This Week

Tee hee.  The girls and I were having a little fun last night.  My grandma, a former Tupperware lady, gave them these miniature Tupperware pieces.  I know the mixing bowl in the top picture was a keychain, but I'm not sure what the others were for.  They were perfectly Barbie-sized, though.

And now, what we've read and what we're reading!

I read:
I finished I Capture the Castle.  I loved it, I really did.  I wished I'd read it when I was in high school, because I know my teenage self would have swooned over it.  Cassandra Mortmain is such a wonderful character.

I'm reading:

Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L'Englie in Many Voices by Leonard S. Marcus.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that Madeleine L'Engle is one of my favorite authors, and that A Wrinkle in Time is my all-time favorite book.  When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it.  Marcus interviewed many different people in L'Engle's life, from family members to old acquaintances, editors and marketers to fellow writers.  The result is not so much a single portrait of L'Engle - although most agree, in addition to being a great writer, L'Engle had a flair for the dramatic - but a series of portraits, with differing viewpoints and perspectives.  Needless to say, I'm loving this book.

When I saw Leonard S. Marcus's name on this book, it cemented my need to read it.  The man is a wonderful historian of children's literature.  One of my favorite references for the history of children's publishing is Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature  (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008).  I know I've mentioned his lovely coffee table history of Little Golden Books, Golden Legacy (Golden Books, 2007), but as a fan and collector of LGBs, it really is a fun, informative book.  I've read his biography of Margaret Wise Brown (Beacon Press, 1992) and his recent Show Me A Story: Why Picture Books Matter.  A Conversation with 21 of the World's Most Celebrated Illustrators (Candlewick, 2012), but my favorite is a book he edited:  Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom (HarperCollins, 2000).  Nordstrom directed the Harper's Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973.  Some of the books produced by Harper during her tenure include Charlotte's Web, Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Harriet the Spy, and it was her idea to commission Garth Williams to provide new, uniform illustrations for Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series.  Her letters are fascinating.  They provide so many awesome historical insights into classic children's literature, and because she was such a wonderful writer herself, they are incredibly entertaining.

The girls and I read:

The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies by Ammie-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Christa Unzner.  Tanglewood Press, 2009.

Oh, goodness, this would be perfect for International Fairy Day!  The story is simple - children search for fairies - but the illustrations are what make this book a treat.  The backgrounds and children are all photographs, with cute illustrated fairies superimposed.

The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child, captured by Polly Borland.  Hyperion, 2006.

This one isn't new to us - we've checked it out before - but it had been a while.  (We also checked out two Charlie and Lola titles, as well as a DVD, this week.)  I love the funny, conversational style Child uses in retelling the familiar fairy tale.  (See also:  this beautiful book here.)  The amazing 3-D world Child created, photographed by Borland, had us oooh-ing and ahhhh-ing all over again.  Lauren Child is one of my favorites.  I'll admit, I think I like her - and Charlie & Lola - more than my kids.  I'm so excited for Big Sis to start her Clarice Bean collection.

What the girls and I are reading:

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Garth  Williams.  HarperCollins, reprint.

Why yes, we're still reading this.  (We were reading it this summer, too.)  The awesome news is that the story is so vivid, even if we put it down for a month - or two, maybe three - when we pick it back up, the girls still remember everything.  (We discuss it a bit first.)  We are finally approaching the end of the book.  Pa has just returned from his trek east for work, and last night, we read the beautiful chapter in which the family ventures to the church for an evening Christmas service.  The family hears the new church bell, and the girls see their first Christmas tree, covered with gifts brought west by the Reverend and Mrs. Alden.  There were squeals when Laura got her new fur cape and muff!

And Little Sis and I are working on Winnie the Pooh, and sometimes we all read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Big Sis is reading so many Junie B. Jones books that I can no longer keep them straight.  I just received a super-awesome package in the mail today.  Chronicle Books had a contest on their blog, and I was a winner!  I won The Nutcracker: A Magic Theater Book by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Kristina Swarner, and flipping through it, it looks fantastic!  I was so sad to pack away the girls' Nutcracker goodies, so it will be nice to have one more happy Nutcracker item to look at.  (Yes, I could wait until next Christmas to show them, but I know me too well.  We will look at it tonight.)  They were also cool enough to send us the Ivy & Bean paper dolls (which we have, but now the girls can each have their own set!  Ivy & Bean is still such a favorite) and the book A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long.  Have you ever read any of Aston and Long's books?  We checked An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy out from the library, and both were wonderful.  Big Sis in particular loves science and nature, and I am so excited to show her A Rock is Lively - she collects rocks with her daddy!  I do love Chronicle Books' children's output, and these gifts are perfect for my children.  Gifts...  Actually, perhaps I should sit on these until Valentine's Day.  Can I wait a month?  Cabin fever is starting to set in around here, but we do have the library...

Anyhoo, what are you reading right now?  Finished anything cool?

Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

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  1. so many great books! I really need to watch "I Capture the Castle." Love the movie, so i know the book will be even better! And it's always a good time to read some Laura Ingalls Wilder! :D

    1. The book is very good, and the movie followed it well. On the Banks of Plum Creek is my favorite Little House book. I'll probably wait until they are older before we read By the Shores of Silver Lake. Of course, then the oldest may be at the point where she can read it on her own...

  2. Wow, Leonard Marcus is awesome! And so cool that you won a new Nutcracker book! The girls and I have been reading all their many, many new books that I got them for Christmas! I asked my mom to get Keira the Ivy and Bean set, on your recommendation, and I got Tegan the Alain Gree board books and the Mary Blair collection one, among others. For myself, I'm starting on my Downton Abbey book that I got for Xmas!

    1. We love Ivy & Bean so much. They are so much fun. Both girls had their paper doll sets (which are really more like Colorforms) out tonight. Big Sis's best friend at school has read the first book now, and I overheard the 5-year-old explaining the books to her best friend (who's 4), trying to convince her friend to play Ivy & Bean with her. Are the Alain Gree board books magnificent in person? I love the Mary Blair set. Enjoy your Downton book!!!

  3. WOW! So many great books! My sister got me the golden legacy book for my birthday- I was really excited because i've been wanting it ever since you mentioned it a while back! I'm currently reading Rick Riordan's latest in greek mythology brought to modern day... I just can't stay away from YA. :) And of course I'm reading more train your dragon to the boys at night... we're on book 5.

    1. I haven't read the later Riordan books - the post-Percy Jackson titles. I loved the original Percy Jackson books, though! Enjoy Golden Legacy - I love books that are both beautiful and informative. I need to get the How To Train Your Dragon books for the girls.

  4. I love, love, love The Princess and the Pea book. We don't own it, but I checked it out at the library when my son was about six months old. Oh, and I read your Wilder vacation posts. You are so lucky to have experienced this with your girls!

    1. I want to own The Princess and the Pea. I think it's out of print in the US now, but I want to find a used copy. And thanks! We had a lot of fun, despite the heat. It was our first real family vacation together, beyond an overnight stay in Kansas City or at a relative's house. It made quite the impression on them!


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