You Ought to See Herbert's House
Doris Herold Lund ~ pics Steven Kellogg ~ Franklin Watts, 1973
Back when I was only 20 and working in New York on Fifth Avenue at the old Doubleday Bookshops that used to be across from Tiffany's (RIP), I picked up a book from the 70s called Eric. It was written by Doris Lund about her son who she lost to Leukemia when he was 20 himself. It is a powerful book, full of a mother's love and the courage of a young boy choosing to live life to the fullest rather than succumb to misery.
Fast forward almost a decade, and I meet my husband and fall in love and find out that Eric's brother, Mark, is one of his best friends from college. Well, fast forward to another decade and I am happy to call Mark one of my friends, and last week he and his wife visited us in San Antonio, and he mentioned that his mother had also written children's books. How I did not know this, I'll never know.
Via some online bookseller, Herbert's House arrived to us yesterday, and though Steven Kellogg is not one of my favorite illustrators (my son adores his stuff), still, what a great story and the drawings definitely match.
So, there's this boy Herbert, see. And he's made a new friend named Roger, and Roger brings him home to show him all the cool things there... and Herbert begins to brag on his own house, telling tall tale after tall tale, until it seems that he lives in a castle filled with all the wonders of the universe. Soon, Herbert's lies catch up with him, and when he arrives at his own home, they all spill out to his mother...
So Herbert told his mother about the house with the moat and the drawbridge and all the pets and the geraniums growing in the hall and the trees in the living room and the tepees in his bedroom and the room that was always ready for a party. "My!" Herbert's mother laughed. Then she shook her head. "You and your glorious imagination! You really did get carried away this time."
Then together, Mom and Herbert go about building Herbert's castle, of sorts, right there in his own modest home... complete with chocolate cake and a tepee to sleep in... and snakes! By the time Roger comes over, all is well in love and fun.
After Doris passed a few years back, Mark gifted us an oriental rug from her home in New England. It was a treasure we gratefully accepted, because Mark is one of my favorite people now and having something of the mother that he loved in our home is a huge honor. And now, it's part of children's literature history as well. So, with that, I'm off to find Attic of the Wind and dig up my old copy of Eric for a reread.
Attic of the Wind
I Wonder What's Under