Monday, December 28, 2009

Cadie's new clothes!

Everyone in my family loved my Christmas pictures of Cadie so much, I am going to share them!

Cadie, don't take off your clothes!
OK, lean on me!
The arms...
I'm shy again.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our Savior Is born

I was looking for a Bible verse to use when I found this website comparing the stories of the birth of Christ as related in Matthew and Luke. The article cites similarities in the two versions and then differences. Even as a struggling seeker of religious faith, I have no problem with conflicting stories in the Word of God, for I do not see them as conflicting, but as parallel, as another slant to the same story. Who ever tells identical stories is actually revealing coordination. The differences lend credence to the authenticity of the Bible.

Christ was born. Jesus lived and was crucified. He accepted his role. It seems an escape clause when we say we are not meant to understand the ways of God, to simply accept by faith. Obedience is required. Humility. Submission. Questioning. I've already stepped out of the circle. Control issues bother me. The garden and the forbidden fruit--the first of the obedience tests, yet the questioning, the choice of Will over submission that occurred so early in the human story.

Ah, but I digress. I came here to celebrate the birth of Christ and the beauty of forgiveness and salvation. A new life. A pure life. With a very old soul, the oldest inside. Wisdom. Peace.

May the Spirit of God be with you every minute during this time of family togetherness. It wasn't easy for Mary and Joseph and it may not be for us, but we have the Spirit of Christ with us, in us.  May God also grant you a properous New Year.

And please check out this website:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Beauty of Shreveport

Visitors and others in love with the beauty of nature comment every year that Shreveport is one of the most beautiful places in the world during the spring. Mostly reasonable temperatures, fairly frequent rains, and a slight humidity contribute to a climate conducive to engendering the birth of flowers--of every variety (or close to it!)

In my one little corner under a giant cedar tree (which drops its little needle-leaves all year), here are some shots of what grew this summer. It only took me five years to reach this point, but I oohed and aahed all summer into fall until the first freeze.

Monday, December 21, 2009

SHREVEPORT, LA by Eric Brock

Mention Eric J. Brock’s name in Shreveport and almost anyone can identify him as “the history guy.” Local history has been his passion since he was a child, so compiling this book of photographs, Shreveport, La,  detailing the history of Shreveport for the Images of America was a work of love.

“Shreveport was born about the same time as photography,” is the first sentence, but Brock laments the lack of early photographs. The ones that make up this book come largely from his own collection, which began with several early photos shot by Bill Grabill of Grabill Studios, founded by his father in 1918.

History has a way of beginning auspiciously. Capt. Henry Miller Shreve, one of the most influential navigators of the 19th century, invented what he called a snagboat which broke up logjams. The Red River in the 1830’s was beset by a 180-mile logjam. Once this jam was opened, the area now known as Shreveport was right on a crosshairs path for prosperity: located where the area meets the old Texas Trail (roughly Interstate 20 today) and Red River, then as now open to river traffic to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico.

Capt. Shreve and his company established the westernmost city in the United States in 1836 with Shreve Town, later renamed Shreveport. Shreve himself never lived here, choosing St. Louis instead.
As Brock points out, Shreveport has always been a city of contradictions, e.g., a city of many religious structures, but home to the largest (and legal) redlight district in the nation in its time.
In addition to a number of photographs of the logjam, an early photograph shows the first mayor, John Octavius Sewall in 1839, oddly enough, a native of Maine.

Exemplifying Shreveport’s early religious diversity is a photo showing parts of St. Mary’s Convent, B’nai Zion Temple, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and First Methodist Church. Only the convent is no longer in existence; all others extant.

If you ever go through one of the museums in New Orleans depicting the cotton and paddleboat industry, you will see something similar to this photo of men standing over their cotton bales (c1880), waiting for their transfer to steamboats to New Orleans. Caddo Parish was the largest producer of cotton in Louisiana during the 19th century.

An early engraving shows tar being burned to fight the yellow fever plague of 1873, during which time the city’s population was reduced by 25 percent.

A photograph marks the grave of Mary Doal Cilley Cane, “the Mother of Shreveport,” the first white woman who set foot in Shreveport. She founded Cane City, later renamed Bossier City, just across Red River from Shreveport, and was married to two of Shreveport’s founders, William Smith Bennett and James Huntington Cane.

Brock includes an impressive array of old, most now demolished, a few still standing, imposing residences built in downtown Shreveport. One which caught my eye is the E.B. Herndon house located at 947 Jordan St., site of of my school, St. John Berchmans Catholic School. The original Herndon House was built in 1875, remodeled in 1897 with a second story addition, then demolished and St. John’s built.

Truman Capote’s father, Arch Persons, lived in Shreveport, and is shown with little Truman Persons on his lap. The writer later took his stepfather’s name. Another person of note is Van Cliburn, one of the nation’s–and world’s– premiere pianists, shown in concert with adoring female fans hugging the stage-top.

A very historic photograph is this one: the roof garden of the Washington-Youree Hotel in 1924. Perry Como made his radio debut from here. In its heyday the hotel took up three-fourths of a city block, had seven restaurants and a multitude of other shops and amenities. The hotel was imploded in 1980.
The final two photos show Brock’s vision of Shreveport. One is a 1920s view of Betty Virginia Park, typifying “the natural beauty” of Shreveport, its “beautiful, lush foliage and tranquil scenery.” The other is modern–angles and verticals of buildings downtown, which Brock calls, “the heart of Shreveport both spiritually and economically.”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Ugly Duckling

In a talk to a high school fine arts class, the local symphony conductor told a story about his neighbors. When their daughter came to babysit, he asked if her parents were going to the symphony performance. "Oh, they've already seen this one," she replied. He was surprised, he told the class, because each conductor and orchestra have a different take on the interpretation of the music. To prove his point, he played--via cassette tape-- three different versions of one movement from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and discussed with the class those differences.

All this is background to the reason why someone would create another "version" of an established fairy tale. Dear Reader, this is a version of "The Ugly Duckling" you will want for your very own children, classroom, or library. It is gorgeous! Even better, the storyteller, Stephen Mitchell, has added elements not found in the original story by Han Christian Andersen. Illustrators Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher also show us a new way of seeing. Just as that conductor demonstrated with music, each writer and illustrator "sees" the story in a slightly different way. In this book that way is remarkably different.

The question is: Is this "Ugly Duckling" worthy enough for print? Walker Books (publishers) thought so in 2008 when they published this version. Let's examine it for ourselves.

1. The illustrations are simply eye-popping. Once you stuff those eyeballs back in their sockets, take a close look at the texture and patterns on every page, especially duckling's feathers. There are swirls and twists, criss-crosses that resemble a type of lace. Extraordinary! Inquisitive children love to look all over the place in an illustration just to test their knowledge of things. It's Field Day here!

2. The author also adds his take on events. This is my favorite. It concerns mother duck, who is initially disappointed to find a huge egg that takes too long to hatch. Later, when neighbors in the barnyard say snitty things about her "ugly" child, she defends him: "He may not be pretty, but he has a very good heart. He's kind and considerate, and that's worth at least as much as good looks." There is a return to this theme at the end of the story for a wrap-around effect. I like that very much!

(I cannot help but look at all these illustrations as I turn the pages. How long did it take to create all these patterns then tediously draw each all over the place?)

This is one of those books I found on the discount table at a local bookstore. Why in the world would THIS book be discounted? Anyway, I bought it with my own money with the idea of giving it to the library where I work. However, some books attach to my heart and make me keep them. "The Ugly Duckling" will now join my Olivia series and the Fabian and Hondo books, Mirrette and her high wire, among other books special to me. Yes, it is definitely worthy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Read Anything Good Lately?

 Quick! How many types of reading material can you name? Twenty-six? That's exactly what Susan Allen, Jane Lindaman, and Vicky Enright create for a playbook a teacher or librarian might use. Actually, more than twenty-six, but that's for you, dear reader, to discover in reading "Read Anything Good Lately"?

The question begins innocently enough. A boy and girl, apparently neighborhood buddies, are out walking their dogs together. The girl, a bookworm if ever I saw one, gets the question, just a conversation-starter, a good question for this particular girl. By the time she reaches the end of the alphabet, deliberating exactly what she has read, they end their walk when they reach his house. Even so, the girl returns the question: "And what have you read lately?" He thinks of four things right off.

That's the fun of this book--the creative, clever alliteration, suggestive but not imitative of the rhyming repetition of Dr. Seuss, without the tricky tongue work. Not one of these alphabet ditties is a stretch of the imagination, as you will find in some alphabet books. Here are some examples:

An atlas at the airport
Comic books around the campfire
Fairy tales by the fireplace
Joke books in the jacuzzi
Literature at the library
and so on.

But that's not all the book is about. Each letter gets a full page, each FILLED with colorful things to look at. Here's "literature at the library." The girl is sitting on a red beanbag, reading "literature." Oh, silly me. She's reading "Charlotte's Web." Each full-page illustration shows a bubble of the page she reads. This bubble shows a pig on a farm talking to a spider on a web. That one's not difficult to discern! Also in the library illustration is a blue-napped carpet. The girl is leaning against rows of books in a low bookcase designed for children. On top is a glass cage with a little white mouse running on a wheel. Books are displayed atop the bookcase. One reads "Kente Color" (in reference to African cloth, I think). At the upper left of each page is the alphabetical letter for that page. In this case are a capital L and a small one with a picture of a vibrant lady bug designating the letter. There's plenty to look at and talk about for a reader and small child learning her letters and words and adding to her prior knowledge so that she is reading ready when the time comes.

Also in all applicable illustrations is either the girl's cat--an orange tabby-- or her dog-a black lab. In a tree house the cat is asleep on a limb. In the park is the dog sitting patiently on the bench with her. Oh snap! He's not sitting patiently! He's at his wit's end. Look at that face! He's on the bench with his back turned to her. She is reading poetry-- aloud! He's dismayed, but dog-like, he suffers nobly. The two squirrels looking over her shoulder are loving the poetry and chuckling delightedly!!

Another great thing found in this book is family! In several illustrations the girl sits with her daddy, who also demonstrates a love of reading! She's out with her mother in other illustrations--at the supermarket, at her office. Family scenes --eating breakfast is one--shows a typical family getting ready for the day.

I LOVE this book and know just how to use it with my library students!! It will make a great catalyst for creating our own "library" book, A to Z. Maybe a collage? A pop-up book? Mixed media? "An author in an autobiography" is a good start. Hmmmm.

The companion book to this one is Written Anything Good Lately?, another great catalyst book.

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.