Seriously! Happy Friday! It's our first Friday of the new school year, and the girls were already looking forward to the weekend. Little Sis has a sleepover tonight, and Big Sis's plans include the two of us consuming large quantities of popcorn and season 3 of Once Upon A Time. The photo above illustrates our week well. We came home from Joplin with a pickup full of stuff from my late mother-in-law's storage unit. This called for some major cleaning, organizing, and rearranging. The little rocking chair, rainbow afghan, and stuffed clown (Bobo) were from her place. (She made Bobo for my husband when he was a baby.) We also did some major work on the kitchen, which included reorganizing the baker's rack so it almost looks nice! And Tuesday, the girls started first and third grades. I love their teachers, and I have very high hopes for this year. So, let's begin my usual Friday round-up.
What We Read
Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad.
Tundra Books, 2014.
This book probably deserves its own post. It's just so wonderful. It is not a picture book about Julia Child. Rather, it's a book about a child named Julia and her best friend, Simca. Julia and Simca love to cook together. They shop at the market and collect recipes, especially French recipes. "When they dreamt of the future, they always pictured themselves cooking happily together: the oldest children in the world." You see, they believe grown-ups are too busy, too hurried, incapable of the kind of fun Julia and Simca have together. They invent new recipes to bring out the child in the adults around them. At first, the adults become so childlike that they become greedy and argumentative. However, all it takes is one last recipe to make the adults see the wonder around them. Morstad's illustrations are stunners. The adults are rendered in black and white, like the colorless entities the children think they are. Other clever touches include the name of the girls' recipe book: "Mastering the Art of Childhood." You can see more of the book at its page at Tundra Books. It is also featured on their blog today, because today is Julia Child's birthday! She would have turned 102 today. Be sure to check out the printable recipe cards. They're adorable!
No book trailer. Let's celebrate Julia Child instead!
Matilda's Cat by Emily Gravett. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014.
Emily Gravett makes such wonderful picture books. If you have ever had a cat and a young child - at the same time - you will understand this book. Little Matilda, in her cat costume, tries throughout the book to engage her cat in her favorite activities: playing with yarn and boxes, riding her trike, having a tea party, wearing hats, drawing, climbing, reading... Each page claims "Matilda's cat likes ____," only the illustration always proves otherwise. The cat is either uninterested or scared. Finally, the book admits that "Matilda's cat does not like" the entire list of activities. The last page shows little Matilda and her kitty curled up, asleep. "Matilda's cat likes Matilda." It is as adorable as it sounds.
Noah's Ark by Jerry Pinkney. Chronicle Books, 2002.
Every time we pick up a book illustrated by the amazing Jerry Pinkney, the girls ooh and ahh, then start planning his next book. "He should do this next!" or "I wish he'd do a version of this." A Pinkney book is a special book. The paintings in this one are breathtaking, as usual. Otherwise, it's just a simple retelling of the Noah story. Little Sis chose this one. She liked the giraffes on the cover.
Here is a nice little Q&A session with Jerry Pinkney via Scholastic.
Amelia Earhart: Female Pioneer in Flight by Lori Mortenson, illustrated by Robert McGuire. Picture Window Books, 2008.
True, we seldom learn anything new by reading every picture book under the sun about Little Sis's hero. We've read it all before. This is a great intro to Amelia, though, covering her life from her birth in Atchison, Kansas, to her famous disappearance. The illustrations have an interesting moody quality.
Obviously, Little Sis has dominated our picture book choices this week, because here is one more...
Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Wendell Minor. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2011.
Back in March, as we read books for Women's History Month, we read two picture books about Harriet Quimby, the first woman to cross the English Channel. One book was a straightforward biography. The second was a tense, compact account of that historic flight. I felt a bit of
déjà vu as we read these Amelia Earhart books. While the one above was a straightforward biography, Night Flight is a tense, compact account of one historic flight: her solo flight over the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. Amelia Earhart was not only the first woman to cross the Atlantic in a plane, but she was only the second person to do it solo. (The first was Charles Lindbergh, of course.) It was a harrowing flight. There was a storm, her altimeter stopped working, and she almost landed in the ocean, but she finally managed to land in a farmer's field in Ireland. The art is gorgeous, and the book gives you a real sense of the danger and excitement of air travel back then.
We are also working on Rinkitink in Oz. Not too far yet, but I hope we can read more this weekend.
What I Read
No, I haven't seen the movie, and I probably won't until it's out on DVD. I just don't get to the movie theater often. But with all the attention the movie got, and after listening to stories on public radio like this one, I wanted to check it out. I knew it's a wildly popular book about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love. I knew it was a tearjerker. My thoughts? Well, my somewhat pretentious, know-it-all, alternative music-listening 16-year-old self would have loved it. Hazel and Augustus are not sentimental, drippy characters. And they talk a lot. A. Lot. In big metaphors. My adult self did tear up, but I wasn't exactly a mess. It just didn't speak to the adult me. Some of the dialogue and Hazel's narration made my eyes roll, to be honest. Remembering what I was a like as a teen, though, I can see why so many teens love it. That's my kind assessment. It just isn't for me.
Just for fun, though, here is the music video for "Boom Clap" by Charli XCX, featuring clips from the movie.
Big Sis goes around singing it all the time, and both of my tiny nieces like to dance to it.
I spent yesterday afternoon watching Mork & Mindy episodes on Hulu. I hadn't seen it in years, but it still made me laugh. I cried when I heard that Robin Williams committed suicide this week. He was so much a part of my childhood. Besides watching Mork & Mindy, I actually remember seeing Popeye in the theater with my parents. I was about 3 1/2. It was one of the first movies my parents bought for our SelectaVision CED video disc player. I didn't care for the cartoons as a child, but I still love Robert Altman's weird film version. Between Harry Nilsson's music and the pitch-perfect cast, it's one of my favorite movies from the '80s.
Popeye is currently streaming on Netflix, as well as Amazon Instant Video. (It's free if you have Amazon Prime.) The girls watched Hook again the other night. Little Sis thinks she might be ready to try Jumanji again. (Both movies are on Netflix: see here and here.)
Robin Williams also starred in the first episode of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre on Showtime. This is one of the best episodes from that series. My family and I were just quoting it at my birthday get-together last Saturday, in fact.
I was also sad about the passing of Lauren Bacall. I was in middle school before I ever saw one of her movies (How To Marry A Millionaire), but she was a mythic figure in my early childhood. My mother was reading her autobiography when she was pregnant with my little sister. I was named after an older friend of my mother's. My sister was named after Lauren Bacall. By the way, I have my mother's copy of that book, and I did read it in high school, around the time that Humphrey Bogart became my favorite old movie star. Now Bogie has his Baby again.
And... that's my Friday post. Or to borrow a phrase from yesterday's post:
"That's all there is. There isn't any more."
Merry Weekend! Happy Reading!