Summer Reading and A Little Link Love

And just like that, it's officially summer vacation!

School ended on Thursday. Yesterday, we woke up to rain and highs in the low 60s. Which is fine by me, since Taskmaster Mommy has decided we must reorganize their bedroom and playroom before any fun can be had this summer.

We took a break from our work, however, to visit our favorite branch of the Wichita Public Library system, in order to sign up for the Summer Reading Program. We are so excited! In previous years, the girls would set their own reading goal, then keep a log of all the books they read. This year, instead of a log, they just have to check a box every time they read for 20 minutes. Additionally, they must complete four book-related activities. They have already checked their first box: "Ask a grown-up what they liked to read as a kid." Both girls plan to "Read a cookbook and make a recipe." Little Sis found a book called Japanese Cooking for Kids. Big Sis thrilled me by grabbing Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes. Audiobooks make the activity list, too. Little Sis grabbed an audiobook of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, read by Michael York. Big Sis checked out City of Ember, which she plans to follow along with as she reads the book. (I own the whole series.) Little Sis wants to "Dress up as your own superhero and take a picture," draw a picture about a book, and "Read a graphic novel." Big Sis would be happy to attend a library program.

And now for some link love:

And if you haven't had a chance, please check out the rest of my posts this week: three days of Japanese folktales (one, two, three) and a bit of moony whimsy.

I hope the weather is fine where you are, and no matter what,

Merry Weekend! Happy Reading!

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The Boy Who Drew Cats

The Boy Who Drew Cats by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Aki Sogabe.
Holiday House, 2002.

I wasn't planning on devoting three days in a row to Japanese folk tales. It just turned out that way!

It is the last day of school. Last week, I had a reading date with Big Sis's third grade class. There are only 3 or 4 kiddos who were in her class last year, so I decided to bring out the Fairy Tale Comics again. They were a huge hit last time, and once again, they did not fail to entertain. The kids who heard me read last year called out requests.  I picked the opening story, however. My favorite comic is Hildafolk-creator Luke Pearson's take on the Japanese fairy tale, "The Boy Who Drew Cats." You can see the whole thing at his website. [When I read it, I do voices. My "boy" voice is one of my favorites. I really missed my calling. I should have been a voiceover artist.]

On a lark, I decided to see if there were any other versions of the story at the library. It isn't in any of the folktale collections we own or have  checked out. Sure enough, I found this lovely picture book from 2002.

Kudos to Mabel for deciding to photobomb my lead picture. She likes to get in my way, but I didn't mind this time.

The story is simple. A farmer's youngest son isn't as tough or strong as his brothers, so he is sent to be an apprentice at a temple. The problem is, all he wants to do is draw pictures of cats. Everywhere.

After he defaces the temple, the old priest sends him on his way. He gives him one important piece of advice: "Avoid large places at night; keep to small."

He wanders until he finds an old temple. He stops to inquire about a place to rest, not knowing that the place was abandoned because a giant goblin-rat lived there. The goblin had killed many brave warriors.

Not knowing a bit of this, the boy goes inside. There are blank screens inside, perfect for cat pictures. He sets to work.

Night falls. He is about to settle in for the night, when he remembers the old priest's warning: "Avoid large places at night; keep to small." Finding a small cabinet, he crawls inside to sleep.

During the night, a loud ruckus takes place in the temple. The noises are terrible and frightening, but the boy stays in his cabinet, until the first hint of daylight streams in through a crack in the cupboard. All is quiet. He opens the cabinet...

and finds a gigantic goblin-rat, dead on the floor. There is blood everywhere. Looking at his drawings, he notices something new: there is fresh blood on the mouths of his cats.

This picture book concludes with the boy becoming a famous artists. Specifically, he grows up to be Sesshū Tōyō, as you can read in the author's note at the end.

I love the illustrations in this version. Count the kitties! There is at least one cat on almost every page.

Unfortunately, this one has gone out of print, but used copies do not seem very expensive. Or you can do as I do, and check your local library!

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Japanese Fairy Tales (A Giant Golden Book)

As I promised yesterday, today I have another book of Japanese folk tales to share with you. This one also came from the library. It's a Giant Golden Book from 1960.

Japanese Fairy Tales (A Giant Golden Book)
translated by Mildred Marmur, illustrated by Benvenuti.
Golden Press, 1960.

The lush illustrations are by an Italian artist who sometimes worked for Golden, Benvenuti. I think he's the same guy who did this book, but the style is so different. Amazon search for "Benvenuti Golden" turns up these results. (Oooo, Russian Fairy Tales.)

I must apologize for the photo quality. I had some major trouble with this one. The pages are faded and yellowing on this library copy, and it's too large for my scanner. I thought I'd post the best of the ones I took, but I'm disappointed. They don't do the book justice.

Several of the stories in this one can also be found in A Treasury of Japanese Folk Tales: "Urashima," "Hime," "The Sparrow," "The Man Who Made the Trees Bloom." I haven't had a chance to compare any except "The Story of Hime" ("Kaguya Hime"), but I was struck by how much more complete that story felt. The book only credits Mildred Marmur as translator. I'm not sure what her exact source material was.

Let's look at some pictures now, okay?

"The Story of Issoumbochi"

"The Legend of Urashima"

"The Legend of Urashima"

"Sima Who Wore the Big Hat"

I almost missed our Kaguya story! In this book, the tale is called "The Story of Hime." This one is much more detailed than the version in yesterday's book. We read it at bedtime the other night, and it gave me the same sleepy, sad feeling at the end that we felt from the movie.

"The Story of Hime"

"The Story of Hime"

"The Sparrow Whose Tongue Was Cut Out"

"The Magic Veil"

From left to right: "The Wicked Polecat," "The Dancing Teapot," and two illustrations from "The Man Who Made the Trees Bloom."

I would love to have this book in my collection, along with other Giant Golden Books of fairy tales. Hmmm. Perhaps one day...

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A Treasury of Japanese Folktales

A Treasury of Japanese Folktales (Bilingual English and Japanese Edition)
by Yuri Yasuda, illustrated by Yoshinobu Sakakura and Eiichi Mitsui.
Tuttle Publishing, 2010.

 Have you seen The Tale of the Princess Kaguya? Nominated alongside Song of the Sea (both lost to Big Hero 6) for Best Animated Feature at the 2015 Academy Awards, it is a hauntingly beautiful film, directed by Isao Takahata for Studio Ghibli. My daughters and I watched it a few week ago and were mesmerized by it.  

It's based on a very, very old Japanese folk tale, "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter." A bamboo cutter finds a glowing piece of bamboo. Cutting it open, he is surprised to find a tiny, beautiful girl inside. He and his wife raise her for their own, and she grows very fast. Many suitors come to woo her, but she insists she never wants to leave her parents. She sends them out to perform impossible tasks, in an effort to dissuade them. Finally, the Emperor himself comes to see her. She rejects his advances, but stays in touch with him. It's around that time that Kaguya sees the full moon. It makes her weep. She confesses that she was never from Earth. She is a princess from the moon, and the time is coming when she will be forced to return, and made to forget all she loved on Earth. The movie is faithful to the original story, although it fleshes it out quite a bit.

I'll leave it there. It's such a strange, melancholy tale.

We wanted to read a version or two ourselves. I own a Japanese folk tale book, but that story isn't in it. I lucked out at the library, where I found two different books containing the tale. This is the first.Originally published in English as Old Tales of Japan, this new version by Tuttle Publishing features a new Japanese translation, which makes up the bottom half of the text.

I cannot read it, of course, but it is attractive next to the lovely art.

Our story is presented as "Kaguya Hime (The Luminous Princess.)" It's a simplified version, leaving out the impossible tasks. Big Sis said immediately, "I like the movie better. It's more detailed."

Well, of course it is, sweetie. The version here only takes up nine half-pages of text.

"Kaguya Hime (The Luminous Princess)"

There are many great stories collected here. Some I had read before in other books, such as "Urashima Tarō (The Fisherman and the Tortoise)" and "Momotarō (The Peach Boy.)" The illustrations were created for Old Tales of Japan by two artists. There seem to be two different styles, but I have no idea who illustrated what.

"Shitakiri Suzume (The Tongue-Cut Sparrow)"

"Kintarō (The Strong Boy)"

"Kintarō (The Strong Boy)"

"Nezumi No Yomeiri (The Marriage of a Mouse)"

"Urashima Tarō (The Fisherman and the Tortoise)"

"Momotarō (The Peach Boy)"

"Momotarō (The Peach Boy)"

"Kachi Kachi Yama (The Kachi Kachi Mountain)"

"Kobutori Jiisan (The Old Men With Wens)"

"Issunbōshi (The One-Inch Boy)"

"Bunbuku Chagama (The Lucky Cauldron)"

"Sarukani Kassen (The Monkey-And-Crab Fight)"

The last page of the book.

I'll have another book to share with you tomorrow. It contains many of the same stories, but the art is completely different. I'll leave with a two-word hint: Giant. Golden.

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It's Only A Paper Moon

Oh, dear. June is just around the corner. I'm kicking into a state of high whimsy. What can I say? It's how I survive the summer.

Last week, the girls and I (briefly) attended the annual ice cream social at the historical museum. And look! They had a paper moon photo booth! It was a wet and rainy day, so I didn't even have my good camera with me. Big Sis and I took photos of each other, though, which I processed to a pulp via a couple of apps. But they're still cool, right? I want to make a big "paper" moon for parties. I found a spiffy DIY. I may try to talk Mr. B into the project sometime.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite VHS tapes to rent over and over was Peter Bogdanovich's 1973 film Paper Moon. (Must have been a Ryan O'Neal thing. My other go-to movie was Irreconcilable Differences.) A lot of the adult stuff went over our heads, and we knew better than to smoke or cuss like Addie. What I loved were Madeline Kahn as Trixie DeLight ("This baby's got to go winky tinky!"), and the fact it took place in Kansas. [The novel on which the movie was based, Addie Pray, takes place in Alabama.] 

Of course, it opened with the song. "It's Only A Paper Moon" was written in 1933 by Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg and Billy Rose, for a failed Broadway show. It went on to be featured in a 1933 Warner Bros. film called Take A Chance, where it's performed by June Knight and Buddy Rogers. The first big hit record was recorded by Paul Whitman and His Orchestra, with vocals by Peggy Healy. This is the version heard at the beginning of Paper Moon.

My favorite recording? That would be the 1933 record by Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards. Best known today as the voice of Jiminy Cricket, Edwards was also in Take A Chance. He also introduced the song "Singin' in the Rain" in the movie Hollywood Revue of 1929.

Earlier today, I assembled a Pinterest board called "It's Only A Paper Moon." This may be my favorite pinboard ever. I had a wonderful time hunting for vintage paper moon postcards and photographs. Some were from the turn of the last century, when Tin Pan Alley songs like "Shine On, Harvest Moon" and "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" were hits. Some are from the Dust Bowl-era. Until the 1930s or '40s, the paper moon photograph was quite common.



Huns in the Moon

Two Little Girls on a Paper Moon - Real Photo Postcard

There's a wonderful collection of paper moon photos, both vintage and modern, in the "It's Only a Paper Moon" Flickr pool.

More goodies from my Pinboard:

Spooning on the Moon

Moon Song illustrated by Billie Parks

Hope you found something to "moon" over this May evening!

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