Martin and Sylvia can find fun and adventure just about anywhere they go! When the brother and sister don their explorers' hats, the whole back yard becomes a new land waiting to be discovered. The spring brook becomes a rainforest river! The apple trees become hot air balloons! The neighborhood library is a wizard's castle! These stories delight in the children's adventures at home and beyond.
About the Stories
This is a collection of 13 autumn stories, for the 13 weeks of autumn.
The Chimney Sweep
When a bird is temporarily trapped in the chimney, Daddy calls Malcolm, the chimney sweep, to get the bird out safely. Malcolm brings with him all sorts of stories and a lot about the magic and wonder that comes with cleaning out chimneys.
Momma and Daddy are getting dressed up for a special dinner, and Sylvia notices Momma's beautiful necklace. It was a gift from Daddy, and he explains that every little charm represents something special about Momma. Sylvia gets the idea that she and Martin could make their own necklaces — but what special "charms" should go on them?
The Game of Zoo
One rainy morning, when Martin and Sylvia can't agree on what game to play, Momma suggests they build their own board game. At first this seems impossible but they are soon excited about creating something that includes things Sylvia likes and things Martin likes. They call it the Game of Zoo and when they share it with their friends Sasha and Jonathan, it changes yet again and becomes even more fun.
Martin is excited about giving his friend Sasha a special gift — he wants to make her a microscope. When he is faced with the actual mechanics of how to make a base and an eyepiece and a lens out of the materials he has, he nearly gives up. But then Daddy tells him that the most important thing any builder or inventor must have is grit: sticking with it, especially when things are difficult. Martin hears him and then turns to his project with a new determination — and in the process, comes up with some new ideas...
How to Fly
One morning Martin asks Momma: "Why is there school?". Momma then tries to explain that school teaches how to answer questions in lots of different ways. Martin then asks, "Well, how do birds fly?" and Momma suggests that they all try to answer the question in their own way. Momma chooses to answer it by drawing, Daddy by study, Sylvia by building a model and Martin by using his imagination.
Martin is invited to recite a poem in Spanish for the annual "Fiesta de la Sol" celebration downtown. Martin is nervous and learns that the fluttery feeling in his belly is called 'having butterflies'. The night before the festival, Daddy helps Martin see his nervousness a little differently by telling him a story about the long journey Monarch butterflies take every year — all the way to Mexico.
The Treeclimber' Code
When Martin wants to climb an extra tall maple tree, Daddy introduces him to the first rule of the 'treeclimber's code': a climber must be able to climb entirely on their own with no help. When he decides instead to climb a spruce tree and gets up higher than ever, Daddy introduces him to the second rule: only climb as high as you can comfortably get down. When Martin is finally down and covered in sticky sap, Daddy introduces him to the third rule: climbers clean off their own pine sap!
Pickles for Pickles
Momma decides that this year's harvest will include pickling many of their extra garden vegetables. They decide to pickle cabbage for Martin and Daddy, eggs for Sylvia, and beets for Momma — but when Sylvia insists they need to pickle something for their kitty named Pickles, Momma is at a loss. She can't think of anything cats eat that could be pickled. Sylvia is resolved to find something and spends the better part of a day following the kitty around seeing what she might eat.
A Little Bit of Light
Every year when the trees have all lost their leaves and the ground starts to frost in the morning, brother and sister start to make their lanterns for their annual lantern festival. This year they can't go their normal route and need to choose another place to walk. When Martin suggests going next door to visit the doctor's house, Sylvia worries that it will be too dark. But the magic of the evening shows her just how much can be seen with the light of a single lantern.
When Martin and Sylvia's family travels south to Grandma's house, they all think about the traditional foods she serves during their annual feast together. Daddy thinks about the mashed potatoes, Momma thinks about the baked squash, Martin thinks about the rosemary roasted nuts and Sylvia thinks about Grandma's brownies. When they arrive, the question for Sylvia is — how many brownies can she have?
Martin would like to be an elf — specifically, a wood elf. He wants to climb trees, use sticks for magic wands, speak in the magical wood elf language and ride squirrels from tree to tree. Momma suggests that he try doing those things even though he is not a wood elf and he is surprised that he can do everything — with the help of a little magic and imagination!
When Martin and Sylvia can't decide what to make for their grandparents this year, Daddy suggests they make paintings. When they can't decide what to paint, Daddy suggests they let the paint decide. At first, this doesn't sound like it could work, but Sylvia is delighted to see something magical in one of the paintings!
A Night for Stories
One late afternoon, when Martin expresses his frustration about how the days get so short this time of year, Daddy tells brother and sister about how it is considered the storytelling time of year. He suggests that they spend the evening together telling stories and everyone gets excited. He says that stories almost always bring magic — but that evening, the magic surprises even Daddy.