Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hannah's Night by Komako Sakai

I have a new policy of not putting up way too many pictures per book. But it was hard with this book. It is just so gorgeous.

Komako Sakai is quite popular and well known in Japan, but this is the first of her books I have seen. Clearly I need to catch up!

This perfectly adorable little Hannah wakes up... find it was still night.

Her sister wouldn't wake up.

So Hannah and Shiro went to have a pee.

Elsie loves this page. Pee! giggle, giggle.

Her parents were still sleeping.

So Hannah went to explore independence by eating cherries. 

Isn't she ridiculously cute, squatting there eat her cherry?

The moon.

Since her sister was sleeping, Hannah borrowed her doll.

And a few other prized possessions and took them back to bed with her.

Hannah couldn't help giggling because her sister didn't even notice.

Oh the delight of forbidden things!

Morning pigeon

And as the sky lightened...

...Hannah fell asleep.

Clover says there should be a sequel to this book called Sister's Morning, in which the sister discovers her prized possessions in Hannah's bed and has a fit. But we all know how that story goes, so it isn't strictly necessary.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

At Night by Jonathan Bean

This is a simple little book about summer nights. 

I love Jonathan Bean.  

Do you see that little reader? Little readers are always adorable. 

Putting the kids to bed. 

But not to sleep. Those summer nights when you just can't sleep. Maybe it is too hot or stuffy. Or too summery and moonshine-y. 

The sounds of other people sleeping...

...makes your own unsleeping all the more pronounced.

But then she felt a breeze...

..and followed it.

I love her mother waking up and being aware of what is going on, but not interrupting. 

The illusion of independence is so important to kids. They think they are doing it all alone, but parents are right there in the background, being aware, and ready to step in if things get to be too much.

The breeze led to the rooftop.

The rooftop in the city... the world.

She looked up, breathed, closed her eyes...

and slept.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg

I saw this book in the new section at our local library this spring. I was smitten as soon as I saw the title, and the synopsis on the inside flap only increased my interest. Young book loving girl moving to Alaska during the Great Depression as part of FDR's Matanuska Colony? Oh yes. Having lived in the Matanuska Valley of Alaska for several years my self, I couldn't help but glom onto this with the highest hopes. 

And for the most part, it succeeds. I was initially a little leary of all the Laura Ingalls Wilder references on the back of the book. For whatever reason, the publisher made it sound like Terpsichore was running around, checking off some sort of Larua Ingalls Wilder checklist. Since Laura Ingalls Wilder had only published one or two books during the time period this book was referring to, I felt that was a little inauthentic sounding. People nowadays try to be just like Laura or run around in a sunbonnet pretending, but in the 1930's, Laura Ingalls Wilder was just a new, interesting, and fairly popular author. She had not attained cult status. 

Fortunately, Terpsichore just admires Laura and only very occasionally mentions her. She isn't basing every decision on What Would Laura Do? So now we have a girl moving to Alaska  who admires Laura Ingalls Wilder. How cool is that? 

But it gets cooler! Terpsichore (pronounced terp-sick-o-ree) loves gardening and was active in her local library in Wisconsin. She is determined to bring culture (in the form of a library) to the last frontier and to grow the largest pumpkin Alaska has ever seen. She sets up the first library in Palmer, storing books in one of the Matanuska Colony tents. Terpsichore is fictional of course, but Palmer Library did begin as a collection in a Matanuska Colony tent. Carole Estby Dagg does a great job of seamlessly mixing fact with fiction. (Check out the history of Palmer Library if you would like to see where the facts come in.) 

And all kids need a good librarian to admire.

Carole Estby Dagg is a relatively new author, leaving her librarian job to learn more about writing. She published her first book at 67 (speaking of Laura Ingalls Wilder...) and this is her second book. She says that once upon a time, she was the library girl at their local school--doing story time for little kids and helping kids check out books. There is a lot of Dagg in Terpsichore. Also, Dagg's son lives in Palmer, AK, so she has a vested interest in all this history.

Terpsichore is a strong, determined young lady. She really wants to move to Alaska to stick by her close friend, whose family decided to take advantage of FDR's program and move from the collapsing economy of Northern Wisconsin. Terpsichore's father is interested in moving to AK as well, but you have to be on relief to qualify. He has worked and worked to not go on relief, so this seems a bit raw to him. Terpsichore's mother is definitely anti-AK. She would prefer living with her rich mother in Madison. 

A little careful conniving by Terpsichore, and a good deal of convincing for her mother, gives the family a chance to be part of the Matanuska Colony.  Terpsichore's enthusiasm wanes as she learns her best friend's family is not moving to Alaska, but their course is set and she must leave her friend behind. North they go!

The entire process of getting to Alaska, all the bureaucratic hoops they must jump through, is fascinating. There was a lot of careful research to make it all seem authentic. I feel like Carole Estby Dagg could have done a better service to Alaskan scenery, though. Having been through the inside passage and knowing the area she is talking about, the landscape is completely staggeringly beautiful. Terpsichore doesn't seem to notice. There are brief mentions of it, but not the rhapsodical odes that it seems to merit. But then, that might be more in keeping with most young kids world view. Terpsichore is more interested in the people she meets than the mountains. I just happened to be a shy kid who liked to stare at the landscape. 

Arriving in Alaska in the spring and living in a colony of tents is just as muddy and mosquito filled as you would think it would be. Terpsichore's mother is more convinced than ever that living with her mother is a better idea than this muddy, mosquito filled tent town, so she gives a year and a half ultimatum. If they haven't made good by then, they get to move back to Wisconsin. Terpsichore sets about making sure that doesn't happen, making friends, settling in, and making Alaska a home along the way. Her efforts to make her mother love Alaska bring her finally to the Alaska State Fair, at the end of August.  

This is a book about a young girl finding her way in the world while America's last frontier is being settled.  Terpsichore's determination and pluck make you love her, while her set backs make her relatable. 

There are several notable historical facts that Dagg includes, like Will Roger's stop through Palmer that makes this book worthwhile reading for young kids learning American History. 

This is a good 'un!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blueberries Lavender by Nancy Dingman Watson & Erik Blegvad

Blueberries Lavender

Blueberries lavender, blueberries blue
I will go berrying, Abbie, with you
We'll carry our sugar pails over our arms
An walk through the meadow past orchards and farms
Over the river bridge, orange with rust
Your soft little toe prints are warm in the dust

In Mr. Frost's pasture the blueberries grow
Blueberries high, huckleberries low
Berries of purple, inky and black
Crowding the trunk of the old tamarack
Berries of silver lavender gloss
Hiding themselves in the feathery moss

Fingers are quick and my sugar pail fills
Till over the top the sweet purple spills
Now for my Abbie I'm off a-spying
Left in a mossy place, with fingers flying
And there on a stong with an empty pail
And purpley lips laughs sweet Abigail.

Then home through the meadow go Abbie and I
Home to our supper of blueberry pie. 

And may you have a lovely weekend with a few shining moments! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco. How amazing is she? Her books are so heartwarming and deep. And her illustrations! It took me awhile to warm up to them and the colors and style she used, but now I can't imagine not loving them. 

Those goat ears...!

Storm approaching!

This is the story of a grandmother normalizing the thunder for her terrified little granddaughter.

Patricia Polacco has a small paragraph on the title page saying she used to visit her Babushka in Michigan and the storms in the Michigan sky seemed more-so than anywhere else. This book is how her grandmother helped her overcome her fear of thunderstorms.

"Child, you come out from under that bed. It's only thunder you're hearing," my grandma said.

Grandmas are good at hugging.

Grandma pulls out the recipe for Thunder Cake. 

As the storm rumbles closer and the little girl counts the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, to see how far away the storm is, the grandmother keeps her hopping, collecting everything they need for Thunder Cake. 

The little girl isn't feeling brave, but her grandmother ignores her bursts of fear and talks soothingly of the next thing they will need to get.

Once everything has been collected from around the farm, they settle into the kitchen to bake and churn the butter for the frosting. 

They pop the cake in the oven and spread the cloth on the table. I love that they make things pretty before the cake.

Her grandmother compliments her on her bravery.

"I'm not brave, Grandma," I said. "I was under the bed! Remember?"
"But you got out from under it," she answered. "and 
you got  eggs from mean old Nellie Peck Hen, 
you got mild from old Kick Cow,
you went through Tangleweed Woods to the dry shed,
you climbed the trellis in the barnyard.
From where I sit, only a very brave person could have done all them things."

I love how her grandmother builds her up. How she gave her the opportunity to do brave things with her grandmother safely beside her. 

Such a great book about a grandmother's love, overcoming our fears, and discovering our bravery in doing everyday things. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow & Illus by Margaret Bloy Graham

This is such a lyrical book. Charlotte Zolotow can almost always be depended upon to write beautiful words. And since she often partners with incredible illustrators, her books are magical. This book was a 1953 Caldecott Honor book for Margaret Bloy Graham.  

Wind blown flowers

This is the story of a storm. We don't learn anyone's name or their back story. We just read about how the storm affects them and how they feel about the storm.

This book has an interesting format as well, alternating between a two page spread of illustrations and two pages of writing. It makes the words and the pictures carry more weight somehow. When you are listening to the words, you can focus entirely on the writing. When you turn the page, you can stare at the picture without thinking about what is being said. 

A little cool wind suddenly races through the trees, sways the rambler roses, bends the daisies and buttercups and Queen Anne's lace and the long grass until they make a great silver sighing stretch down the hill. 

Isn't that gorgeous? A great silver sighing stretch... 

Running home to mother as the storm gets close. 

His mother tells him that lightening is similar to their lamplight.

The little boy thinks of the lamp in his room, with its warm golden glow. And he thinks of the lightening flashing through the sky. The lightning was like a wild white wolf running free in the woods and the lamp like the gentle white terrier who came when the boy called. 

We see the storm in a nearby storm darkened city.

At the shore.

And in the shepherd's house, where his wife holds their sleeping baby while the shepherd gathers his sheep. 

Oh happy sigh. 

And then we go back to the little boy's house to see the rainbow. 

Such a great, great book!