"Poetry loves weird kids..."

... and weird kids love Joyce Sidman, self included.  Especially when she's paired with the talented Beth Krommes. I really enjoyed reading Sidman's recent article entitled Why I Write Poetry. Take some time to explore Sidman's website where you can hear her read some of her poems, get ideas for poem starters, and read submissions from children everywhere... it's a nice place on the web!  And here is a little trailer preview of the 2011 award winning book Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature for those who are unfamiliar.

Pick of the week

After just writing up an article for Soul Gardening's spring issue on wordless books, I am tickled to have found another one. Magpie Magic: A Tale of Colorful Mischief by April Wilson.  The book a feast of imagery from the first person perspective as we see artist's hands draw the magpie outside her window.  As any good story book would have it, the bird then comes to life and what happens next is a witty sort of duel between the bird and artist which ends in a very satisfactory way.

I was unfamiliar with April Wilson and did a little googling to find out that she is an artist and art instructor in London.  Her work is fantastic and I am eager to get my hands on some of her other books.  I am rather dismayed to find that Magpie Magic seems to be out of print already after being published in 1999. Such a pity the treasures that get lost in the bloated publishing world.  In any case, it was an especially welcome find at the library and I encourage you to seek it out yourself!

Owls and more

This is the latest thrift store cache, a smallish but respectable lot.  First is a nice, sturdy hardback of the winter classic, Owl Moon, which I bought to replace my raggedy paperback copy.  Next to that you see a mint condition copy of Sector 7 from that wordless master, David Wiesner.  I am so happy to add that to my bookshelf!  Then we add to our Tomie de Paola collection with Strega Nona Meets Her Match.  Underneath you see a really novel book that is excellent to leave lying about near the breakfast table for the children to "discover."  It's called: Nature Got There First: Inventions Inspired by Nature.  But the real treasure Goodwill had to offer me was this book on bottom left called Owls by Tony Angell.  It is fascinating.  This is truly what a living book is all about.

Tony Angell is a naturalist and an artist and he writes and draws about eighteen different owl species with superb realism and from his own first hand experiences. (Read this lovely article on him here.) I never really thought much about owls, but they are a fascinating part of the bird family and this book is just the hook to draw someone in.  I also discovered that Angell is actually from this area and he has several public sculptures around the Puget Sound that I hope to see at some point.  The book is published through the University of Washington so it's not a big mainstream seller, but it's absolutely worth keeping an eye out for!

I thought it was a joke...

... but it's not. It's an actual bound and printed book well received by critics. Seen it?

I get the modern parody, but some things are just too close to reality to be appreciated by me I guess. I mean it is funny... but only in a sad, distorted way that is too true. Call me a curmudgeon, but I can't imagine actually spending money on this and reading it to my children.

Journey Cake, Ho!

I drove a few miles and wasted a few dollars in gas to get to the county's largest garage sale of the year. It was hyped up as a huge, huge event. Well, it was. And I immediately felt overstimulated by the crowds and items there, much of it very picked through by the time I showed up. I left spending a mere fifty cents on one item. This book, printed in 1953 and in mint condition. I picked it up because the illustrator is one of my favorites, Robert McCloskey. Of course it's out of print now but the whole thing reminds once again about the tragedy of new books being that old books are no longer read...

The story is a sweet one of hard times ending full circle in sweet redemption. It's one of those great non-PC books where the adults just kick the kids out into the world when they can't afford to feed them anymore. Dear Johnny ends up saving the day though with his runaway journey cake. Enjoy some of these pictures!

Spring Giveaway!

***CLOSED*** Congrats to Stacy for wooing the children with your lovely book description!

Since I scored a great compendium of the Brambly Hedge books, I am giving away my own copy of Spring Story (in excellent, used condition). And I'm no fan of randomly generated winners so all you have to do is leave a comment telling me what your very favorite book was as a child and why. To keep my biases with friends from showing the answer my children like best wins! You have a week (until Easter Tuesday: April 10th) to enter.

Happy Spring!

One Potato: And Then It Was Spring

I really, really, really like this website. I liked reading the "About." I liked reading the FAQs, I like the whole premise of the organization. There exists in the e-world fellow bibliozealots that receive my salute. I have not read every blog entry and I still am dabbling in the nubs and nuances of trying to pin down what kind of zealot this is, but I like much of what I've seen thus far.

I really loved what was written about a book I recently purchased on a whim last week. What a superb purchase it was. I was just getting ready to write up a review on it when I stumbled across what Jay Bushara wrote and found he articulated what I would have said with much more zest and finesse than I could have mustered up the energy for. I need to go update my Top Ten Spring booklist now and bump off another (I guess, I can safely kick off Wildsmith's The Easter Story) since it technically belongs on a holiday booklist and has received glowing praise from me elsewhere. So yes indeed, make And Then It's Spring one of your "highest" priorities on your Amazon wish list. It's clamoring to be my 2012 Book of the Year. Let me whet your appetite:

The Easter Void

I suppose it's time I speak a bit about Easter books then. Okay: it's a seriously underserved genre!!! Unlike Christmas--which offers a broad spectrum of everything in between light and silly to evocative and religious-- Easter falls flat. Maybe because we don't promote the Easter Bunny, I find this to be so. See, St. Nick has a very real and relevant connection to Christmas... so he has found his way into our homes... but the Easter Bunny is so random and distracting from the Resurrection, the most glorious and important day of the Christian year, that I've little desire for his inclusion on our Sunday festivities. Oh, the children get baskets, sure. We do egg hunts and eat too much candy like everyone else, but their is no pretense of a giant bunny coming in the middle of the night. No, it's a joyful, festive, relaxed day that follows a dramatic and spectacular vigil celebration Mass the night before.

That said, you'll find a small handful of sweet bunny stories out there (mixed with the saccharine or kitschy stories), and you'll find a small handful of religious books (of varying quality) out there. And you'll find a select few wonderful out of print books out there too. But if you want to buy just one, beautiful story to be told year after year, it's this one: The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith (one of my very favorite illustrators). It's hard to find a book that doesn't talk down to children about the Crucifixion (if it gets presented at all), but this one manages a perfect, family-friendly balance. And the gold leaf illustrations are superb. I bought this book two years ago and somehow it's gone out of print since then, but you really ought to get a copy anyhow, used or otherwise. In the meantime, I really hope more authors jump on the bandwagon and start creating some lovely Easter tales...

"On Easter Day the veil between time and eternity
thins to gossamer."
~Douglas Horton


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