Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Kilmeny of the Orchard by LM Montgomery

LM Montgomery, while I love her dearly, can be a teensy weensy bit melodramatic. This book is where she showcases all her mad melodramatic skills. 

The book is told from the point of view of the man you see brooding in the background on the cover, which is somewhat unusual for LM Montgomery. Eric Marshall has just graduated from college and is at a loose end before going to work for his millionaire father. A friend needs a break, so asks Eric to substitute teach for him for a month on PEI in a small town named Lindsay. 

And wouldn't you know it, Eric goes and falls in love with the one impossible girl in Lindsay. Kilmeny Gordon has never been out in public and has never spoken. Her mother decided her own personal beauty was a terrible burden, so decided Kilmeny should stay out of the public eye for fear she would realize she is beautiful. There is a complicated backstory to her mother, which you learn through the book. It is sad, dark, and mildly insane. LM Montgomery was never afraid to bring a little dark into her writing. 

Kilmeny can play violin like magic, is incredibly beautiful, and totally innocent due to her lack of contact with the outside world. One thing I don't exactly like is that Kilmeny's worth is definitely dependent on her beauty. Eric is a millionaires son. Falling in love with a poor girl from a rural PEI town is not really part of his millionaire father's life plan for Eric. Eric tells his father and anyone else who questions his choice of girl "Just wait until you see Kilmeny." Not interact with her and enjoy her wit, but just observe her beauty; that will justify my choice of woman. Kilmeny has a lot of great characteristics, so she is not some vapid beauty. Eric appreciates her musical talent, her wit, her intelligence, her pleasure in life, but it is her beauty that he keeps mentioning. 

There are occasions when stereotypes are brought into LM Montgomery's works, and this is one of them. Kilmeny has an adopted brother-ish sort of person who happens to be Italian. The poor guy is forever being irrational, brooding, and passionate. Because that is how Italians are apparently. At least in 1910's PEI. 

So Kilmeny of the Orchard is melodramatic, somewhat shallow, and stereotypical. If you read this book with a modern sensibility, you will likely roll your eyes. However, most people come to this book after Anne or Emily and already adore LM Montgomery, so they will love this book based on that fact alone. And really, for this time and in this place, the sensibilities in this book are pretty representative.

And guess what? I love this book. I can't take it seriously, but this was one of my first ever LM Montgomery books. (It just so happens this is her shortest novel.) I listened to Anne when I was very little, so loved her, then read this when I was too young to tackle of book of Anne's length, but wanted more LM Montgomery. So I love this book for sentimental reasons. Plus, I was much more melodramatic as a nine year old or whatever I was when I read this. So I probably didn't roll my eyes at all. 

There is poetry in this book, lyrical descriptions of PEI in May, and an overall happy ending. And, it is by LM MONTGOMERY, for crying out loud. So you can do a lot worse. Just don't think you will find LM Montgomery's clever, biting wit or hilarious situations. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery

I have had this post sitting around for awhile, needing words. Like two years. Turns out that writing about one of your favorite books in ALL THE WORLD is difficult. I mean, where do you begin? The writing. The setting. The characters. The timelessness. The Canadianness. The marvelousness.  And quotes--LM Montgomery's writing is so marvelous it just demands to be quoted. But where to start? 

There is simply too much. 

However, this week, I have been enjoying the #12daysofannestagram pictures up. So fun! 

So I decided to get it together and do my own week of Anne. Or rather LM Montgomery. 

There are a lot of very beautiful editions of Anne of Green Gables nowadays. Every once in awhile, I am tempted to buy one. 

Image result for anne of green gables book Image result for anne of green gables book Image result for anne of green gables book 

But I am a sucker for sets. I don't want a beautifully illustrated book and 6 other books that don't match the first. 

For sheer color, this set is hard to beat.  
Annex8These are my current favorites. These are by Elly McKay, a Canadian artist. It is all cut paper that she arranges just so and photographs. Or at least that is what I understand of her process. That Rainbow Valley cover!! And Windy Poplars and House of Dreams. I just really want these ones so I can look at them more closely. 

When it really comes down to it, I kind of like the one I first read, this orange-y colored 1980's edition. Familiarity. And I happen to already own the entire set. Some day when I become rich, I might buy a beautiful set. For now, I only glance at the cover and dive into the words, so the cover isn't overly important. But having beautiful things is important. So someday.... 

Still, I wonder if I will always associate this beat up, unbeautiful cover with the delight and rapture of a first time reading of Anne....

Anne is delightful. She is fierce. Imaginative. Delighted with life. Longing for all the right things. Sees all the right things. 

There are so many different reasons to love Anne. Her fierce independence, her determination, her imagination, her ability to see magic where everyone else sees the prosaic, her passion, her poetry, her fanciful fairy world.... So much to love! I love Anne the most fiercely for her ability to see magic where everyone else sees the prosaic. 

Anne loves the world around her. She can see beauty and mystery in walking across a cow pasture. I love, love, love that about her. Because that is how I want to see the world. I want to be amazed by all the incredibleness of everyday things. Because how marvelous to be delighted by the things that are right around you! How dreary to have to travel great distances to be amazed. I am all for traveling great distances too. But I expect to be just as entranced by the new place as I was at home. 

If you can find wonder in the way the sunlight hits the drops of dew on the front lawn in the early morning or the endless shades of blue in a ripening blueberry, life will never be mundane. 

Anne carried her own bit of wonder with her. She could pull it out at will to escape from her hard childhood or wander into it in daydreams to enhance the present. I love Anne for teaching me to see the poetry in the way the light falls through the maple leaves onto the lawn and to thrill to the wildness of birch leaves turned upside down and silver just before a storm. 

Anne of Green Gables one hundred and ten years old this month. And it still feels fresh to me. Sure, there are some outdated references to heathens and the French Canadians, but mostly, it is the story of a young girl making the best of the difficult hand she was dealt. The story of a young girl finding the beauty and potential in every situation. 

And I will always, always think of Anne when I pick apple blossoms and carry them inside. Of Marilla grumbling about the petals falling everywhere while Anne is in raptures about the magnificence and generosity of apple trees in giving us blossoms so freely and lavishly. 

Oh Anne. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Buttercup Days by AA Milne

                                                                                    --from Now We Are Six

I love this poem. There are poems of AA Milne's that I love more, but this one is so sweet and buttercups are just coming out now and... I happen to love how "fist of her's" rhymes so nice with "Christopher's." It probably isn't a terribly sophisticated rhyme, but for some reason, it delights me. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall! I just adore her pictures! I also adore lighthouse keepers. 

There is always an element of man vs. nature in these stories. I happen to adore them as well. 

(I am just very adoring today apparently.)

Guess what? I adore a good cross section! 


Lonely lighthouse keeper life

Those waves!!!

And then life wasn't as lonely.

This book talks mostly about the things and people that come to or by the lighthouse. 

The lighthouse as a place of observation. 

Circles play a big part in living in a lighthouse. 

Walking the floors before delivery.

AHHH!! Isn't this super le duper sweet and cozy? 

(See? circles again.)

Northern lights

And then, inevitably, the hand of progress made his job redundant. So they moved to the mainland. 


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Cowboy Andy by Edna Walker Chandler & Illus by E. Raymond Kintsler

This is one of those easy reader books that I remember from my childhood--the easy reader book heyday of the late 1980's. 

Pretty sure this was the first book my sister ever read. It was also the first book my son ever read. 

It has staying power. At least in my family. 

The problems in easy reader books are straightforward. 

Andy is a city boy, but wants to be a cowboy. 

His dad writes a handy cowboy friend to take on Andy and make him into a cowboy. 

We have a ready villain in Cook. He is determined the entire thing will be a disaster. 

A little conflict is so important in moving easy reader plots along.  

Andy gets to Sam's Ranch. There is no fooling around with ranch names here. It belongs to Sam, so it is Sam's ranch. No reason to complicate things, folks. 

Cook's scowl. 

Man to man chats under the full moon. 

Andy setting off to be a cowboy. 

Now was the time to show Cook that he could be a cowboy.

You show 'em, Andy!

There are several necessary disasters and setbacks in his quest where Cook says things like "See? I told you so. Andy will never be a cowboy." And finally, Andy wins the calf riding event at the rodeo. And Cook concedes that Andy is a really honest to goodness cowboy. 

See? Life might seem complex, but it isn't. An easy reader can sort it in 60 short, picture filled pages. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Bringing the Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals & Illus by Patrice Barton

Oh May and June. All those dandelion, apple blossom, and lilac bouquets. The discoveries and finds that were hidden under the melting snow. The wild asparagus discovered on morning walks and kept in a vase on the counter until it is sizzled up for supper. The dirt and sand covering the hallway floor. The fresh air blowing in after a winter of tightly closed windows. The new mown grass tracked in after dew covered exploration... 

We are bringing the outside in. 

This sweet book follows four kids through the four seasons.

The text is rhythmic and simple, perfect keeping tiny listeners attention.

I am not entirely sure if they are all family, but they look like it. Which is pretty cool. You don't see mixed families very often in books. 





All those treasures and pictures and stories and memories...

I adore kids loving the outside.

Mommy's lap and pictures and stories of outside. 

Can life get better? I submit that it cannot. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

The thing about life and days in June

This past month, since we got back from Sweden, I have not been able to live life with gusto. Throughout my teen/adult life I have struggled mildly with depression. It is mild enough that careful eating, sleeping, and adequate exercise can keep it from overtaking my life. Pretty sure my current lack of joie de vivre is just due to a fabulous, busy month (I adore May and apple blossoms and family and lilacs and impromptu cousin trips!). 

In all that busyness*  I haven't been sleeping, eating, and exercising as I should. It is boring to have to be disciplined and regimented. But I need to be. Because otherwise, in a best case scenario, I just want to curl up in bed with a good book and let my house fall down around my ears. Not an adulting win.

*(that IS a word, it is not misspelled. Just in case you were wondering. The first day of my current job, someone told me I misspelled "business" on a flyer that was dispersed to the entire school. I freaked out and did some googling to find out I was right. However, does it actually matter if you are right if everyone thinks you are wrong? Probably not. But I sat quietly in  the moral high ground while everyone in the school thought the new librarian was a terrible speller AND a terrible proofreader.) 

In the process of wanting to lay in bed reading books, I just couldn't work up any enthusiasm for blogging. So much WORK. I mean, you have to decide what book to take a picture of, choose where to take the pictures, get the lighting vaguely right, decide what pages to take pictures of... THEN, on top of all of that deciding, you need a cord thingy to connect to your camera or phone to the computer and then you have to look at the pictures and edit and decide and... Too much. So I just didn't.  

Yesterday, after combing the library book sale for books to giveaway to students this summer (I got a fantastic haul!! 10 boxes full of books for only $25. Score!) I found this book:

 It seemed inspired.

So I spent a good hour with my current book like this: 

And then felt much refreshed and made this:

It was yummy. 

And then I curled up in bed to finish my book.

I am still not running on full zest, but let me tell you folks, I see a comeback in the near future! 

We all need a wasted day here and there. Take it from me.