Friday, March 24, 2017

All Good Gifts by Jane Montgomery Campbell and Tasha Tudor

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,
For all His love. 

                                                         --Jane Montgomery Campbell

Daffodils, spring breezes, corgies, babies with big sisters, birds.... This picture is delightful! 

May spring blow all your cobwebs out! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett & Illus by Adam Rex

This is a crazy, kid friendly look at the world of book publishing! 

It makes me laugh.

Mac Barnett and Adam Rex are both big names in the kids book world and this collaboration did not disappoint. 

How does a book begin? As an idea!

Ideas can come even when you are arm wrestling a tiger!

His editor always eats fancy lunches. Which apparently include nibbling on roses. 

I get a big kick out of this editor.

The editor sends back his first draft. He sends a second draft. The editor asks why didn't you do what I told you? And this conversation ensues. 

And I said well let's agree to disagree. 
And she said let's agree with me. 
And I said you're not the boss of me. 
 This is one of my favorite parts. I would imagine this is how a lot of writers feel about their editors. Although at the end of the book, they are always thanking their "fabulous editors" so maybe not. 

The script crossed the country a lot. 
Until most of the United States of America was crossed out. 
Many Americans were not happy about this. 

And then the illustrator comes into play. An illustrator who was taking naps and throwing cards in a hat instead of drawing the book.

I love how outrageous this book is, while also giving kids a real perspective on the publishing world. 

Some of the illustrations are photographs of illustrations, which is fun.

The silliness of sending the boook to Malaysia to be printed.

Dumping in the content. 

The book is seen by astronauts, left behind by plundering pirates who do not read, lost by a truck driver and a poker playing grandmother before it finally gets to the shelf in a bookstore where it waits...

...for you, the reader. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Miss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler

Elsie got this in the mail last fall from the Imagination Library (I love that thing!) and she glommed onto it with passion. This is another one of those books that could be call or spring, but I am calling this one for spring. 

Miss Maple is a teensy weensy woman. Wandering through buttercups as tall as trees... 

On a bright August Morning, Miss Maple flied home. She has hurried ahead of the flock to get ready for her guests. 

It is a blowy August day. Isn't her little house adorable? 

And here comes the flock with her visitors--all the seeds that missed the spring planting. 

I love pictures like this. I am sure there is a lovely term for it, but I don't know it. 

Miss Maple washes all the seeds. 

Then she takes them on tours so they can learn about the world. 

Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small.

Chrysanthemum hot air balloons! 

Winter bring neighbors

To sit around the fire with the seeds and tell them stories. 

When spring rains come, Miss Maple tells the seeds it will soon be time to go forth and grow. 

Finally in May, she has taught them everything she can and she sends them off in her maple helicopters. 

So magical!!!

Miss Maple has given them guidance and love, and now her part in their story has come to an end. They say their good-byes with sweet memories past and bright futures ahead. 

And Miss Maple rests before setting out to gather more seeds to cherish and nurture. 

So sweet and bursting with imagination and love and sweetness! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Brave Janet Reachfar by Jane Duncan & Illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick

I love, love, love this book. Scotland, farm, sheep, loyal sheepdog, extended family, cranky grannies... Seriously, people! So lovely!

 Since it is about a late spring snowstorm, I wanted to post it on one of my Stella snowdays (not to brag, but I had two full snowdays and one half day. Mini-vacation in March! Whoop, whoop!), but blogger wouldn't cooperate with me. Boo! But I took that picture while it was still snowing on Wednesday. Our outside looked like that for a full 48 hours. Non-stop. I do enjoy a dramatic snow storm! As long as I am snug and cozy...

Mairi Hedderwick writes the Katie Morag books (which I have apparently never had on my blog. For shame!) and since I loved the Katie Morag books I had to find out if she wrote any more. And that is how I discovered that she illustrated the Janet Reachfar books. And then I liked the Janet Reachfar books so much, I had to investigate Jane Duncan, which is how I ended up winning an eBay lot of 14 Jane Duncan books for adults. (I haven't read them yet, but I have high hopes for them.) This is why I am tripping over stacks of books all the time. 

And I don't have enough bookcases...  (hint, hint, Justin!)

The pictures are part of the reason I love it so, but the story is just as charming. Janet lives on the Reachfar farm, so everyone calls her Janet Reachfar. 

Daffodils on the windowsill, in a blue bowl while the snow falls on a backdrop of mountains. 

You had me at daffodils on the windowsill in a blue bowl.

As soon as it starts snowy, Granny becomes "Herself" and starts telling everyone that she told them it was too early in the year to put the sheep in the far pasture.

"...but none of you ever listen to me. You know best all the time."

Janet thought that everybody at Reachfar was always listening to Herself all the time. 

"Herself" is what Tom and George the hired hands call Granny when she gets all high and mighty about something. 

I love Tom and George.

So Tom and George go to bring the sheep back. Janet and Fly, her dog go outside to see the snow.

And hang around the barn. 

Tom and George made up a little poem--Ahem

When Herself is on-about
The Three of us are better out.

My brother used to say "Time to go to the shop" (or barn) whenever one of us girls started "emoting" (as he called) it at anyone. 

Apparently this is a time honored tradition.

Aren't these pictures lovely? 

Yes they are.

Janet thinks of the poor sheep in the east pasture who will have to wait until Tom and George get back to be let into the home farm. The east pasture is forbidden, but Janet decides she won't actually be going into the east pasture, she will just be opening the gate. So she opens the gate and sends Fly out to bring the sheep in. 

But there is one fewer sheep than there should be. How awesome is that?! I LOVE that this little girl knows how many sheep should be in the east pasture. Involvement and connection to the world around her. 

Anyway, there is one fewer sheep. So Fly leads her to the sheep left behind. Janet discovers the very first lamb of the season and barbed wire wrapped around the sheep's hoof. 

Janet sends Fly to fetch Tom and George while she huddles up next to the sheep with the lamb tucked in her coat.

I want a Fly.

Tom and George to the rescue!

Janet asks them to not tell Granny she was in the East Pasture. 

What East Pasture? Did you see an East pasture, Tom?

I love Tom and George.

Oh, Scotland's skies!

Confronting Herself.

But Herself quickly turns back into Granny. 

A granny who 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Road Home by Katie Cotton & Illus by Sarah Jacoby

I am just going to gush about this book for a little. Do you know when you hear a lot about a book and you buy it with high expectations only to not be so impressed when you get it? Well that happens to me occasionally. BUT NOT THIS TIME. 

We currently live in a single wide trailer with four kids. Not the ideal book accumulating environment when we are bursting at the seams already (that house can't get built fast enough!!) But in a moment of self-indulgence I ignored all of that and bought this book. 

I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I read this, then read it out loud to Justin exclaiming all the while about how awesome this part is and just listen to this!! and then stood there hugging it and then rereading it, grinning like a fool all the while.  

I just can't help it. I still feel happy about owning this book. 

It is really a fall book, but it is also about surviving winter and the hope of spring. And I couldn't wait until fall to tell you all how gloriously delightful this book is.

Elsie and Gilbert now refer to this as the "snuggly" book, which is a pretty good adjective for it. 

(Oh and ignore the graphite smugs on my little table top. My kids got a little over-zealous with the pencil sharpener and dumped a lot of shavings on the table. They won't come out for some reason.) 

Fly with me to far away, 
where sun still warms the ground.
For winter's in the dying light
and in that windswept sound. 

It is amazingly poetical, the pictures are lyrical (can pictures be lyrical?), and the overall sentiment is bang up awesome. 

Basically, this story involves woodland creatures getting ready for winter, a mommy and a baby together. The mother is teaching the baby about their world and how to be safe.  

Build with me with sticks of straw
and leaves from nearby lands.
Curl them high above our heads-
forget your aching hands.

For safety is a precious place,
a place to call our own.
This road is hard, this road is long,
this road that leads us home. 


First off, I love all those late summer flowers. And safety is a precious thing is....well a favorite line of mine now. 

I love that this book illustrates the work it takes to build safety and security. We forget that sometimes in our pampered, western lifestyles. This world is not effortlessly safe. 

We have wolves!

Hunt with me through light and shade
and here the woodland cry
We've claws to grip and jaws to bite
and prey is close nearby.

Booklist and Kirkus both mentioned the unusual aspect of including such a dangerous animal in amongst the bunnies, mice, and birds. I love that the wolf was not made inherently evil. 

For hunger is a burning thing
that settles like a stone.

This road is hard, this road is long, 
this road that leads us home. 


Even the wolf, that threat to so many animals safety, is seeking his own version of safety--safety from hunger.

Who knew brambles could be so cute? 

Danger can be so close to us.

But eventually, there is safety and security until spring. 

This road is hard, this road is long, 
but we are not alone.
For you are here and I'm with you...

...and so this road is home.


This book is like coming inside after walking through a sudden winter snowstorm for twenty minutes.