Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. ~Anthony J. D'Angelo 
i've got sunshine on a cloudy day

Admittedly, I am often spoiled by the weather we enjoy here in Southern California: even though it's late February, on my morning walk yesterday I was enjoying clear skies, sunshine, temperatures in the high 70's, along with the sounds of dogs barking, church bells chiming (in my neighborhood, yes, this is true!) and lots of birds chirping in the trees to keep me company.

I suppose I should blog about books that are relative to the season most of you are experiencing right now, but once home from my sun-kissed walk, I just couldn't bring myself to recommend picture books about cold, winter, or snow (although you're welcome to read about some of my favorites here).

I've got Lent on my mind and I really wanted to write about springtime!  Lent is a time for gladness, not despondency...even if you still see snow on the ground, the church fathers talk of the Fast as a spiritual springtime:

The lenten spring shines forth,
the flower of repentance!
Let us cleanse ourselves from all evil,
crying out to the Giver of Light:
Glory to You, O Lover of man!
-from Cheesefare Wednesday Vespers

Well, I've arrived at a happy medium: I've decided to stick with the topic of weather in general, along with some Lenten food for thought thrown in...

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ~John Ruskin  

Whether you've got rain, snow, sun, or cold in your part of the world, I think this book covers just about everything!  (And it's guaranteed to have you and your kids laughing)  First published in 1978, it's CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, by Judi Barrett, with illustrations by Ron Barrett.

Grandpa tells a bedtime story about the town of Chewandswallow, where instead of snow, wind, or rain, the citizens get a different kind of weather that falls from the sky three times a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You'll find helicopters attempting to lift a giant pancake off of a school and enormous slices of pizza draping the houses and streets...while a storm of hamburgers blows in.

And no one is too worried about the weather, until it takes a turn for the worse — the portions of food (such as donuts) get larger and larger and fall faster and faster, until everyone in the town fears for their lives. They all need to think of a plan, and they need one fast! With teamwork, smarts, and some extra-large bagels, Chewandswallow residents are able to save themselves from the torrential weather.

A cheerful approach to gearing up for a science lesson about weather, or just a fun read aloud, this book is perfect for ages 5-8.

And with Lent is starting, this book might also start a discussion about whether too much of a good thing is always the best thing!  Dr. Philip Mamalakis says, "Lent is a time that we are invited to change our lifestyle in preparation for Easter...a time for families to reorient themselves toward God".  This can be helped through choices from a "Lenten buffet" that will nourish our souls: fasting, prayer, reading Scripture and the lives of the Saints, helping others (almsgiving), and attending church more.  So turn off your television and enjoy God's creation!

On cable TV they have a weather channel - 24 hours of weather. We had something like that where I grew up. We called it a window. ~Dan Spencer

Good Lenten Reading:
The Tale of Three Trees, by Angela Elwell Hunt

The Book of Jonah, by Niko Chocheli

The Life of St. Brigid, by Jane Meyer

Saint Patrick, Enlightener of the Irish, by Zachary Lynch

The Blackbird's Nest, St. Kevin of Ireland, by Jenny Schroedel

Song of the Swallows, by Leo Politi

Saints: Lives and Illuminations by Ruth Sanderson

Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Alexander Schmemann

The Lenten Spring by Thomas Hopko

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