Monday, February 27, 2012

Grandpa Green

My father-in-law recently passed on a bunch of family pictures that had been saved on a CD.  So I spent an afternoon scrolling through them and watching the history of my husband's family unfold.  There was his great grandmother as a young woman at the turn of the century, his 95 year old grandma as a plump baby.  The pictures changed from black and white to the washed out colors of the 50's and 60's.  I watched as toddlers grew to adolescents and long-limbed gawky teenagers became brides and grooms.  Then my husband and his brother appeared as bowl-haired towheads, and my mother-in law was so young and pretty. 

The family business celebrated 50 years, there were grandchildren, then great-grandchildren, and faces who disappeared from the pictures all together.  Eventually my skinny 20 year old self appeared with baby Madeleine next to that young blue-eyed man I fell in love with.  I could look at these pictures a dozen times a day and lose myself in the stories and nostalgia, the history of a family that I am now a part of and that my children are tied to.  I can't help but think of our own family photographs- Disney World, birthday parties, camping trips, that will continue this line of snapshots for the children's children and so on and so on...

Jane Smith 2011
In Grandpa Green a young boy relates the memories his grandfather tells him.  The images are cleverly related in the topiary.  It's one of those books (like Someday and Roxaboxen) that clutch my heart.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gilberto and the Wind

We've had some teasingly warm weather lately, but it seems that Winter isn't done with us yet.  This morning there was even a silly five minute flurry of large white snowflakes.  It's the wind though that is blowing down the cold.  I walked home from a rummage sale and the cedar branches above my head groaned and squeaked and all the bare trees were swaying to and fro like a crowd of upstretched arms.

by Marie Hall Ets 1963

This book reminds me of Blow, Wind, Blow. This time it's a little boy who chases around the wind.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Owl and the Pussycat

My husband, Chris, and I are off to a Caribbean Island soon.  We've never done this before and I'm very excited to snorkel and lounge on the beach, and mostly to have each other all to ourselves!

Edward Lear
illustrated by Jan Brett 1991

I think I've always loved this poem for its absurd premise (an owl and a pussycat in love) and wonderful rhyming- I'm pretty sure I can recite it by heart. This poem pops up everywhere but this illustrated version is my favorite because Jan Brett's pictures are always a treat. Most of her other books are Nordic in theme so it's fun to have one bright and tropical with palm trees and colorful flowers. As usual, Brett's illustrations tell a couple stories (keep your eye on the yellow fish) and her attention to detail is full of fun.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar

So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Drinking Gourd

by F.N. Monjo
illustrated by Fred Brenner

My kids had to read this book in elementary school around this time of year (for Black History month). It's an easy reader about a rambunctious boy named Tommy who learns that his father is part of the underground railroad. He ends up helping a slave family on their way to freedom. It's called the "Drinking Gourd" because that was a name for the Big Dipper constellation that held the North star, a guide the slaves could follow in their travels.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Dove's Letter

Keith Baker 1993

I like to collect books that have inscriptions on the front page. I love to wonder about who the people were and the story behind their words. This book has the most amazing inscription- I think the best I've ever come across. I thought it was from a man to his girlfriend or wife, but a friend of mine thought it was from mother to child. Aren't you curious about the story behind why it was written or how this book ended up in a bin at the thrift store?

December 10, 1988

Half a decade ago
something let go,
gave way in the
gut of my gut.
Something snapped and
started a singing that
goes on and on even
til today one thousand
eight hundred and twenty
five days later. Sure
of Delight. Sure of Love.
Of careful touch and
breath stopping wonder
over all you are; that
such a being could
really be! My love,
My dove, you are still,
by far, Linda, the
most beautiful one of all.

The story itself is nice. A dove finds a letter and everyone she comes across thinks it was meant for them. It's a lovely love story between father and daughter, mother and son, husband and wife, soldier and sweetheart.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Valentine Bears

by Eve Bunting
illustrated by Jan Brett

Less elaborate than Brett's other books, but charming just the same. Mrs. Bear has prepared a special Valentine's Day treat for Mr. Bear, if only he would wake up from his hibernation!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Snowy Day

Yes!  It's snowing again!  The perfect weather to walk down to the post office in and mail my Valentines.  We were out last night swing dancing and while driving home in the wee hours of the morning the tiny snowflakes started.  Then I was happy to wake up this morning and sit propped on the sofa with my tea watching the snow fall (and rest my sore feet).

Ezra Jack Keats 1962

How could I resist this classic by Ezra jack Keats. Simple colorful illustrations and the sweet story of a little boy who wakes up to a day full of snowy fun. (I've always loved his pointed red snowsuit hood).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Queen of Hearts

Well, it's that time of year when everyone has hearts on their mind.

For anyone in the Philadelphia area, check Cold Hearted this Saturday.  At the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym come out to support local artists/craftsmen/businesses and find something sweet for your Valentine!

Now here's something from that king of illustration himself, Caldecott, two nursery rhymes- the Queen of Hearts and Sing a Song of Sixpence.

illustrated by Randolph Caldecott