Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stream of Consciousness Poem, part III

October 13, 2011 -- Later  

In the car  
Cradling a mug  
Of coffee   
So strong   
It hurts  

It’s two a.m.  
Miles ahead  
Are black --  
Black as the  
Too strong   
We try to talk  
My sister and I  
I ask about  
Her job  
Her husband  
Her life  
She responds  
And asks about  
My son    
My husband  
My life  
But one question  
Keeps coming up  
Why?  Why?  

Both of us   
Are wrapped in our   
Worry and fear and guilt  
That we dare not voice  
Because the tears  
Will start  
Not end  

So we stare  
At the uncertain road  
Ahead of us  
And pretend   
To listen   
To the tunes on the   

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book 127

Come to the Fairies' Ball, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Gary Lippincott, Windsong 2009

Jane Yolen is a dream come true for a children's librarian -- she writes superbly well for all ages.  This book is every bit as wonderful.  In fact, I read this book out loud to my young son, who is a huge fan of her "How Do Dinosaur..." books, and he sat enrapt through the entire tale.  The story itself is a bit "Psyche", a bit "Cinderella", a bit Christina Rossetti and all charm and pure magic.  It is as delightful as any classic fairy tale, with a markedly modern twist. 

Gary Lippincott does an amazing job keeping up with, and illuminating, Jane Yolen's marvelous story. Every illustration is breathtakingly beautiful, and like the writing, all charm and pure magic.  My favorite illustration is the two-page spread of the ballroom -- I could get lost in there and never want to return to the real world.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book 126

The Spider and the Fly (10th Anniversary Edition), classic poem by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, Simon & Schuster, 2012.

First confession:  I own two copies of the Tony DiTerlizzi illustrated version of The Spider and the Fly; one I bought in 2002, and one I just bought last month.  I wouldn't let my young son "read" my 2002 version of The Spider and The Fly because I wanted to keep it pristine.  Now I will just keep the 10th Anniversary Edition to myself. 

Pretty much everyone knows the opening lines to The Spider and The Fly, and with good reason; they are pretty amazing first lines.  The rest of the poem, although seldom quoted, is just as great.

The Spider and the Fly was my initial introduction to Tony DiTerlizzi's artwork, and I've been a fan of his work ever since.  There is a bit of Rackham, Gorey, and Brian Froud living in his work, but the combination is pure DiTerlizzi. 

Second confession:  I bought the original The Spider and the Fly long before I was a mom.  I wasn't even married.  I just really, really wanted the book because of the black and white, film noir illustrations.  And the fly looked very much like my younger sister, Luna, at the time (although, she does only have two arms and two legs.)

Third confession:  For the Hallowe'en party of the library in 2006, my fellow librarian, Louise, and I did a Reader's Theater version of this book.  We pre-recorded the dialogue and acted it out in costumes for the kids at the party.  Louise was the spider.  I was the fly. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Stream of consciousness poem, part II...

October 13, 2011 -- Midnight

Suitcase open
And empty
What do you wear
To plan a funeral
Or to cheer up
A hospitalized

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book 125

Five Little Pumpkins, pictures by Dan Yaccarino, Harper Collins, 1998

Last October, I had to spend a few days in North Carolina without my then-almost-three year old son.  I wanted to bring him back something special, and, when I was out running errands, I saw this book.  I love Dan Yaccarino's joyfully brilliant illustrations, and my son loved (and still loves) pumpkins, so I figured this book would be a winner.  I was right. 

We, of course, read it every night up until Hallowe'en.  Then Thanksgiving.  Then Christmas.  It did get a bit of a rest during the spring and summer, but it is out again, and this time, HE reads it. 

Five Little Pumpkins is a very old poem that we used every year at the library's Hallowe'en parties.  With Dan Yaccarino's quirky-charming illustrations, the poem become alive and fresh, making this book a Hallowe'en classic for many years.  I am quite partial to the ghosts.  And cats. 

If you are lucky enough to find this book this year -- it was published in 1998 -- pick it up and pass it on to your favorite kid.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stream of consciousness poem...

October 12, 2011  

Head in the clouds  
Four birthdays past  
Four more to come  
Including mine  
And my anniversary  
Shall I make   
A Black Forest Cake?  
Of course!  

Then come   
The holidays  
Will Jeff come down 
To South Carolina 
For Thanksgiving  
Or Christmas    
This year?    

Phone rings  
Nerves jangle  
“Hello” I snap  
As my name is mangled  
“Yes, I’m Karen”  
My patience is at an end  
Useless “no call” list  
But this is no  
Sales call  

My brother  
Was found   
In his neighbor’s yard  
A scrap of paper  
In his hand  
With my name and number   
On it  

He’s in  
Bad shape  
The neighbor tells me  
The ambulance is on its way  
But he may not make it  
It’s probably   
Too late  

I babble  
I can’t think  
I ask the same question  
Over and over  
But it is the question  
That no one can answer  
Why?  Why?  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book 124

This is NOT a Pumpkin, by Bob Staake, Little Simon (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division) 2007

 I did not read this book through before I gave it to my son -- a potentially risky move on my part -- because as soon as he saw it, he wanted it.  So, we read it together.  My son, at the time, was three-and-a-half years old.  I wasn't sure he'd "get" the book.  I was wrong.  He laughed like a maniac when he reached the final two pages.   We read this book several more times -- that same day.  And he laughed, every time. 

The cover, of course, is what my son saw first.  And it is quite tantalizing in a wonderfully Magritte sort of way.  This is, and probably will be, the only Bob Staake book where I can refer to the artwork as "illustration", as in singular.  But it works because it is a singular illustration.  I refuse to give away the ending, so no details on why the illustration works.

If you are looking for a book for a toddler or preschooler this Fall/Hallowe'en season, you cannot go wrong with this one.  My little boy still carries it everywhere.  And HE reads it.  All the time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book 123

Miss Smith Under the Ocean, by Michael Garland, Dutton Children's Book 2011.

Miss Smith, that awesome red-headed, red-shoed teacher, reads again, and this time characters from "sea stories" come to life.  Starting with "The Owl and the Pussycat", so that Miss Smith and the students have a boat, of course, Miss Smith wastes no time in conjuring the whale that eluded Ahab.  The marvelous Miss Smith reads through so many adventures and the class meets so many characters, but it is the visit from Captain Nemo that makes me jealous.  What I would give to bring the Nautilus to life!  Clearly, Michael Garland loves books.  He makes me want to go back and re-read every one of those classic tales. 

As wonderful as this story is, it is the completely brilliant, slightly manic illustrations that breathe life into this book.  My son, at not yet four, is too young to understand the literary allusions, but he can understand what is happening on each page because the illustrations are so absolutely perfect.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fairy Tale Haiku -- 59

The Fool  

To woo a maiden,  
He sat on the eggs in a   
Goose’s nest -- The Fool!  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book 122

The Reluctant Dragon, written by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, Holiday House 1938

"Read to Your Dragon" month is drawing to a close, so I decided to review The Reluctant Dragon.  Kenneth Grahame, best known for writing The Wind in the Willows, wrote this book.  Ernest H. Shepard, best known for illustrating Winnie-The-Pooh, illustrated this book.  With a winning team like that, it is no surprise that this well-loved book has become a classic.

The plot of this story is straightforward enough:  A dragon moves into a cave near a village.  The villagers want the dragon gone.  The villagers hire a knight to fight the dragon.  But there are such delightful twists and turns along the way it is easy to forget that the plot is straightforward.  For example, the dragon is not a killing dragon; he is a poetry reading dragon.  And the knight that is hired is none other than St. George.  The knight and the dragon do fight and the conclusion is most satisfactory.

The illustrations, as all good illustrations do, illuminate the text, add charm and character.  Created by Shepard's deft hands, they are nothing short of perfection.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book 121

Me and My Dragon, by David Biedrzycki, Charlesbridge 2011

September is "Read to Your Dragon Month," and there is no better book to read to your dragon than "Me and My Dragon" by David Biedryzcki. 

When I was a kid, I wished I had a dragon just like the one in this book.  For one thing, he would have eaten my brussel sprouts.  Actually, that alone would have been enough of a reason.  The dragon in "Me and My Dragon" is such a friendly dragon that my almost-four year old son thinks he says, "Good morning, little boy.  Have a wonderful day".  And he probably does; I'm just too old to hear it. 

The story is adorable, but what really sets this book apart and made me want to buy it are the fabulous, whimsical, slightly off-beat and ridiculously brilliant illustrations.  The cover artwork is only a taste of what is in store for readers of this book.