Fireworks of 1870s, by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott described a fireworks display in Eight Cousins, a book published in 1875.

Uncle Mac takes 13-year-old Rose Campbell into Boston Bay to watch fireworks from his boat:

“…they are going up all over the city, and how pretty they are,” said Rose, folding her mantle about her and surveying the scene with pensive interest.

“Hope my fellows have not got into trouble up there,” muttered Uncle Mac, adding with a satisfied chuckle, as a spark shone out, “No; there it goes!  Look, Rosy, and see how you like this one; it was ordered especially in honor of your coming.”

Rose looked with all her eyes, and saw a spark grow into the likeness of a golden vase, then green leaves came out, and then a crimson flower flowing on the darkness with a splendid lustre.

“Is it a rose, Uncle?” she asked, clasping her hands with delight as she recognized the handsome flower.

“Of course it is!  Look again and guess what those are,” answered Uncle  Mac, chuckling and enjoying it all like a boy.

A wreath of what looked at first like purple brooms appeared below the vase, but Rose guessed what they were meant for and stood straight up, holding by his shoulder and crying excitedly,__

 

“Thistles, Uncle, Scotch thistles! There are seven of them, one for each boy [her cousins]!  Oh, what a joke!”  and she laughed so hard that she plumped into the bottom of the boat and stayed there until the spectacle was quite gone.

 

I think I’ve read elsewhere about fireworks in a stars-and-stripes pattern–or did I see or imagine that?

Do we have such spectacles today, nearly a century and a half after?  Has anyone seen a fireworks display with identifiable flowers or patriotic symbols?

Henry and Beezus: Beverly Cleary

I didn’t meet Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby when I was growing up.  Fortunately I haven’t outgrown children’s books.  Now I am enjoying Beverly Cleary’s books about Henry, Beezus, and Ramona.

Henry wants a bicycle.  I have heard the answer from Henry’s parents myself, and as a parent I’ve had to tell our children the same:  “I wish you [had one] too…but with prices and taxes going up all the time, I’m afraid we can’t give you one this year.”

So Henry, with help from his friend Beezus and interference from her little sister Ramona, tries to earn his bike.   Along the way, teachers have a huge problem with bubble gum, Henry finds out how dog food tastes, and his school mates won’t let him forget about his coupon for free false eyelashes.
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Broken Soup

“After Jack died, [Mum and Dad] protected themselves by refusing to love us, the kids who still had dying to do. And it fell to us to keep ourselves alive until somebody remembered we were there.”

Then a stranger thinks Rowan dropped a photo negative and Rowan’s new friend develops it.
Broken Soup

What we don’t dare talk about, what we pretend isn’t happening—that’s trouble.

There’s more than a six-year-old’s dropped tray and “broken soup” to be mopped up.

This book may be classified YA, but there’s plenty in it for parents to think about!  I’ll be looking for Jenny Valentine’s other books to see if they are as well written.