June 25, 2012
June 19, 2012
Kids expect their parents to have all the answers, but that’s not what William discovers when Papa leaves home. William isn’t even sure why Papa has left – something about needing to write, needing to find himself. Now William doesn’t know where Papa is either but he does know that he’s mad and he’s not going to just let it go.
But William has his hands full. The first thing Mama does it take William and his little sister to the animal shelter. There they adopt not one pet but four dogs and a cat. Soon William’s sister Elinor is carrying on conversations with the dogs and the dogs have divided up family duties — who sleeps where and who keeps an eye on each family member. William relaxes when gigantic Neo climbs on to his bed each night and he even finds room from Elinor and her entourage (cat and dogs) when his sister has nightmares.
What he isn’t sure he has room for is more responsibility so when Mom tells them that she is having a baby, he insists that she tell Papa. It isn’t fair to keep the information from him and besides William is sick of being the other grown up. And that’s when William begins to hear it too — the dogs are talking. They talk to whoever is willing to take a chance and listen, whoever is willing to take a change and feel.
That’s why William is so shocked when, after returning home, Papa hears the dogs speak but Mama still doesn’t.
This story is a little difficult to categorize. First of all, it is quiet. It isn’t about the rough and tumble magic of Harry Potter. This is a story about the quiet magic that interweaves the world around us, if only we can bring ourselves to see and to hear. It is about the magic that comes with quiet bravery when we let people know how we feel and when we hurt. It is about the magic that holds people together in spite of everything that makes them want to pull back and make a safe nest somewhere quiet.
MacLachlan is a well known author and you probably recognize her name from the Newbery winner, Sarah, Plain and Tall. In many ways, this book is completely unlike that one — contemporary and magical. But it is similar in all the ways that matter. This may not be a rock-star book but it is a solid, heart warming read about togetherness, belonging and making a place for yourself in the world.
June 11, 2012
When Trisha turned 5, her grandfather gave her a very special gift. He ladled a small amount of honey onto the cover of a book.
“What is the taste?” asked her grandmother.
“And so is knowledge, but knowledge is like the bee that made that sweet honey, you have to chase it through the pages of a book.”
Soon. Soon she would know how to read.
But Trisha went to kindergarten and although she impressed everyone with her artistic skills, she still couldn’t read by the end of the year. So passed first grade, second grade and so on. The only thing that changed was how Trisha felt about herself. Because the teachers didn’t notice that she couldn’t read — Trisha was smart and learned tricks to convince the teachers that she was learning. But the bullies new and they convinced Trisha that she was dumb and worthless.
It wasn’t until fifth grade that Mr. Falker, a new teacher to the school, saw Trisha struggle and listened to the words of the bullies. Soon Trisha was working after school with both Mr. Falker and a reading teacher. It took weeks and weeks of work but Trisha learned to read.
And have you guessed who Trisha is? (Hint: Look at the author’s name.)
Do you have a child who is struggling to read? Or with another issue that effects their self-esteem or a goal that is hard to attain? Then take a good luck at this book. This book would also make an excellent gift for reading recovery and other teachers who work with students for whom learning comes slow and hard.
June 4, 2012
Never heard of Yellowstone Moran? Or Tom Moran? Not to worry, you’ll know who he is by the time you’ve finished this picture book.
Moran was the artist who painted twelve diverse locals that would go on to become national parks and monuments, including Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Yosemite.
When he began the trek to Yellowstone, Moran was a dyed in the wool green horn. It was all he could do to get on his horse and he ended up riding seated on a pillow. Moran had been painting illustrations of the Wild West for a magazine piece but he wanted to see these places himself. In fact, the wanted to paint places that few people had ever seen.
He may have started out inexperienced, but he braved wild rivers, dizzying climbs and the dangers of steam vents to paint breathtaking vistas. Check out this image that he painted of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
What amazed me was that he did these images in watercolor. Sure, its quicker to work with but I kept waiting for his paintings to be ruined in a storm or for him to kerplunk into one of the rivers.
This isn’t the story of Moran’s entire life or career. Instead, this tells of the adventure that earned him fame as well as the respect of the men who were tough enough to explore the American West, with or without a paint brush in their hand.
Readers young and old will be hooked by this inspirational story of one man’s drive to do something above and beyond anything he had ever done before. Share it with a young reader in your life.