Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Books of December - the Feast of St. Nick

And I forgot to put out my wooden shoes last night!!!  So, this morning, I got my Hub to pay for breakfast.  Hmmm, I have never seen St. Nick and my Hub together at the same time.  Is it possible?... Nah!

In honor of good old St. Nick, let's feature the Guardians of Childhood series, originated by William Joyce who is assisted by Laura Gehringer.  The series contains picture books AND chapter books.

The chapter book series begins with a book about St. Nicholas, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce and Laura Gehringer. 
He looks so serious and full of purpose.

Who was the REAL St. Nicholas?  He was a Greek Bishop in what is now modern day Turkey.  He was born in March of 270 C.E. and died on December 6th, 343 C.E.  He is the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, brewers, pawnbrokers, students and repentant thieves.  Miracles attributed to him include bringing murdered children back to life, saving a ship in a horrible storm and bringing one of the sailors back to life, taking wheat from a shipment destined for the Emperor without depleting the shipment at all.

The most famous story about Nicholas is the one about the poor man who had three daughters.  In the 4th century, C. E., young women who had no dowry were forced to take the most menial of jobs or go into prostitution.  Nicholas wanted to help the young women so he secretly tossed bags of gold in through the man's open window.  One version of the story has the Saint tossing the bags down the chimney so he wouldn't be caught by the father. 

Although Wikipedia is full of information about the good saint and his feast day, the St. Nicholas Center has the same stories in shorter and more accessible forms.  Enjoy the day.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Author Adoration - Matt Phelan

Squeeeee!  I think that's what fangirls say.  I don't really qualify as a fangirl.  Fanwomen tend to grin broadly and talk too fast.


Here's proof.  That's me.  That's Matt.  That's his new graphic novel, Snow White, set in New York City in the 1930s.  Oooooohhhh!  And THAT's Let's Play Books, in Emmaus, PA.

Matt gave a great talk about the creative process he used while writing and drawing this book.  He also read the first picture book that he wrote and illustrated by himself, Druthers.  

He answered a lot of questions, that may, or may not, have had anything to do with what he was talking about.  And he was funny and clever and nice and..... sigh.

 This all happened at Let's Play Books in Emmaus, PA.   Thanks to all the wonderful people at Let's Play Books!

Books of December - Some Favorites!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.  Cold, frosty winter stretches through Narnia, as the White Queen reigns.  But when the Pevensie children step through the wardrobe into the frozen land, they bring hope and call forth the lion, Aslan, to fight for Good.   Pauline Baynes' illustration of the lamp post in the snowy forest would make a GREAT holiday card.

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby.  Solveig, her brother who is crown prince, and her older sister are trapped in a fortress at the end of a frozen fjord.  They wait news of their father's victory in battle.   As the winter stretches on, and on, tensions and suspicions grow.  Solveig watches her father's storyteller control the moods of the entrapped warriors and royal family, and stir them up.  And she learns from him.  Treachery is afoot. Can Solveig's new found voice stem the mutiny?  Storytelling and winter- two of my favorite things.

A Certain Small Shepherd by Rebecca Caudill.  A young boy in Appalachia has never spoken, even though the local doctor can find nothing wrong with him.  When he gets to play a shepherd in the school's Christmas pageant, the boy is heartbroken that snow cancels the performance.  Then strangers arrive at his family's poor home.  OK.  I cannot tell you how very, very, very much I love this book.  Period.
Also, I love William Pene Du Bois.  There, my secret crush is revealed.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Books of December - Penguins

Okay, okay.  Penguins are not very holiday-ish.  They don't even live on the right tip of the world.  Most penguins live in a wintery climate.  So, penguins, it is.

Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant.   Full disclosure; I am such a BIG fan of Cynthia Rylant that I liked this book before I saw it.  Then I saw it.  The text is so simple and the penguins are so delightfully cute.  They hurry to get dressed for the snow.  They play in the cold.  They hurry to throw their snowy clothes around.  They rush into the warm kitchen.  That's the whole story.  You still have to SEE the book.   It is a wonder to me that an author can take a handful of words and arrange them to create a winning book.

Penguin's Christmas Wish by Salina Yoon.   Penguin knows that he can't find a Christmas tree where he lives.  He packs up his friends and family and they go in search of a forest.  Hints of earlier Penguin books show up in that forest and so do lovely pine trees, just right for decorating.  Then winter weather strikes!  There is no time for disappointment.  Penguin and his crew find joy in the simplest gifts.
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater.  Here's an oldie but goody!  When a penguin arrives on Mr. Popper's doorstep, he gets another penguin from the zoo to keep the first one company.  Nature takes it course and soon - penguin MANIA!!  A Newbery honor book, Mr. Popper and his penguins have delighted young readers for years.  This chapter book is for good third grade readers and up.  Younger children will enjoy listening to the book.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Books of December - Snow

No snow in our forecast!  The six snowflakes that fell on the last day of October do not count.

Up here in the Northern hemisphere, we expect snow for the holidays.  I remember some very, very, white and deep Christmases.  But that was then, long ago, when (insert your nostalgic holiday memory here).

Number 1 book on snow - ever:
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  This was the very first mainstream book to ever feature a child of color as the main character.  Although that is notable in itself, Keats' artwork and the simplicity of Peter's play raise this book to Book Idol level.  A gazillion stars of loving this book!!

While we are talking about The Snowy Day, Amazon Prime Video has tapped the talents of Angela Bassett and Boys II Men in its new animated version of Keats prize winning book.  Here's the story, on The Mary Sue, with a video clip and everything.   The video should be available now.

Red Sled by Lita Judge.  The book has no words - well, almost no words.  The illustrations of woodland animals "borrowing" a child's sled during the night are so precious.

The Snow Day by Komako Sakai.  A small rabbit is so happy when school is cancelled because of snow.  The falling snow mesmerizes him.  He has so much time to play.  But his father is grounded in another city because of the snow.  Sakai's muted paintings evoke that muffled quiet of a snowy day.  Her palette matches the grey sky and city streets in the snow.

 What is your favorite snowy day book?


Here's what I did yesterday.
1.  Got up super early and took my Mom to the eye doctor for laser surgery.
2.  Finished reading Lockwood and Co. #5, The Creeping Shadow, by Jonathan Stroud.★★★★
3. Read/skimmed A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff.★★★
4.  Hung out wash; did  housework-y things.
5. Went to lunch with Hub and Mom.  (I love these people!!!)
6.  Read the first book in the series, The Extraordinary Journeys of Clockwork Charlie: The Kidnap Plot by Dave Butler.★★★★
7.  Stuff.
8. Ate the wrong things.
9.  Watched some Miss Fisher on Netflix.  They're all reruns.  Sigh.
10.  Read The Best Man by Richard Peck.★★★★★
11. Went to sleep way late.

Reviews to come.  I promise.  I owe you a review of Wolf Hollow, as well.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Books of December - Patricia Polacco

The vibrant colors of Patricia Polacco's artwork brighten the winter months.  Her family background,  Eastern European and Jewish on one side, Irish and Christian on the other side, give her two rich cultures to explore.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats.   Trisha loves Hanukkah and she loves the brightly colored animals her grandfather carves as gifts during the season.  Trisha also loves her neighborhood and sharing her neighbors' traditions.  When she visits her neighbors, she finds that many of them are sick with scarlet fever.  There would be no Christmas for them.  Then Grampa comes up with a wonderful idea.

Uncle Vova's Tree.   Polacco visits her Eastern European background to tell a story about her Uncle Vova and his fantastic Christmas tree.

Christmas Tapestry.   When a pastor's new church in Detroit is damaged by rain, his son helps him find a beautiful tapestry to hang on the wall for Christmas Eve services.  The tapestry has a secret that leads to a real holiday miracle. 

Welcome Comfort.  Foster child, Welcome Comfort, finds it hard to believe in Christmas.  But his new friend, Mr. Hamp, the school custodian, gives Welcome a wonderful surprise.

An Orange for Frankie.  A young boy worries that his father won't return from a trip with the Christmas oranges.  Remember Christmas oranges?  My orange was always a bulge in the toe of my stocking, but Frankie's orange nestles with others on the mantelpiece.  This is another story from Polacco's family.