Jackie:November is a month to celebrate food and family, to celebrate making meals and eating together. Phyllis and I both love pie. And we often review pie books in November but we are running out of pie stories. (Writers out there: more pie stories, please.) So, this year we decided to look for cookie stories.… more
In her book A Sense of Wonder, Rachel Carson wrote:
If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.… more
Watching birds is one of the joys of the outdoor year (or the indoor year, given the right window placement). Emily Dickinson notes the “independent ecstasy” of their songs. And we can discern personalities in certain birds. Jays will peremptorily take over a feeding station. Chickadees perkily fly in for a seed or two or a sip of water.… more
This month the two of us are actually in the same place at the same time, and we’re having a conversation about square pegs.
We are all not just square pegs and round pegs. We are triangles, pentagons, hexagon, oval, rhomboids, stars. There are shapes for everyone and places, too, where each of us fits best.… more
Jackie:We two friends have been doing this blog since 2015. Yet, we’ve never done a column on books about friends. We know there are many, and many classics, such as the always-satisfying Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel, or William Steig’s Amos and Boris, or James Marshall’s George and Martha. But today we want to look at three, one by one of our favorite writers Lucille Clifton.… more
Phyllis: Minnesota has had a winter full of weather this year. We’ve just finished the snowiest February on record, and now March is blowing down on us with the promised of wind and rain and (most likely) still more snow. An anonymous British poet wrote of the weather, “We’ll weather the weather whatever the weather.” We decided to not only weather the weather but to celebrate it with a few weathery picture books.… more
Jackie: We are in cold, cold winter. Too cold to read seed catalogs – spring just seems too far away to imagine fragile green. We are confined to cabin. What to do but think of repurposing, making something out of nothing, or next to nothing?
Stone Soupby Marcia Brown has always been one of my favorite something-out-of-nothing (or at least something out of stones) stories.… more
Phyllis: Two sticks and some string. That’s the most basic definition of knitting. The sticks might be metal or wood. The string might be yarn or flax. But in the hands of a knitter, even an unskilled one such as I, they become magic.
In the chilly months, we bundle up in cozy sweaters, snug mittens, hats that hug our heads.… more
Phyllis: Winter in the north is made of longer and longer nights. What better time to think about lullabies, those songs we sing to our babies to help them sleep? Research has shown how similar lullabies are all around the world in the sounds and rhythms they use to soothe babies. So we thought we’d take a trip with some of those lullaby books, and a few more besides.… more
November is a month of gratitude — and, for us, a month to celebrate Pie. We all have a favorite. Many of us have childhood memories of good times and pie. We all wait for the days when we can eat pie for breakfast. So we two thought this would be the perfect month to look at picture books about pie.… more
Poet Lucille Clifton in a 1998 interview “Doing What You Will Do,” published in Sleeping with One Eye Open: Women Writers and the Art of Survival, said, “I think the oral tradition is the one which is most interesting to me and the voice in which I like to speak.” Asked about the most important aspect of her craft, she answered, “For me, sound … sound, the music of a poem, the feeling are most important.… more
This summer, deeply troubling stories about migrants and refugees at the US-Mexican border have come to us in newspaper stories, recordings, photographs, and videos. In choosing to separate children from their parents, our government has shown a disturbing lack of empathy for people fleeing violence and turmoil in their home countries. It is our hope that these picture books will help foster empathy and shed light on the complex issues of migration for young readers, while giving a sense of the courage, resilience, and humanity behind each journey.… more
Jackie: Phyllis is on the road with her beautiful and informative new book Searching for Minnesota’s Native Wildflowers. [While Phyllis is out of the room, I will say that I love this book. It makes me want to get out and find flowers. Iowa has many plants in common with Minnesota and I look forward to tromping with Phyllis and Kelly.)
Searching for Minnesota’s Native Wildflowers puts me in mind of April Pulley Sayre’s wonderful nature books.… more
Jackie: Spring is a little late coming to the Midwest this year. But we can remember sunny days with violets and trillium blooming and rainy days that turn the grass green (instead of the snow we continue to get in mid-April). Rainy days make us think of ducks and we are going to beckon reluctant spring with stories of ducks.… more
When our children were young we both spent many hours with them pouring over Wendy Watson’s illustrations for her sister Clyde’s rhymes in Father Fox’s Pennyrhymes and delighting in the sounds and the silliness of the rhymes themselves. We felt as though we had lost a personal friend when Wendy Watson died, even though we had never met her.… more