Sunday, September 27, 2009

The rhapsody of children's books

When I tell people how much I love children's books, I wonder what they really think. (I'm not saying it matters--I'm just wondering...) Children's books. Do I love them because I remember so few from my childhood (and I being the nostalgia master) or because so many of the books are lovely, beautiful, provocative (a wonderful word!), serene, sublime, wondrous, innovative, inventive, creative, imaginative....

Hondo and Fabian by Peter McCarty, as well as the sequel: Fabian Escapes and an earlier work, Little Bunny on the Move. All of these have one thing in common--their very soft, nostalgic-like artwork.

Anita Lobel's Nini Here and There, a story of Nini, a cat who lives in the city going with the family on vacation in the country. Another beautiful book of artwork, some pages you might even consider framing (if you can bear to remove a page or perhaps find a used copy that can be taken apart.)

The Horse that takes the milk around is simply a wonderful example of a time long past--when horses were harnessed to carts which were loaded with milk bottles. The Milkman and his horse then "took the milk around." A true classic and collectible item, this book was published in 1946.

Anything by Janell Cannon, but my personal favorites are Stellaluna and Verdi.

Cannon can capture any facial expression of joy and does in both books. Stellaluna is a fruit bat, which the reader comes to adore. Her face, when she finally learns to perch on a branch like sparrows with whom she temporarily lives, celebrates the best joy--that of accomplishing a difficult task! Verdi is a boa constrictor the reader comes to love also! Imagine! Cannon can create adorable characters out of creatures we might find icky in the wild.

Any book by Jan Brett for sheer artistry and multiple storytelling techniques! This artist/author is amazing! My favorite (if I must declare one) is The Umbrella, a simply astonishing trip inside a jungle setting to reveal animals of all sizes and species that jump into an upturned umbrella made of a banana plant.

I also like True Kelley's series of art books and artists. The way she tells the story of famous artists is through a class project presented by an ordinary student who learns so much. One example is Smart about Pablo Picasso: Breaking all the Rules. In fact, check out all the Smart about books, even though not all are by True Kelley.

All the Olivia books by Ian Falconer are simply full of joy and mischief. Olivia is the classic case of a gifted child.

Another artist--the master of imagination and invention--is David Wiesner. His three Caldecott books will simply amaze you: The Three Pigs, Tuesday, and Flotsam.

Last for today is a series of two books about Zoe Sophia, a schoolgirl noted for her brains but not her looks. An author and an illustrator paired to create these two books, Claudia Maunier and Elisa Smalley. I wish they had created more. One takes place in Venice, the other in New York. Both provide details about Zoe Sophia's deep attachment to her interesting great-aunt, travel, and mystery. All in each book!

That's my list of wonderful children's books for now. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My first post--

My first post. As a blogger. What will happen next? A sun bolt ending the world?
Maybe my new roof will protect me. If not, at least it will keep out the rain.

A new roof... A roof over my head. Until I owned a house (late in life), I did not understand that poverty prevents people from taking care of their homes. Why do people move into homes, then let them run down? Now I know: a lack of money. It took me over a year to get together enough money to buy shingles to re-roof my house. Now the house needs painting. But first mildew must be cleaned off the eaves and underneath parts. More hard work.

Thanks to diet pills I spent the last eight months working from the time I awoke until dark every day. I built a garden on a hill which thrived. I planted three new beds (major hard work, but not nearly as hard as digging the ground for that vegetable garden. For it, I had to cut down three trees, clear out numerous vines, dig up dozens of cana lilies (one bunch I left on curbside where someone saw them, wanted them, and I'm so glad--took them. I hope they survived the heat to grow elsewhere!). After cutting down those trees, I had to whack and hack and dig to remove the stumps and roots. It was hard, hard work!

Those diet pills took me places and gave me energy to work without tiring! I also lost 30 pounds. I took that last diet pill yesterday. Today I dozed through the morning. Not happy.

A new roof. It is beautiful. After water leaks and damage to the ceilings in three rooms, I am so glad to have a new roof. I had the air conditioner repaired last week. Spent the entire summer in 84 degree temperature in the house. It took all night to cool to 76 degrees. Now I'm a wonderfully comfortable 74 degrees all the time.

Money. It takes money to own a house. I work part-time as a librarian in a Catholic school. Half of my salary pays the tuition for my two great-nieces to attend school there instead of their neighborhood school, which is designated a "failing" school by the federal government. Who wants their children to go there? Answer: People who don't know what to do to get better for their children. Or even if they did, they don't have the money to send them. Or wouldn't want to spend the money to send them. Or don't care enough. It's all so sad and discouraging.

Maybe next time I can come up with the money to have an electrician come out and repair the electrical outlets so I can have electricity in one half of my kitchen again. It blew out when the plumber came to unstop my sink --for the nth time. Finally found out then that builders made a strange turn in the sink plumbing which causes build-up at that turn which causes a backed-up sink, and a new call for the plumber. Now I simply do not use my disposal.

Money. A house takes money. Despite the problems, I love this house. I have a deck which goes down a level to a hill which slants down to a bayou. Beavers live down the way and periodically cruise the banks, looking for trees to use their famous beaver teeth on then haul away their takings--including, of course, three cypress trees I have planted over the years I've been here. Finally, this spring (diet pill energy), I fenced around the stumps of two of those trees. One stump has grown close to four feet now, the other is a clump of little trees now reaching three safely fenced feet. I know from experience that beavers love cypress trees.

After years of wanting an English garden (full of closely planted flowers of varying colors and sizes), I finally created three different ones. The one next to my patio is almost completely in shade and boasts azaleas, various hostas, flowering vines, trailing vines, impatients, ferns. It's really lovely there.

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.