Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What We're Reading Now

After wracking my brain to come up with cute pseudonyms for my people, C. S. Lewis came through. Henceforth, I will be referring to Mr. 15 as Peter, Ms. 14 as Susan, Ms. 12 as Lucy (yes, I know Lucy was the youngest), Mr. 8 soon to be 9 as Edmund. Baby J will remain Baby J until she is old enough to assume Jill's role.

This past weekend, I went to Barnes & Noble with one of those coupons that might be 50% off, but is probably 15% off and you don't know until you check out. I went with one goal in mind. The time had come for me to purchase the complete Chronicles of Narnia on audio. I was prepared to spend up to $100 on this goal. The pathetic collection of audio books for children, the crowds, the table advertising "Series Teens Should Read" that included the Pretty Little Liars books(gag. drugs, drinking and driving, affairs with teachers. That's three illegal things. That's all I have to say.); I finally discovered that the only Narnia audio book in the store is The Magician's Nephew. I'm a purist and I believe that Clive, or Jack as he preferred to be called, meant The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to be read first. So we went to the library.

And Miss Amy's collection came through. We started listening yesterday on a half hour drive to the dentist. Yes, I know it's the fourth week of Advent. Yes, I have ten thousand better things to do than haul my people to Oak Park to get cleanings and fillings. Hangs head in shame. BUT the time has come to get braces for my teens and they have to have cleanings and fillings first.

Back to books, on the way home, after 90 minutes of dental doldrums, Edmund asked if we could listen to that story some more. :)


Peter is off school all week, and since I keep hiding his technology (I learned from the best, my mom.), he has begun From Slave to Priest: A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolson, First Black American Priest of the United States by Sr. Caroline Hemsath.
Like most boys and men, Peter enjoys non-fiction more than I do. My husband read this and enjoyed it as well.

Susan, as far as I know, is currently bookless. I am forcing her to read the Anne of Green Gables series. She reads one of those, then she reads a book of her choosing, then she reads the next Lucy Maud Montgomery, then another of her choosing, and so on. I am doing this, because she is in a deep sci-fi, dystopian rut. I want her to eat some romance with her steampunk. I'm mean that way. She's in the midst of finals right now, and doesn't have time to read anything.

Lucy is working her way through The Goose Girl books, which are officially known as The Books of Bayern. She is currently on Enna Burning. We are huge Shannon Hale fans. I recently read on her Facebook page that she is working on a sequel to The Princess Academy, and that her novel for grown-ups, Austenland, is being produced as a movie, right now.






Edmund, in addition to the audio book, is also on a "one for me, one for you" plan. His addiction is Franny K. Stein books. He is a unique reader in that he reads extremely s l o w l y. In order for him to pass his mandatory three Reading Counts quizzes each quarter, at his grade level, I have to find shorter books with lots of pictures, but with a high reading level. Franny K. Stein books, Lunch Walks Among Us, Attack of the 50 Ft. Cupid, and so on by Jim Benton fit the bill. They are ok. Ugly pictures, simple plots, HUGE vocabulary words. Franny is a mad-scientist girl in a normal world, sort of the opposite of the Munsters, and their normal niece. She tries to change to fit in, but learns to be herself to save the school from mutant lunches, etc.


Now, the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel also fit the bill. Beautiful. Classic. I love these books dearly. However, there is a certain stigma to reading "baby" books in third grade. Plus, he's taken those quizzes already. So on the "one for me" turns, he can choose from Ready, Freddy! by Abby Klein, Arthur Chapter Books by Marc Brown, or A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy.





And what am I reading? My to-do list! Ha!
I recently finished Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer and loved, loved, loved it! I adore WWII books. It's taken me over thirty years to realize it. My dad loves Civil War books, but me, I am amazed by the period in world history when the forces of darkness were so powerful, and there seemed to be very little hope or light, but the light gathered and strengthened and won! I don't know if it's because I know people who were there, or because those decades were epic in every sense of the word. I've read dozens of novels set in these times, in many different places, and from all points of view, and I feel I've only scratched the surface of what it must have been like.Link
Black Radishes is about a Jewish family in France. It is the story of their flight from Paris into Vichy France or Free France just before the Occupation, and their adventure retrieving some loved ones from the Occupied zone. I didn't know much about the French occupation or the Maginot Line, but now I know a little bit more. This book is great for elementary school children on up. This book also made me want to re-read one of my all time favorite books, Came a Cavalier by Frances Parkinson Keyes. I highly recommend this one for teens and moms. You know, to read in your "spare" time.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Lady of Guadalupe and Stories to Learn By

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola is another title in my Christmas collection. Perfect for today's feast, the story is accurate and the pictures give a feel for the Aztec life that Juan Diego lived five centuriesLink ago. Tomie dePaola has lots of Catholic picture books, including the Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica, Mary: the Mother of Jesus, Christopher: the Holy Giant, and Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland.


We have a few other picture books biographies of saints. I guess that's somewhat of an understatement, because we own the entire Fr. Lovasik collection.

I find the one page biographies "text heavy" and too wordy for children. I do love the romantic portraits though.

My kids would much rather sit and listen to a Tomie dePaola book (though long for one sitting, I admit) or listen to this gem that my mother gave my son a few years ago.One last book for today. I finally completed my two year online search for the original 1971 edition of Stories to Learn By John Koenig published by the Daughters of St. Paul. I grew up with the 1971 edition, reprinted in 1978 and my local Catholic bookstore carries the newer 1996 version. Why did they change the illustrations? And the names? No more Jack and Jinny, but now there are Kyle and Brittany. Let me show you.

The 1996 cover:And here is the 1971 cover:I apologize for the dark pictures I took with my phone. Photography is on my list of Skills to Acquire. Here are some examples of the beautiful illustrations of the original.


The top one, the Christmas pictures, is from one of my favorite stories in the book. "Christmas Looking" is about a boy, Johnny, his sister, his mother, and the day they spend "Christmas looking" in a fabulous department store. Johnny's mother explains to them before they leave that they cannot buy anything. They are poor. But the whole day, Johnny thanks God for his eyes to see, his legs to climb the stairs, etc. And while checking out the Nativity scenes at the store, Johnny realizes that the Holy Family was poor too.

The stories in the new edition are the same, with different pictures and character names. We read our 1996 copy until it fell apart, but I am so happy to have the original back again!

To be completely honest, some of the stories in the original have pretty bizarre artwork, so I can see why Daughters of St. Paul wanted to change it up.
Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stories for the Season and a Shopping Suggestion

In the dark and cobwebby recesses of my basement is a stack of red and green Christmas tubs, one of which is labeled "Books." These books come out during Advent and disappear in January. The titles are both secular and religious, and some have nothing to do with Christmas at all, they just feel Christmasy to me. This list will increase each year, and I'm including our 2011 additions (even though we haven't gotten them yet, shh!). I've starred my favorites.

The Classics:
Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
*Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens, includes A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth
*The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, There are several editions of this by different illustrators. Ours happens to be illustrated by Bruce Whatley. He lends a cowboy flair to the story. "As dry leaves that before the hurricane fly," my favorite line.

The Obscure and Largely out of print:
Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico by Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida
Tasha Tudor's Advent Calendar
Take Joy! by Tasha Tudor
Christmas Carols, a Little Golden Book arranged by Marjorie Wyckhoff, pictures by one of my favorite illustrators (right up there with Tasha Tudor) Corinne Malvern
Frosty the Snowman, a Little Golden Book retold by Annie North Bedford, pictures by Corinne Malvern




The Religious:
A Gift from St. Francis: the First Creche by Joanna Cole
The Gift by Jan Haley
Saint Nicholas: The Story of the real Santa Claus retold by Mary Joslin
The Real Santa Claus by Marianna Mayer
A Special Place for Santa by Jeanne Pieper
Celebrating Christmas by Rev. Jude Winkler
The Story of the Nativity by Elizabeth Winthrop



The Rest:
*The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth. Jim Aylesworth was a teacher in Oak Park, Illinois, where my husband went to grade school. Mr. Aylesworth had a loft for storytime in his classroom. It's always been my husband's sorrow that he was in the other class. Mr. Aylesworth tells great tales, wonderful for reading out loud and his illustrator, Barbara McClintock is fabulous too. You can't go wrong with anything by Jim Aylesworth.
Dick and Jane: A Christmas Story, illustrated by Larry Ruppert
*Miracle on 10th Street and other Christmas writings by Madeleine L'Engle
*The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden
*The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge. This book may be found in the adult fiction section of your library. Nothing inappropriate for kids', but written for grown-ups.


New this year:
That's Not My Donkey by Fiona Watt, a touchy feely board book for the baby in the house.
LinkThe Usborne Advent Nativity Book retold by Felicity Brooks. Makes a stand alone Nativity set out of cardboard puzzle pieces.
Advent Calendar to Color by Stella Baggott. St. Nicholas brought this one, and the eight year old loves it!

And one more thing, Dover is a great place to find coloring books, how to books, sticker books, temporary tattoo books, and my favorite, paper doll books. The prices are good and the quality is amazing. This year, my people will be getting the Pride and Prejudice Paper Dolls, What to Doodle? Fantastic Fantasy, Little Women Paper Dolls, Samurai Warriors Coloring Book, Figure Skating Coloring Book, Greek Gods and Goddesses Coloring Book, and Fashions of the First Ladies Coloring Book. By the way, Dover and Usborne Books have never heard of me, and this shout out does not win me any free books or anything. Though I wouldn't mind sponsors, then I could do giveaways!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What We're Reading Now

After wracking my brain to come up with cute pseudonyms for my people, C. S. Lewis came through. Henceforth, I will be referring to Mr. 15 as Peter, Ms. 14 as Susan, Ms. 12 as Lucy (yes, I know Lucy was the youngest), Mr. 8 soon to be 9 as Edmund. Baby J will remain Baby J until she is old enough to assume Jill's role.

This past weekend, I went to Barnes & Noble with one of those coupons that might be 50% off, but is probably 15% off and you don't know until you check out. I went with one goal in mind. The time had come for me to purchase the complete Chronicles of Narnia on audio. I was prepared to spend up to $100 on this goal. The pathetic collection of audio books for children, the crowds, the table advertising "Series Teens Should Read" that included the Pretty Little Liars books(gag. drugs, drinking and driving, affairs with teachers. That's three illegal things. That's all I have to say.); I finally discovered that the only Narnia audio book in the store is The Magician's Nephew. I'm a purist and I believe that Clive, or Jack as he preferred to be called, meant The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to be read first. So we went to the library.

And Miss Amy's collection came through. We started listening yesterday on a half hour drive to the dentist. Yes, I know it's the fourth week of Advent. Yes, I have ten thousand better things to do than haul my people to Oak Park to get cleanings and fillings. Hangs head in shame. BUT the time has come to get braces for my teens and they have to have cleanings and fillings first.

Back to books, on the way home, after 90 minutes of dental doldrums, Edmund asked if we could listen to that story some more. :)


Peter is off school all week, and since I keep hiding his technology (I learned from the best, my mom.), he has begun From Slave to Priest: A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolson, First Black American Priest of the United States by Sr. Caroline Hemsath.
Like most boys and men, Peter enjoys non-fiction more than I do. My husband read this and enjoyed it as well.

Susan, as far as I know, is currently bookless. I am forcing her to read the Anne of Green Gables series. She reads one of those, then she reads a book of her choosing, then she reads the next Lucy Maud Montgomery, then another of her choosing, and so on. I am doing this, because she is in a deep sci-fi, dystopian rut. I want her to eat some romance with her steampunk. I'm mean that way. She's in the midst of finals right now, and doesn't have time to read anything.

Lucy is working her way through The Goose Girl books, which are officially known as The Books of Bayern. She is currently on Enna Burning. We are huge Shannon Hale fans. I recently read on her Facebook page that she is working on a sequel to The Princess Academy, and that her novel for grown-ups, Austenland, is being produced as a movie, right now.






Edmund, in addition to the audio book, is also on a "one for me, one for you" plan. His addiction is Franny K. Stein books. He is a unique reader in that he reads extremely s l o w l y. In order for him to pass his mandatory three Reading Counts quizzes each quarter, at his grade level, I have to find shorter books with lots of pictures, but with a high reading level. Franny K. Stein books, Lunch Walks Among Us, Attack of the 50 Ft. Cupid, and so on by Jim Benton fit the bill. They are ok. Ugly pictures, simple plots, HUGE vocabulary words. Franny is a mad-scientist girl in a normal world, sort of the opposite of the Munsters, and their normal niece. She tries to change to fit in, but learns to be herself to save the school from mutant lunches, etc.


Now, the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel also fit the bill. Beautiful. Classic. I love these books dearly. However, there is a certain stigma to reading "baby" books in third grade. Plus, he's taken those quizzes already. So on the "one for me" turns, he can choose from Ready, Freddy! by Abby Klein, Arthur Chapter Books by Marc Brown, or A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy.





And what am I reading? My to-do list! Ha!
I recently finished Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer and loved, loved, loved it! I adore WWII books. It's taken me over thirty years to realize it. My dad loves Civil War books, but me, I am amazed by the period in world history when the forces of darkness were so powerful, and there seemed to be very little hope or light, but the light gathered and strengthened and won! I don't know if it's because I know people who were there, or because those decades were epic in every sense of the word. I've read dozens of novels set in these times, in many different places, and from all points of view, and I feel I've only scratched the surface of what it must have been like.Link
Black Radishes is about a Jewish family in France. It is the story of their flight from Paris into Vichy France or Free France just before the Occupation, and their adventure retrieving some loved ones from the Occupied zone. I didn't know much about the French occupation or the Maginot Line, but now I know a little bit more. This book is great for elementary school children on up. This book also made me want to re-read one of my all time favorite books, Came a Cavalier by Frances Parkinson Keyes. I highly recommend this one for teens and moms. You know, to read in your "spare" time.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Lady of Guadalupe and Stories to Learn By

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola is another title in my Christmas collection. Perfect for today's feast, the story is accurate and the pictures give a feel for the Aztec life that Juan Diego lived five centuriesLink ago. Tomie dePaola has lots of Catholic picture books, including the Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica, Mary: the Mother of Jesus, Christopher: the Holy Giant, and Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland.


We have a few other picture books biographies of saints. I guess that's somewhat of an understatement, because we own the entire Fr. Lovasik collection.

I find the one page biographies "text heavy" and too wordy for children. I do love the romantic portraits though.

My kids would much rather sit and listen to a Tomie dePaola book (though long for one sitting, I admit) or listen to this gem that my mother gave my son a few years ago.One last book for today. I finally completed my two year online search for the original 1971 edition of Stories to Learn By John Koenig published by the Daughters of St. Paul. I grew up with the 1971 edition, reprinted in 1978 and my local Catholic bookstore carries the newer 1996 version. Why did they change the illustrations? And the names? No more Jack and Jinny, but now there are Kyle and Brittany. Let me show you.

The 1996 cover:And here is the 1971 cover:I apologize for the dark pictures I took with my phone. Photography is on my list of Skills to Acquire. Here are some examples of the beautiful illustrations of the original.


The top one, the Christmas pictures, is from one of my favorite stories in the book. "Christmas Looking" is about a boy, Johnny, his sister, his mother, and the day they spend "Christmas looking" in a fabulous department store. Johnny's mother explains to them before they leave that they cannot buy anything. They are poor. But the whole day, Johnny thanks God for his eyes to see, his legs to climb the stairs, etc. And while checking out the Nativity scenes at the store, Johnny realizes that the Holy Family was poor too.

The stories in the new edition are the same, with different pictures and character names. We read our 1996 copy until it fell apart, but I am so happy to have the original back again!

To be completely honest, some of the stories in the original have pretty bizarre artwork, so I can see why Daughters of St. Paul wanted to change it up.
Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stories for the Season and a Shopping Suggestion

In the dark and cobwebby recesses of my basement is a stack of red and green Christmas tubs, one of which is labeled "Books." These books come out during Advent and disappear in January. The titles are both secular and religious, and some have nothing to do with Christmas at all, they just feel Christmasy to me. This list will increase each year, and I'm including our 2011 additions (even though we haven't gotten them yet, shh!). I've starred my favorites.

The Classics:
Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
*Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens, includes A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth
*The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, There are several editions of this by different illustrators. Ours happens to be illustrated by Bruce Whatley. He lends a cowboy flair to the story. "As dry leaves that before the hurricane fly," my favorite line.

The Obscure and Largely out of print:
Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico by Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida
Tasha Tudor's Advent Calendar
Take Joy! by Tasha Tudor
Christmas Carols, a Little Golden Book arranged by Marjorie Wyckhoff, pictures by one of my favorite illustrators (right up there with Tasha Tudor) Corinne Malvern
Frosty the Snowman, a Little Golden Book retold by Annie North Bedford, pictures by Corinne Malvern




The Religious:
A Gift from St. Francis: the First Creche by Joanna Cole
The Gift by Jan Haley
Saint Nicholas: The Story of the real Santa Claus retold by Mary Joslin
The Real Santa Claus by Marianna Mayer
A Special Place for Santa by Jeanne Pieper
Celebrating Christmas by Rev. Jude Winkler
The Story of the Nativity by Elizabeth Winthrop



The Rest:
*The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth. Jim Aylesworth was a teacher in Oak Park, Illinois, where my husband went to grade school. Mr. Aylesworth had a loft for storytime in his classroom. It's always been my husband's sorrow that he was in the other class. Mr. Aylesworth tells great tales, wonderful for reading out loud and his illustrator, Barbara McClintock is fabulous too. You can't go wrong with anything by Jim Aylesworth.
Dick and Jane: A Christmas Story, illustrated by Larry Ruppert
*Miracle on 10th Street and other Christmas writings by Madeleine L'Engle
*The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden
*The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge. This book may be found in the adult fiction section of your library. Nothing inappropriate for kids', but written for grown-ups.


New this year:
That's Not My Donkey by Fiona Watt, a touchy feely board book for the baby in the house.
LinkThe Usborne Advent Nativity Book retold by Felicity Brooks. Makes a stand alone Nativity set out of cardboard puzzle pieces.
Advent Calendar to Color by Stella Baggott. St. Nicholas brought this one, and the eight year old loves it!

And one more thing, Dover is a great place to find coloring books, how to books, sticker books, temporary tattoo books, and my favorite, paper doll books. The prices are good and the quality is amazing. This year, my people will be getting the Pride and Prejudice Paper Dolls, What to Doodle? Fantastic Fantasy, Little Women Paper Dolls, Samurai Warriors Coloring Book, Figure Skating Coloring Book, Greek Gods and Goddesses Coloring Book, and Fashions of the First Ladies Coloring Book. By the way, Dover and Usborne Books have never heard of me, and this shout out does not win me any free books or anything. Though I wouldn't mind sponsors, then I could do giveaways!