Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Happy First Week of Advent

This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, so... Happy First Week of Advent! If you're here in the States, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. We sure did. My brothers-in-law visited from Washington, DC, and we had a wonderful time with them. They stayed at the fancy Hyatt Regency downtown, and we ate Thanksgiving dinner in the ballroom. Their suite was fabulous, and the girls got to swim in the pool. Sunday, we had a small family dinner with my dad and grandma over at my sister's house (with her family, of course).

We've been decorating! While I do honor the season of Advent - Christmas isn't for a few more weeks! - I still prefer to get all the decorations out as soon as Thanksgiving ends. Then they will stay out until Epiphany (at least). We still need an Advent wreath. My old one has disappeared, and Mr. B is planning to make one, but it hasn't happened yet. While we plan to read this book again, I'm still deciding on an Advent calendar. I'm tired of gifting the kids with something every single day, and need to make a change. I do like the idea of good deed/kindness calendars. Tomorrow is December 1, though, so I'd better think of something fast!

I have books, books, books to share this month. We are planning a trip to Lucia Fest in Lindsborg again, and both of my bunheads are dancing in Ballet Wichita's annual production of The Nutcracker. If you frequent this blog at all, you know I tend to be a bit holiday-crazy!

Until next time, here are some photos I took of our living room decor!

Click here and here for more about the books.

More about this book here.

ahem... here.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Poems selected by Myra Cohn Livingston, illustrated by Stephen Gammell.
Holiday House, 1985.

If you're here in the United States, then Happy Thanksgiving! My girls have been out of school all week (which is fine, even if it's really due to lack of school funding at the state level, GRRRRRRR!!!!), and my brothers-in-law arrived in Wichita from Washington, D.C. yesterday. Today, my father-in-law comes to town from Missouri, and we shall all partake in the fancy Thanksgiving buffet in the ballroom at the Hyatt. How is that for different?

I made two pies, though. I need leftover pie in my life. And I will help cook dinner at my sister's on Sunday.

In the meantime, here is a book! Thanksgiving books are not really a favorite of mine, and the book I really wanted to read this year just wasn't available. Instead, I have a vintage book of poetry, compiled by the poet Myra Cohn Livingston, and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, better known in my world as the man responsible for these illustrations. Don't worry, these are far less disturbing.

I'm not crazy about this book, but I'm weird about Thanksgiving books in general. Rebecca at Sturdy For Common Things posted a great booklist, which includes several books I've blogged about in the past, if you are looking for some worthy titles.

Of course, it's also the ultimate Thankful Thursday, so to share a few more things I am thankful for:

  • I'm thankful for our time with my husband's family.
  • I'm thankful for time with my sister and her daughters and husband, my grandma, and my dad.
  • I'm thankful for my mom in Oklahoma, who turns 60 tomorrow. Alas, I won't see her until late December. Happy Birthday, Ma!
  • I'm thankful for my readers, who put up with my shoddy photographs and tendency to either underwrite or ramble on forever about nothing. Thanks for sticking around.
And because I don't have to cook tomorrow, I get to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with fewer interruptions! And I'm thankful for the new Anne of Green Gables, Gilmore Girls, and American Girl movie to binge on once guests are gone and the dust settles. 

And books! I'm thankful for books! And pie! And pets! And Christmas coming! And theatre! And dancing kiddos! And...



I'll stop now.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

The Wizard of Oz (Auzou, 2016)

The Wizard of Oz, adapted from the novel by L. Frank Baum by Anouk Filippini, illustrated by Elodie Coudray. French-language, Anouk, 2014. English translation by Susan Allen Maurin, Auzou, 2016.

I have a beautiful new Wizard of Oz picture book to show you! It's a simplified version of the original novel, originally published in France two years ago. The girls and I loved the sweet, modern illustrations. After all, we've read so many editions of the stories - it's always fun to see a new take!

We get a lovely illustration of the old yet beautiful Good Witch of the North.

While the vicious Kalidahs do show up in the story, there is no illustration. Bummer.

Filippini's text doesn't really mention the green spectacles, but Coudray works them into the art. Love it!

After Dorothy misses her ride, the Wizard calls to her to see Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. From there, the story jumps to the end. We don't actually see the visit with Glinda, let alone the journey to Quadling Country. (Too bad. I would have loved to see Coudray's china people!) The last page is a lovely illustration of Dorothy jumping through a rainbow, back to the farm.

While many story elements are left out, it is more faithful to the original book than the MGM movie. If you're looking for a simplified version for younger children, or if you're an Oz-crazy collector like me, it's a fine book! We checked this one out from the library, but I may add it to our Christmas wish list...

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Recently Read

I love my Friends of the Wichita Public Library membership.

Here is a small round-up of some of the books the girls and I have read in recent weeks.

Books We Read

The Journey by Francesca Sanna. Flying Eye Books, 2016.

 I have tried to photograph this book in order to do a full blog post about it, but I give up. It's so beautiful and sad and hopeful and needs to be seen and read by all. It is the story of children from a war-town land. When the father is killed, the mother and children flee. Sanna's illustrations have a frightening fairy tale quality. In one scene, the children sleep with their mother, huddled in a forest. "But Mother is with us and she is never scared," asserts the narrator, although the tears running from her eyes tell us otherwise.

King Baby by Kate Beaton. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016.

Little Sis just had to grab this one, as The Princess and the Pony is one of her favorite picture books. It is super cute and funny. As you can guess, it's all about how a baby rules the home, much like Marla Frazee's The Boss Baby, but Beaton's hilarious illustrations definitely make this one her own.

Prissy & Pop: Big Day Out by Melissa Nicholson. HarperCollins, 2016.

Both of my girls are obsessed with Priscilla and Poppleton's Instagram account. Indeed, it is pretty darn sweet. So of course, when this book appeared on the library's New Release shelf, it went straight into our stash. From a literary standpoint, it isn't much, but that's not the point, right? I mean, look at those faces! (By the way, the new Christmas book is out, too. And yes, it's in my house.)

Big Sis Read

Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014.

Big Sis is participating in Battle of the Books this year, and this was the first book she read! She says, "It's about a girl named Truly Lovejoy, who moves with her family to Pumpkin Falls, NH. to run her grandparents' bookstore. A mystery unfolds there, having to do with these letters that quote Shakespeare, signed by someone with the initial 'B.' It was a really good book." I know she is looking forward to the next Pumpkin Fall Mystery, due in January!

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1998.

The first book in a very popular series, Big Sis says, "This was a very suspenseful book. It's about a world where parents are only allowed to have two children. If they do have more children, they must hide them or else the police will kill the children and get the parents in trouble. I liked this book, and someday I would like the read the sequels."

Big Sis is Reading

Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech. HarperCollins, 2012.

She says,  "I'm about halfway through it, but I can tell you it's about twins who are considered to be a lot of trouble. They are orphans, bouncing in and out of foster care. It wasn't a book I would have chosen if I wasn't doing Battle of the Books, but it's actually pretty good, so far." 

Little Sis Read

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea (A Narwhal and Jelly Book) by Ben Clanton. Tundra Books, 2016.

Little Sis received this graphic novel for her birthday. It's too easy for her - she said she finished it pretty quickly during silent reading time - but she loved it. It definitely appealed to her sense of humor, and she does prefer graphic novels or books heavy with illustrations. She says she definitely wants the next one in the series.

I Am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton. Touchstone, 2013.

Okay, so there really wasn't much to read here - it's mostly pictures and pretty darn silly. But she begged for this book at the Scholastic Book Fair, and to be fair, she adores it. She has read it cover to cover multiple times. Mr. B says it's okay, it reminds him of how he used to devour old Heathcliff books when he was a kid.

Little Sis is Reading

Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson. Andrews McMeel, 2014.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn is a comic strip both online and in newspapers, although I didn't know anything about it until I saw these books at my local indie store. Little Sis received the first one for her birthday, and she has been carrying it around in both her backpack and dance bag for over a week. She says it's an easy read (sense a theme here?), but cute and funny.

I Read

Faithful by Alice Hoffman. Simon & Schuster, 2016.

I have such a soft spot for Alice Hoffman, so I was excited to read this book. What surprised me was just how much I loved it. It's a modern, realistic tale, without those touches of magical realism that weave in and out of most of her work. Shelby, the main character, was the driver in an icy car crash that sent her best friend into a vegetative state when they were seniors in high school. Shelby carries so much blame and pain, and it takes many years for her to reconcile with herself. I thought it was beautifully written, and Shelby is such a realistic character. I loved it.

Other stuff: The girls and I are so excited about the new American Girl movies on Amazon Prime. They're only 48 minutes long, as opposed to the feature-lengths of the older historical character movies, but the first, Melody - 1963: Love Has to Win, is very well done. (Here's the trailer.) Next up is Maryellen's story, just in time for Christmas.

Mr. B and I are working overtime, trying to get our house ready for next week. My brothers-in-law are coming to town for Thanksgiving! They live in Washington DC, and are treating us to a fancy Thanksgiving dinner out, but I still need to make my house look nice! I want to bake some pies, too. Tonight is the Fall Carnival at school, then the girls are out until the Monday after Turkey Day. December will mean major amounts of busy - dance fundraiser/performance, the school's 5th grade musical, LOTS of Nutcracker - so this will be our chance to breathe!

Hope everyone is having a lovely fall! (Or spring, if anyone south of the equator still reads this!)

Merry Weekend! Happy Reading!

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thankful Thursday

Sorry, I have so many books to blog about, and so many posts unfinished, because of poor photos. So here is another Thankful Thursday. We have lots of things for which we are thankful, but only a few bad Instagram pictures. That's okay.

Big Sis is thankful for...

Little Sis is thankful for...

And I'm thankful for...

... and everything they said, too. (Well, not for myself, but for Little Sis wanting to play Cyndi Lauper for a day, sure.)

Big Sis's magazine scores are Kazoo and New Moon Girls. The latter is an old favorite we haven't been able to find in our favorite indie store for some time. The former is new. Pop Star Day was part of Spirit Week. Little Sis insisted on either Cyndi Lauper in the "True Colors" video or David Bowie. I taped strips of newspaper to one of her poofier skirts and called it good. Today was Sports Day. Big Sis borrowed my Packers shirt, because it's comfy. Little Sis wore a velvet dance costume with leggings and a plastic Olympic-style medal and said she was a figure skater.  That's my girl.

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