Excellent Blog
2007 Inspiring Blog
Rockin' Girl Blogger

Sunday Book Review

November 29th, 2020

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  💜

“Light Through the Trees” (photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

I received a review copy of an exquisite picture book called “Digging for Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built” (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020, $17.99). Angela Burke Kunkel is the author, and Paola Escobar illustrated the book. It’s a beautiful, true story (beautifully true!) about a  garbage collector in Bogota, Colombia, who finds a copy of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” while he is doing his rounds, and starts collecting books for a public library. Meanwhile, young Jose waits for Saturday to roll around so he can visit big Jose’s library. Cool online resources, if you’re interested…

La Fuerza de las Palabras

“Lord of the Books”

“‘Trashy’ Books: Garbage Collector Rescues Reading Material for Colombian Children”

I found another prize with “Night Walk to the Sea: A Story About Rachel Carson, Earth’s Protector,” by Deborah Wiles and Daniel Miyares (Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House Kids, 2020, $17.99). In this imaginative tale, pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson and her great-nephew/adopted son, Roger, ride out an ocean storm together in their cabin, then journey down to the beach to explore.

“‘Listen to the voices of the living things,’ said Rachel. 

A screech owl softly called to its mate

from an old woodpecker hole:

tremelo-tremelo-thrum-thrum-thrum”

I’m enamored of this picture book: the fireflies, the storm, the cabin in Maine. Sweet illustrations and a cool story. More resources:

RachelCarson.org

Smithsonian/Ocean Life

NOAA Ocean Exploration Facts

Scientific American/Fireflies

Once upon a time, a singer/songwriter/novelist by the name of Andrew Peterson came up with his own fantasy version of a series something like “Lord of the Rings” or “The Chronicles of Narnia.” He called it “The Wingfeather Saga,” and released the first two books. Now we have in hand “The Monster in the Hollows” (Book 3) and “The Warden and the Wolf King” (Book 4) (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2020, $13.99 each). New illustrations and hand-drawn maps by Joe Sutphin (who also illustrated the graphic novel “Watership Down” and Sheila Grau’s “Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions”). For more info, check Peterson’s website.

Friday Book Review: Happy, Happy Holidays!

November 27th, 2020

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  💜

Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

 

Here we are, holidays 2020, which are turning out to be different from any holiday season any of us have ever experienced before. It’s brutal, this year. 2020 is brutal and heartless. But I have faith and hope that someday the pandemic will be over. 

I knew we’d start out strong, confused and panicked, but then pulling together, pitching in, “We can all get through this together!” Yay, team. But that before too long (it took a few months, as it turned out), people would start back-biting and snarking, hoarding supplies and circling the wagons. “You can’t tell us what to do!” The bitter politics. Etc.

We’ll get past that, I know. We’ll push right into sorrow and additional devastation, we’ll emerge from it jaded but stronger. We’ll know our neighbors, at the end of it. We’ll be there for our families in a way we maybe haven’t been before. 

I have hope. I have faith. We are going to be OK. We had Halloween, and Thanksgiving was yesterday. Now onto Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s and then it will be a full year since this hell began.

It will be one year, I am guessing, possibly two, and I mean worldwide, before we get through the woods, the darkness, and out to the other side. It will happen. Don’t give up. Hold onto each other, and if you can’t do that, pick up the phone and call. Someone needs to hear from you. Peace.

And now, books. I have stacks and stacks of them waiting for review. Short shrift for all, but they’re all good. Makes me happy to know that books are still being published, art is still being made, music is still being created. My chickens and my house, my garden and my creek, my kids. Our friends. All doing our best to keep going.

All you a quilter? My friends, paternal grandmother and aunties are (were) and I admire the art. Learning to quilt is on my bucket list. In the meantime I’ll keep knitting scarves, baby snugglies and little scraps for the kittens to play with. Lizzy Rockwell’s new book, “The All-Together Quilt” (Random House Kids/Alfred A. Knopf, 2020, $17.99) is just a blast of beauty during these bleak months.  The author has based it on her real-life quilting group that meets Monday and Friday afternoons at the Senior Court Housing Complex in Norwalk, Connecticut. Neighborhood kids, seniors from the complex, adult volunteers, families from the neighborhood, all kinds of people gather and quilt. 

The simplicity and elegance of their work shines through in Rockwell’s illustrations. So much love, beauty and care. Great book. I appreciated the guide to classic quilt blocks she included in the back, and descriptions of the fabrics that were used. A work of art about works of art. Peace.

“Curtain Call (Babymouse: Tales From the Locker),” by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm (Random House Kids, 2020, 179 pages, $13.99) is the latest installment in the Pink Princess series. (It’s not really called that, but she’s always been a princess to me. I (heart) Babymouse.) The covers are permabound, a librarian’s dream, and the books are just the right combo of novel, fantasy, and graphic novel. Buy a set for the age 7-year-old – middle school chicky in your life.

“Christmas is Every Day,” by Isabel Otter, illustrated by Alicia Mas (An Every Day Together Book, Rodale Kids New York/Random House Books, 2020, $10.99). Don’t save the spirit of Christmas for just once a year, the authors say. Try these ideas: “Embrace happiness,” “pass on a treasured possession,” “share the things you have,” “remember to be kind.” The colors and characters are sweet, the sentiment is pure. This is a cool little book.

Sometimes when a book comes out, you know it was written with you in mind. For me, that book is “A Very Quacky Christmas,” by Frances Watts and Ann James (rhcbooks/Random House Kids, 2020, $17.99). Introducing… Samantha Duck, her tortoise pal Sebastian, the sheep, the hens, the cows, the donkey… many decorations, many presents, many, many big ideas. This is a lovely picture book that will be a welcome addition to any collection.

Bon appetit, babies. Much love and happy 2021.