Saturday, March 15, 2014

Paris to the Pyrenees

A grown-up book
Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James by by David Downie, Pegasus, 2013.  ISBN: 978-1605984322

I am interested in spiritual/pilgrim walks so I was happy to find this memoir. It is a useful and entertaining as a travelogue/virtual vacation. I liked the accounts of where they visited and what they ate, especially the food.  The challenges of finding shelter and food in the small towns, somewhat off the other more heavily traveled pilgrim route, were not issues I would have considered.

Perhaps it was because I listened to the book instead of reading it but I found Downie's "skepticism" and his relentless suspicion of all things religious and Catholic,  tedious.  I was warned -- it was there in the title.  Perhaps he was aiming for light-hearted irreverence but I found it wearing after a while. I was more intrigued with the insights and reactions of his wife, Alison Harris. She seemed more in tune to the rituals of the faith experience and willing to embrace the spiritual aspect of the walk. This is his memoir so we do not get to hear her thoughts except as he reports their conversations.  You sense his admiration as she seems  undaunted by his ongoing commentary. I know I missed out on half of the experience as the audiobook does not provide the accompanying photographs that Harris took along the way. 

Having lived in France I did appreciate his insights into Mitterrand and WWII and ancient Gaul.  His dedication to the effort, returning to finish it after having abandon it due to an injury, was inspiring. The reader/listener is left hopeful as he is ponders taking on the next leg of the pilgrimage at the end of the book. I would read that book too.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Babymouse -- The Game


https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.itchmedia.popthepicbabymouse

Swerving back into my blog with the great news that Babymouse is now a Word Puzzle Game! 

Available at Google Play Store and soon on iTunes.






Play the Pop the Pic Babymouse -Word Puzzle Game based on the popular Babymouse kids comic book series. Reveal the comic book pictures piece by piece and try to guess the word. If you liked 4 Pics 1 Word, you'll love this new Pop the Pic word puzzle game.  Kids love Babymouse star of the popular, award-winning, hilarious, pink graphic novel series showcasing the trials and tribulations of elementary school. The sassy mouse with attitude to spare has charmed her way into the hearts of kids, parents, and teachers everywhere! Now you can play the game based on Babymouse!
Now still waiting on Babymouse fabric, please.  Even Downton Abbey has its own fabric line now, why not Babymouse? 

KidLitCon Austin, TX

As an early member of the Kidlitosphere I have tried when possible to attend the annual KidLitCon in the different parts of the country.

This year, joy and rapture, the meeting is in my almost backyard.  Looking forward to it!!  Texas bloggers, c'mon over! Registration is HERE.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Fun to follow the epic battle between Snow White and Bilbo Baggins raging in a hashtag war now on Twitter for the  MTV Movie Award for Best Hero 2013. 

Here is the reason to #votebilbo




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Falcon

Falcon
by Tim Jessell, Random House, 2012.
ISBN: 9780375868665

Breathtaking vistas and views greet the reader as an imagined flight of a falcon  sweeps them from the plains through mountain heights, over oceans and cliffs to a city-scape where a skyscraper becomes the falcon's eyrie.  Jessell's landscapes spread over two pages and evoke wind and sky and majesty from the falcon's point of view.  The child's imagination takes the falcon to the city where it dives towards people on the sidewalk and swoops away.  Jessell's landscapes and realism is fresh and welcome. 

His website gives an overview of his work and a look at his process for sketching and painting. 

Tim Jessell website

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TED Talk -- Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Jarrett J. Krosoczka writes books that kids connect with on so many levels, through his artwork, his humor, his understanding of childhood.  When I am asked for a recommendation from a parent going in to a classroom to read, I want to give them a sure fire hit. I give them a Krosoczka picture book. 

I did not think I could be a bigger fan girl but now I've viewed his TED talk.

Krosoczka's TED talk should be a must view for everyone.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sadness: Thomas Locker

I just learned that the wonderful Thomas Locker died this year in March, 2012.  This is the Publishers Weekly obit for him.  I feel as if I've lost a friend.   At some point over all these years, I should have written him and let him know how much I admired his artwork.

I love Locker's books.  For years I've marked his books at "required" for library start-up collections and added his titles to  acquisitions lists for established libraries.  I realize now that I own very few in my personal library.

His landscapes showed such a reverence for the majesty of the natural world. PW likened his work to 19th-century Hudson River School of painting. His work also evoked the English painter, John Constable and the great Dutch painter,  Jacob van Ruisdael.  His brooding Dutch skies in The Boy Who Held Back the Sea are a direct homage to van Ruidael.


For science connections his Cloud Dance is an exquisite rendering of the hydrological cycle (water cycle) as is Mountain Dance which depicts the rock cycle.

 His pairing with Jean-Craighead-George produced the lovely To Climb a Waterfall taking the reader on a climb up the Hudson River Valley's Kaaterskill Falls.

I always add Sky Tree to lists of books for my art teachers.  Each page is a study of the same tree during all seasons and at different times of the day.  It is breathtaking.

I feel a little poorer today and I have a new set of books to start collecting for my personal library.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

I Like Old Clothes

With the pending arrival of the first grand-entling, I am once again regarding picture books with an eye to snuggle-up reading and inclusion in the best library a grand-entling could dream of.  I've put down the knitting needles here to look at some that delight me.

I Like Old Clothes
by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrations by Patrice Barton, Knopf, 2012. ISBN: 9780375869518

Hoberrman's words exult the hand-me-down and rejoice at the charity thrift store find.

"Clothes with a history, Clothes with a mystery"

Patrice Barton has re-imagined Hoberman's original 1976 version of this book with softly washed pictures "using pencil sketches and mixed media, assembled and painted digitally." The illustrations seem to appear on a background of "old clothes."  Fabric textures, prints, plaids and buttons serve as a backdrop for children who are playing dress-up and using old socks for hand puppets. There is no stigma to used sweaters or shirts here. Old clothes upgrade to  "vintage' in the hands of these junior fashion-istas.  Lovely.

Patrice Barton, illustrator website



Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jack Gantos Newbery Speech 2012

The reviews from in the hall were true.

So very Gantos.  Highlights "the slippery lives of Newbery winners" including Will James and others.  He also announces that Daniel Radcliffe has purchased the rights to Hole in My Life.  
Daniel as Jack???



Friday, August 10, 2012

Revisiting Harry Potter

As a girl, I wore out the binding and covers to many books on my childhood bookshelves by frequently re-reading my favorite books. There are members of my family who read Lord of the Rings annually. The exhausted, almost non-existant binding of entling no. 3's copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) is the stuff of family legend and lore.

As what passes for a grown up now though, I rarely revisit a book. Too many books so little time, as the saying goes.

To my surprise, I have spent my summer listening to Jim Dale's readings of the Harry Potter books. It began early in the summer with an inability to settle on a book to read. I started many, only finished and enjoyed a few. I have a summer book club assignment to read George Eliot's Middlemarch, which I am over a third of the way through and enjoying but...

I felt an overwhelming desire to visit with Harry, Hermione and Ron again.  I have joined Pottermore but have not invested much time there to understand it.  I re-read the books in a sporadic fashion over the years, usually prompted by the pending release of a new volume in the series or in preparation for a  movie's premier. I have never worked all the way through from book one to book seven before. That is what I did this summer. The experience rewarded me with new insight into the story arc overall, renewed feelings of love and kinship for the characters and awareness of details and events that I overlooked or forgot from my previous readings.

As I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) I chuckled over the Ministry of Magic's preparations for the Quidditch World Cup while I was also hearing about the difficulties of running the Olympic Games in London. The lighting of the Olympic flame happened as the Goblet of Fire kicked off the Tri-Wizard Tournament.  I found new thought provoking links to my faith in the stories that did not have the same meaning to me in my previous reads.

As I listened I found myself marveling at how timely and timeless Rowling's themes are. I was struck anew at how much I enjoyed the movies but how some of the movie's shortcuts and images had overwritten the books in my imagination. Even though I was only listening to the books I found Mary GrandPré's iconic illustrations coming to mind at different points.

As I finished the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)I found myself quite content with its place in the narrative. It had seemed oddly tacked on the first time I read the book but today I was perfectly happy with every aspect of it. As I listened to the last sentences about Severus Snape and Harry's scar I enjoyed that happy experience of a book making me cry.

Even though I continue to circulate the books to students at the different school libraries where I work, I have wondered if Harry's story will continue to call to readers without the media buzz, the midnight bookstore events and movie celebrations that were such a part of my family's life over the years.,  My experience this summer has assured me that Rowling created something classic and timeless and fine with these books. Like Tolkien, the stories hold up to re-reading and bless the reader with new insights and experiences along the way.