Happy 388th Birthday, Charles Perrault

January 12 is the birthday of Charles Perrault, a French author who has become the father of many modern stories and movies. He lived almost 400 years ago, but his tales are timeless.

He compiled a book of fairy tales, titled Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passe (Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals) which was renamed as Les Contes de ma Mere l'Oye (Tales of Mother Goose).

Do you recognize these?

Le Petit Chaperon Rouge
La Belle au Bois Dormant
Le Chat Botte

Phoebe discovers the world of Charles Perrault through Madame Thomas, the minister's wife and her French teacher. Here is an excerpt from Going Home with Phoebe - 

Chapter 15
French Fairy Tales

One Sunday afternoon, while Phoebe waited in the parlor for Madame Thomas to join her, she couldn’t help but look at the books on the shelf beside her. Most of them looked boring to her, having to do with theology, and a few were in another language, which she assumed was French. One book, a large red one on the bottom shelf, looked interesting. She pulled it out to see an illustration of a little elf sitting on a cloud beneath a canopy of hanging flowers.

Madame Thomas entered and set her sewing on a low table. “I see you’ve found my Contes des Fees – my fairy tale book by Charles Perrault. My mother gave that to me when I was about your age.”

Startled to be caught snooping, Phoebe quickly tried to put it back.

“You may look at it. Each story is written in both French and English. Would you like to borrow it?”

Phoebe gasped. “But this must be a very special book to you.” She thumbed through the pages, pausing at illustrations of a castle, a girl talking with a wolf, and a cat wearing boots.

“It is special, but I know you’ll take very good care of it.”

Phoebe hugged it to her chest. "I promise." She set it near her cloak, so that she would remember it when it was time to go home.

~ ~ ~

It became harder and harder to concentrate on school lessons when warm breezes brought scents of blossoms and sounds of birdcalls through their classroom windows. Every minute of recess of the warm sunshine was a treasure.

Some played marbles, other jumped rope, but Phoebe perched on the school steps with a book on her knees, more specifically Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault that Madame Thomas had let her borrow. She read the stories first in English, and then puzzled over the French words of “Cinderella,” “Puss in Boots,” “Sleeping Beauty,” plus more.

Matthew called, “Phoebe… stop reading, and come play with us.” He was standing in a circle with some of the other younger children, too young for a game of rounders with the bigger boys.

She looked up. It took her a few seconds to bring herself into this time and place, back to the schoolyard, leaving the world of castles and fairy godmothers. She sighed,  put a scrap of paper in between the page, and shut the book. “What are you playing?”

“Punchinello! You choose the funniest actions, Phoebe.”

It was really a silly game that never ended, but the younger children loved it. They played it day after day.They chanted and clapped hands, while the one in the center of the circle performed a repetitive action, such as tapping the top of his head.

“We can do it too, Punchinello, funny fellow.
We can do it too, Punchinello, funny you.”

Everyone then mimicked the action.

“Who do you choose, Punchinello, funny fellow?
Who do you choose, Punchinello, funny you?”

The one in the center closed his eyes, extended his arm, and turned about until the end of the stanza. The person to whom he pointed was the next one to stand in the center, and it started all over again.

“Phoebe, you get in the middle, please?”

While they chanted and clapped, she hopped on one foot and flapped her arms like a bird. The children all laughed with glee. When it was time for them to join in, they wobbled and stumbled and swatted each other with their waving arms.

Phoebe closed her eyes and slowly walked in circles. When the song stopped, the bell rang. She shook her head to clear the dizziness and quickly went inside.

Halfway through geometry, she remembered the borrowed book. She raised her hand. “Miss Edgecomb? I left something outside. May I go get it now?”

“Make haste. You tend to procrastinate on your arithmetic more often than necessary.”

Phoebe scurried out and looked on the bottom step, where she had been sitting. It wasn’t there. She looked over near the oak tree, where they had been playing Punchinello. It wasn’t there. She even looked in the outhouse although she was sure she hadn’t taken it in there. It wasn’t anywhere!

Where can it be? It’s not mine. I’ve got to find it.

Phoebe returned to the schoolroom. She looked in her desk. No, it wasn’t there. Where could it be?

“Phoebe Johanson, is there a problem?”

“Yes, Ma’am. I was reading a book during recess, and now I can’t find it.”

“Class, Phoebe has misplaced her book… What is the name of the book, Phoebe?”

“It’s Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, but it’s not really mine. I borrowed it from Madame Thomas. I just have to find it!”

“Has anyone seen the book Phoebe was reading?”

Everyone looked at each other, but no one had an answer. They all looked at her with sympathy and disappointment, except for Delly. She kept on working on her arithmetic figuring and acted as if she hadn’t heard Miss Edgecomb at all.

The primary class resumed their recitation and the others went back to their work, but Phoebe couldn’t focus on her geometry at all. Would Delly take the book? She shouldn’t think ill of anyone without proof, but it surely looked suspicious. She’d just have to find out after school.

Phoebe tried hard to make her obtuse and acute angles fit into her circle graph, but they just wouldn’t cooperate. She gladly put her books and slate away when Miss Edgecomb gave the signal for the closing song and prayer.

When she finally got outside, Delly and her brothers were already half way down the hill. “Delly! Wait for me!” but she never looked back. Phoebe looked  around the schoolhouse one more time before heading home.

“I’m sorry about your book,” said Matthew as he fell in step beside her.

“Me, too . . . mostly because it’s not mine, but I think I know where it is.”


“I think someone took it.”


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Apple Cider

The Truth About Homemade Apple Cider

The apples were hanging so ripe on the trees,
We went out to pick them, and what did we see?
Hundreds of cowflaps around on the ground,
When the apples fell in them, they made quite a sound!

The poor tree was shaken 'til the last apples dropped,
And into a grainbag they quickly were popped.
The good and the bad, the wormy and bruised,
We weren't very fussy 'bout the apples we used.

We hauled all the apples to Grandpa's front lawn,
He said, "You'll be working from now until dawn!"
From the barn, we dug out the old cider press,
It was covered with cobwebs and was really a mess.

The apples were ground, they were squeezed, they were pressed.
A worm here and there, but you wouldn't have guessed.
After we finished, we all took a rest
And declared that our cider was surely the best!

                             -- Lisa G. Harriman

Daily Abiding with Granny - Coals of Kindness

Daily Abiding with Granny
"Coals of Kindness"

"If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink;
for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
(Romans 12:20,21 KJV)

This lesson from Granny comes to us in the second book, Going Home with Phoebe. Phoebe is having trouble making friends with a new girl named Delly. In fact, Phoebe even suspects that Delly has stolen a special book that had been borrowed from the parson's wife. Phoebe tries her best to be forgiving, but it's not easy. Zeke gives her encouragement and a lesson he learned from Granny - to be so loving and kind to those hateful people in your life that they can't resist the power of love and forgiveness. It's not easy, but Phoebe tries again.


Phoebe tried to return to the history of Magellan, but she kept looking at Delly and Stafford and Ross huddled around the stove. What kind of father would make his children walk to school on a day like this? She caught the eye of Delly, who quickly looked away. Phoebe noticed that her sweater looked square, like there was something underneath it.

After the spelling lesson, Miss Edgecomb looked at her watch that hung on a chain around her neck. “Phoebe, would you please help the younger girls to the outhouse and then fetch their lunch pails so they can eat in here? We’ll have to have our recess inside today.”

Stella and Jemmy put on their coats and bonnets to face the blowing storm for the few feet to the outhouse. They each grabbed one of Phoebe’s hands and squealed with mock fright as she raced with them across the soggy yard. The wind whistled through the cracks and even up the hole. No one ever dilly-dallied in the outhouse, but especially not on a day like today.

Even though the storm meant being trapped indoors all day, there was an air of excitement and adventure. Children scurried up and down between the desks. Some of the boys began leap-frogging over them until Miss Edgecomb promised a sing time. She also decided to allow them to sit with their friends instead of in their normal assigned spots. Stella and Jemmy pulled Phoebe to sit with them, so Phoebe squeezed into the seat next to the little girls. She looked around the room and noticed Delly sitting alone.

“I’ll sit with you another time,” she told the little girls. “I promise.”

She stood near Delly’s desk. “Would you like me to sit with you?”

Delly looked up with squinted eyes, “Why would I want that? Maybe I like being alone.”

Phoebe stared at her. Her eyes stung and her throat tightened. Her breath came fast and hard. She turned on her heel and plopped in the bench at her desk. Grrrr . .  . That Delly can be so . . .  so . . .  difficult! Doesn’t she recognize when someone is trying to be nice?

Phoebe ate the bread and cheese and apple pie that Maseppa had packed for her, but it tasted bland and dry. She loved to sing, but today she just didn’t feel like it. She’d be glad when their lessons were done and Zeke came to pick them up. She lifted the lid of her desk and froze.

There was the book! The red coloring from the binding was spreading to her papers. One edge looked smeared, like mud had been wiped off. She glanced over at Delly, but she was bent over her desk with intense concentration. She glanced up at Phoebe and then looked back at her work.

Miss Edgecomb was collecting papers from the third class on the other side of the room. Phoebe took the book and walked quickly to the coat room. She wrapped it in her shawl and put it under her lunch pail. Just as she was slipping back into her desk, she heard Miss Edgecomb. “Phoebe Johanson, please sit down and resume your studies.”

“Yes, Miss Edgecomb.”

The schoolroom returned to the normal sound of rustling papers and books. Phoebe glanced at Delly, who was staring at her. Phoebe and Delly held each other’s gaze for a few seconds. Phoebe smiled and there was a little twitch at the corner of Delly’s lips.

Phoebe was glad that Zeke was there when school let out at three o’clock. She told Matthew to get ready while she went to ask Zeke something. She explained about the Kittles, and just like she knew would happen, he offered to take them home. She ran back through the stinging raindrops.

“Delly, Stafford, and Ross, you don’t have to walk home. Zeke said he’d take you home. We’ll have to squeeze together, but that’s alright. We’ll stay warmer that way.”

Matthew, Stafford, and Ross sat on the floor of the buggy, while Delly and Phoebe squeezed in the seat next to Zeke. There wasn’t much room for their feet.

Delly whispered, “How come you didn’t tell on me about the book?”

“I don’t know. I guess I felt sorry for you, being all wet and all. I want to be your friend.”

Delly’s face clouded. “I don’t need no charity friends,” she hissed and turned her face toward the passing, wet landscape.

Phoebe glanced to her left to see if Zeke was listening. He was whistling and didn’t seem to be paying attention to them. The boys were on their knees and talking about Ol’ Sam.

Zeke dropped off the Kittles, and Delly stomped through the puddles without so much as a glance backwards. Phoebe felt frustrated and ashamed, but mostly confused.

After Matthew got out, she and Zeke headed home. The rain pattered on the buggy roof, and Ol’ Sam slopped steadily through the mud.



“Sometimes it’s hard being nice, isn’t it?”

Zeke lifted his hat and scratched his head. “I heard you and Delly talking. Let me tell you something. She’s hurting and embarrassed about her life. She’s pushing folks away ‘cause then they’ll see how things really are.”

“I know it’s not her fault that her pa is like that. I just want to be her friend.”

He smiled at her. “I know, Li’l  Angel. You’ve got a big heart.” He thought for a minute. “There’s a place in the Good Book that talks about ‘heaping coals o’ fire’ on folks’ heads to show you care.”

“Coals of fire?”

“Granny called it ‘coals of kindness.’ It’s showing so much love to them that their shame makes them uncomfortable and they can’t help but be sorry.”

Phoebe thought on that for a while. It isn’t easy to be kind to the Kittles. It’s like trying to hug a porcupine!  Phoebe cocked her head and faced Zeke. “Do you think you could take me over to the parsonage ‘fore we go home? I’ve got something that I need to tell Missus Thomas.”

Daily Abiding with Granny -Trusting God

Daily Abiding with Granny
"Trusting God"
"For I have learned, in whatever state I am,
therewith to be content."
(Philippians 4:11)

Granny hasn't had an easy life. She lost her son to illness when he was young. Her daughter moved out West to the Territories. Her husband died, leaving her with the farm. On top of all this, she has lost her sight in her old age.
But we find that Granny has accepted her life as it is. Granny has learned that God has a reason for everything in her life. She may not understand it, and it may be hard, but she trusts in God and looks for His blessings in whatever He brings her way. 

 Granny's Home
           Phoebe scurried upstairs and then stopped. In her hurry this morning, she hadn’t really looked around. At the top landing, the door stood slightly open. Phoebe gently pushed it and saw a large soft bed with its bedding pulled down over the footboard. The white lacy curtains swayed at the open window. There was also a chest of drawers with a round looking glass. Phoebe wrinkled up her nose and stuck out her tongue at her reflection. A painting of a man and woman with a little girl and boy hung on the wall.
            Granny hobbled and huffed up the last step. “Land sakes! Those stairs get harder to climb everyday. I can’t wait ‘til the Lord comes and gives me a new glorified body! Let’s plump up the feather mattresses and pillows now that the breeze has freshened the sheets.”
            “Who are those people in that picture?”
“Oh, I almost forgot it was there. It’s my husband, Henry; myself, when I was younger and a bit more slender; and our daughter, Emma, when she was about your age.” Granny sighed and brushed her fingers across it. “And my little boy, Charlie. I wish I could see it again. I miss them so.”
“Granny, why can’t you see?”
“Heavens t’Betsy! I guess the Good Lord took away my sight because He wanted me to understand things in a different way. Sometimes I see better by listening with my ears and feeling with my hands.”
            Granny shook and slapped the pillows and mattress until they were round and puffy. Then she pulled the sheets and blankets up, and topped it with a colorful quilt.
           “I made this quilt while I waited Henry Mackmin to finally get the courage to come courting. We were married forty-two years afore he died. I surely miss him.”
            She lowered the window sash, and they proceeded to where Phoebe and Maseppa had slept. Phoebe ran to open the window and pulled back the blankets, just as she had seen Granny’s bed.
         “Oh dear! You do learn quickly, Child, but next time, do it as soon as you awaken, so it will air out while you eat your breakfast." After they made up the bed, Granny closed the window against the cool autumn air.  “This was my Emma’s room.”
In the hallway, Phoebe pointed to the closed door. “What’s in there?”
            “I’ll show you." Granny led the way along the stair railing. She had to push the door with her shoulder.
          The air smelled musty, and a fly buzzed at the window. There was a low, small bed and big chest at its foot. The walls were bare except for a painting above the bed of a little boy and his black puppy.
            Granny was unusually quiet, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in here.”
 “Who slept here?”
            Granny sighed. “Little Charlie was always sickly. He suffered so with coughs and fevers. One time, it grew into pneumonia, and … and now he’s in heaven with the Lord.”
            Phoebe wrapped her little arms as far as they could reach around Granny’s middle. She tipped her head up to look at Granny's face. “Maybe the Good Shepherd is taking care of your little boy.”

Join me here as we study Granny's ability to live her life, 
daily abiding in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Love and Prayers,

If you haven't read A Home for Phoebe yet, 
you can order it on Amazon
or you can contact me for a signed copy.

Also, the sequel Going Home with Phoebe is now available.
You can order it on (Amazon)    
or you can contact me for a signed copy.


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