Delicious


This is one of those weeks when I have needed to retreat into the safety and solace of gentle books. Reading the kindly written The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, by Alexander McCall Smith, was just such a healing respite.

Then, when reaching for The Moorchild on my shelf to read for Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge, I found Natalie Babbitt’s The Search for Delicious sitting next to it. Speaking of kind and gentle writers…I love Natalie Babbitt’s writing, but I’d never read this little book. Not having enough to read already (ha!), I sat down to look at it and ended up reading the whole thing. It’s a short, but delicious (sorry) read, written with her usual beautifully crafted poetic prose. The story is a simple tale, but with lots to think about (which is something I love about reading fantasy), and lots of humor.

The Prime Minister is writing a dictionary for the kingdom, and thus far has A (affectionate is your dog), and B (bulky is a big bag of boxes), and C (calamitous is saying No to the king). D is for Delicious, but no one, including the King and Queen can agree on what Delicious should stand for…and the quarreling spreads throughout the kingdom. And due to a mean and nasty character that stirs things up because he wants to be king, the kingdom is brought to the brink of civil war. Finding out what the people of the kingdom really think is the most Delicious thing, and hopefully resolving the quarreling and averting war in the process, is the task assigned to young Gaylen. His adventure is a lesson in human nature.

Natalie Babbitt has written some of the most beautiful little books I’ve read. They are short and simple, but profound in their ideas and emotional honesty. Tuck Everlasting is a favorite (so different from the movie) and deals with the idea of what it would really be like to live forever. The Eyes of the Amaryllis is a haunting story about love transcending death, and the healing power of such deep love.

You find Babbitt’s books in the children’s section, but sharing them with children, or reading them alone as an adult, are both lovely experiences. She has a new book coming out in May, called Jack Plank Tells Tales, which should be a lot of fun. Also, if you are interested in listening to her thoughts on writing, you can watch a webcast from Bookfest 2001, which is part of the Library of Congress literature webcasts collection.

I appreciate so much these writers that bring a little sunshine into a dark day or week, and provide a little solace with positive, caring words. And they remind us, when we most need reminding, of what is good in people and in the world.

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12 thoughts on “Delicious

  1. Debi

    We’re participating in the Once Upon a Time Challenge, too.
    Such a wonderful review of The Search for Delicious…I’m definitely sold! I’ve never read any of Babbitt’s books, but I must say that sounds enchanting! –Debi

    I can’t wait to read that book, too! I’ve read Tuck Everlasting, and I loved it as well! I’ve also read some of the books on your Once Upon a Time Challenge, such as Coraline, Redwall, and The Book without Words! I enjoyed them all! I have the South American Mythology book, but I haven’t read it yet. Would you recommend it? –Annie

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  2. Carrie

    I’ve heard of Tuck Everlasting, I saw the movie, but for some reason I thought that Mark Twain wrote it. Hum. I am going to look up Natalie Babbitt and read some of her stuff, you make her sound so good.

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  3. Robin

    Debi, if you’ve never read any Natalie Babbitt, you are in for a treat.

    Annie, it sounds like we like the same kinds of books! I’m loving listening to The Book Without Words. Avi is another favorite author of mine. Have you read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle yet? Also, I thought the South American Mythology book was hard to read because it tended to get boring. I just wanted him to tell the stories like a storyteller! But maybe if you and your mom read it together, a little bit at a time, you will enjoy it more because the mythology of South America is so fascinating. I’ll keep watching your blog to see what you’re reading next and how you like it.

    Carrie, the movie of Tuck Everlasting didn’t do the story justice at all, although the filming was nice and the actors did a nice job. I do recommend her books highly.

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  4. Gentle Reader

    My (10-year-old) son read Tuck Everlasting and wept at the end. I’ve never read it, but I promised him I would. I’m going to listen to the webcast–thanks for the link–because I would love to hear what she has to say about writing.

    My son also saw the movie with his 5th grade class, and said he didn’t like the movie as much as he liked the book. That’s my boy!

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  5. Robin

    Gentle Reader, your son is a kindred spirit! If he loved the book, it would have been hard for him to accept the changes made in the movie. (Babbitt talks about how she feels about those changes in her webcast.)

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  6. booklogged

    Robin, I think I can help the king and queen with their search for delicious – raspberries, blackberries, cheesecake, chocolate – okay, so I’m probably missing the point. I want to read the book and discover what they decided upon. Very nice review.

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  7. Bellezza

    I have Tuck Everlasting, but I’ve never read it. Thanks to your review, I want to pick this up as a read aloud to my class. I can just see a writing follow up on what is truly delicious.

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  8. Robin

    Bellezza, that’s a great idea. I’d love to hear what the kids come up with! They’d have some fun ideas, for sure.

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  9. rampant bicycle

    Natalie Babbitt is indeed a talented writer, and I do enjoy her work. I remember reading The Search for Delicious and wondering what the solution could possibly be as a child. The answer still makes me smile every time. So simple – how had I not thought of it?

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  10. Robin

    Rampant Bicycle, that’s a great memory of the book. Maybe Bellezza will share some of her students’ responses to it after she reads it aloud to them. It’s a book to have fun with.

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