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Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’


Art: Sun and Moon
A beautiful book reviewed at Brainpickings and featuring the work of ten of India’s indigenous artists.

Maria Popova, my go-to source for children’s book suggestions, tweeted about the book Sun and Moon in August, around the time of the eclipse.

“In Sun and Moon,” she writes, “ten Indian folk and tribal artists bring to life the solar and lunar myths of their indigenous traditions in stunningly illustrated stories reflecting on the universal themes of life, love, time, harmony, and our eternal search for a completeness of being.

“This uncommon hand-bound treasure of a book, silkscreened on handmade paper with traditional Indian dyes, comes from South Indian independent publisher Tara Books, who for the past decades have been giving voice to marginalized art and literature through a commune of artists, writers, and designers collaborating on books handcrafted by local artisans in a fair-trade workshop in Chennai …

“Among the indigenous traditions represented in the book are Gondi tribal art by Bhajju Shyam (of London Jungle Book fame), Durga Bai (featured in The Night Life of Trees), and Ramsingh Urveti (of I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail); Madhubani folk art by Rhambros Jha (of Waterlife); and Meena tribal art by Sunita (of Gobble You Up).”

Popova links to WorldCat, a library system, for the book’s publishing details and this description: “Part of everyday life, yet rich in symbolic meaning, renderings of the sun and the moon are present in all folk and tribal art traditions of India. Agrarian societies have always kept track of time by referring to markers in the seasonal variations of the sun, moon and planets. They have also woven wonderful stories and myths around them. Here, for the first time, is a collection of unusual stories and exquisite art from some of the finest living artists, on this most universal of themes.”

Be sure to read the Brainpickings post, here, for more art, more of Popova’s insights, and her ever thoughtful suggestions for related reading.

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I can hardly keep up with all the delightful-sounding children’s books that Maria Popova describes at Brain Pickings, but my local bookstore is benefiting in any case — not to mention, my grandchildren.

Here is one book that sounds worth checking into.

“In Tell Me What to Dream About,” writes Popova, third-generation artist Giselle Potter — who has previously illustrated such treasures as Gertrude Stein’s posthumous alphabet book and Toni Morrison’s darkly philosophical allegory for freedom — offers a whimsical take on lucid dreaming, that irresistible longing to choose our own nocturnal adventures.

“Potter tells the story of two sisters who, at bedtime, offer each other ideas for possible things to be dreamt that night — a tree-house town, a world where everything is furry, a fluffy world where clouds are worn as sweaters and eaten as treats, teeny-tiny animals feasting on teeny-tiny waffles. What emerges is a colorful celebration of children’s minds.” More here.

When I was a child, the oldest of a few others, I told stories after lights out, mostly about Sammy Seal, who snuck out through a hole at the bottom of the aquarium at night, had adventures, and got back before the authorities noticed his absence. Wish I could remember an adventure.

I’m thinking, What would I like to dream about tonight? I would like a dream in which all the people I know who are going through bad things just now were healed. And then I would wake up and it would be so.

Art: Giselle Potter

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I saw another recommendation at Brain Pickings for an intriguing-sounding book and bought it to have around for my grandchildren. It doesn’t have words, and when I tried to talk through the pictures to my second grandson, he said, “Read it.” He could tell I wasn’t using the read-a-story-book-voice.

But it’s a thoroughly charming book, and I’m sure he’ll catch on.

Maria Popova writes, “Half a century after Ruth Krauss wrote, and Maurice Sendak illustrated, one of the loveliest lines in the history of children’s books — “Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen.” — poet JonArno Lawson and illustrator Sydney Smith team up on a magnificent modern manifesto for the everyday art of noticing in a culture that rips the soul asunder with the dual demands of distraction and efficiency.

“Sidewalk Flowers (public library) tells the wordless story of a little girl on her way home with her device-distracted father, a contemporary Little Red Riding Hood walking through the urban forest. Along the way, she collects wildflowers and leaves them as silent gifts for her fellow participants in this pulsating mystery we call life — the homeless man sleeping on a park bench, the sparrow having completed its earthly hours, the neighbor’s dog and, finally, her mother’s and brothers’ hair. …

Sidewalk Flowers, which is immeasurably wonderful in its analog totality, comes from Canadian independent children’s-book publisher Groundwood Books.” More thoughtful description and more of the pictures may be found here.

I think Popova’s Brain Pickings blog is amazing, even if her prose is sometimes a little purple. I myself wouldn’t say that the demands of our always-on-the-job culture “rips the soul asunder.” Those demands are mostly pointless and should be ignored.

Art: Sydney Smith

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We had just enough snow yesterday to top off the cross-country trail my husband likes, but he’s pretty sure today was his last day skiing this season.

Before winter is entirely gone, check out a charming children’s book called Once Upon a Northern Night.

In the words of Maria Popova at BrainPickings.org, “Writer Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrator Isabelle Arsenault weave a beautiful lullaby in Once Upon a Northern Night (public library | IndieBound) — a loving homage to winter’s soft-coated whimsy, composed with touches of Thoreau’s deep reverence for nature and Whitman’s gift for exalting ‘the nature around and within us.’ …

” ‘Once upon a northern night
a great gray owl gazed down
with his great yellow eyes
on the milky-white bowl of your yard.
Without a sound
not even the quietest whisper,
his great silent wings lifted and
down,
down,
down,
he drifted,
leaving a feathery sketch
of his passing
in the snow.’ “

More about the book here.

Popova recommends that you complement Once Upon a Northern Night with Tove Jansson’s Finnish “classic Moominland Midwinter, then revisit the best children’s books of the year.”

My local indie bookstore is getting a lot of extra business because of Popova’s reviews of children’s books. In fact, I told the shop manager yesterday he should follow Brain Pickings, but there was a long line at the register, and I don’t think he wrote it down.

Art: Isabelle Arsenault/Groundwood Books
Once Upon a Northern Night

 

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Renée’s Christmas letter said she sometimes got children’s book ideas from this blog, which inspires me to increase my effort in that department.

Maria Popova’s extraordinary Brain Pickings website is a great source for children’s book recommendations, and I love that she often makes her finds in libraries.

Recently she described a sweet book called The Jacket, about a little girl who falls in love with a book.

Popova begins, ” ‘A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another,’ Rebecca Solnit wrote in her sublime meditation on reading. But how that transplant happens is a matter wholly subjective and deeply mysterious. In the unusual, wonderful, and magically meta picture-book The Jacket (public library | IndieBound), writer Kirsten Hall and illustrator Dasha Tolstikova explore the beauty and terror of falling in love with a book from the perspective of the book itself. …

“ ‘Book was a book that had just about everything,’ the story begins. ‘He was solid and strong. His words were smart and playful. The problem was, Book didn’t feel special.’

“Book does want to be noticed … And then, one day, it happens. A little girl walks into the bookstore and falls in love with Book.”

But Book has to compete with the little girl’s dog for her affection. One day at a picnic, the dog accidentally splatters Book with mud.

“That night, her mother helps clean Book up, but the girl is ‘too sad and gloomy’ to read. … But when the girl opens her eyes in the morning, ‘something had changed.’

“She has a plan. With quiet excitement and optimism, she sits down at her desk with some art supplies as [her dog] and Book wonder what she’s working on.

“And then, the reveal: a colorful handmade jacket for Book, which she wraps around him as she beams a smile.” You learn how to make a jacket for your own book.

I love that after the girl sleeps on her problem, she wakes up with a solution, a feeling that she can do something about this. Strangely perhaps, my associations are to the Prodigal Son (“And when he came to himself, he said …”) and the ancient Greeks (“A dream came and stood at her head and said …”).

More at Brain Pickings, including lots of pictures.

Art: Dasha Tolstikova
Maria Popova says, “The Jacket comes from Brooklyn-based Enchanted Lion Books, by far the most intelligent and imaginative picture-book publisher today.

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Photo: clickalps.com

Go to Bored Panda to see adorable mouse photographs collected by Skirmantė that could come straight from Beatrix Potter. Two Bad Mice, anyone?

Wikipedia’s entry on the children’s book author and naturalist says, “Born into a wealthy Unitarian family, Potter, along with her younger brother Walter Bertram (1872–1918), grew up with few friends outside her large extended family. Her parents were artistic, interested in nature and enjoyed the countryside. As children, Beatrix and Bertram had numerous small animals as pets which they observed closely and drew endlessly. …

“Beatrix was educated by three able governesses, the last of whom was Annie Moore (née Carter), just three years older than Beatrix … She and Beatrix remained friends throughout their lives and Annie’s eight children were the recipients of many of Potter’s delightful picture letters. It was Annie who later suggested that these letters might make good children’s books.

“In their school room Beatrix and Bertram kept a variety of small pets, mice, rabbits, a hedgehog and some bats, along with collections of butterflies and other insects which they drew and studied. Beatrix was devoted to the care of her small animals, often taking them with her on long holidays.”

I visited her home in the Lake District with my husband, and I read a biography of her. Like many girls of her time and social stature, she was a lonely child. But her creative genius filled her world with fully realized imaginary companions. And she seems to have had a satisfying adulthood preserving land in the Lake District and pursuing her natural history interests.

[Asakiyume: Thanks for putting the lead on Facebook.]

Photo: Miroslav Hlavko

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The tail of the hurricane socked us pretty hard on the Glorious Fourth, so the parade, the fire-police-and-rescue steak fry, and the fireworks were put off until the 5th.

Makes me wonder about how people felt on the 5th in 1776, realizing that they were in for it now. That it might not work.

The theme of this year’s parade was children’s books. There were at least two Cat In the Hat floats and two very differently conceived Hungry Caterpillar entries. I managed to to snap the Little Toot float — it’s always good to have a boat in an island parade.

This was Erik’s first Independence Day parade since he became a citizen, and the first that our two-year-old grandson really got into. He will need to brush his teeth especially well tonight. Only very sticky candy like Tootsie Rolls seemed to be tossed to the crowd.

watching-the-parade

 

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