Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gwendolyn the Miracle Hen

Gwendolyn the Miracle Hen
Nancy Sherman ~ Edward Sorel
Golden Press, 1961

The travels through my new shopping hood continue... I guess we get so closed up hanging in our own neighborhood that I forget this is the eighth largest city in the country in a Catholic town with a million churches and a thousand church-run thrift shops. The boy and I are having quite a time checking out all the new places after camp. (The boy collects glass birds so in addition to scooping up one that's been on my must-have list, we also found a porcelain partridge and duck set. Score!) Which brings me to this number.

If we find a book with any type of bird on the cover, it's definitely coming home, especially when it happens to be illustrated by a New Yorker legend! Similar in story and theme to Flora's '69 stunner Little Hatchy Hen, we meet a hen that does preform miracles, indeed. While her master struggles to pay his rent, little Gwendolyn hatches a plan to save them from eviction....

The rooster crowed when night was done.
Above the hilltop crept the sun.
The farmer came. He had a pail.
It bore a sign, "Fresh eggs for sale."
He took each egg and put it in
Until he came to Gwendolyn.
And then he got a huge surprise.
He looked. He stared. He blinked his eyes.
"Oh, no," he cried. "This can't be true!"
The egg she'd laid was green and blue!

The story spread and people came from far and wide to see the miracle hen... and the farmer made a small fortune selling the Easter-ish eggs for a dollar each. Sadly, the landlord (aptly named Mr. Meany) thought the hen itself would make a far better payment than cash alone and snatched it away. You'll have to read for yourself to find out what happens, but sometimes the love of a good chicken can mean more than all the dollars in the world.


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Anonymous said...

I remember this book from when I was a kid. I regret giving it away when I was grown. I loved the pictures of those colorful eggs! I've been trying to find it somewhere to buy another copy. It took me some time searching on the web until I finally got the real title of the book.

Kimberly said...

These illustrations are wonderful! Plus, my daughter's name is Gwen, so I'm eager to track down a copy of this book. Thanks for another great post.

Kimberly said...

Ugh. I'm always so disappointed to discover that a wonderful book you've reviewed is out-of-print. I'm looking at the used copies of this one offered online. A couple of sites show a book with the same title and publication year (I believe), but a markedly different looking cover. Does anyone know if the interior artwork for that one is the same as the copy reviewed here?

Heather and Travis said...

I found your blog through a list of others. And I am so thankful! What an amazing site and wonderful resource.

I was wondering if you could help me with a vintage title. When I was much younger my grandmother would read me this one particular book over and over. It was about a little boy and a bathtub full of frogs (or maybe tadpoles). I feel like the title was "Too Many Frogs in the Bathtub" or something similar. Since that time my grandmother has misplaced the book, but I would love to find a copy. Thanks for your help!

Burgin Streetman said...

It might be one of the Mercer Mayer books in the A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog series (maybe One Frog Too Many)... I know there is a frog in a bathtub in one of those books... Antmusic, help me out! If not, try, the folks on those forums know everything!

Anonymous said...

I loved this book when I was young and was one of the first books that I learned to read. The illustrations were beautiful and the eggs made such an impression on me, they remind me of Pisanki.As a result,today I decorate eggs this way.

Unknown said...

This was one of my favorite books growing up. I loved the colorful illustrations and the witty rhymes. This was one of many childhood books that I cherished and I packed it away until I had my son. My son loved reading this book and I still have the original book that was purchased for me as a child. My son is now married and I hope one day to share 'Gwendolyn the miracle hen' with my grandchildren one day.

Anonymous said...

We loved it too! I'm not suprised copies are selling on line for $600+.
Love, love, love this book. This is truly a hidden treasure. It really should have received more awards and a bigger distribution. Amazing little book! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book as a child, so much so,that the book fell apart! As a result of this book, I love to create Pisanki eggs to this day. I finally came across it again and had to purchase it. Now my nieces and nephews will love it as I did.

Unknown said...

This was my favorite book as a child. My mother would read it over and over and over again. So much that I memorized it word for word and today at 61 I can still recite the book. I have my original copy which is well-well love. I have to be careful because the last page is falling out. If I could ever run across a copy I would buy it in a heartbeat.

Unknown said...

Memorized this book when I was in junior high for our all school public speaking contest...made semi finals and recited before the entire school! Around 1965!

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