Drop Everything And READ!!!! (D.E.A.R.)

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!  She is 97 today!  And today is also Drop Everything And Read Day, or D.E.A.R.  (If you have ever read Ramona Quimby, Age 8, you might recognize Drop Everything And Read.)  There are a ton of downloadable resources and activities on the official website.  And be sure and stop by her Facebook page to wish her a happy birthday!

Big Sis's school is having another official D.E.A.R. event this afternoon.  You may remember that we had one last month as well.  They were smart, I think, in scheduling two events.  I'm debating whether to go today or not.  As with last time, I've already read to her class once this week, and I really feel like other parents or community members should have a chance.  Last time, however, it was me, one other mom, and a man from the local Air Force base.  I may still show up.  I was thinking of running to another branch of the library and grabbing a Beverly Cleary picture book.  We'll see...

Big Sis has been rehearsing in the evenings, in addition to the weekend, for Aladdin Jr., which will be performed Sunday and Monday.  I've been using her rehearsals to get a lot of reading done!  I did read...

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor,
illustrated by Helen John.  Follet, 1951.
This edition: Yearling, 1982.

What a charming book!  I love rosy autobiographical novels like this.  And yes, I have more of the books checked out from the library!  For those who are unfamiliar with the All-of-a-Kind Family, it is about five little girls, all dressed alike, growing up Jewish on the Lower East Side of Manhattan prior to WWI.  This first book is mostly a series of vignettes in the lives of the girls, similar in its simplicity to Little House in the Big Woods - very different subject matter, but if you know your Little House books, you know what I mean.   I hope to read these to the girls when we have a little less on our plate - we're still reading three other books at bedtime right now.

And I read...

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010.

I'm embarrassed it has taken me this long to read this book.  I have a lovely signed hardcover that I bought at my local indie store (while still working at my big box store job).  Clare Vanderpool is from my hometown.  We actually spoke to each other while waiting in line at a completely separate book signing, but I didn't ask her about her own book - now books, as a new one was published this year - since I still hadn't read it.  We're talking the 2011 Newbery Award winner here!  And oh my goodness, what a book this is!  This is the kind of book that really appeals to me:  a historical novel based in a small town, with lots of interesting characters and a young protagonist in search of something.  In this case, our young protagonist is a girl named Abilene, sent by her railroading father to live in a tiny town in southeast Kansas during the Great Depression, and what she is searching for is anything to do with her father in the past.  The book flashes back to the town during WWI, as a Hungarian immigrant fortune teller spins tales for Abilene about two young men and their ties to the town.  I'm not doing this book justice.

Have you noticed I'm a terrible book reviewer?  Isn't it enough to say, "Here, read this!  It's really good!"???

The girls and I finished The Magic Half.  We loved it!  It's a wee bit scary, which my girls enjoyed, but with a fantastic happy ending.  The ending may not make perfect sense if you think about it too hard, but it's about magic (and time travel!), and magic doesn't really make sense, right?

I'm taking a break from kids' books to read An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin, but I have more All-Of-A-Kind family books in my library bag, along with the first four Betsy-Tacy books:  I've never read them, either!

Anyhoo, Merry Weekend to you!  And Happy Reading!

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Tell Me, Cat

Tell Me, Cat by Ellen Fisher.  Stitchery by Virginia Tiffany.
A Whitman Giant Tell-A-Tale Book.
Whitman Publishing Company, 1965.

Oh, I'm excited to share this one with you today!  Remember the Whitman Giant Tell-A-Tale of Rumpelstiltskin I showed you?  The one with the amazing embroidered illustrations?  Well, I have another Whitman to show you.  Lots of stitchery, courtesy of the same Virginia Tiffany.  

But wait!  There's more!  It's all about cats!  And there are photographs of cats.  And the best part?

It's a book of poetry about cats.  So here I am, combining my love of embroidery, vintage children's books (particularly Whitmans!), kitties, and National Poetry Month into one giant post of awesome.  This book speaks for itself.  Enjoy.




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Icy Day Instagrams

This weekend: Warm, Sunny.

It turned out that repairing the busted wheel on Big Sis's old bike cost more than a sparkly new bike.  Sparkly new bike it is!  And a scooter for Little Sis.

Yesterday, the high was around 72.  Sunny, warm.

The girls' uncles got them a Zoku ice pop maker!

By 6 PM, the skies looked like this:

The temperature dropped 20 degrees in less than an hour.

And this is today:  Ice.  Everywhere.  Freezing rain.  Freezing drizzle.

I've been reading a lot this week!  (A Bargain For Frances I read to Big Sis's first grade class today.)

For the record, I had another post planned today.  I've been compiling pictures from poetry books of rain poems, because we did have some rain earlier this week.  Warm April rain, the kind Langston Hughes wrote about in "April Rain Song."

But today isn't a warm April rain.

This is December stuff.

So that's that.

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Fairy Tales, Provensen-Style

The Provensen Book of Fairy Tales, compiled and illustrated
by Alice and Martin Provensen.  New York: Random House, 1971.

Alice and Martin Provensen were such an awesome team.  Just before Easter, the girls and I read our copy of Funny Bunny, the Little Golden Book originally published in 1950.  Big Sis turned to me and said, "I love these pictures.  They remind me of the illustrations in The Color Kittens."  She has a great eye, that one.  

I love how their style evolved over the years.  The charming vintage cartoon quality of their Little Golden Books [Alice had worked for Walter Lantz, creator of Woody Woodpecker, while Martin worked for Walt Disney] changed as the years passed.  Sometimes it was sillier, sometimes it was simpler, sometimes it was richer.  Their style changed to fit the book they were illustrating at the time.

We all know how much I do love a good book of fairy tales.  I was excited to find a beautiful, affordable copy of this one.  The stories come from many different sources:  Oscar Wilde, A.A. Milne, Hans Christian Andersen, Howard Pyle...  Arthur Rackham gets the credit for "Beauty and the Beast," taken from his Fairy Book.  

from "The Lost Half Hour" by Henry Beston

from "The Nightingale" by Hans Christian Andersen

from "Beauty and the Beast" by Arthur Rackham

from "Feather O' My Wing" by Seumas MacManus

from "The Seven Simons" by Ruth Manning-Sanders

from "The Seven Simons"  by Ruth Manning-Sanders

from "The Prince and the Goose Girl" by Elinor Mordaunt

from "Prince Rabbit" by A.A. Milne

from "The Three Wishes" by Barbara Leonie Picard

from "The Swan Maiden" by Howard Pyle

If you want to see more Provensen fabulousness, I have a pinboard.  I know you're shocked.

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Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: My Little Pony (Rescue at Midnight Castle)

Our original Blossom and Butterscotch My Little Ponies, from the very first year.

It was an April morning in 1984.  My little sister and I were so excited.  A My Little Pony TV special was going to air that morning!  My dad had a tape in the VCR, all ready to go.

My sister and I had a few pony toys of our own.  We had a few from the first release in 1983.  I had Butterscotch, although I had wanted Minty, too.  My sister had Blossom and Cotton Candy.

The following year saw the first release of unicorn and pegasus toys.  I had Moondancer, a unicorn, and Medley, a pegasus.  My sister had Glory, another unicorn, and a regular pony or two, I think.  (The only original ponies to carry over into this group were Blossom and Cotton Candy.  I was sad - no Minty for me.)  We were curious to see which of our ponies made it into the special.
Glory and Baby Glory
Our VCR was old.  It had a remote control that was attached to a cord!  You had to plug it into the VCR.  And its only function was to pause out the commercials.  (I can still hear the Charmkins toy jingle in my head to this day, from the one commercial we were late to pause.)  But we taped our My Little Pony special.  And we watched it over and over for several years.  We never had the movies or other TV specials or TV shows, although our babysitter did. By the time the next group of ponies arrived, I was pretty much done with it.  I preferred books (surprise!), my record player, games, my roller skates, my Cabbage Patch Kids...

And then time passed, our tape became worn and was probably taped over.  I forgot all about the special, until my sister gave Big Sis both My Little Pony 25th anniversary 1983 reproduction collector's sets for Christmas.  To go with the toys, she pulled Sis on her lap and YouTubed whatever My Little Pony stuff she could find.

At the time, all she could find was the Sea Ponies' song.

Tiny Bubbles, a baby sea pony.  She was actually a third year release.
Time went on.  My girls wound up with a huge collection of vintage My Little Ponies, courtesy of our childhood stash at Grandma's.  My friend Katie found more ponies on eBay, along with My Little Pony: The Movie on VHS and the original soundtrack on vinyl.  (And Big Sis loved to play it.  It made my ears bleed.  Trust me :  The voices on Friendship is Magic are much, much better!)  We later upgraded the movie to DVD, and found lots of vintage television series episodes on DVD, too.  Then newer ponies followed.  And McDonald Happy Meal ponies.  And suddenly, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic  happened and the ponies changed completely.

Anyway, the whole point of this post - really? she has one?, you're saying to yourself - is to share the original My Little Pony special from 1984.  Some lovely folks have finally put it on YouTube.  It's now referred to as "Rescue at Midnight Castle."  I still like it best.  You meet Megan, Spike, and the Moochick (voiced by Tony Randall!), there's a scary castle, a man-beast, a scarier guy, a midnight chariot... [EDIT: Since I wrote this post, the show has disappeared from YouTube, unless you want to watch a bunch of Bronies make fun of it. I did find this over at dailymotion.]

After the TV special aired, my dad flipped it to Showtime and recorded Poltergeist.  


 So My Little Pony shared a videotape with the movie that gave me nightmares for years.  There's something fitting about that.  

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