I can get a copy through my library. And you’re quite right about the ‘feeling’ in Ashley Wolff’s work.
From the sounds of things you are lucky to have this at your library. And i was lucky to find it at Half-Price Books! It has been fun having Ms Wolff fill in so much back story to the book.
Hi Julie, thanks for your kind words. In the original post, Block City is compared to Where the Wild Things Are. I wasn’t thinking about that at all. I was actually channeling The Wizard of Oz.
If you look at the page near the beginning that reads “rain may keep raining…” and then search for the people and animals he sees in that scene to reappear in his dream world you’ll be pleased to find them all there again, in light disguise!
Looking forward to all these clues, Ashley. Danke, Dir.
Looking out for serendipitous moments sounds wonderful, Rhythm. I do so too, on the other side of the big pond. Big hug to you! Dina xo
Serendipity is a magical thing.