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)




Monday, May 2, 2022

LETTUCE GET IN TROUBLE


Lettuce Get in Trouble
is a brand new picture book that gives kids a glimpse into the life of a small lady who had a big love for design, practicality, and problem solving. 

Meet Sara Little Turnbull, "a troublemaker of the best sort", whose favorite question was: "WHY?" 

Sara Little was a small dynamo (under five feet tall!) and is a wonderful example for young designers and thinkers. When I started exploring her bio I was immediately reminded of the THE INCREDIBLES diminutive costume designer Edna "E" Mode and her inspiration, Hollywood designer Edith Head.

The Center for Design Books is launching a children's book series called Sara Little Trouble Maker, which is based on Sara and her design work. This first book, Lettuce Get in Trouble, is available May 17, 2022. Author Linda Kuo and illustrator Mariana Rio have done a fabulous job in making Sara come to life in lively text and fun retro illustrations for children... 

Young readers will learn how Sara's wise mother teaches her to look at beauty in the shapes and colors of food as they cook in their modest Brooklyn kitchen. Later, when Sara is grown up and working in New York, we see that her gift for observation helps her answer lots of questions at the start of her career in product development.  

One of the most pressing problems she tackles is from the Ministry of Food asking for help because "children seem to have stopped eating vegetables."  Her response is, "Have you talked to the children?"


This is where the story gets fun! Sara brings children from all over the world to her Little Lab in New York City to explore not only the importance of vegetables, but the ingenuity of design in the colors and shapes of food.  She discovers that many of the children believe that vegetables only come from cans.


Sara teaches them about design ("To design is to look for connections" and "Good design solves problems and also makes the world more beautiful and fun") and why vegetables are important. Together they design a Grand Event. She encourages them to make fun and tasty creations under big tents in a park.

Inside one tent are Lotus leaf plates, lettuce cups, wild grass straws... a zero-waste lunch.

Lin rolls out wraps with the children and shows off her almond butter and strawberry jelly burrito.

One child sprinkles mint leaves on tacos filled with bright orange carrots and red peppers.

I think any child who reads this book will be inspired about design and try some imaginative food combinations of their own after seeing all the fun and colorful geometric illustrations! I certainly was!

The first person to leave a comment below is welcome to my beautiful review copy of Lettuce Get in Trouble. After you leave a comment, please email me at [spam]wendyb1963@[spam]sbcglobal.net to send me your mailing address.

You can read more about the real Sara Little Turnbull at https://www.saralittleturnbull.com/about and here in the Fortune article: https://fortune.com/2022/03/08/women-history-never-heard-of-design-careers-pioneers-work-success-sara-little-paula-rees/

Monday, April 25, 2022

A TASTE OF PARADISE ON BRIGHT MONDAY


Happy Bright Week! Christ is Risen! 

On the heels of Pascha (for all my Orthodox readers), and Easter for those of you who celebrated earlier in the West, I hope you're enjoying after-Pascha-treats from your basket. We certainly are! Especially my yummy Russian Pascha cheese, which kind of tastes like paradise. 

But that's not the taste I'm here to tell you about today...


I have a soon-to-be-released children's book to share with you:  A Taste of Paradise, Stories of Saints and Animals. 

This delightful picture book is by Katherine Bolger Hyde, illustrated by Anastasiya Sokolova. It's exquisite, and I love it! And I think your kids will too. 

It seems safe to say that most children love animals and animal stories, and this book is a wonderful way to introduce them to some extraordinary saint stories...

Long ago in Paradise animals and men walked side by side.  When we return to Paradise, the wolf will lie down with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them.  In the time in between, many holy men and women have befriended even the fiercest beasts through the power of God's love.  Come and meet a few of these saints and their animal friends in this beautifully illustrated collection of inspiring stories!

Starting with Modestos, the patron saint of animals, we are introduced to saints from around the world (St. Herman of Alaska, Elijah the Prophet and the ravens, St. Kieran of Ireland and a wild boar, and St. Melangell of Wales and her rabbits, to name a few). 

Anastasiya Sokolova's luminous illustrations will draw you into each of Katherine Bolger Hyde's beautifully descriptive accounts of the saints and animals - perfect for children ages 4-8!

Be on the lookout! This book can be ordered soon from Ancient Faith Publishing.


Monday, February 14, 2022

LOVE COMES DOWN

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!   

A bouquet of flowers I received for Valentine's Day from my young goddaughters are serving as the perfect backdrop for my highlighted picture book today. It's new from Ancient Faith Publishing...

Love Comes Down, is a song by Natasha Frasch, which she put into a sturdy board book form for little hands.  The sweet illustrations are by Avery Mefford.  

It's about the humble nature of God's love through the Incarnation of Christ. I'll start with a stanza from the end of the book:

For love always comes down, down, down

and cares for the very small!

And we can care for the least of these...

because Love came down and cares for us all.


Even young children will understand through the text and illustrations of the book how God cares for them everyday, and how He sent His Son to care for us that we may care for others in our world.  


There is even a QR code on the opening page of the book so you can listen to the song, beautifully sung by the author/composer!



Monday, December 13, 2021

Happy Saint Lucia Day

Click here for my Saint Lucia Day Remembrances post (we started having a St. Lucia Procession at our church when my daughter was only two and a half years old.  Now she's a Mama who bakes Lusseketter and shares in the tradition with her own children!)


Friday, November 19, 2021

A Day at the Seashore

This might seem like an odd title for a November post, but here in sunny Southern California, we get some of our best beach days in the fall.  Take for instance last week, when our temperatures hit the low 90's!

My daughter and granddaughters were visiting from Michigan to meet their new baby cousin, and we took full advantage of the hot day to go to the beach, equipped with sand toys, towels, and a little Golden Book about two siblings - Nancy and Timmy - who go with their parents to the beach: A Day at the Seashore.

Nancy and Timmy hop out of their beds one summer morning and help pack their swimsuits and lunch. And then it's off to the seashore! In a charming rhyme, this Little Golden Book from 1951 (then titled A Day at the Beach) describes what preschoolers will find there: "You can catch little crabs—if you're quick! You can draw great big pictures right on the beach with a piece of a shell or a stick."


Ah, the glorious days of childhood...


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Time Traveling with the Saints, Beyond the White Fence


A bunch of curious (and sometimes feisty) cousins, a garden gate leading to time travel adventures, and a peacock to guide them - who could ask for a better juvenile fantasy chapter book??  Especially one where kids will learn about saints' stories - and actually feel like they are there!

If your child likes C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, he or she will enjoy Beyond the White Fence. It all starts with a grandmother's backyard and a girl named Katie... 

Katie discovers that the valley behind her grandmother's garden is more mysterious than it seems.  After tumbling into tenth-century England and encountering Saint Edith of Wilton along with her wild animal menagerie, she is helped home, wondering whether her adventure was truly real.  

But after Katie, her cousins, and a neighborhood friend are drawn back in time once again, she realizes her grandmother's garden gate is a portal into faraway worlds, where patron saints are real people making real-life decisions.

Join Katie and her cousins as they mingle with Rachel and Jacob, meet Saint Mary Magdalene up close, trek across the sand with the matriarchs Naomi and Ruth, and have a nail biting adventure with the heroic Saint Katherine of Alexandria. In seeing the richness of the family of God, they glimpse how very much they are a part of it all.

Author Edith M. Humphrey, a grandmother herself (of twenty!) does a great job of storytelling in this new chapter book for 9 -13 year olds (and precocious 8 year olds) from Ancient Faith Publishing.  A former teacher and lecturer of theology (at Pittsburg Theological Seminary), she does an excellent job of bringing Orthodox theological truths and historic saints' stories alive for kids - with excitement, humor, and even some movie references - in a non-preachy or didactic way.  She tackles the topics of marriage and sexuality with the same amount of matter-of-factness as sibling rivalry.

Written in five parts, the last one makes for an especially suspenseful ending - Humphrey's handling of the bravery and martyrdom of Saint Katherine is wonderfully told.  The reader will feel Katie's dread in anticipation of her patron saint's death, but it is reckoned with the power and glory of God in His Saints. It brought me to tears.

Beyond the White Fence is available now from Ancient Faith Publishing.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Sisters, Sisters...

There were never such devoted sisters!

My granddaughters are the cutest.


We love singing them the "Sisters Song" from White Christmas - especially in light of the fact that Maria (the youngest of my daughter's four children) was born in December - on Christmas Eve!

My husband recently found a long lost box high up on a shelf in our garage.  It was full of some of our kids' favorite childhood picture books!  I separated them out according to each (now adult) child so they can pass them along to their own kiddos.


When I came to the pile of my daughter's books I smiled as I thought of her little girls enjoying their mommy's old books...because they already love books!


Today I'd like to highlight a story about two sisters, Snow White and Rose Red, heroines of one of Grimm's fairytales. I remember it being a favorite of my childhood fairytales.  Growing up, we had a recorded version with a follow-along Little Golden book.

There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-white, and the other Rose-red... 


I loved Gustav Tenggren's illustrations of the blonde and brunette sisters, as different in their personalities as their red and white rose bushes - and I could never decide which girl I'd rather be. The story also features a bear, and an ungrateful dwarf (who always reminded me of Rumplestiltskin).

This beautiful version, Snow & Rose written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin, was gifted to me by my daughter! It's a nice chapter book version for kids 8-12, with beautiful illustrations throughout.

From Publisher's Weekly:

Sisters Snow and Rose once lived a charmed life in a grand house with a beautiful garden. After their father disappears into the woods, the girls and their mother are forced to move into a small cottage in the same forest. There, they befriend a boy named Ivo, discover a mysterious library filled not with books but objects, are tricked by a strange little man, and bond with a protective bear. 

Unfolding over episodic chapters that build to a well-deserved happy ending, this moody fairy tale emphasizes family, friendship, and the powerful bond of sisterhood. Martin’s characterization of the two contrary sisters is especially moving: Rose is the type of person who “holds on to a thing she loved as tightly as she could,” while Snow wants “to see or hear or taste something she loved over and over again, to remind herself that it was real.” 

The sisters’ contradictions make their relationship all the stronger, and Martin’s prim full-color paintings and spot illustrations tenderly highlight key characters and moments. Ages 8–12.

Incidentally, when Maria was born, I gifted her with one of Emily Winfield Martin's picture books, The Wonderful Things You Will Be.


And this past Christmas, we gave her a cute little stuffed doll of the protagonist baby (her doppelganger), who, along with sister Lexi, keeps Maria company day and night.

Oh, how I miss our little Snow (Lexi) and Rose (Maria)!  Such devoted sisters.