Monday, September 29, 2014

Picture Book Picks of the Week

 My Pick

Title:  The Quiet Book
Author:  Deborah Underwood
Illustrator:  Renata Liwska
Review:  This book is incredibly adorable.  It begins "There are many kinds of quiet:" and then proceeds to list a few of the many different "quiets" children experience.  For example there is: coloring in the lines quiet, hide and seek quiet, first snowfall quiet, sleeping sister quiet...the list goes on and on.  I am inspired to write my own book quiet book only from the perspective of a mother.

Sam's Pick

Title:  More
Author: I. C. Springman
Illustrator:  Brian Lies
Review:  This book is so wonderfully simple.  There is only 45 words in it total!  Most children's book authors struggle to keep their stories under 500 words!  This author must know what kids like, because Samuel loves this one.  He asks me to read it again and again and again.  I certainly don't mind obliging because the illustrations are beautiful and it's nice and short!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What's in Your Gunny Sack?

In Ann Tyler's novel "Breathing Lessons" there is a character who believed that when he died and went to heaven all the things he lost in his lifetime would be given to him in a gunny sack.  Things like: the red sweater his mother knitted for him that he left on the bus, or the diamond ring his sweetheart failed to return when she broke off their engagement.  I read this and thought "What a great writing prompt!  What will be in my gunny sack when I die?"  Here is my answer.

  • My white teddy bear. The first stuffed animal I ever loved. I remember crying myself to sleep over his loss.
  • The beautiful scarf my dad bought me from Denmark. I left it in the 3D theatre at the Cincinnati zoo and never went back and get it.
  • The umbrella my sister Brooke gave me for my birthday.
  • The black jacket I loved that I left at the Baldwin Farms pumpkin patch.
  • Our Australian shepherd puppy Dance. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard in my life as I did when I saw her body lying dead in the snow after getting hit by a truck.
  • My brother Michael’s old baby blanket that he gave to my son Samuel when he was first born. I left it on a bench at the Louisville airport.
  • The diaper bag that my sociology professors gave at the baby shower for Samuel. We left it on top of the car when we were traveling and it fell along the highway somewhere in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • The disc golf driver my husband gave me as a birthday present. I lost it on the Berea disc golf course and someone was even kind enough to call and tell me they found it.  I arranged to pick it up, but for some reason I never ended up going. 
  • The wedding band I lost after fiddling with it in the dark while singing lullabies to Sam. I looked for it in the morning, but never found it.
This list is short but it was painful for me to write.  I guess that means it's an excellent writing prompt.  I was forced to recollect things from my past that I regret losing and tried to forget about.  I found it interesting that the majority of the things on this list were gifts given to me by people I love dearly.  It's funny how remembering the loss of little things like scarves and diaper bags should hurt me.  Sometimes it's the small things that hurt you the most.

I would love to hear what other people would put in their gunny sacks.  Name a few items right off the top of your head. You may be surprised by the memories that pop up first.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Picture Book Picks of the Week

My Pick

Author:  Drew Daywalt
Illustrator:  Oliver Jeffers
Review:  Okay.  As someone who worked her crayons to death as a kid I can especially appreciate this book.  The author who came up with this idea was a genius.  I wonder what my crayons would have said to me when I was little.  Probably they would have told me to stop leaving them out in the sun!

Sam's Pick

Author:  Audrey Wood
Illustrator:  Mark Teague
Review:  I saw this book at the library and it immediately triggered some old memories from childhood.  I'd forgotten about this book, but as I flipped through the pages it all came rushing back to me.  I loved this book.  So you can imagine my delight when Samuel chose this book as a favorite as well!  I can't imagine a kid out there who wouldn't love this book.  The illustrations are bright and wonderful.  The story is magical.  It's the kind of book that turns the gears to one's imagination.  If Sam hadn't picked this as his book of the week then I certainly would have because it is fantastic.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Happiness is...

A box of hot freshly delivered pizza.
Sprinting across the yard with my dog to chase a squirrel she will never catch.
The warmth of the sun against my bare shoulders.
Discovering an old picture book in the library that triggers old forgotten memories.
Feeling pretty when I look in the mirror.
The weight of my son’s head against my chest.
Strangers who are unexpectedly kind.
A fistful of cool, moist sand.
Movie nights and beer.
A smooth wooden paintbrush between my fingertips
Pretending to tango in the kitchen with my husband.
The honking of Canada geese flying above me toward the setting sun.

                    ~ By Heather Dent

Monday, September 15, 2014

Picture Book Picks of the Week

My Pick

Title:  Chester's Masterpiece
Author and Illustrator:  Melanie Watt
Review:  This is probably the funniest picture book I have ever read.  It had me laughing out loud right in the middle of the library.  Samuel put down the toys he was playing with and sat down with me on the floor in the book aisle and we read it together.  It's so funny.  Seriously everyone needs to read this book.  Adults will love it.  Kids will love it.  Chester is quite a character.  Imagine my delight when I turned back to the bookshelf and discovered that there was a whole series of Chester books!  We took them all home with us of course and enjoyed every single one of them.

Sam's Pick of the Week

Title:  Dinosaur Roar!
Author and Illustrator:  Paul and Henrietta Stickland
Review:  We had a lot of favorites this week, but when I laid out a bunch of the books and asked Samuel to choose his favorite he didn't even hesitate.  "Dinosaur Roar" wins for sure!  When I asked him what his favorite page was he said, "All of the pages!"  The book is simple, rhyming, and catchy.  No wonder Samuel likes it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Things I don't post on Facebook

I value honesty, but when it comes to facebook I sometimes feel like I'm lying somehow because I mostly seem to be post the happy positive things in my life, thus deceiving people that my life is all sunshine and roses.  Well I just want everyone that I am not perfect and neither is my life.  I certainly have my ups and downs and I usually tend to document the ups and avoid the downs.  But today I'm going to allow myself to be vulnerable.  Here glimpse of the not so happy things in my life right now.  I'm not looking for pity.  I'm just trying to be honest.

I don't post pictures of...

  • My parking ticket
  • My son, Sam, throwing a fit when he can't watch Dragon Tales
  • The pee puddles my dog Ginny leaves on the kitchen floor.
  • Selfies of me shaving my mustache in the bathroom mirror. (yes I grow a few hairs on my upper lip)

I don't post statuses like:

  • I HATE football season!!! I just want to watch movies and play games with my husband, but he is having an affair with football (particularly with the OU Sooners.)  Can you blame me for getting jealous? 
  • I seem to spend half my life looking for things. I feel like I have Alzheimer's or something. Yesterday I found my camera in the kitchen food cabinet and the book I'm currently reading in my underwear drawer!  I cannot blame Sam for these misplacements.
  • I wish I wasn't so addicted to facebook. It's pathetic the way I hover over the computer waiting for people to like or comment on my stuff.
  • The other day Samuel knocked a little two year olds toys away from him just to be mean and make him cry. I just wanted to walk away and pretend he wasn't my son. 
  • Sometimes I feel unreasonable contempt for the world and everyone in it.

Whew!  Glad I got that off my chest!  This post is a bit of a downer so let me just say that most of the time I love my life and I love my family and I love this mad, crazy world we live in.  I just want everyone to know that I have my moments.  We all have them.  That's what makes us human.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Picture Book Picks of the Week

 My Pick of the Week

Title:  Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
Author and Illustrator:  Simms Taback
Review:  This book is terrific.  The story is about a Jewish man whose overcoat gets old and worn so he turns it into a jacket, then vest, etc, etc.  It inspires one to be resourceful while simultaneously learning about Jewish culture.

Sam's Pick of the Week

Title: Looking for a Moose
Author:  Phyllis Root
Illustrator:  Randy Cecil
Review:  Samuel wants me to read this book over and over again.  I wouldn't mind only this book gets me all tongue tied!  I was reminded of Dr. Seuss's "Fox in Socks."  Otherwise it's great!  The illustrations are unique and eye catching, and obviously kids love it.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Morning Tranquility

Prisms in the window
Rainbows on the floor
Dishes on the counter
From the night before.

Muffins in the oven
Coffee in the pot
Sleepy kitten nestled
In a sunny spot.

Tulips on the table
Friendly smile at me,
And outside on the porch
Sings a chickadee

With slippers on my feet
And curlers in my hair
I grab a book of poems
And curl upon a chair

Peace is hard to come by
But it is often found
In the morning sunrise
And dewdrops on the ground.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Picks of the Week

I've moved on from the "R" section of the library to the "S's".  Here are mine and Sam's two favorites from this week.

My Pick
Book Title: Where's Walrus
Author & Illustrator:  Stephen Savage
Review:  This wordless picture relies fully on it's illustrations.  Usually I like picture books that I can actually read aloud, but this one is the exception.  The walrus is so incredibly adorable and the illustrations are so simple and unique that I can't help falling in love.  

Sam's Pick of the Week

Title: There are Cats in this Book
Author & Illustrator: Vivian Schwarz

Review:  Utterly delightful interactive book .  Inside the book are three adorable cats who tell the kids things to do like “turn the page!” or “Open the box.”  Samuel just could not get enough of this book!  The book is cleverly written in a style similar to a cat’s behavior, distracted and playful.  It’s perfect.