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)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Brontës on Masterpiece (After a stint at The Morgan)!

Are you going to watch To Walk Invisible: The Brontës on PBS Sunday night, March 26?  It follows the Brontë sisters in the eventful three-year period that saw them rise from ordinary, unmarried women, taking care of the household and their widowed father, to the secret authors of the world’s most sensational literature.

The only existing portrait of The Brontë Sisters, this Portrait (1834) was painted by their brother,  Branwell Brontë.  (The ghostly figure that was once covered by a pillar is Branwell.)

“This portrait has really influenced people’s image of the Brontës because it’s the only surviving image of them. They look so somber and so depressed... yet it’s worth remembering that this painting is not a depiction of novelists at the height of their power, but a brother’s portrait of his teenage sisters. They’re ten years away from publishing their novels...As wonderful and haunting as this painting is, it’s skewed our perception.”  
-Christine Nelson, curator of The Morgan Library's Charlotte Bronte, an Independent Will

After seeing the Charlotte Brontë exhibit with my daughter at the Morgan Library in New York this past December, I'm especially interested in the Masterpiece special tomorrow! (I'm sorry I'm so late blogging about this amazing exhibit - it left The Morgan in January.) You can read in fascinating detail about The Morgan's Charlotte Brontë, An Independent Will exhibit here and watch a video about it here.

The exhibit included a Frontpiece (with an engraved view of Haworth parsonage and churchyard) to The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810–1865) - which I really want to read now.

Curator Christine Nelson gathered interesting personal effects and manuscripts associated Charlotte Brontë for the Morgan's exhibit—from brother Branwell Brontë’s portrait of his famous sisters to  miniature books, fair copies of novels, letters, and watercolor paintings of the author and her sisters. I've shared some of my photos here on my blog for you...

Entering the exhibit, the first thing I saw was one of Charlotte Brontë's few surviving garments.  She was a tiny woman!  Seeing her dress and shoes brought tears to my eyes!

I also shed a tear seeing her portable writing box and a first edition of Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre, An Autobiography, edited by Currer Bell, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1848. First American edition. 
(Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell were the pseudonyms of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë.)

If you watch it, let me know what you think of the special on the Brontë sisters that aires on PBS March 26, 2017!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Glowing Candles

Ancient Faith Publishing has just released a beautiful new picture book, In The Candle's Glow, by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson, illustrated by Amandine Wanert.  I can guarantee it will warm your heart...

Felicia will light her candle, pray, and watch as a breeze carries the wisp of smoke from her candle flame up to heaven along with her prayers.  But where did the candle come from?  The story begins with a breeze, some bees, and a beekeeper (who happens to be a singing nun!)

While preparing for this post, I began thinking about all the symbolism associated with lighted candles and why in the Orthodox Church our candles are made from pure beeswax. I came across from very enlightening information that I'd like to share with you.

Blessed Simeon of Thessalonica (15th century), a commentator on the Liturgy, wrote about six things that candles symbolize for us...
1. The pure wax (bees wax) of a candle reminds us that our hearts should be pure.

2. The softness and pliability of wax speaks of our readiness to obey God.

3. We are reminded of the sweet aroma of God's Divine Grace in our souls because the wax comes from fragrant flowers.

4.  The burning of the candle as it mixes with and feeds the flame represents man’s deification, his becoming a new creature through the fire of God’s love.

5. As the candle lights the darkness, so must the Light of Christ shine before men in our hearts.

6. Lastly, it symbolizes the love and peace that should characterize every Christian, because the wax that burns down when it illuminates, is like our love for our fellow man; but it also comforts man with its light in the darkness.

Today I'd like to dedicate my post to two gentle men whose lives glowed like bright candles, with the Light and Love of Christ for those around them.  Like wisps of smoke that rise after a candle is blown out, they left us this month (which ironically began with Candlemas on the 2nd) to move heavenward.

During an Orthodox funeral service, as well as at memorial services, the faithful stand with lit candles as a sign that the deceased's soul has left this world and entered the Kingdom of Heaven and the Unwaning Light of God.

Ray was 93 years young and lived a long life, taking tender loving care of his wife for many years before she died.  This precious man missed her dearly ever since, and finally went to join her a couple of weeks ago.  I enjoyed countless visits with both him and his wife.  He was our "bell-ringer" at church - letting us know each Sunday when our Priest was ready to give the blessing for our food at coffee hour!

I was not able to attend Ray's funeral, because the day before it I got the devastating news of a second death...

Kevin (who happens to be the brother-in-law of my sister) was 33 years too young to die, but left this earth last week after a brave fight with cancer. He and his wife Angel, in true warrior fashion, started "Packed Kits" after his wife's sister sent him an amazing care package to help get him through his hospital stays.  The kits are based on her original care package and contain everything a chemo patient could need during treatment.  Please visit their website, and consider "Giving Pack" to help fight cancer!
Packed Kits

Please light and candle and send up prayers for the souls of these two men - and for their families.  And share In The Candle's Glow with a child you love!