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 winter stories, for the 13 weeks of winter.
When Mr. Weber invites Martin and Sylvia's family to come downtown to sing wintertime songs at the local shops, brother and sister only think of one thing: they might have to see Mr. Amos. Mr. Amos owns the Antique store, and they've heard stories that he is mean and doesn't like children. On the night of the downtown singing, however, they learn how important it is to ignore hearsay and "see for yourself"!
Special Secret Books
One chilly morning Martin and Sylvia hop into Momma and Daddy's bed to see Momma writing in her journal. Sylvia wants to know what it is and Martin wants to read what she was just writing. When Momma explains that journals are special secret books where you can write or draw things just for yourself, both brother and sister want a special secret book for themselves — but what to put in it?
When Daddy invites Martin and Sister to join him at the annual town auction, they hesitantly agree. Momma senses that they might not want to go and uses lesson time to help them realize that the auction might be too much and that they should talk to Daddy about how they feel. In the end, Daddy congratulates them on their clear communication and proposes an alternative to the evening.
When Martin and Sylvia's family visit old friends who have moved away to a neighborhood where the houses are all close together, brother and sister wonder what that might be like. Are the yards really small? Do lots of children always come over to play? When they find out, they learn the benefits of living in a neighborhood — and the benefits of living where they do — in the country.
One morning Sylvia wakes and remembers a curious dream. In the dream, she helps a group of little ants, and in return, they give her some 'friend cake'. And what is friend cake? She doesn't know at first, but after wondering about it for a while, she, Martin and Momma decide that they need to bake a 'friend cake' and give it to their dear friend Miss Melinda of the Spunderful Shop. When they arrive later that day, however, they realize their friend cake is not only for old friends, but for new friends too!
After a night of gentle snow, Martin and Sylvia discover a sparkling winter landscape in their yard. Martin suggests they become arctic explorers and scout out a spot for camp. As they set up camp, Martin decides they should build a fire — a real fire — and have a real cookout! But it will be a challenge as snow is starting to fall again. He and Daddy are undaunted — just as the original arctic explorers once were.
When Momma suggests they all attend a "family dance" at the Town Hall, Martin says he doesn't want to go. He doesn't know how to dance! But when they finally go, Martin is inspired to learn not only the basic dances but some extra-fancy steps as well!
Dreaming the Garden
One wintery morning, Mr. Brown invites brother and sister to come to the farm for some "secret work". They wonder — is it pruning? Building a new chicken coop? Making pies? But the secret work is much quieter and imaginative than they expect — they are going to help the garden dream.
After three days of solid snow, Martin, Sylvia, Momma, and Daddy are sick and tired of being home together. Momma tells them that they all have 'cabin fever' and suggests they all go outside and do something by themselves. But where is Momma going to go — doesn't she have cabin fever too?
The Cranky Show
Momma wants to go downtown to see a "traditional music" concert but this plan makes Sylvia feel cranky. Incredibly, they later encounter something that sweeps all of Sylvia's crankiness away — and it is called a 'cranky show'!
How to Fall
Sylvia wants to learn how to skate but is afraid of falling down. When Daddy insists that learning how to fall is the first step in learning how to skate, Sylvia is resistant and doubtful. But after her first, second and third fall, she starts to get better at skating and her doubts change into confidence.
Digbe and Firble
Of all the books they get at the library, Martin and Sylvia love the "Digbe and Firble" series about two mice who are best friends. Brother and sister love to play out all of the "Digbe and Firble" stories: Martin plays Digbe and Sylvia plays Firble. When the children complain that they are tired of playing out the same books over and over, Momma suggests they make up their own story!
Mr. Brown, Martin and Sylvia's next door neighbor, loves everything that grows on his farm. He loves every blade of grass, every tomato plant, and every tall tree. He particularly loves an old maple tree he called Sweetness. "I've known this tree all my life," he told Martin one day, "and though she might not be the prettiest tree in the lot, they all know who is in charge." When the farm is surprised by a sudden ice storm, Mr. Brown is faced with a difficult decision about his favorite tree — and the children know just how to help.