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, December 31, 2012

SIX GEESE A-LAYING for New Year's Eve!

Tomorrow is the start of a New Year! In Greece, Christmas gifts are exchanged on January 1st, St. Basil's Day.  Basil is one of the four Fathers of the Greek Church (Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa are collectively referred to as the "Cappadocian Fathers").  Tradition holds that St. Basil is supposed to visit all Greek homes on the first day of the year, bearing gifts and toys. Vasilopita, "Sweet Bread of Basil" is prepared and a coin is baked into the ingredients. The person who gets a slice that contains the coin is considered blessed for the New Year. (recipe HERE)

Back to the Sixth Day of Christmas:  Today - geese. (Tomorrow - swans!)  You can click here to read my past post about Mother Goose books, but I'm really excited to share six "Gossie" books with you!

"Gossie is a gosling.  A small, yellow gosling who likes to wear bright red boots.  Every day."

These simple, sweet board books are perfect for preschoolers.  Gossie, Gertie, Ollie, Peedie, and BooBoo will help your child learn about friendship, siblings, and sharing.

I've enjoyed perusing author/illustrator Olivier Dunrea's website.  He lives in a tiny remote village on the western edge of the Catskills Mountains on the Upper Delaware River. The house he lives and works in is called "Henwoodie" - the Henhouse. Henwoodie is a large Arts & Crafts style house surrounded by an acre of gardens, lawns, and terraces.

He says about his Gossie books:  "Gossie & Friends began in 2001 with sketches of goslings while I was staring out the studio window watching Canada geese fly overhead, honking loudly. A pair of red rubber toy boots sat on my bookshelf for some strange reason. As I sketched goslings I started drawing them wearing red rubber boots. And that is how the idea for Gossie and her "bright red boots" came to life."


Gossie and Gertie
Gossie and Gertie (Gossie and Friends)

Ollie (Gossie and Friends)

Ollie the Stomper
Ollie the Stomper (Gossie and Friends)

Peedie (Gossie and Friends)

BooBoo (Gossie and Friends)

[this blog reposted from December, 2010]

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fifth Day of Christmas: 20 GO-OLD RINGS!

The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey
One Ring inscription.svg

"Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, 
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, 
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, 
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne 
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. 
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, 
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them 
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie."
-J.R.R. Tolkien's epigraph, The Lord of The Rings

...And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
Love this pocket edition, with illustrations by Tolkien

"Official Movie Guide" by Brian Sibley (review here)

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Have you ever wondered what those "Four Calling Birds" are all about? (Explanation to follow...)  

Are these calling birds?

Definitely not these guys...

Hmmm. [source]

My favorite:
source: Anne Geddes
There's a reason the stanza about "calling birds" doesn't make much sense: the original line in the song The 12 Days of Christmas names four "colly birds", an alternate word for the Common Blackbird. The Blackbird is a common backyard bird in Europe and has a melodious song. It also lives in Asia, North Africa and it has been introduced to Australia and New Zealand. [source: Birdorable.com]

In England a coal mine is called a colliery and colly or collie is a derivation of this and means black like coal. 

For a long time in England, blackbirds have been referred to as both blackbirds (as in the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence) and colly birds as in The Twelve Days of Christmas.

As to why the person in the song would give his true love a gift of blackbirds, the answer is that this would have been another gift of food. Blackbirds were plentiful and were a common food. [source: Hubpages.com]

Mystery solved.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Third Day - 3 French Hens and 3 French Books

Noel comes from the French phrase "les bonnes nouvelles"
translated "Good News", and refers to the Gospel.
On the Third Day of Christmas, my True Love Gave to Me
    Three French Hens...

My daughter and her husband lived in France for nine months, and they brought home the gastronomy of that culture to share with us.  Highlighting our Christmas dinner this year was a capon - which admittedly is not a hen, but a rooster - quite delectably roasted by my son-in-law...
accompanied by brussels sprouts, tartiflette (french scalloped potatoes with Camembert and bacon), and good old American "stuffing".

Our table, ready for Christmas Dinner

After-Christmas-dinner-silver-and-crystal-washed-and-dried by my husband!

Three French Books:
1. BABAR AND FATHER CHRISTMAS (BABAR ET LE PÈRE NOËL) by Jean de Brunhoff. King Babar's children in Celesteville hear of the wonderful Father Christmas who brings toys to all the children in Man Country on Christmas Eve. The children write a letter to Father Christmas in the hopes of inviting him to Celesteville but when their letter goes astray, King Babar goes into Man Country to search for him personally...

2. ADELE & SIMON by Barbara McClintock. Adele cautions her brother not to lose anything on their way home from school...well, you can guess what happens! Gorgeous illustrations of neighborhoods and landmarks bring to life a simple story, set in early 20th century Paris. Not to be missed! (Note: with careful searching each of Simon's lost items can be found!)

3. MIRETTE ON THE HIGH WIRE by Emily Arnold McCully. Mirette was always fascinated by the strange and interesting people who stayed in her mother's boarding house. But no one excited her as much as Bellini, who walks the clothesline with the grace and ease of a bird. Mirette on the High Wire is a great book to explore fear and bravery. First, the definition of bravery is presented in different ways throughout the book. Mirette and Bellini perform dangerous and potentially scary acts by walking the high wire. Mirette has no fear of the wire, and Bellini does, even though he has done it many times. So, this questions whether bravery is the absence of fear or the over-coming of fear. (1993 Caldecott Medal Winner)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Second Day of Christmas...the Feast of Stephen

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
    Two Turtle Doves...


This is an amazing pop-up book by Robert Sabuda

The feastday of Saint Stephen - the first Christian martyr - is commemorated on December 27 in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  (His day is celebrated on December 26 in the West.)  You might enjoy the books below from my past posts and Good King Wenceslas and Stephen's Feast:

click here for my post about Good King Wenceslas
click here for post about "Stephen's Feast"
and this book by Pauline Baynes

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On the First Day of Christmas, I Started Baking!

Elsa Beskow

Somehow as the years go by, the days leading up to Christmas seem to get busier and busier (or maybe I'm just getting older and slower?)  At any rate, this year I determined to save my baking and gift-giving for friends and neighbors until after the 25th - in order to spread the cheer over the Twelve Days of Christmas and lessen my stress.

Inspired by the book Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, from December 26th to January 6th, I'll be reflecting on the 12 days leading up to Epiphany in my posts. (The book is available HERE.)

Along with craft ideas and Orthodox devotional material for the festal days, this wonderful new book by AmandaEve Wigglesworth offers a Christian perspective on the popular "Twelve Days of Christmas" song - to remind ourselves of the gifts God gives to us.
Carsten/Three Lions/Getty Images
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
    A Partridge In A Pear Tree...

Loren Long
Jan Brett

[Tomorrow, December 27, St. Stephen's Day is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and I'll be highlighting some good picture books.  In the West, the saint is celebrated today.  Click HERE for my past posts about Good King Wenceslas and the Feast of Stephen.]

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

First Christmas: Book Stocking and a Moustache!

Merry Christmas!

“There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment.” ― Tasha Tudor
Virgin Mary and Child
by Tasha Tudor

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

If Mary could find Peace in a stable, certainly we can endeavor to find Him today and everyday in our modern world...wishing you a Merry Christmas!