Instagrams, Books & Family Stuff, and Link Love



Happy Weekend, dear readers! It is very, very cold here in south-central Kansas, but dry and snow-less. I hate that. If it's going to be this cold, then I want to see some snow! Real snow, not the tiny dust specks that blew for a minute or two this morning. For all of you who may be up to your ears in the stuff, I'm sorry. Roll your eyes at me. Ignore me. Yell and threaten to send me all your white stuff.

I haven't done a nice Friday round-up of what we've been reading in a while, and unfortunately, I don't have one now. I have to admit, my attention span is slightly shot lately. I think I'm still coming down from shows and traveling and stuff. The girls are doing a much better job. I posted the first picture on Instagram last night. Big Sis is finally reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. She has three different copies placed in different places: my leatherbound deluxe edition (which I bought in the bargain assortment at Barnes & Noble) is in her desk at school, my original hardcover is up on her bunk bed, and her own illustrated edition is roaming around the rest of the house. She just happened to be wearing her Gryffindor socks last night, too.

Little Sis is re-reading the Owl Diaries books. She read the first book aloud to me this week:


She started reading the second book again last night. There is a third book, but I've talked her into waiting until the school's Scholastic Book Fair next month to get it.

Otherwise, the month has seen Little Sis enjoying her new art supplies:


There's her new Tsum Tsum. Little Sis continues to love her toys, especially her dolls and stuffed animals. She is spending Friday night at her BFF's house, then Saturday will find her at Chuck E. Cheese for a birthday party. She has a very busy social life!

Big Sis is my quieter girl. She began guitar lessons this month and is progressing quickly. She is developing a knack for music. Besides her guitar, her Beatles records are her other favorite Christmas gifts. 

Other favorite projects: counting down the days until she can change earrings [she used Christmas and leftover birthday money to get her ears pierced!], making candles with her daddy, playing with Peanut, making a pompom scarf, and playing lots and lots of Trivial Pursuit: Family Edition.


Another favorite Christmas gift: the girls received a Doodle Crate subscription from a family friend in Minnesota! The first project was screenprinting! It came with a screen, ink, and stencils, and a drawstring backpack. They both love it.


I've been in cold weather cooking mode. I made baba ghanoush for the first time, along with roasted red pepper hummus. [This cookbook.] I made homemade pita bread, and along with a boxed mix falafel and yummy feta, it turned out to be a delicious meal. A couple days later, I made my potato soup with Irish soda bread.


Other Favorite Things


  • Shakshuka is currently my favorite savory breakfast, especially when it's under 30 degrees outside.
  • This show just appeared on Hulu. I've already watched it once (and Mr. B has seen it twice), but "All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again." Halfway through season one now, in fact.
  • Mr. B and I watched this, too. Loved it. [We watched it via Shout Factory's Roku channel.]
  • I am very excited to see this on the big screen again next month. [I saw it 3 times in the theater in the '80s!]  It was already on the Orpheum schedule, but it will be especially poignant now. Little Sis will wear her t-shirt. I will sing along and whisper all the lines.
  • By the way, have you ever seen this? It was made for HBO back in 1986, and was included on the DVD extras.
  • If you have Amazon Prime, this new original series for kids is very cute. It's based on a book, which we may have to check out.
  • I shared this on Facebook, but I'm sharing here, too, BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME.
  • And also this.
  • Sigh.

Stay warm, dear friends!

Merry Weekend! Happy Reading!

Pinocchio's Dream

Pinocchio's Dream by An Leysen (translated from the Dutch by the publisher).
Clavis Publishing, 2015.

Back before Christmas, I saw a gorgeous new copy of The Nutcracker at my favorite bookstore. Unfortunately, I was on a bit of a spending freeze, in preparation for our trip to Washington, D.C., and my library did not have it. I did research it a bit, and found that the author/illustrator lived in Belgium, and that she had three books available in English, in the U.S.

My dad gave the girls a big stack of books for Christmas, and all three books by An Leysen made it into the stack!

I'll cover the others in due time, but today, I want to share our favorite with you: a re-telling of Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio.



Have you ever read the original? I have not, although I have read about it numerous times. The Disney version is rather nightmarish at times, but apparently it has nothing on the novel. I think I'm going to add the book to my to-read pile for 2016. [I'm off to a rough start on my reading this year, but it's still early, right?] I remember reading something by Maurice Sendak once, comparing the Disney and Collodi versions of the story. If you're interested, go read this Washington Post article from 1988. Sendak preferred the Disney, by the way.

This picture book, which is suitable for older school-age children - it's long and wordy, compared to the average picture book - is beautiful. Leysen's illustrations are gorgeous. The tale includes a few elements not found in Disney, although a few Disney-fications [the Terrible Dogfish is a whale, the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair is simply "The Blue Fairy"] remain. The biggest change is the ending, when all is revealed to be a modern little boy's dream.


Gepetto (spelled with one "p" in this version) is a lonely carpenter. One night, he decides to carve himself a marionette. He puts so much of himself into the creation of his little boy puppet, that it springs to life. He names him Pinocchio. Pinocchio begs to be free of strings, and to be allowed to attend school like a real boy. Gepetto relents, selling his only jacket to buy Pinocchio's school book. Alas, on his way to school he meets two hucksters, a cat and a fox.They swindle Pinocchio, sending him off to see a puppet show. The Harlequin puppet sees Pinocchio and calls out to him. The puppet master is furious at Pinocchio for ruining his show, until he realizes what an amazing object Pinocchio is.

The rest of the book is familiar if you've read or seen other versions. Pinocchio becomes a star puppet. The Blue Fairy comes to his rescue, but not before Pinocchio tells a lie or two. Pinocchio meets the cat and fox again, who convince him to bury his money under a tree, where they steal it. Pinocchio learns a bit about the value of work, then lies to the Blue Fairy again. He meets a man carrying children to "The Land of Must-Nothing and Can-Everything," which is fun until the boys turn into donkeys. Pinocchio grows a donkey's ears and tail, but runs away before more damage can be done. He falls into the cold ocean, losing his ears and tail. He is swallowed by a whale, and reunited with Gepetto in its belly. They manage to escape, bobbing in the water in Pinocchio's paper hat-turned-boat.

And suddenly, the story changes. It is morning. Pinocchio opens his eyes. He is a real boy. He runs down the stairs. We are in a modern kitchen. The father sits at the table with his coffee and newspaper, looking just like Gepetto. The mother has brown hair, but her face is that of the Blue Fairy. Surprise!










On the back endpaper you will find instructions for making a paper hat/boat.


We had such a magical time reading this book by candlelight one night that Mr. B felt the need to document it.



By the way, I could not find an official website for An Leysen, which made me sad. If you're a fan of Nicoletta Ceccoli, Benjamin Lacombe, or Rebecca Dautremer, you will love An Leysen, too.

I did find that her version of Baba Yaga(!!!!) is being published in the U.S. in September!


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