Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Fairy Friend

A Fairy Friend by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Claire Keane.
Holt Books for Young Readers, 2016.

As soon as school lets out for summer break, I enter my goofy "all-whimsy, all-the-time" stage. I'm ready to build fairy houses (large and small), celebrate Midsummer and International Fairy Day, and indulge in fantasy movies and books and crafts. (See Pinterest, too - here and here.) I don't like the heat and humidity and mosquitos, so I have to find something sweet to get me through Kansas summers.

We're off to a sluggish start.

School let out a week ago, and late May has been a stormy wet one. Little Sis went on a weekend camping trip with her Scout troop, and came home sick. We're trying to get the girls' bedroom and playroom reorganized and cleaned up, and we're progressing at a snail's pace. We will take a break tomorrow to see Alice Through the Looking Glass with Little Sis's BFF and her mom and, weather permitting, we may have something fun planned for Saturday. I'm in rehearsal for every fairy-lover's favorite play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. (Not that I'm playing a fairy. I have firmly established myself as a weirdo clown in local Shakespeare productions.)  Mr. B has discussed plans for an awesome semi-permanent fairy playhouse, but time and weather and money need to be on our side.

But waaaaahhhh. Get over it, D.

Let's capture the mood with a book instead, shall we?

I was so excited when I saw teaser illustrations for A Fairy Friend on Claire Keane's Facebook and Instagram. My family adored her picture book debut Once Upon A Cloud. A former designer for Disney (Tangled and Frozen), her art reminds me of classic old-school animation. I think her faces look characters from a deleted scene from Fantasia.

This time, the text is by another writer. Sue Fliess has penned many picture books, including some of cuter more recent Little Golden Books. Her rhyming text is very sweet. I enjoyed her instructions for finding a fairy friend of your own. I want to start right now! (Stupid mud and rain.)

We have been stuck indoors since Monday, so we're very behind on our fairy house and garden construction. I am well-stocked on crafting supplies, though, so we just made more flower fairies for our branch tree! You can never have too many, and they're fun little props, too. For more on our little faux fairies, see last year's Fairy Day post.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mac & Cheese Wednesday: Spinach-Artichoke Mac AND Fantastic Daisy Artichoke


Hey, look, it's a Mac & Cheese Wednesday post! Sorry, my tummy told me I needed to slow down on the mac and cheese recipes. However, my mother tagged me on Facebook with a recipe for Spinach-Artichoke Mac and Cheese - a Buzzfeed recipe, no less - and it looked too tasty to resist! I Googled spinach-artichoke mac and cheese recipes, just to compare this one with any others that may be out there, then decided this one looked fine. Verdict?

Oh my gosh. This was delicious. So delicious that I forgot to take any pictures besides the bad phone photo you see at the top of the page.

So the recipe can be found on Buzzfeed, complete with video. For once, I was able to follow the recipe directly. (In other words, I went to the store after I decided to make it.) 

And today's book? It's Fantastic Daisy Artichoke by Quentin Blake!

Fantastic Daisy Artichoke by Quentin Blake. Red Fox, 2001.

Alas, the book has nothing to do with actual artichokes. It's just a fun little book celebrating the fabulous hippie DIY-er Daisy Artichoke. It's a rhyming story with a catch: every rhyming word rhymes with "-choke!"

I love Quentin Blake illustrations. I think Little Sis copies his style at times in her own art, which makes me giggle.  Unfortunately, this one is out-of-print (at least in the U.S.), but perhaps you can score a used copy, or do as we did and check it out from your local library.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (Barbara Cooney)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Field, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
Hastings House, 1964.

As I mentioned last week, I recently checked out two Barbara Cooney poetry picture books from the library. The other is the beautiful Wynken, Blynken and Nod.

This one is printed on thick textured paper. I'm betting a non-library copy in good condition must be gorgeous!

I have loved this poem ever since my brother was a baby. My mother had a Disney lullaby cassette, and the Lucy Simon musical setting was my favorite on the tape. More blog posts referencing the poem may be found here.  I also have a Pinterest board, because of course I do.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Owl And The Pussy-cat (Barbara Cooney)

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
Little, Brown and Company, 1961.

Once again, I requested some buried treasures from library storage. I love Barbara Cooney's illustrations, and when I saw that she had illustrated my two favorite childhood verses, I knew I had to see them in person. First up, The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.

There isn't much I need to say about this one. The colors she chose are soothing and lovely, perfect for a sea tale.

Stay tuned for one more Cooney-illustrated treasure!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Magic of Oz

The Magic of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by John R. Neill.
Originally published by Reilly & Britton, 1919.
Books of Wonder edition, HarperCollins, 1999.

I can't believe it's been nearly a year since we last finished an Oz book! We took a break after The Tin Woodman of Oz, in order to try some other read-alouds. Then Big Sis started the Harry Potter books on her own, and trying to pull her back into the Muggle World has become very, very difficult!

Sunday was L. Frank Baum's birthday. Little Sis asked, "Mom, what book are we on?" I told her we were ready to start The Magic of Oz. "Okay, let's start tonight!" Alas, we have the book pulled and ready, but as it's the last week of school and everything is crazy, we haven't had a chance to read yet. I thought I'd share it anyway, promising we will crack it open together soon! The Magic of Oz was the first book published after L. Frank Baum's death in 1919, by the way. After this one, there is only one Baum Oz book left. (Well, and Little Wizard Stories. But I digress.)

Endpaper love...

I'm going to admit something. I adore John R. Neill's Oz illustrations, with the exception of his Wizard. I think his Wizard is scary. There, I said it.

I mean, look at him leering at little Dorothy...

I could only remember two things about this book: there's a big bird in the beginning, and the Glass Cat is very funny in it.

And then I read this bit and started howling. I forgot how much fun this one was to read aloud! The plotline hinges on this magic word, and I have no clue how to pronounce it (which is the point.)

The magic word, "Pyrzqxgl," can transform anyone into something else - as long as you know how to pronounce it. A bored Munchkin lad, Kiki Aru, can say it, and changes himself into a bird. He lands in the Land of Ev, becomes a thief, and meets Ruggedo, the banished former Nome King. The two join forces and devise a plan to conquer Oz. Meanwhile, a band of our Oz friends are searching for trained monkeys for Ozma's upcoming birthday party. The two groups meet and havoc breaks loose. Meanwhile, Trot and Cap'n Bill search for a special flower for Ozma's birthday, and encounter their own set of dangers.

Bungle, the Glass Cat, may not have her pink brains, but she's still a brat, even when helping save the day. And the awful Wogglebug shows up in this one, but we will have to read it, because I don't remember much! After all, it's been more than six years since I first read it to my preschool-aged Big Sis.

By the way, I started a second Instagram account for the blog. This one is specifically for books.

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