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Happy Canada Day 2018!

1 Jul

My mother’s passing has left me reeling. I suppose that is because it was so unexpected. Grief is such a strange emotion and there is no one way to mourn. Two Canadian picture books do an amazing job helping young readers navigate grief and emotions.

The first is The Funeral by Matt James.

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Publisher’s Summary: Norma and her parents are going to her great-uncle Frank’s funeral, and Norma is more excited than sad. She is looking forward to playing with her favorite cousin, Ray, but when she arrives at the church, she is confronted with rituals and ideas that have never occurred to her before. While not all questions can be answered, when the day is over Norma is certain of one thing — Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral.

This sensitive and life-affirming story will lead young readers to ask their own questions about life, death and how we remember those who have gone before us.

They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki is more stream of consciousness.

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Publisher’s Summary: In captivating paintings full of movement and transformation, Tamaki follows a young girl through a year or a day as she examines the colors in the world around her. Egg yolks are sunny orange as expected, yet water cupped in her hands isn’t blue like they say. But maybe a blue whale is blue. She doesn’t know, she hasn’t seen one. Playful and philosophical, They Say Blue is a book about color as well as perspective, about the things we can see and the things we can only wonder at.

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Back to the books

2 Apr

The SOLSC Challenge is over, so now I am back to writing mostly about books – except on Tuesdays when I will post a weekly Slice of Life Story.

I read a number of books in March, but I will use today’s post to list the books I finished during Spring Break.

Picture Books

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The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra
illustrated by Eric Comstock

 

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Grace for Gus
written and illustrated by Harry Bliss

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On the Other Side of the Garden written by Jairo Buitrago
illustrated by Rafael Yockteng

 

Middle Grade Novels

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Arlo Finch in the Valley of  Fire by John August

 

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Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman

 

Young Adult Novels

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Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Upside down and backwards

19 Feb

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I’ve heard (and used) this quote about Ginger Rogers a number of times. I hadn’t realized it originated in a Frank and Ernest comic!

I got to thinking about it because I just read a new picture book biography of Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten, self-taught blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter. Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten is written by Portland Musician Laura Veirs and illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.

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Because she was left-handed she played the guitar “upside down and backwards”, a refrain that repeats throughout the book and that brought to mind the Ginger Rogers reference.

Libba Cotten was convinced by her pastor to give up the guitar, saying she played “Devil’s music”. Later in life, she became the housekeeper for  Ruth Crawford Seeger and, in a house full of music, she rediscovered her passion. She made her first recording in 1958 at the age of 62.

This picture book biography includes an author’s note that gives more details about Cotten’s life and Veirs’ lifelong connection to her work, as well as a list of sources.

Here she is, playing her most famous song, “Freight Train”.

 

Two of my favorite things

22 Jan

Unsurprisingly,  two of my favorite past-times are knitting and reading. A perfect stormy day in the Pacific Northwest combines the two – I can knit while listening to an audiobook!

This rainy weekend, I spent a little time not knitting, but reading about fans of my two favorite past-times.

Baabwaa & Wooliamwritten by David Elliott and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is an amusing tale that shows the power of story.

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Publisher’s Summary: Baabwaa is a sheep who loves to knit. Wooliam is a sheep who loves to read. It sounds a bit boring, but they like it. Then, quite unexpectedly, a third sheep shows up. A funny-looking sheep who wears a tattered wool coat and has long, dreadfully decaying teeth. Wooliam, being well-read, recognizes their new acquaintance: the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing! The wolf is so flattered to discover his literary reputation precedes him that he stops trying to eat Baabwaa and Wooliam. And a discovery by the sheep turns the encounter into an unexpected friendship.

The book is funny, and, in this time of entrenched  beliefs opposite sides of a great chasm, it offers an intelligent way to bridge the gap.

Weird Dream

11 Jan

Last night I had a weird book dream. It was a good dream, just weird.

I dreamed ( or dreamt ) that Mo Willems called me. That alone is weird, but he wanted me to review Kate Di Camillo’s almost wordless picture book La La La.

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In this weird dream, I not only spoke with Mo on the phone, but I also spoke with Kate in person. After this dream, I feel I am on a first name basis with both. It was a good dream and very vivid. I can’t share more than this  brief description of my dream with you, but you can read La La La. Maybe it will fill you heart with hope and a song.

Publisher’s Summary: “La la la . . . la.” A little girl stands alone and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds — but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound. . . . She has been heard. At last. With the simplest of narratives and the near absence of words, Kate DiCamillo conveys a lonely child’s yearning for someone who understands. With a subtle palette and captivating expressiveness, Jaime Kim brings to life an endearing character and a transcendent landscape that invite readers along on an emotionally satisfying journey.

Merry Christmas

24 Dec

Yesterday, I laughed out loud listening to an NPR episode in which people tell scary stories they were told about kids who tried to catch a peek of Santa.

I laughed, too, reading The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Cale Atkinson.

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Publisher’s Summary: Santa has a problem. This kid? Harold? Santa doesn’t think he’s real. He WANTS to believe in Harold–after all, Harold is one of the most magical parts of Christmas. Getting Harold’s letters, eating the cookies he leaves out, feeding his carrots to the reindeer… what would Christmas be without that? But Santa’s just not sure. Some of his friends are telling him they think Harold’s not real. And the Harold that sat on his knee last Christmas looked AWFULLY different. Santa comes up with a plan to find out once and for all if Harold really exists… with hilarious consequences.

This was a fun twist on that time in a child’s life when they start questioning Santa’s existence. Maybe it will help prolong childhood a little longer.

I think I’ll go watch Miracle on 34th Street.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

 

The magic of moonlight

17 Dec

I love this time of year – so dark, but lights everywhere and glittering trees in many windows. It all seemed so magical as a kid. As an adult, it warms my heart and makes me nostalgic.

Here is a lovely book that evoked the same feeling.

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Publisher’s Summary:  In this atmospheric story, a group of kids play hockey on a frozen lake by moonlight. At once nostalgic and timely, this is a gorgeous book that will speak to readers young and old.

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