It’s good to be back on this blog this month. We took a necessary break, but cannot be away from talking about books for too long. The pressure builds…
Phyllis is busy writing in the North Woods, so I am bee-side myself with enthusiasm for doing this blog.
We have a make-shift birdbath on our deck, next to our hummingbird and oriole feeders, and this summer the bees have found the bird bath.… more
Jackie: Recently Phyllis and I read a heart-breaking column in The New YorkTimes, written by author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who wrote many children’s books, and a couple of books for adults.
The column, written as a love-note to her husband from a dying wife, was heartfelt, sad, and funny all at the same time.… more
Jackie: It seems perfectly appropriate that the Manager of Holiday Placement has placed Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love and affection, right in the middle of cold, dark February. I want that celebration to spread out for the whole month (why not the whole year?) the way the smell of baking bread fills an entire house, not just the kitchen.… more
Phyllis:Night means many things: the terrifying darkness behind the garage where I had to carry the garbage after supper as a child, the dark night of the soul that depression brings, the hours between sunset and sunrise that grow longer and longer as our earth turns into winter. But night holds comfort as well as fear, and this month we want to look at books about the gifts that night and darkness can bring.… more
Jackie: After Phyllis and I read Amos and Boris for our last month’s article on boats we both wondered why we hadn’t looked at the work of William Steig. He so often executes that very satisfying combination of humor and heart. Steig’s language is funny but his stories regularly involve worrisome separation and then return to a loving family.… more
Phyllis: This summer I had the opportunity to sail for a week in Lake Superior, so we are turning our thoughts to books about the sea (including the great inland sea that borders Minnesota, so vast it makes its own weather). If we can’t go sailing right now, we can at least read about it in a fleet of good picture books.… more
Jackie: Phyllis, the zucchini seeds you gave me have grown into a plant that knocked on our back door this morning. I gave it coffee and it retreated to the yard, heading toward the alley.
When I was a kid one of my favorite stories was the tall tale of Paul Bunyan. I laughed at the exaggeration, the total wackiness of an ox so large his footprints made the Great Lakes.… more
Phyllis: Tomi Ungerer has written and illustrated over 30 books for children, along with over 100 other books. I didn’t know much about him until Jackie suggested we do a blog on him, and I’m so glad she did. I came home from the library with a stack of his books, which range widely from the ridiculous to the mysterious.… more
Jackie: At last — we made it to spring and all the usual accoutrements have shown up — lilacs, violets, the smell of apple blossoms, and thoughts of sprouting seeds and growing vegetables. How could we not look at picture books about gardens and farming this month?
I have to confess, Phyllis, I did not know of Miss Jaster’s Garden, written and illustrated by N.… more
Phyllis:Each year, as soon as the snow melts, I’m eager to go search for native wildflowers. Two of the earliest flowers bloom in two different protected places a car ride away. And every year, I go too early — either the ephemeral snow trilliums aren’t even up yet or the pasque flowers are still such tiny, tight, furry brown buds that they’re hard to spot in the dried grass on the hillside where they grow.… more
Jackie:This is the time of year when I read the Travel Section of the Sunday paper. I just want to go away from gritty snow, brown yards and come back to Spring. Well, there are no tickets on the shelf this year so Phyllis and I are taking a trip to the city created by Ezra Jack Keats.… more
Phyllis: February is the month for lovers and for love. And it’s the month where some of us also get a little grumpy. Gray slushy snow — no good for skiing or building snow people — lines the streets. The weight of winter coats wears old. And even though we do love February, we thought we’d look at books about grumpiness — just in case anyone else might feel a little, well, cranky once in a while.… more
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phyllis RootJackie: We’ve passed the Solstice but we still have more night than day. We can watch the moon with our breakfast and with our dinner. We thought we’d celebrate this season of the moon by sharing some stories featuring that lovely ornament.
Phyllis: And Christmas Eve we saw an almost full moon casting shadows on the snow before the clouds blew in. Moonlight… more
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phyllis RootJackie: Ah winter. Season of holidays and snow. Such a richness of stories.Phyllis: I have a shelf full of favorite Christmas books. What most of them have in common is story, not just about Christmas itself but also about families celebrating their connection to each other. They meet my own test for a good Christmas story — take away Christmas from the setting and the story still has a strong heartbeat about love, family, community, and caring for each other. … more
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phyllis RootJacqueline Briggs Martin:Some writers teach us craft. Some writers inspire us. Vera B. Williams does both. As part of celebrating her wonderful life and career we want to take another look at her lovely stories and her busy life. One of the many remarkable things about her books is that they “erupt” (as she said) from the activities of her life.… more
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