Richard points out that the photo of Doulgas on yesterday’s post didn’t really show his robe. I just liked the smile on his face. Here’s a better one of the robe. Nice, huh?
For all of you sewers out there, here’s a link to the pattern on a review site.
We were outside trying to do Douglas’ science experiment. He built a solar car and was trying to get it to run along the driveway. After much trouble-shooting (we even soldered the wire connections), we figured out that the sun isn’t near enough or high enough in the sky to get the car moving. Yikes! Now what?
There’s nothing like arriving at grand-mother’s house to a delicious meal — though, in this case, it was grandfather’s doing. A lovely bowl of penne pasta with a savory sauce. Mmmm. Dad also served warm french bread with a crispy crust. My sister made a tasty salad. The grownups had glasses of wine and we ate Dad’s spiced walnuts for dessert.
I like this one because it shows my 10-year-old wearing the fleece robe I made for him for Christmas. I ordered double sided fleece and got a quick sew pattern from a local sewing store. Today, now that it is cold enough to wear the robe, Douglas found a pin near the right pocket. Oops. My newfangled Bernina sewing machine came in handy because it has a double overlock stitch. The boys had no idea why I was keeping them out of the sewing room in the days before Christmas. I ordered yardage in two other colors (cappuccino and dark navy) for the older boys. They are deciding if they want robes or caftans.
I’m reading Home by Marilynne Robinson, the first of my three Christmas books. I’m finding it strange to be so much in the Boughton household because Gilead, Robinson’s other novel set in the same Iowa town, was centered in the Ames household. I loved Gilead. It was written as letters from an aging father to his son from a late-in-life marriage. I’m finding Home a little repetitive, but it explores interesting relationships. Read a review here.
I can’t wait to dive into the others, The Secret Scripture by Barry Sebastian and Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. I heard both of these authors talk about their work in podcasts (Writers & Company from Canadian Broadcasting Co.) while I was laid up in bed. The only Sebastian book my local library had in stock was A Long, Long Way. I found myself completely absorbed in the world of WWI. (Yes, I did make some suggestions to the men in my life about my preferences.) Listen to Sebastian here.
Listen to Ghosh here.
Added Note: I gave Toni Morrison’s On Mercy to several family members, including one who lives close enough to borrow it. Clever, huh?
Holidays around our house are always occasions for exchanging books. This year was no exception. All of us got books and/or gift cards for bookstores. In addition to the new books, my sister and I went through the two large bookcases in which my parents have stored our books from childhood. My parents are trying mightily to pare down their collection so the new books that come into the house will fit on shelves.
My sister went through the shelves first and laid claim to a fair bunch — including some Nat Hentoff titles that she had read in high school. She had tried to find the titles recently and learned they were out of print. My eighth grader expressed a lukewarm interest so she’s left them for him to read first. Since she’s flying home, she probably won’t be taking her stash on this trip anyway.
My pile included The Maude Reed Tale, Amos Fortune Free Man, The Pushcart War, Charles and Mary Lamb’s Shakespeare for Children, a compliation of the country’s founding documents, a collection of Edward Lear’s nonsense, etc. I had a good time thinking back to reading of favorites like Her Majesty, Grace Jones, All of a Kind Family, the Little House books, the Lois Lenski books, the Virginia Hamilton books, the Mildred Taylor books, etc.
The image at the top and the ones below are of my current knitting project. It’s a log cabin style light blanket. I began it a few weeks after my surgery and it has helped me get through the long hours on my back. I love the colors and the feel of the yarn.
How’s this for a mid-winter post? A may apple (Podophyllum peltatum L.).
I took it in March in the woods near my parents’ house. As a child, I always loved it when the may apples popped up — looking like umbrellas on the forest floor. We’ve had weather ups and downs in the last few days. On Saturday, we were wearing shorts and t-shirts and Monday, we stood shivering around a fire pit in the back yard. (The highs were in the upper 30s.) The forecast for Christmas day is highs in the 70s and we’re heading down to my parents’ house. I hope it’s sunny.
This is one of my favorite images of the year. Richard took it in Garvin Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas, during our annual getaway without kids. It is the bell tower of the Anthony Chapel. I love the lines. We bought day passes to the gardens and spent time there in the late morning and late evening. We photographed squirrels, Koi fish, bees, and the magnificent glass and wood chapel. When we arrived at the chapel, a pianist was practicing on the grand piano. I sat and listened while Richard set up the equipment and snapped photographs.
Just in case anyone gets the impression that it’s all Homer and Newberry Award winners around here, the boys are also big fans of fantasy. Right now, it’s The Legend of Drizzt books by R.A. Salvatore.
They also love Star Wars books — Richard and I were shocked to learn that there were thousands of years of history both before and after the movies we watched as kids. One of their favorite authors of these is Karen Traviss.
It is the boys’ desire for these books and Richard’s addiction to high gloss photography magazines that pulls us into the chain bookstores and away from our indie favorite.
Note: The boys inform me that they read fantasy and science fiction. I am such a philistine.
In an attempt to establish some regularity to my blog, I will try to post an image each Tuesday. I took this photograph in September because I was struck by the contrasting colors of the leaves. I used my macro lens and I love the detail it captured in the leaf. Isn’t the veining interesting? In the original image, the green leaf was in the center. I cropped it to place the green leaf in the upper right. What do you think?
I shot this using my Tamron macro lens. Check out some of Tamron’s how-to information on the learning center section of their website.
Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator appears on three new lists: a national magazine’s holiday gift guide, a blogging librarian’s best new nonfiction list, and a children’s literature consultant’s best books of the decade list. I am excited to see Wolfsnail make these lists.
Check out Natural History Magazine’s Gifts for Budding Scientists. Diana Lutz, a freelance science writer and editor, compiled the list. She writes: “Told in larger-than-life photographs, the story has a nice narrative arc and more drama than you might expect. Young children will warm to the snail, which has comical handlebar mustaches (mouthpiece extensions that help it track prey), and shares their predicament of being very small in a big world.” Other books Lutz recommends for young readers are: Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City and Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life.
Gwen Vanderhage is a librarian who blogs at Your Friendly Librarian. She’s put together a list of best new nonfiction books “for those sometimes reluctant readers who are really intrigued with facts and amazing nature photos.” Wolfsnail is in company with Trout Are Made of Trees (April Pulley Sayre), The Black Book of Colors (Menena Cottin), Wild Tracks (Jim Arnosky), and Nic Bishop’s Frogs.
Kathleen Baxter, a children’s literature consultant, included Wolfsnail on her best books of the decade list. This is a list she keeps updated for a popular workshop she presents for librarians and teachers. As she notes, “Creating a list like this for a fairly brief talk is almost absurd! Estimates of the number of new books published in the U.S.A. every year range from 15,000—29,000, so no wonder we all feel behind. I thus selected a healthy dose of fine 2008 titles and some that I doubt everyone knows from other years.”
I found the list, which includes 108 books, on the website of the Central Massachusetts Regional Library System. Baxter notes that lesson plans and activities are available online for many of the books on the list. Click here to see a teacher’s guide for Wolfsnail.
My eighth grader was assigned a selection from Homer’s The Odyssey for his literature class. In addition to reading the excerpt that was in his literature book, he pulled from the shelf two well-worn illustrated editions (put out by Kingfisher) I had gotten for him seven or eight years ago. He had remembered them from the earlier readings. I asked his brothers if they remembered me reading them, but they didn’t so I picked them up and started back in. It is my practice to read nightly to my 5th grader and my 6th grader often listens in. We sped through Nick McCarty’s retelling of The Illiad (illustrated by Victor Ambrus) and then Robin Lister’s retelling of The Odyssey (illustrated by Alan Baker).
One of the reasons we sped through was because I would read several chapters and then the two boys would carry on themselves. The 6th grader took The Illiad from the 5th grader’s sleeping hands and read it through before morning.
This Homer interest spurred me to get a classic off the shelf, Children’s Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy by Padraic Colum (illustrated by Willy Pogany). It seemed the boys couldn’t get enough of this ancient adventure tale.
My father read this to my sisters and me when we were very young. When I got to college and was reading The Illiad in Western Civilization, I could still remember Telemachus, Odysseus, Athene, Achilles, Hector, Agamemmnon, and the others. I am so grateful that our family’s love of literature is being carried on through the generations.
Another blogging librarian, writing on Pink Me, reviewed — and liked — Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. This librarian, who works in a public library and handles book selection for a k-8 school library, “adores” the book.
It may seem like Wolfsnail is on blog book tour, but I didn’t organize it. This flurry of blog reviews seems to have been prompted by the book’s being nominated in the nonfiction picture book category of the Cybils Awards, the premiere Web awards for children’s literature.
It is very gratifying to see Wolfsnail make its way into libraries across the country. It was, after all, the fact that we could find no mention of predatory snails in any library book on snails that convinced me I should write one.
Several reviewers mention being a little surprised at having been pulled into this story. Pink Me put her finger on one of the reasons for this: In a comment on my Dec. 4 blog post, she wrote, “I wish all species monographs for early elementary students were written [like this one] from firsthand observation.” Another key to Wolfsnail‘s power is the fact that it is a story, not a recitation of facts. In writing it, I relied heavily on Jon Franklin’s technique in Writing For Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction. Pink Me notes the dramatic tension, comparing it to the suspense of the movie Jaws. I’ll take that.