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)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Word Lovers UNITE! (With E.B. White and Others...)

The back story as to how I discovered this delightful new biography for children about E.B. White is rather sad...

It involves my favorite children's bookshop, Once Upon a Storybook, which (until it closed a couple of weeks ago) was one of the three children's bookstores here in Orange County. 

I had stopped in to make some purchases and say goodbye, reminiscing about the first time I took my grandson and my goddaughter there three years ago.  :..(

My grandson and my goddaughter, peeking in the window
during their first visit to Once Upon a Storybook.

The owner, Miss Susie, is the sweetest woman in the world. She loves children's books, and she recommended Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White to me.  I wish her all the best in her future book endeavors (I know those endeavors will not stop!)  

This captivating biography (for grades 3-7), written and illustrated by the gifted Melissa Sweet, will immediately draw you into the childhood world of Elwyn White (1899-1985) as he chases words through dictionary pages and weaves them into poems for St. Nicholas magazine.

Elwyn Brooks White became a writer while he was still wearing knickers.  He was seven or eight years old when he looked a sheet of paper "square in the eyes" and thought, "this is where I belong, this is it."

You'll follow him as a young man, when his love of words leads him to big city newspapers and a brand new publication, The New Yorker (where he worked with writers like John Updike and James Thurber).  

Of course you'll also learn the backstories about his most-loved spins, Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, which were written from his farm in Maine during his mid-life years.

Melissa Sweet uses White's own letters, photos, journals, sketches, and manuscripts - interspersed with her fun, original collaged art - in this wonderful glimpse into the life of beloved author, E.B. White.

Young writers will be inspired by Melissa Sweet's inclusion of E.B. White's revision work on Strunk and White's Elements of Style (1959) - true evidence of his love of the written word.  White's most famous writing advice?  "Omit needless words".

If you've got a word lover/grammar nerd in the family, I have a couple more book recommendations for today:

The ABeCeDarian Book (1964) by Charles W. Ferguson.  This engaging book is a treasure for adults and kids alike.
An alphabet book of big words for adults with the curiosity of children and for children with the capacity of adults.

Jacket: "In this delightful book, Charles Ferguson spins out the life histories of words of all kinds - pretty, sad, or scientific.  He tells you all their secrets, using unforgettable anecdotes as well as solid linguistic facts, so that each word becomes known in its fullest sense..."

And one more:
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (grades 7 and up) by Lynne Truss.

A friend of mine recently introduced me to this hilarious tribute to punctuation.  The title is based on a joke:

A panda walks into a cafe.  He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit.  The panda produces a badly punctated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says, at the door.  "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
"Panda.  Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.  Eats, shoots and leaves."

Get ready to laugh as you brush up on punctuation.  There's also a very simplified version for young children (grades 1-3).

All the books I highlighted today would be great reads for inquisitive older children who are curious about words and language - and a great introduction for those who aren't (yet)!