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)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Growing Family Memories in a Story Book Garden

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, how does your garden grow?  With story books, and alphabets, and fairytales all in a row!
My husband and I are finally tackling our backyard landscaping, and embarking on what I'm going to optimistically call "an adventure in gardening".  
There are so many options - should we do a raised bed, potager, vegetable, rose, herb, wild flower, fairy, storybook, or alphabet garden? Did I lose you with those last three?

I was on the internet this afternoon looking for design ideas, and I came across several "Theme Gardens" for kids.  Here are some of my favorites...

Alphabet Garden

How about an Alice in Wonderland Garden???
This cute statuary is available from the Victorian Trading Company
Available in white or stone.
And you have to have a bird feeder made from a vintage tea cup!

Peter Rabbit's Garden is totally doable -
There's even a little jacket and tam o'shanter!

My garden will have to have a Cinderella pumpkin vine, like this beauty! [source]

I might even allocate a little corner of my yard for a miniature Fairy Garden,
like this one with succulents in a shallow pot (I took this photo at a local nursery)...
or this one, planted in a old metal tub...
...or in a bird bath!

Go here for more theme garden inspiration ideas.
And don't forget these fun garden-themed books like Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure, from my past post.
Sigh. We hired a landscaper to help us, but we have so much to decide!  Stay tuned!  Any advice?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

School May Be Out, But Reading is Not!!

Summer colds are the worst, and I've got a doozy!  So this will be a quick post.  I thought I'd share some of my past summer reading recommendations and also give you a quick photo update on my "Bookish" space at the Brick Basement...

Isn't this antique school desk charming???  It's the perfect place for my daughter and me to display some of our fun vintage children's books...

...and finds, like this "Daniel Tiger" hand puppet from the '60's (remember him from Mister Rogers?)...and these cute Ex Libris labels.

Say "good-bye" to school for the summer, but not to books!
Have you come up with any good summer reading strategies for your kids?  It's helpful if you can use resources like Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook and William Kilpatrick's Books That Build Character to plan fun, engaging book lists for your kids to choose from.

Or, for quick reference, click on the links below to check out a few of my past posts: 

"I'm Hooked" (Best Opening Lines from Kids' Books - Part II) and Part I

Make this the Summer You Read Aloud J. M. Barrie's PETER PAN

Dragon Tales

Take a Trip to the Beach in a Book!

Lessons Learned: Looking Back on Harry Potter

Books for Children About Friendship

Chapter Books My Daughter Loved

Good Books For Teen Girls

Chapter Books Even Busy Boys Will Come Inside For

Good Books For Pre-Teen Boys

Good Books For Teen Boys

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hugs and Kisses for Military Fathers

The two books I'll be highlighting today are perfect for Father's Day, but especially for military dads and families - to whom I dedicate this post.
As the daughter of a man who travelled a lot because of his tireless vocation in church ministry,  I can relate to children of military dads. Their fathers are missed terribly during prolonged and frequent absences, but are greeted with insurmountable joy at their homecomings!

My own son-in-law, having recently joined the Naval Reserves, was away from my daughter and grandson and his family for three months during Boot Camp.  Their happy reunion was full of tears and smiles, as well as relief and exhaustion, after an acknowledgement of hard work, sacrifice, and a job well done was showered upon the graduates at their Pass and Review ceremony when Boot Camp was finally over.
Any parent who travels for work, or reunites with their family at the end of a long workday, can relate to these emotions in microcosm - so I think all parents and young children will love these book recommendations!

The first book is The Fathers Are Coming Home, by Margaret Wise Brown.  She wrote it between 1942-43 for WWII soldiers, but it was only recently published (2010). The illustrations are by Steven Savage.  I blogged about this book in the past, here. (My little grandson actually gave this book to his Daddy after Boot Camp graduation, for an early Father's Day gift.)
I absolutely love Savage's linoleum block print illustrations in this story that begins with fathers coming home at nightfall - fish fathers, bug fathers, dog fathers, bird fathers, and snail fathers (my grandson's favorite), to name a few - and ends with a boy's father, who is a sailor, coming home from sea.

The second book I'm sharing with you today is Catching Kisses (2103) by Amy Gibson.  My daughter found this book recently at the library, and we both were reminded of The Father's Are Coming Home.  We fell in love with Maria Van Lieshout's wonderfully detailed silhouette illustrations.
This story is about kisses and their journey all across America - your children are bound to recognize a few of the places that the kisses land in!  "At any given moment, someone, somewhere is blowing a kiss.  And somewhere, someone is catching it..."
Hints are given in the lyrical text (but there's also a map with locations on the back end page): "Some are velvet as peach fuzz. Some tickle like whiskers. Everyday, everywhere, kisses are flying..."
Kisses are meant to be caught and when you catch them, they stay with you always!
So whether you're a father at home, or afar, "Happy Father's Day!"

Friday, June 13, 2014

Vintage Collectible Art in Books - Part 2

Are you ready for Richard Scarry's drawings of OZ, and some wonderfully whimsical art from Maurice Sendak?  Both of these illustrators shared June birthdays (Scarry's was on the 5th, and Maurice Sendak's was the 6th), and I just had to share a few more lovely illustrations (mentioned here in my past post) from The Best In Children's Books - a vintage 42-volume set published between 1957 and 1961.
Richard Scarry's cover illustration of Baum's With Dorothy in Oz (Volume 40) brought memories of childhood read aloud time with my mom flooding back!

The pages of these treasured volumes hold wonderful story collections and original artwork that (in some cases) can only be found between the covers of these books!

Such is the case for the amazing original illustrations I've posted today, starting with Richard Scarry's vision of OZ...

From Maurice Sendak, I'd like to share these gems found in Volume 31. Sendak's illustrations accompanied "Windy Wash Day and Other Poems" by Dorothy Aldis...

"...perhaps the most intriguing part of the series is the illustrators. Their names are not given on the table of contents page, but are found only on the title page of the individual story. Because of this lack of credit, most of the illustrations done in this series are not mentioned in bibliographies of the artists' work. Thanks to the efforts of art director Diana Klemin, many now-famous illustrators did some of their earliest work in this series, including Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats, Peter Spier, Barbara Cooney, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, and even Andy Warhol...." [source: de Grummond Children's Literature Collection - read more here]

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Happy Birthday to Richard Scarry, Along With a Poem For June!

June 5, 1919 - April 30, 1994

The Richard Scarry illustration and "June" poem are from "Merry Months of the Year" by Scarry's wife, Patricia.  Formerly Patricia Murphy, she was a writer of children's textbooks who met Richard Scarry during a collaboration when he was a textbook illustrator.  They married in 1948.

I came across the poem in a large format book of collected works by Richard Scarry that I couldn't resist picking up from our local library bookstore yesterday for my grandson. Richard Scarry's Things to Know is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

This book has all my grandson's favorites, including Chipmunk's ABC, Colors, The Polite ElephantI Am A Bunny, and lots more! It's so nice to post about it here today on my blog in honor of the anniversary of this very BUSY man's birthday!