Archive | art RSS feed for this section

A terrible horrible really great day

3 Dec

Monday started off well. It was December 2nd, so I got to open day two of my Advent calendar. That was the best pat about my morning.

Lucy, my basset hound, didn’t want to eat her breakfast. I tried topping it with all her favorite coercions, but she only managed about half.

Later,  on our way out  for her morning constitutional, she vomited in front of the back door.

While walking, I noticed a darkish patch on the cyst that had bled a little the day before. When we got in the house, I could see it was a fully blown cyst and cleaned it up. Having had bassets for over 20 years, I keep a good first aid kit for situations like this. It’s still a gross job.

We had a staff development day at school, so I didn’t bring a lunch. The previous week, our principal told us that we would get work time in the morning and they would do their half of the day after lunch. When I got to school and school. the schedule had changed. We were starting at 11 and would have  a 30 minute lunch from 12 to 12:30. Cursing, I graded some tests then did a quick run to the grocery store five minutes from school, where I got a mediocre salad. Half an hour after I returned, the schedule was changed and we would, indeed, start at 12:30 as originally planned. By the time I was walking to the cafeteria for the Admins’ PD, I was not in a great mood.

It’s funny how your mood can change quickly. The PD I had been dreading was not at all what I expected. We were going to paint! The Admins were treating us to a pop up paint class.

thumbnail__private_var_mobile_Containers_Data_Application_9DAA1A25-41FA-4B6B-BF1A-1AC4BC9B5D66_tmp_6BEDC28F-835F-4C59-B2C0-2870DF7EC92B_Image

We each had an easel to work at and all the supplies we’d need. Then, a team of teachers walked us through each step of the painting, in which we recreated the iconic deer of the Portland sign. There was a lot of laughter, as I am sure you can imagine.

Until we had a beautiful, if not slightly wonky, finished product.

0-2

My day that started out poorly, ended wonderfully.

Just a little creepy

12 Oct

I make no apologies to my students. I tell them straight up that I don’t like scary stories because they give me nightmares. I am not such a weenie that I eschew all books that are potentially scary books. I can read a book until it crosses a creepy line that is complicated to explain in words. It is a gut feeling and a sense of where a book is going.

I read and added Thornhill by Pam Smy to my classroom library. It is potentially scary, but I got through it well enough. The book is half text, half illustrations. To be honest, the scariest bits are told through the black and white illustrations, so I could look quickly and move on. I haven’t book talked it, and yet the book has been checked out several times. There is a audience for scary books.

41em0PPElnL._SX350_BO1,204,203,200_

Publisher’s Summary:  Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines—Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art—Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

 

Why we read

2 Oct

In 2013, Neil Gaiman delivered a speech entitled “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming” to The Reading Agency in London. You can watch the speech on Youtube,  listen watch and read the text on The Reading Agency’s website, or simply hold the text in your hands and read it, along with many other essays, in Gaiman’s recent collection of essays, The View From the Cheap Seats. 

unknown

I highly recommend that you make the effort to see what Gaiman has t say on this topic. You will nod your head in agreement because, if you read this blog, you are a reader.

Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston clearly believe in the same power of books and reading. His new picture boo, A Child of Books,  says the same thing as Gaiman, though in simpler language.

unknown-1

Publisher’s Summary: New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston deliver a lyrical picture book inspiring readers of all ages to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.

00082942-460x400

cob-12-web

Where will your reading take you today?

Happy National Coloring Book Day

2 Aug

National Coloring Book Day has me reflecting on myself as an artist.

Unknown

In first grade, I drew a picture of horse.

It was the best picture I’d ever drawn and I knew it. It LOOKED like a horse. I was  so proud of it that I took it up to my teacher, whom I loved.

She looked at it and said, “Oh Adrienne, you always rush our work.”  I was crushed.

I was never much of an artist and struggled with coloring in the lines. I joke now that I can’t draw a flower, but I can write a really great poem about one. I pulled out my first grade report cards to see if I was misremembering things and I laughed out loud.

Fall: “Adrienne has good ideas in art but has trouble expressing them.”  and “She is able to use a primary dictionary and enjoys writing one and two sentence stories using her dictionary.”

Winter: “Adrienne tends to be in too much of a hurry to complete her pictures.”  But also, “She enjoys writing short stories especially about her family and friends.”

Spring:” Adrienne’s pictures are still not complete as she does not take enough time. She would much rather write a story than draw.”

The Jesuit saying, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man” was the basis for the Up series of movies. I guess it is applicable to me as writer and artist, too.

 

Going Wild

3 Jun

In 2014, Peter Brown’s Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, saw a tiger shedding his civilized clothing and dainty manners to GO WILD!

Unknown-2

In his first novel for middle readers, The Wild Robot, the opposite occurs.

Unknown

A robot is washed ashore on an island, after a cargo ship is wrecked. Accidentally activated by sea otters, Roz, the robot, begins exploring her environment where she is seen as a monster.  After an accident in which she kills a mother goose, she adopts the  gosling she has orphaned. In her efforts to be a good caregiver to the gosling she names Brightbill, she begins to make inroads into the animal community. Roz learns skills from the animals she encounters: care of goslings from a mother goose, house building from a beaver. In turn, she learns to love and becomes a vital member of the island community that she considers her home.

The book seems simple, but it really speaks to the heart of what it means to be human. Roz doesn’t fit in at first. She begins as “other”  but becomes an integral member of society because of the connections she makes with the island’s inhabitants. It reminds me of the fox from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince who wants to be tamed.

“No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends. What does that mean–‘tame’?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”

And later the fox says,

“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox.

So it is with Roz and the animals on the island. Ties are established and the “monster” is tamed.

Alas, the idyll is violently disrupted when robots come to the island, seeking the cargo that was lost at sea. The ending is more realistic than happily ever after, but I think it makes this story more powerful. As Mr. Spock once philosophized

Unknown

Live long and prosper, Roz!

 

 

Pangur Bán

11 Apr

Sometime in or around the 9th century, a monk wrote a poem, in Irish, in the margins of a manuscript in the Monastery of St Paul in Lananttal, Austria. The poem, entitled “Pangur Bán”, compares the life of the monk to the life of his white (bán) cat, Pangur. There have been many translations and Jo Ellen Bogart explains in the author’s note at the end of The White Cat and the Monk, that she has drawn on several of these for the text she uses in the book.

Unknown

The simple text is elegant, distilling the poem’s ideas to language young readers can appreciate and enjoy. The book opens wordlessly as we follow the white cat into the monastery and the cell of the monk, to whom we are then introduced

“I, monk and scholar,

share my room

with my white cat, Pangur.

 By candle’s light, late into the night

we work, each at a special trade.

The monk goes on to compare and contrast his life and scholarly pursuits to the cat’s life and feline pursuits. And yet, in the end they are not so different. The final pages show the monk and cat, together at a window.

In our tiny home,

Pangur finds his mouse…

and I find light

in the darkness.

The illustrations are beautiful, modern, yet evoking a time and place long ago.

Unknown-1

This is a quiet book, contemplative even, but I think  many young readers would enjoy it. I think it would make an excellent bedtime read aloud for people of all ages. You can hear the poem, read it is original Irish in the clip below, from Seamus Heaney’s Memorial Service.

 

 

Not such a modern girl

27 Jan

I was always sort of  a nerdy kid who liked school and did the right thing. I was never a rebel, or anything close to alternative. In fact, when the word “conformist” came up in a grade 10 English class, Alan Giagnavova, the rebelish odd duck who sat in front of me,  turned in his seat, pointed at me and said, “You are a conformist.”

I never listened to really cool bands or followed the music scene.  I am still not that person, but I’m trying to read outside my usual box. As a result,  at 51, I have a number of memoirs by or about musicians on hold. Some are musicians I didn’t really listen to, and whose music I don’t necessarily like. Nonetheless I am interested in what they have to say and how they say it.

I can’t recommend Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, Hunger Makes me a Modern Girl  enough.

Unknown

She was, still is, a member of Sleator-Kinney. I first became aware of her on Portlandia. I’ve heard her interviewed on a couple of local programs and I was intrigued by the interviews and impressed by the memoir. The writing is all that I love in memoir: intelligent, honest and emotionally vulnerable.

Publisher’s Summary:Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. They would be cited as “America’s best rock band” by legendary music critic Greil Marcus for their defiant, exuberant brand of punk that resisted labels and limitations, and redefined notions of gender in rock.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.

With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.

I think what I like best about the book is that it gives a real sense of what it as like to live in a world so unlike my own and it also clearly demonstrates the bands creative process. I don;t have to be a fan of her music to appreciate this fantastic memoir.

YALSA’s 2016 Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-in #2

27 Dec

yalsa-morris-nonfiction-seals

The rereading of the Morris Award finalists continues. I can’t believe it is only 12 days until I go to Boston.

Unknown

I finished Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War  by Steve Sheinkin. It is interesting that it all took place during my childhood. I remember bits of it in the news, but never really put it all together.

Most Dangerous

I also read This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon by Nancy Plain.

Unknown

I never really gave Mr. Audubon much thought. Although I’ve read a few novels in which he is featured, I just sort of imagined him in a studio, painting. This Strange Wilderness really sheds light on the struggles he had to simply make the paintings and what it took to get the book published. This book feels much more like a  traditional biography than Most Dangerous, but it is very well-written and researched and, reading it, I got a real feel for the times in which Mr Audubon lived.

I have two of the other three books checked out from the library.I’ve already read these, but will reread them with a more critical eye. The third is on hold ad, of course, it is the one I haven’t read. I’m hoping to get it this week.

My Jólabókaflóð

26 Dec

You’ve probably seen one of these memes over the last few days or weeks.

images

 images-1

I am at an age and stage in my life when the getting and giving of books is the most fun part of Christmas. On the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, I like to share what I gave and what I got.

My twin sister learned to knit socks this year, so I gave her one of my favorite sock knitting books,  Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. The introductory chapters give good information about sock construction which are followed by beautiful patterns based on older patterns.

Unknown

Throughout the year, I sent my sister some of the books I’d received for the Morris Committee. I am not allowed to sell them and so I sent her the some of the best that didn’t get nominated. I also did a bog book giveaway at work, reducing my stash from six boxes to two, that I will donate to a local library. I saved one of them for my sister for Christmas, Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen.

Unknown-1

Publisher Summary: Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time.

Told in raw, exposed free verse, Skyscraping reminds us that there is no one way to be a family.

My brother-in-law has eclectic tastes that include an interest in the Dada movement and avant-garde art. So, I got him a collection of essays on modern art, Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art by Julian Barnes.

Unknown-2

Publisher’s Summary: As Julian Barnes notes: “Flaubert believed that it was impossible to explain one art form in terms of another, and that great paintings required no words of explanation. Braque thought the ideal state would be reached when we said nothing at all in front of a painting . . . But it is a rare picture that stuns, or argues, us into silence. And if one does, it is only a short time before we want to explain and understand the very silence into which we have been plunged.”

This is the exact dynamic that informs his new book. In his 1989 novel A History of the World in 10½ Chapters, Barnes had a chapter on Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa,and since then he has written about many great masters of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art, including Delacroix, Manet, Fantin-Latour, Cézanne, Degas, Redon, Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, Braque, Magritte, Oldenburg, Lucian Freud and Howard Hodgkin. The seventeen essays gathered here help trace the arc from Romanticism to Realism and into Modernism; they are adroit, insightful and, above all, a true pleasure to read.

For my 17-year-old niece who reads everything, I got The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough.

9780545668347

Publisher’s Summary: Flora and Henry were born a few blocks from each other, innocent of the forces that might keep a white boy and an African-American girl apart; years later they meet again and their mutual love of music sparks an even more powerful connection. But what Flora and Henry don’t know is that they are pawns in a game played by the eternal adversaries Love and Death, here brilliantly reimagined as two extremely sympathetic and fascinating characters. Can their hearts and their wills overcome not only their earthly circumstances, but forces that have battled throughout history? In the rainy Seattle of the 1920’s, romance blooms among the jazz clubs, the mansions of the wealthy, and the shanty towns of the poor. But what is more powerful: love? Or death?

On a side note, I wanted to share with you the banner from Brockenbrough’s webpage,

1448993277119

For my birthday, I got Tim Wynne Jones’ newest novel,  The Emperor of Any Place.

Unknown-3

Publisher’s Summary:When Evan’s father dies suddenly, Evan finds a hand-bound yellow book on his desk—a book his dad had been reading when he passed away. The book is the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island in WWII. Why was his father reading it? What is in this account that Evan’s grandfather, whom Evan has never met before, fears so much that he will do anything to prevent its being seen? And what could this possibly mean for Evan? In a pulse-quickening mystery evoking the elusiveness of truth and the endurance of wars passed from father to son, this engrossing novel is a suspenseful, at times terrifying read from award-winning author Tim Wynne-Jones.

The last half of this year was a little hard because of the loss of my dad and Fiona. My sister, who lost our father and her mother-in-law within weeks of each other, walked into her local book shop and ran into a friend. When her friend heard about my sister’s losses, she recommended this book, They Left Us Everything:  A Memoir by Plum Johnson.

Unknown-4

Publisher’s Summary:After almost twenty years of caring for elderly parents—first for their senile father,  and then for their cantankerous ninety-three-year-old mother—author Plum Johnson  and her three younger brothers experience conflicted feelings of grief and relief when  their mother, the surviving parent, dies. Now they must empty and sell the beloved  family home, which hasn’t been de-cluttered in more than half a century. Twenty-three  rooms bulge with history, antiques, and oxygen tanks. Plum remembers her loving  but difficult parents who could not have been more different: the British father, a  handsome, disciplined patriarch who nonetheless could not control his opinionated,  extroverted Southern-belle wife who loved tennis and gin gimlets. The task consumes  her, becoming more rewarding than she ever imagined. Items from childhood trigger  memories of her eccentric family growing up in a small town on the shores of Lake  Ontario in the 1950s and 60s. But unearthing new facts about her parents helps her  reconcile those relationships with a more accepting perspective about who they were  and what they valued.

They Left Us Everything  is a funny, touching memoir about the importance of preserving  family history to make sense of the past and nurturing family bonds to safeguard the  future.

So, I will be holed up for the next few days (weeks?) reading these and the books I have to read for various commitments. I will probably ring in the 2016 with a book in my hand.

 

 

Warming my heart with tea and books

7 Dec

Yesterday was the first day of Hanukkah. Last night’s tea from my advent calendar was Glitter and Gold.

Looking for a little star power? This sweet, spiced black tea is filled with pretty little gold star-shaped sprinkles. Take a sip and the slow suggestion of cinnamon will warm your body. Your toes will tingle and your mind will turn to fireworks, falling stars, late-night seduction. It’s basically magic.

Ingredients: Black tea, lemon peel, sugar sprinkles, sugar, cloves, natural and artificial flavouring.

10195us01var0013054-bi-1.31

My sister, the giver of the advent calendar,  was the one who explained to me that this tea was to celebrate the first day of Hanukkah. I love this cultural cross-pollination of the Advent calendar!

And that thought brings me to one of my favorite holiday books by Patricia Pollaco,  The Trees of the Dancing Goats.

Unknown

Goodreads Summary: Trisha loves the eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family’s preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christmas. Instead they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. Trisha’s family is one of the few who has been spared from the epidemic. It is difficult for them to enjoy their Hanukkah feast when they know that their neighbors won’t be able to celebrate their holiday. Then Grampa has an inspiration: they will cut down trees, decorate them, and secretly deliver them to the neighbors, “But what can we decorate them with?” Babushka asks. Although it is a sacrifice, Trisha realizes that Grampa’s carved animals are the perfect answer. Soon her living room is filled with trees — but that is only the first miracle of many during an incredible holiday season.
Based on a long cherished childhood memory, this story celebrates the miracle of true friendship.

This book will warm your heart more deeply than a cup of tea.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Knitting, spinning, and assorted awesomeness.

Global Yell Blog

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Deo Writer: Musings to Spark the Spirit

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

Tundra Books

Home of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers and Friends

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

%d bloggers like this: