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)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Czech? Check!

Following my previous post about Czech composer Antonin Dvorak's poignant musical composition, "Goin' Home", I think I'll continue on with my admiration for Czech artists by sharing a fun children's book by a talented author/illustrator from Prague! 

The book is The Mouse Who Ate the Moon, by Petr Horacek.
When my daughter brought this charming book home from the library for her son, she astutely observed, "The story and illustrations are like Eric-Carle-meets-Krtek".  

Not surprisingly, the author/illustrator Petr Horacek relates (here) that growing up in the Czech Republic, he loved the cartoon character Krtek ("Little Mole"), created by Zdenek Miler.  
Our family knows about Krtek because my oldest son David studied film in Prague, where the Little Mole has been a beloved character since the mid-1950's.  (Sadly Zdenek Miler, Krtek's creator, died while our son was there in 2011. We're so happy David brought home a little stuffed Krtek and a couple of cute Krtek books, which my grandson loves.)

Back to Petr Horacek: he also said in an interview that Eric Carle is a favorite illustrator of his [source].  The drawings and storyline in Horacek's The Mouse Who Ate the Moon do remind me a lot of Eric Carle's Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me.
Eric Carle's Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.
I love the bright and colorful Eric-Carle-style images that Horacek painted for his Mouse book, which also involves two other very Krtek-like characters: a mole, and a rabbit...
One evening, a mouse, peering out of her hole, looks at the moon and wishes she could have a piece for her very own.
The next morning, when she sees something she has never seen before - a yellow banana - she thinks a piece of the moon has fallen from the sky and that her wish has come true!
Before she knows it, she's eaten half of it and is regretful, thinking the moon won't be round anymore.
His friends, Rabbit and Mole assure the Mouse, "Nobody can eat the moon,"  and they take her to the top of a hill and show her -- "slowly, something shiny appeared behind the trees."
It was, of course, the moon. Relieved, they go and sit under the stars and eat the other half of Little Mouse's "moon", while the real moon lights up the sky behind them.

This sweet story is a great way to introduce the concept of moon phases to young children.  Great for ages 2-5.

Go here to see other picture books by Petr Horacek. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Blog-iversary Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to all my winners...
The first 12 people who left comments are going to receive some special tea and a Cavallini and Co. "Tea for Two" notecard. Caitlin, Mary, Taylor, Hannah, "Unknown", Joshua, Danzel, Michele, Michelle M., and Christina - please email me your addresses!  (You can contact me at wendyb[spam]1963@sbclgobal.net with your information.)

The five winners of my Five Year Blog-iversary Giveaway, as chosen by list randomizer, are as follows:
Gift #1, necklace:  Christina

Gift #2, bookplates:  Aelwyn

Gift #3, rubber stamps: Poetryinleaves

Gift #4, memo notepads:  Dalia Fam

Gift #5, book:  Joan

Again, contact me at wendyb[spam]1963@sbcglobal.net with your mailing addresses, so I can get your gifts to you as soon as possible.  Congratulations and thank you for reading!

A Little Memorial Day Tribute

Today marks the home-going of many fallen U.S. soldiers.  I can't think about it without getting a pit in my stomach, but there's an even bigger pit if I let myself imagine what our lives might be like today without their sacrifices!

I spent a lovely Memorial Day morning with my husband, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons at The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, watching a beautiful wreath-laying ceremony in the Rose Garden.

At the closing, after a solemn prayer offered by a Navy Chaplain, the Marine Band played  "Going Home", followed by Taps.  The soft strains of music floating through the air definitely communicated a longing and yearning for home...heaven, a final resting place.

When we got back to our house, I did a google search about this haunting piece of music...

Czech composer Antonin Dvorak's famous "Largo" theme from his New World Symphony was first performed at Carnegie Hall in 1893.  "Goin' Home" was later adapted and arranged from the Largo theme by one of Dvorak's pupils, William Arms Fisher, who added his own words.  Here is what Fisher said about the piece:

The Largo, with its haunting English horn solo, is the outpouring of Dvorak's own home-longing, with something of the loneliness of far-off prairie horizons, the faint memory of the red-man's bygone days, and a sense of the tragedy of the black-man as it sings in his "spirituals." Deeper still it is a moving expression of that nostalgia of the soul all human beings feel. That the lyric opening theme of the Largo should spontaneously suggest the words 'Goin' home, goin' home' is natural enough, and that the lines that follow the melody should take the form of a negro spiritual accords with the genesis of the symphony. 
 -- William Arms Fisher, Boston, July 21, 1922.

Going' Home

Goin' home, goin' home, I'm a goin' home;
Quiet-like, some still day, I'm jes' goin' home.

It's not far, jes' close by,
Through an open door;
Work all done, care laid by,
Goin' to fear no more.

Mother's there 'spectin' me,
Father's waitin' too;
Lots o' folks gather'd there,
All the friends I knew,

Morning star lights the way,
restless dream all done.
Shadows gone, break of day
real life just begun.

There's no break, there's no end, 
Jes'a livin' on; 
Wide awake, with a smile 
Goin' on and on.

Monday, May 18, 2015

My FIVE Year Blog-iversary Adventure (and Giveaway: 5 Years, 5 Gifts, 5 Winners!)

"Would you like an adventure now?
Or would you like to have your tea first?"
- Peter Pan
Wendy said "tea first", quickly.

What were you doing five years ago? It's hard to believe that in May 2010, just before Mother's Day, I became "WendyLady@Good Books" and started this blog ADVENTURE!  I'm so happy that 703 posts later - even after a "Bookish" shop endeavor and two grandchildren - I'm still here, blogging away!

And an added piece of fun news - today I was surprised to discover that Good Books For Young Souls is on the OrthodoxWiki "Orthodox Blogs" page under the Children and Education heading. Be sure and visit the page - there are lots of great Orthodox blogs linked there. I was so excited I took a screen shot of the page from my phone! I feel very honored to be included.


Three important people were the inspiration for this blog: David, Mary, and Jonny - my own children, who are now all grown up! Years of reading aloud and homeschooling gave us quite a large look into the world of literature...we enjoyed discovering stories that were captivating, characters that were endearing, and words that were transporting.

Mother's Day 2015, with my kids.

These days I enjoy sharing and exchanging old favorites with other parents, grandparents, teachers...in person, through my blog, and on Facebook and Pinterest.

And with the help of my daughter, I'm constantly discovering new books for my grandchildren at local libraries and bookstores.

With my grandson and goddaughter at my favorite Orange County
children's bookstore,Once Upon a Storybook.

Please join me in celebrating these past five years of books and blogging.  My little "Bookish" shop is gone (read my "farewell" here), but I've been saving some items for my readers for just such an occasion...today I've got 5 gifts for 5 winners!  Leave a comment by Sunday, May 24, 2015 at midnight to enter the giveaway.

But wait! Tea First!  The first twelve (12) commenters will receive a "Tea for Two" greeting card (Cavallini & Co.), along with some tasty tea bags. 

  • Leave a comment here on this blog post to enter the giveaway.
  • Please specify which gift(s) you'd like to enter to win (i.e. Gift #1 and #3).  If you don't specify, you'll be entered for Gifts #1-5 (but you will be randomly picked to win only one of them).
  • 5 Gifts/5 Different Winners
  • Please comment only once (but remember, you can specify more then one gift when you comment.)
  • First 12 commenters will receive a "Tea for Two" greeting card and some tasty tea bags! 
  • Comments must be entered by Sunday, May 24, 2015, no later than midnight PST.
  • Winners announced on Monday, May 25, 2015.

GIFT #1:  Bookish Pendant
"So many books, so little time" pendant,
bronze, on a 27" chain.  

GIFT #2:  Bookplates
 Cavallini & Co. "My Book" Bookplates (two packs of 18)

GIFT #3:  Vintage ABC rubber stamps from Cavallini & Co.
Lowercase Alphabet mounted rubber stamps.

GIFT #4:  Sticky Memo Pads (2 packs of 3)
1 set of Vintage Office sticky memo pads, 
1 set of Vintage Cats

GIFT #5:  Orthodox Children's Book
A Child's Guide to the Divine Liturgy
New from Ancient Faith publishing - reviewed here.

Rules (one more time):
  • Leave a comment here on this blog post to enter the giveaway.
  • Please specify which gift(s) you'd like to enter to win (i.e. Gift #1 and #3).  If you don't specify, you'll be entered for Gifts #1-5 (but you will be randomly picked to win only one of them).
  • 5 Gifts/5 Different Winners
  • Please comment only once (but remember, you can specify more then one gift when you comment.)
  • First 12 commenters will receive a "Tea for Two" greeting card and some tasty tea bags! 
  • Comments must be entered by Sunday, May 24, 2015, no later than midnight PST.
  • Winners announced on Monday, May 25, 2015.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Baked with Love

My maternal grandmother, "Grandma", fell asleep in the Lord on this day 20 years ago!  An accomplished musician and music lover, she was the church organist at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN for many years.  She was also a piano teacher.

Three generations: my Grandma, my Mom,
and me.

But that didn't mean much to us, her six grandchildren.  What mattered to us was her love, given freely in hugs, a listening ear and thankful heart, and her homemade chocolate chip cookies!  The best I've ever had...probably because they were baked with so much love!

I treasure my copy of her recipe, carefully written in her own handwriting.  It makes me feel all warm and safe inside to see her precise lettering - I'm a little girl again, at her side in her retro kitchen.

And tonight in my kitchen, it was almost as if she was here with me as I leveled off the flour in the measuring cup with the back of a butter knife, just like she taught me.  But in reality I was creating new memories, as I let my grandson help stir the chocolate chips into the batter and lick the spoon.

Every year I try to make up a batch of her cookies on the anniversary of her death or on her birthday. But they never taste quite as good as hers did!

Tomorrow, my grandson and I will have the cookies with some milk.
And we'll look at old photos of Great-Great Grandma, whom he never met.
And we'll probably read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. 
And laugh and laugh.
My Grandma would love it!
And she'll laugh too, as she watches from Heaven.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Some Help for Big Brother From Eloise Wilkin...Bringing Home The New Baby!

Today was the day!  
My new little grandson Edward came home!  
And I had the perfect book for his Big Brother Peter...

We read Esther and Eloise Wilkin's The New Baby together several times before Mommy and Daddy arrived.  The little girl in the story has a doll named "Baby Dear" (more about that at the end of my post).  

My grandson showed the book to some of his favorite stuffed animals...

Just like the little girl in the story, he was in full anticipation of 
The Homecoming...

He had practiced being gentle with his stuffed animals so he could hold Mommy's new baby, just like the little girl we read about...

I think Big Brother did a pretty good job!
Welcome home, Edward!

Fun trivia bout this book: 

  • Eloise Wilkin (1904-1987), who illustrated more than 50 books for Little Golden Books, often illustrated the titles of her sister, children's author Esther Burns Wilkin (who married Eloise's brother-in-law).
  • Eloise often used her own children as models for the children in her books, and later used her grandchildren as models.
  • In 1960, Vogue Dolls, Inc. launched the first doll designed by Eloise Wilkin. "Baby Dear" came in 12 and 18 inch-sizes and sold for $6 and $12 respectively.  
  • In all, Eloise designed eight dolls for Vogue and Madame Alexander. 
  • Baby Dear and So Big, both written by Esther Wilkin and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, feature the Eloise Wilkin dolls.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Grand-Baby #2 Update...

My daughter and I have been reading Olivier Dunrea's cute book, Ollie, to my grandson since before Easter, in anticipation of the birth of "Baby Brother".

Like Ollie, Baby Brother has been waiting until he is ready.

And like Gossie and Gertie, we've been waiting......and waiting.

And yesterday, Baby Brother finally arrived!!!!  Safe and sound!

Mommy, Daddy, and Baby are doing well.  

Big Brother is beyond excited and learning to be gentle. 

And Grandma and Grandpa are proud, thankful, and...relieved!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Word of the Day: MUM

"Mothers hold their children's hand for a short while, but their hearts forever".
-Author Unknown
Spring Princess by Carl Larsson (1853 - 1919, Swedish) 

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness, and children sleep soundly in them."
-Victor Hugo
Mother And Child, Candlelight by William Rothenstein (1872 – 1945, English)

"The Mother's heart is the child's classroom."
-Henry Ward Beecher
Arthur John Elsley (1860 - 1952, English)

Happy Mother's Day to all my readers.  Who are some of my favorite literary mothers?  go here for my list!