a brief scholarly detour

... to engage those brain muscles of yours. This only tangentially relates to picture books, but I stumbled on this bit by C.S Lewis on the importance of reading old books.  It's more than intellectual snobbery or biblio-aesthetics... read the whole thing when you get a minute, or at least read until he starts talking specifically about the book he's introducing if that doesn't interest you.


A few weeks ago I went to a baby shower where the new mom was gifted with a couple Indestructables.  Well, me being the kind of woman I am, I was immediately intrigued by its claims to withstand baby trauma and wanted to sink my teeth into the pages.  For the sake of propriety, I refrained, but I did discreetly tug and pull on the pages as I examined this breakthrough in children's books.  They've apparently been around a few years now but this was rocket science to me.

See, board books are the standby classic for babies.  And most babies do fine with board books.  My children, however, manage to soak or rip the cardboard eventually, and while they'll last longer than our paper books, the board books are indeed mortal. Plus, this genre is very often older children's books, reprinted on cardboard and then marketed to babies.  (Don't get me wrong, I love board books... for about 18 months up to 4)  But indestructables are specifically made for BABIES.

Indestructables promises the fountain of youth in picture book world. They can be eaten and bent and disheveled in every which way, only to come out just as loved and bright as before.  They even promise to be machine washable!  Wowzas!

I personally wasn't in love with the way the books felt... they are paper thin (made of a strange, vinyl-esque material) and would fit nicely into a purse (folded up!!!) or diaper bag, but I can absolutely appreciate what they offer... a pre-literacy inclusion for our youngest of bibliozealots.  The books are wordless, designed to just stimulate baby's mind with the way a book "works" without ruining said book.

Mama and Baby!  and Plip-Plop, Pond! were the two books I examined closely. I was quite impressed and think these would make excellent baby shower gifts... who doesn't love the irony of a baby product that is baby proof?!

Adult Diversion #1

Taking a step away from the picture book world to share what I'm reading.  Typically, I have about three books going at once: something non-fiction—to educate, something spiritual—to inspire, and something fiction—mind candy. What I read depend on what mood I'm in or what is particularly great.

First, I just finished What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster which was brilliant and fresh and highly educational. I thought it would largely be a piece of pro-natalist propaganda (yes, it happens on both sides!) but was surprised to find the author's points compelling, well thought out and scientifically backed up. I highly recommend this book.

Second, I'm about half-way through a birthday gift that was given to me this year: Sigrid Undset's biography of Catherine of Siena. This reads like a piece of fiction because Undset is a great storyteller (I first fell in love with her over the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy) and I'm loving learning more than the abstract version of this very popular saint.

In Adoration I can currently be found with with Abandonment to Divine Providence tucked under my arm. It's not exactly heavy reading... but it is theologically dense and I have to take it slowly because so much goodness is packed into so few words at a time. Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade was deeply influenced by St. Francis de Sales and St. John of the Cross so you can imagine how this book packs a spiritual punch.

Lastly, I recently finished the first of the Eliot Family Trilogy by Elizabeth Gouge which has been out of print and unaffordable for so long!  They have just re-released the books and I immediately bought The Bird in the Tree.  It is beautifully written... and the themes are refreshing and timeless: love, duty, family, nobility, honor, legend.  I am happy to have read it and am looking forward to reading Pilgrim's Inn next. (But why do they have to ruin a good story with a modern photo on the cover! That man is NOT how I envisioned David to look and I always feel a little bit crushed at these photographic invasions of my imagination.  Artist sketches don't bother me since they are a bit more subjective but a photo implies an unbending reality! This is one reason I NEVER buy books that have the new movie characters on the covers—e.g. The Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the Rings— let the kids put together their own faces of the characters without being told that Frodo looks like Elijah Wood!)

So there you have it. Ellie's current reads for herself.  You'll get this every now and again I suspect...


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