I have a book that has been following me around for years. First the book was in the bookcase of the house where I grew up. It stayed there for a long while because it used to belong to my Dad. The book followed me to all the places I have lived since then and now resides on a table in our home. My parents must have seen me page through the book many times, and they must have thought that I liked the book so much that I needed to have it live with me. Little did they know that I only read the first few pages several times. After that I just looked at the pictures. Sometimes kids think that there are too many words in a book.
Now that it looks like I am not a kid any more, I have noticed that there really are not that many words in this book. The print is large, and there are about 160 pages (including pictures). I thought that reading the book, The Little Swiss Wood-Carver, by Madeline Brandeis, © 1929, would help remind me about Switzerland and woodcarving, and it did.
I always knew that Switzerland was a very beautiful country from the stories that I heard and the pictures I have seen. This made me wonder why Grandpa left such a beautiful place; he never complained about living there. I know he came to America to find more opportunities. Reading about Seppi’s life in the mountains made me realize that times were not always as good as I thought they were. Most of the wood carvings made by Seppi’s father were sold to shops in the village. The village shops were only busy during the tourist season. Seppi and his father would sometimes run out of food during the long, cold winter months when the tourists didn’t bother to visit.
The part of the book that charmed me most was how Seppi wanted to be a wood carver just like his father. He longed to go to woodcarving school, but his father could not afford it. The villagers thought that Seppi’s father was rich because he was so gifted. So Seppi secretly carved animals while he tended the goats for one of their neighbors. The way that Seppi honored his father’s woodcarvings reminded me of how my Dad felt about my Grandpa’s work.
The feeling that this book conveyed was just what I was looking for to help me write about my Grandpa. If I could write and explain how my Dad honored my Grandpa, and how Dad taught his kids to do that too, what a treasure that would be. It’s good to notice and see what has been following you around, and then figure out why you have been holding onto it for years.