Happy Friday!

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

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Dutton Children's Books, 2012.

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.

Beyond Books

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!

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Madeline (Little Golden Book)

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.  First published by Simon & Schuster, 1939.
Pictured here are the current hardcover by Viking Penguin, 1958,
and the Little Golden Book edition by Simon & Schuster, 1954.

 As a collector of Little Golden Books, one I was especially happy to find was Ludwig Bemelmans's classic Madeline.  The original book was first published in 1939 by Simon & Schuster, after being rejected by Viking.  (Viking took over as publisher of the Madeline books in the late 1950s.)  Simon & Schuster was also the original publisher of Little Golden Books, and in 1954, a Little Golden Book edition of Madeline appeared.

I loved this book as a child.  I think I was familiar with the 1952 UPA cartoon first.  It frequently aired on Nickelodeon's Pinwheel.  My first Madeline book was Madeline and the Bad Hat.  My grandmother found a used copy at a garage sale.  It lives on my daugters' shelves now.  We have a treasury of all five original Bemelmans's books, as well as the hardcover reprint of the first book by Viking Penguin.  The Little Golden Book is so interesting, though, because of the COLORS!

Surely, you know this book.  "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines / lived twelve little girls in two straight lines."  Madeline is the smallest and bravest of the girls, but one night, she wakes up crying and screaming.  The doctor comes and diagnoses appendicitis.  She is raced to the hospital.  One day, the other girls visit and are amazed by the toys and candy gifts Madeline has received.  She also shows off her scar.  That night, Miss Clavel is awakened by more crying.  She rushes to the room.  "We want our appendix out, too!" the girls wail.  By the way, the final line ("And that's all there is. There isn't any more.") was a tribute to stage actress Ethel Barrymore, who famously uttered those words during curtain call one night.  (See more facts via Mental Floss.)

The text is the same, but there are fewer illustrations.  As you can see, in the original hardcover, there are individual illustrations for "the smallest one was Madeline" and "She was not afraid of mice" and "She loved winter, snow, and ice."  In the Little Golden Book version, all of that text appears on one page.

To make the book more visually appealing in its smaller format, color was added!  Have a look at the original two-color version of this page, compared to the full-color page in the Little Golden Book.

Here is another example.  

In addition to the Madeline minisite run by Penguin, there is an official Madeline website at Madeline.com.

More fun links:

An NPR story about the character's 75th birthday, last year.
A New York Times article about the character, and a recent art exhibit at the New York Historical Society.
And while younger kids enjoyed multiple Madeline adventures on television and film, I grew up with this:

There was also a Shirley Temple's Storybook episode devoted to Madeline.  If you're in the U.S., it's available to watch on Hulu.

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The Simon Sisters Sing for Children

I bought this for myself.  True, the title suggests it's for children, but I totally bought it for ME, not the girls.  I found it at the Vintage Stock store on South Main Street in Joplin.

My little brother was born when I was 10 1/2.  My mother had a cassette tape of lullabies she would play. Side One was with (beautiful) vocals, Side Two was instrumental versions of the same songs.  Perhaps the loveliest song was a version of  Eugene Field's poem "Wynken, Blynken and Nod," one of my favorites.  I remember that the music was credited to folksinger Buffy Sainte-Marie.  When I would read the poem to the girls, I always sang it to the melody on the tape.

Years later, I finally saw a clip of Buffy Sainte-Marie singing her version of "Wynken, Blynken and Nod."  It's pretty, but it wasn't the melody on the tape.

Then as I was playing around on the internet, I found a clip of The Simon Sisters singing their version of the poem.  This is the melody I knew.  The music was written by Lucy Simon, older sister of the more famous Carly.

The Simon Sisters had a short recording career.  This album was a re-recording of a 1969 album called The Simon Sisters Sing The Lobster Quadrille and Other Songs for Children.  It was released in 1973.  [Here's the Wikipedia entry]. As you can see from the track listing, the album consists of musical renditions of famous poems, including "The Owl and the Pussycat," another favorite of mine.

(Click image to enlarge.)

While Lucy didn't have the pop music success that Carly enjoyed, she did become a successful composer on Broadway.  In 1991, along with playwright Marsha Norman, she collaborated on the Broadway musical The Secret Garden, earning a Tony nod for Best Original Score.  Her musical heart does seem to lie with literature.  Fitting that she is the daughter of one of the founders of Simon & Schuster.

Carly Simon has a page for this album on her website.  You can find a used CD on Amazon, stream the album on Spotify, or purchase it to download on iTunes.

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Rinkitink in Oz

Rinkitink in Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by John R. Neill.
Originally published by Reilly & Britton, 1916.
Books Of Wonder edition, HarperCollins, 1998.
And now we come to the tenth book in the Oz series!  Rinkitink was the first book in the series I bought to own.  The library had every book except this one.  I just received the eleventh book for my birthday, so we're good to go for a little while. 

I could not remember much of the plot when we began reading last week.  Baum did not intend for this to be an Oz book.  In fact, none of the famous inhabitants of Oz appear until near the end of the book, and it doesn't even take place in Oz!

The book begins on the Island of Pingaree, where we meet the young Prince Inga.  Inga's father has just told him the secret of the three magic pearls that help protect the kingdom, a gift from the mermaids many years before, when a small ship arrives, bearing jolly King Rinkitink of Rinkitink, and his talking goat.  Rinkitink has sneaked away from his own kingdom in order to pay his respects to his neighbors.  

One day, invaders from the islands of Regos and Corregos storm the island.  The king has no chance to grab the magic pearls from their hiding place.  All but Inga, Rinkitink, and the goat are taken to be slaves, and all the buildings on Pingaree are torn down.  Inga retrieves the pearls and with the jovial Rinkitink and his surly goat, he sets sail to save his parents and kingdom.

From there, I'm afraid, I will need to read the book!  So much happens!  Please read the synopsis on Wikipedia if you're desperate to know what happens next.

I do remember that the Nome King figures into it.  Baum started this book in 1905, when the Nome King was the evil Roquat (later Ruggedo), and before he was deposed in favor of the much nicer Kaliko.  Kaliko becomes a much more complicated character in this one.

Eventually, Dorothy shows up with a basket of eggs to lend a hand.

I have no cool film or television adaptations to link to today, but I do have an extra special treat to show you!  One last birthday present, in fact.  I received a beautiful card and package from the lovely Jane Chérie this weekend!  She is one of the sweetest people in Blogland, I do believe.  Inside the box were four Lalaloopsy mini figures, which was exciting enough.  But I gasped when I realized which mini dolls she had sent me.

Oz Lalaloopsies!!!!

There is Dorothy Gale Winds, Baley Sticks N Straws, Kitty B. Brave, and Tinny Ticker.  Yesterday, the girls and I started plotting a little playhouse for them.  Today, we made another shoe box dollhouse, complete with a yellow brick road, an Emerald City rendered by Little Sis, button flowers, and rocks and button stacks to help prop up the dolls.

Thank you so much, Jane Chérie, for your friendship and for the gifts! xoxoxoxo

Tomorrow is the first day of school!  I can't believe I'm saying this, but the summer was much too short this year!

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Happy Weekend

Happy Sunday!  I planned to publish our "other stuff we're reading" post yesterday, but we were busy.  Mr. B, the girls, and I ran around, getting the house ready for company.  Then my dad, grandma, and sister and her husband and daughters came over to celebrate my birthday.  We had pizza, and my grandma made her no-bake cherry cheesecake.  Along with a few other things (including my Darth Vader), I received a nice little birthday haul.  I'm wearing my new skirt, got some great books and movies, bought a record in Joplin...

So, what else have we read this week?

What We Read

The Life and Times of the Honeybee by Charles Micucci.  HMH Books for Young Readers, 1997.

This is such an incredibly detailed book.  Micucci documents the life cycle of a honeybee, the differences between workers, drones, and queens, the way they make honey, how they keep their hives, and so much more than I can list here.  Quite fascinating.  I need to check out more of his books for the girls.

Picnic by John Burningham.  Candlewick Press, 2014.

A sweet, interactive storybook, brand new this year, by one of the greats.  Boy and Girl head out for a picnic with some animals, and gentle chaos ensues.  There are questions scattered throughout the book, asking the young reader to find the animals on the page, before ending with the ultimate question:  "Shall we find your bed?"  I chuckled.  The girls glared at me.  It was bedtime, though.

What We're Reading

We finished The Scarecrow of Oz, so now we're on to Rinkitink in Oz.  Expect a post on it soon!

What I Read

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  St. Martin's Press, 2014.

Rainbow Rowell writes the YA books I wish had been around when I was a teen.  I loved Eleanor and Park, her big hit from last year.  While that one was set in the '80s, this one is set very much in the present.  Cath, a college freshman, must navigate more change than she thinks she can handle.  She has a twin sister, Wren, who has always been the cooler, more outgoing one.  Cath and Wren used to write internet fanfiction together about the Simon Snow books, but Wren stopped a while ago, leaving Cath to carry on.  Now, Wren makes disparaging remarks about Cath's fanfiction, and chooses to room with someone else, in a different dorm, using college as an excuse to party hard.  Cath must deal with college without her twin, as well as her father's mental state without his girls home to care for him, her feelings about her absent mother, her creative writing class, and guys, all while writing her very popular fanfiction.  I really like Rainbow Rowell.  She writes well, and has a knack for creating very believable characters.

The One (The Selection, Book 3) by Kiera Cass.  HarperTeen, 2014.

Okay, reading this one so soon after finishing Fangirl may have been a mistake.  That one was so well-written that the problems with The Selection books seemed more glaring.  This is the conclusion to that trilogy, in which Prince Maxim finally makes his choice in this televised Bachelor-meets-dystopian YA game, and America (the character, not the country, which no longer exists in the books) sorts out her feelings for the prince and the boy she left behind.  There were a few surprises, but the emotional back-and-forth between Maxim and America felt tiresome.  Not my favorite YA series, but it was trashy fun.  Just don't read it the day after reading something deeper and more wonderful.  [Did I really never post about book 2, The Elite?  I can't seem to find a blog entry about it.  Oh, well.  I think the first book was probably better.  I think.  I don't remember.  I'm terrible at this.]

Tomorrow is my babies' last day at home before school starts.  Just crazy.  Maybe we'll bust out the telescope tonight.  I'll leave with a shot of last night's supermoon.  It should be even bigger tonight!

Merry Weekend Rest of Your Sunday!  Happy Reading!

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