Monday, May 31, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Out of Many, One
Portraits of 
America's Immigrants
by George W. Bush

Flap Copy Description:
In this new collection of oil paintings and stories, President George W. Bush spotlights the inspiring journeys of America's immigrants and the contributions they make to the life and prosperity of our nation.
The issue of immigration stirs intense emotions today, as it has throughout much of American history. But what gets lost in the debates about policy are the stories of immigrants themselves, the people who are drawn to America by its promise of economic opportunity and political and religious freedom - and who strengthen our nation in countless ways...
As the stories unfold in this vibrant book, readers will gain a better appreciation for the humanity behind one of our most pressing policy issues and the countless way in which America, through its tradition of welcoming newcomers, has been strengthened by those who have come here in search of a better life.

My Thoughts:
As I've mentioned before on my blog, I love books about art; when you couple that with a text that addresses a social issue, it's even more interesting - at least to me! Out of Many, One, by former President George W. Bush is a must read for people on both sides of the political spectrum with regard to the subject of immigration. In fact, I would say, this book has the ability to bring us all just a bit closer together. The stories and portraits of people that President Bush has so beautifully brought to life are from all walks of life, and all ages and races. In this politically-charged time, I long for ways to heal the huge rift in our country. Therefore, I highly recommend Out of Many, One to all adult readers!

Click here to learn about the George W. Bush Center - very interesting events!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

My Annual Summer Reading List!

Once again it's time to feature my favorite Middle Grade books from those I've read since last fall. Merely select a title, click on it, and read my review. Enjoy!

The following fantastic books are listed in random order:

The Elephant - by Peter Carnavas

Arnica the Duck Princess - by Ervin Lazar

Cinders & Sparrows - by Stefan Bachmann

The Elephant's Girl - by Celesta Rimington

The Lost Spells - by Robert MacFarlane

Elatsoe - by Darcie Little Badger

Ickabog - by J.K. Rowling

The Forest of the Stars - by Heather Kassner

When You Trap a Tiger - by Tae Keller

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. - by David Levithan

There's something for everyone on this list; enjoy reading this summer!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Clinomania (n.)
excessive desire to stay in bed.
Example: It was determined that the man's difficulty in getting up each morning was actually a mental disorder called clinomania.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The People's Painter
How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art
by Cynthia Levinson
illustrated by Evan Turk

Flap Copy Description:
"The first thing I can remember," Ben said, "I drew."
As an observant child growing up in Lithuania, Ben Shahn yearns to draw everything he sees - and, after seeing his father banished by the Czar for demanding workers' rights, he develops a keen sense of justice, too.
So when Ben and the rest of his family make their way to America, Ben brings with him both his sharp artistic eye and his desire to fight for what's right. As he grows, he speaks for justice through his art - by disarming classmates who bully him because he's Jewish, by defying his teachers' insistence that he paint beautiful landscapes rather than true stories, by urging the US government to pass Depression-era laws to help people find food and jobs, and more.

In this moving and timely portrait, Cynthia Levinson and Evan Turk honor an artist, immigrant, and activist whose work still resonates today: a true painter for the people.

My Thoughts:
Whenever I learn of a kids' book that sheds light on art, I always put it on my "to-be-read list." However, rarely does a children's book author tell a non-fiction story in such a powerful way. In addition to the text, the illustrations by Evan Turk (one of my favorite illustrators!) perfectly honor the art of Ben Shahn. Sharing the subjects of art, immigration, and activism in a meaningful way with children is so important. This book is a masterpiece. I highly recommend The People's Painter to readers of all ages. Bravo, Ms. Levinson!

Click here to learn more about the author, Cynthia Levinson.
Click here to learn more about the illustrator, Evan Turk.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Power of Kids' Books

In a world that seems to move faster all the time, it's easy to think that same-day delivery, online purchases, or a DM are all signs of a progressive society. But are we losing our appreciation for things that take a bit more time?

And if we are, are we unconsciously teaching our children that things that happen quickly are more valuable, than things that are savored?

Sadly, I believe reading is being sabotaged unknowingly.

It's not just the content of a children's book that is so important to the development of a kid, it's the time it takes to read. They experience: a sense of peace and joy; delayed gratification; and one of their first experiences of self-determination when they select a book from the shelf of their community library. That's in addition to the inspiration and information an entertaining story will impart to them - for hours!

There is a secret power hidden within a children's book that should never be underestimated. I believe every parent should make reading a priority in the life of their child. It will make a world of difference in their life. Read what these well-known people said about the subject:

Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. ~ C. S. Lewis

There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. 
~ Albert Einstein

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island. ~ Walt Disney

As summer approaches, now would be a good time to take your child on a trip to the library or an independent bookstore. A good book on a sunny day is the best! And by the way, next Friday, May 28th, I'll be posting my annual Summer Reading List for Kids - don't miss it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Viridity - (adj.)
1- youth; inexperience.
2- the state of being the color green.
Example: the viridity of the teenager was only made problematic by his ignorance of it. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Rock from the Sky
by Jon Klassen

Goodreads Description:
Look up!

Turtle really likes standing in his favorite spot. He likes it so much that he asks his friend Armadillo to come over and stand in it, too. But now that Armadillo is standing in that spot, he has a bad feeling about it...

My Thoughts:
The Rock from the Sky is another quirky story by award-winning author/illustrator Jon Klassen! In this recently-released picture book Klassen weaves friendship and humor together to create a truly entertaining tale. At first glance it might seem like a meaningless collection of zany events, but I found it to be not only funny, but thought-provoking. Issues of fate and the future are not to be trifled any age! I'd recommend this book to readers aged six and up.

Click here to learn about Caldecott Medalist, Jon Klassen.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Creatives' Love Affair with Nature
Over the years I've noticed that writers and artists draw not only inspiration from nature, but in many cases, nature is their subject matter. Such was the case for me when I penned The Tale of Willaby Creek in 2012. (Photo of author at Lake Quinault, near Willaby Creek.) 

One of my very favorite children's book author/illustrators is Beatrix Potter. As a child, she was inspired by her time in the English countryside while on holiday with her family. She later settled in the Lake District at Hill Top Farm where she kept writing.

Claude Monet was not only the Father of Impressionism, but an avid gardener. Many of his later paintings included his garden and pond. A great example of this is his series: Water Lilies, which is displayed in Paris. (Japanese footbridge over Monet's Lily Pond. 2014) 

The name of Ralph Waldo Emerson is in some ways synonymous with nature. In 1858, Emerson and nine of his fellow intellectuals set off on a trip to the Adirondacks. The journey was said to have been a landmark event: linking nature to literature and art for the first time. (Follensby Pond on left.) 

Last, but not least, is Emily Dickinson. She not only received inspiration from her garden, she wrote and journaled about her garden. In some ways, the birds and blossoms in her garden were her closest friends. (Shown on left, The Homestead - Emily Dickinson's home.)

This is one of my favorite poems penned by Emily Dickinson:

Hope is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard,

And sore must be the storm,

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land

And on the strangest sea,

Yet never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

There is a symbiotic element to the relationship creatives have with their surroundings. Are we receiving inspiration? Or a message to be written, drawn, or painted? Is the universe requesting we find the pen, the paintbrush, the parchment so it can "dictate" its thoughts to us?

When the veil of time is pulled back, I believe only then shall we know.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Acatalepsy (n.)
the impossibility to truly comprehend a subject.
Example: Men must suffer from acatalepsy when it comes to being pregnant with a child.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S.
by David Levithan

Flap Copy Description:
The day Aidan disappears, his family looks for him in every room, under every bed, behind every door. By the third day, the police are questioning family members and friends. Neighbors and strangers organize searches, and Aidan's face is all over the news.
Then, as suddenly as he vanished, Aidan reappears. Leaving everyone to ask: Where has he been?
No one wants to  know the truth more than Aidan's brother, [Lucas]. When [Lucas] asks him what happened, the story Aidan tells is simply...impossible. Now [Lucas] has to figure out: Can you believe in the impossible when everything and everybody is telling you not to?

My Thoughts:
This middle grade novel by David Levithan is imaginative and thought-provoking. The story kept me turning each page until I'd completed the book in one setting. The premise and plot are extraordinary, and as in other Levithan books, the dialogue is to die for. I highly recommend The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. to readers aged eight and above!

Click here to learn more about the author, David Levithan.

(Note: the name [Lucas] is in brackets in the review since that is the name of Aidan's brother in the story. For some reason, Liam is used in the flap copy.)

Friday, May 7, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Reflections on Mother's Day

When I was growing up I was a bookworm - no surprise there! I did play with dolls, but mostly, I spent my time in imaginary worlds opened up to me by a wide variety of authors. To be honest, I didn't dream of being a mother. But here's the thing, when my eldest, David, arrived, my world seemed to pivot on its axis. It did it again when Kevin arrived, and once again when I held my youngest son, Brian.

They have been, and always will be, the biggest, and most significant blessings of my life. It hasn't always been easy. However, they have given me so much love; I'm thankful I opened my heart to motherhood. 

While I'm grateful I have had the opportunity to be a full-time writer and author, being a mother will always be at the core of who I am. It's what makes me feel when I write. (L-R: Kevin, Brian, David - 2006.)

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Mudita (n.)
taking delight in the happiness, success, and well-being of others.
Example: Mudita filled the soul of the mother as she watched her little daughter take her first steps.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Farmer and the Circus
by Marla Frazee

Goodreads Description:
The farmer follows his new friends to the circus in this whimsical and touching conclusion to the trilogy from two-time Caldecott Honor medalist Marla Frazee that began with the beloved The Farmer and the Clown.
The little clown and monkey miss their friend the farmer. They spend their days playing farmer together, until one day they get a surprise. Farmer has come to visit the circus! What will happen when he meets the rest of the circus family?

My Thoughts:
If you've not yet "read" a wordless picture book, The Farmer and the Circus is a great place to start! The whimsical artwork from master storyteller Marla Frazee is not only entertaining, it shares the story of how a family can be created by all sorts of characters - especially when there is love in their hearts. I highly recommend this final book in The Farmer trilogy to young people from the ages of two to seven!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Marla Frazee.