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1. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (20)
2. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (18)
3. A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James (15)
Redeployment, Phil Klay
5. Lila, Marilynne Robinson (13)
The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters
7. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (11)
8. Euphoria, Lily King (10)
9. We Were Liars, E. Lockhart (9)
10. Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill (8)
Top 10 Nonfiction of 2014
1. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast (15)
2. Being Mortal, Atul Gawande (11)
The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison
4. On Immunity, Eula Biss (10)
The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert
In The Kingdom Of Ice, Hampton Sides
7. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Jeff Hobbs (9)
8. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (6)
Flash Boys, Michael Lewis
What if?, Randall Munroe
Capital, Thomas Piketty
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson
These are the 53 sources counted so far — and from each we take only their most selective lists (e.g. the NYT’s Top 10, not their 100 “notable” books). Awards (Good Reads; National Book Awards; Booker Award; Kirkus Awards; Giller Prize; Governor General’s Awards; FT McKinsey Award) Critics (Maureen Corrigan; Dwight Garner; Michiko Kakutani; Janet Maslin; Sarah Weinman; James Wood) Magazines (Entertainment Weekly; Newsweek; New York Magazine; Oprah Magazine; People Magazine; Time; Village Voice) Newspapers (Boston Globe; Chicago Tribune; Christian Science Monitor; Guardian; Houston Chronicle; Minneapolis Star Tribune; New York Times; Newsday; Seattle Times; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post) Online publications (BuzzFeed; Daily Beast; Gawker Review of Books; Grantland; Huffington Post; Slate) Other Distinctions/Lists (Monthly Indie Next No. 1 picks; monthly Library Reads No. 1 picks; BEA Buzz Panel books; PL Buzz Books titles; top Google searches) Retailers (Amazon; Amazon Canada; Barnes & Noble; BookPage; Hudson Booksellers; iBooks Store; Indigo; Kobo) Trade publications (Library Journal; Publishers Weekly; Shelf Awareness)
Christmas in the Country is a picture book full of Cynthia Rylant’s remembrances of Christmases in the country where she lived with her grandparents when she was young. From stringing lights, to singing in the choir in the church at the bottom of the hill, to writing a letter to Santa on Christmas Eve – the traditions remembered are not unusual, but they are so lovingly evoked with Rylant’s sweet, simple prose and Diane Good’s soft ink and watercolor illustrations. Reading this book with loved ones will be a sweet celebration of the season, and may prompt a conversation about your own Christmases past. If you are feeling at all harried or overwhelmed with all you have to accomplish this holiday, this book may inspire you to slow down and remember all the simple joys the season offers.
Thank you Hally and Robin for sending in your December poems. I will post a couple more tomorrow and a few on Christmas, then you can vote on Friday. Please stop back an vote for your favorite Holiday poem. Have a Merry Christmas.
It seems like every year at this time, I assert once again that winter is the best time for slightly creepy stories — it’s cold outside, and we all like to huddle by the fire (or the radiator), feeling cozy and protected. A spooky mystery can add to that feeling of coziness — weird things are happening out THERE, but in HERE I’m nice and warm.
Greenglass House takes place right before a freezing cold, snowy Christmas. Milo is happy to have his loving innkeeper parents to himself for once, and planning to laze about over the school break. Unexpectedly, and at a time of year when this NEVER happens, the inn fills up with guests. And not just any guests: shifty guests. Shady guests. Guests who seem to be hiding something (or who are just plain unpleasant). It’s an open secret that Milo’s parents’ inn is friendly to smugglers, but do the guests know that? Is that why they’re there at such an odd time? Can anyone be trusted? And that’s before the mysterious thefts start, or the electricity fails due to sabotage Not to mention the ice storm! Milo’s parents and the cook are run off their feet, and Milo is either ignored or needed to help out. So much for Christmas!
Luckily for Milo, the cook’s younger daughter, Meddy, hitched a ride with her mom, so he has someone to talk to. She introduces him to the role-playing game Odd Trails, one that his father used to play when he was Milo’s age. Milo’s game character is braver (and tricksier!) than Milo himself, and their games are a great cover for an investigation into the thefts and sabotage. Do the guests have anything to do with the most famous historical owner of the house? What do they really want? And what significance is there in the guest that arrives on Christmas Eve itself?
Greenglass House is one of the best books I’ve read all year—it was enthralling, amusing, and emotionally affecting, with stellar, atmospheric prose. I’ve been able to recommend it to both adults and children, and everyone who has read it has loved it. If you love Greenglass House as much as I did, check out any of Kate Milford’s other books. None of them are as cold and wintery, but we have them all here at the library, and they’re all truly wonderful.
I thought this Saturday I’d bring you some of the Santa’s from past Illustrator Saturdays. Remember that not every illustrator has done an illustration of Santa. I am sure I missed some Santa’s, so if you were featured on Illustrator Saturday and have a Santa that you would like me to add, please email me with the illustration and I will add it to the celebration of Santa.
Winter encourages a certain kind of idiosyncratic imagery not found during any other season: white, powdery snow, puffs of warm breath, be-scarfed holiday crowds. The following slideshow presents a lovely compilation of quotes from the eighth edition of our Oxford Dictionary of Quotations that will inspire a newfound love for winter, whether you’ve ever experienced snow or not!
Are there any other wintry quotes that you love? Let us know in the comments below.
Headline image credit: Winter bird. Photo by Mathias Erhart. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr. All slideshow background images CC0/public domain via Pixabay or PublicDomainPictures.net (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10).
Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact, that Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the City of London, even including — which is a bold word — the corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley, since his last mention of his seven-year’s dead partner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change: not a knocker, but Marley’s face.
Marley’s face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up upon its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot-air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression. ~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
The holiday season can be an insanely stressful time. Looking for presents, wrapping them, cooking, getting the house ready for visitors, cleaning before and after. Nothing like a normal Saturday night on the couch in front of the TV or with a couple of close friends. The holidays demand perfection. You see it all around you, friends are talking about how stressed out they are, how much they still have to do in just a couple of days. Hyper-decorated stores are talking in their own way. As you approach the 25th of December you still haven’t bought half the gifts you need to rack up for family members, the house looks like a bomb crater and you occasionally wish yourself back in the office with piles of work on your desk waiting to be completed. There are even times when you would exchange a chilly Monday morning and an 8 o’clock meeting for this nerve-racking time that’s supposed to be happy, fun and merry.
What many rattled folks forget in the midst of buying last-minute bequests for loved ones or checking on the unhappy-looking beast in the oven minutes before guests arrive, wishing themselves far away, is that as many as half of the population face a holiday season without their dearest family members. There are people who have lost their loved ones in gruesome ways. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must feel, as they approach every new upcoming holiday season. There are people who have lost their parents to old age, people who have gone through heartbreaking divorces, separations and breakups and people who are overseas defending their country because they have no other choice. The holidays will not be what they once were for any of them. And then there are the single parents, parents many of which have decent custody agreements that are “in the best interest of the children.” According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 10 million single parents in the United States today. Each year millions among them can look forward to days of loneliness because the little ones they really want to spend time with are with the other parent.
When sane parents separate, many judges, thankfully, divide custody equally. Each parent gets his or her fair share of custody, if at all possible. Even when it’s not possible to share the time with the children equally, judges will usually attempt to divide up the holidays evenly. The kids spend every other holiday with mom and every other holiday with dad. It certainly is in the children’s best interest to get to spend some time with each parent. Most kids, with decent moms and dads, would prefer to spend every holiday with both parents. The precious little ones secretly hope for the impossible: That their divorced or separated parents will get back together. But despite their wishes, they adjust to the situation. They have no other choice.
Nor do the parents. As we face the holidays many single parents face a very lonely time. They may be with dear family members: parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Yet they may nonetheless feel a profound pain in their hearts, even as they watch close relatives savor the pecan pie or scream in delight when they rip open their Christmas presents. Their own children are far away. In most cases the youngsters are in a safe place elsewhere, stuffing their faces with goodies or breaking out laughing when the other grandpa makes a funny face. In most cases single parents know that their children are enjoying themselves in the company of the other caregiver and his or her extended family.
Yet the children are missing from the scenery. Their absence is felt. “It hurts. It hurts every other Christmas when my kids are with their dad during the holidays,” says Wendy Thomas, a St. Louis, Missouri single mother of two girls ages 8 and 5. Thomas shares custody with the girls’ father, who lives in Illinois. “The first year was the hardest but I don’t think I will ever get used to it. Shopping malls and Silent Night make me shiver,” says the 38-year-old entrepreneur. This is her third Christmas and New Year’s without her children.
Each holiday a single parent truly misses his or her children on that one day that is supposed to bring delight to everyone. “It’s going to be a lonely, lonely Christmas without you” may just be tedious background music for the families that didn’t break apart. Each year, however, the oldie is causing a tiny tear to run quietly down the cheek of some single caregiver.
But could some of the reported agony over absent children during the holidays be the result of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, a psychological mechanism we use to justify our choices and conflicting belief sets? For example, you choose to volunteer three hours a week at the local children’s hospital. It’s killing you. You can barely fit in everything else you have to do. But you tell everyone, including yourself, that volunteer work is truly rewarding and every (wo)man’s duty. Making irrational decisions seem rational is a way to preserve your sense of self worth.
Studies show that the hardship involved in raising children makes us idealize parenthood and consider it an enormously rewarding enterprise. In a study published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Psychological Science researchers primed 80 parents with at least one child in two different ways. One group was asked to read a document reporting the costs of raising a child. The other parents read the same document as well as a script reporting on the benefits of having raised children when you reach old age. The participants were then given a psychological test assessing their beliefs about parenting. The team found what they expected. Parents who had only read about the financial costs of parenthood initially felt more discomfort than the other group. But they went onto idealize parenthood much more than the other participants and when interviewed later their negative feelings were gone.
“How do single parents get through Christmas as painlessly as possible?”
Could cognitive dissonance explain why single parents feel empty-handed and depressed during holiday seasons without their children? St. Charles, MO, family counselor Deborah Miller doesn’t think that’s what’s going on. “This year it’s my turn to be one of those parents. I’ll be the first to admit that raising a child is not always a blessing. There are countless times when I feel more like a chauffeur or a waitress or a slave than a free agent with some real me-time.” She thinks the lonely-parent phenomenon evidently is not a manifestation of cognitive dissonance, as we don’t idealize away the pain of being without our children on Christmas or New Year’s. The heartache often doesn’t go away until we see our kids again in January and abruptly remember just how draining it is to raise a child. “I’ll finally get some time to myself, and I know my son will have a blast. But I’ll miss him immensely,” says Miller.
How do single parents get through Christmas as painlessly as possible? The solution is not necessarily to have a huge family gathering with your side of the family to ease the sorrow. A gala dinner on Christmas Day may have its advantages. You can hug your little nieces and nephews and maybe feel a bit of comfort as they open their presents in a way only children can approach surprises. You may feel a teensy bit of wonder (or is it jealousy) as you view your siblings and their spouses exchange loving smiles and their young ones take delight in the simplest of things. “It may work for some but there is a sense in which you will only be a spectator,” says Miller. She recalls her Christmas two years ago. “I felt gratified to be part of a functional family, and it was good to see my siblings interact with their children. I also remember being thankful that my parents were still alive and healthy and that they got one more holiday season with some of their grandchildren. But I also felt great sadness, because the dearest thing in my life wasn’t with me. I really missed my son that day.” This Christmas, Miller is getting together with a few friends. “Sure, we will still have Christmas dinner but there won’t be any children or presents or sacred family traditions. So hopefully I won’t be reminded of what I’m missing out on.”
Featured image credit: Christmas Decorations, by Ian Wilson. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
I started this challenge in November with #SKADAMO, a sketch a day challenge. No rules, just a way to get those creative juices flowing. I like to give myself a theme and this year I decided to highlight The fun and totally relatable, A Christmas Story, based on the original work of Jean Shepherd. I’ve come to the end of it now with #HoHoDooDa. This has been fun. You can see the original illustrations with the text as you scroll through by blog. I just thought it would be fun to see them all together. www.robertabaird.com
Next to me in the blackness lay my oiled blue-steel beauty.
The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received… or would ever receive.
Gradually, I drifted off to sleep, pranging ducks on the wing…
and getting off spectacular hip shots.
All right. Everybody upstairs. Get dressed. We are going out to eat.
No! Not, “ra ra ra ra ra.” “La la la la la.”
Sing like this:
Try again. Stop!
Sing something else.
Kitchen. Bring food. For customers. Oh, I’m sorry. It’s a beautiful duck. It really is. But you see…
What? It’s smiling at me.
Okay? Beautiful! That Christmas would live in our memories… as the Christmas when we were introduced to Chinese turkey.
Hi guys, I know I haven't been around much, I hope you're all doing well!
I wanted to pop in and show you some pictures of this year's Christmas parade.
This is the fourth time we participated and I think it may have been the most fun for the people involved. The idea was to build a herd of reindeer to walk (and sing and dance - however the mood strikes) in the parade.
We came up with a template and a patient friend cut out a whole bunch of them from recycled cardboard. Most of the the decorations came from thrift shops, although there was also paint and duct tape involved. We had a fun time and won the city prize for "most creative entry, so we were doing something right! And then there was pizza, of course.
Sometimes at the height of our reveries, when our joy is at its zenith…
when all is most right with the world…
the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.
The heavenly aroma still hung heavy in the house. But it was gone.
All gone. No turkey. No turkey sandwiches.
No turkey salad. No turkey gravy, turkey hash, turkey a la king…
or gallons of turkey soup.
We are going out to eat.
…and then, as if by magic, Bruce Sprucington Treeworthy wobbled impossibly into a stately bow.
Looks like we have a few masochists joining HoHoDooDa this year. Below are the names and links of said participants (at least any who have left their name and link to where they are posting their doodles, in the comments here.) If I’ve missed anyone or your link is not working or any other proof of my heinous lack of organizational skills, please let me know and I’ll do my best to fix it.
The Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to share an appreciation for food and cooking with kids. It is a time to be grateful for the food we have that nourishes us, and to share with others who don’t have as much. If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a book recommendation for you! With his signature folk-art illustrations, Tomie DePaola’s picture book Pascual and the Kitchen Angels recounts the legend of San Pascual, known to many Catholics (especially in Spain and Latin America) as the patron saints of cooks and the kitchen.
Pascual was born in 16th century Spain and was very devout from a young age. After working as a shepherd for most of his young life, he left home to become a Franciscan friar so he could help feed the poor. Because he had no formal education, the friars accepted him as a lay brother and he was assigned the task of cooking for the brothers. The trouble was, Pascual knew nothing about cooking! According to the legend that DePaola recounts, Pascual prayed to God for help, and angels came down from heaven and cooked a delicious meal fit for the friars. So, Pascual was able to fulfill his kitchen duties while never ceasing to pray.
San Pascual is known for living a life of prayer, humility, and service to others. The legend of his miraculous cooking is inspiring – it reminds us that cooking and eating can transcend the ordinary and become something that truly nourishes our souls and allows us to give to others.
Attention shoppers! It is now 9:00 and our store is closing.
9:00! Great Scott! The store is gonna close!
Santa can’t wait all night.
Come on up on Santa’s lap.
Get moving, kid. Quit dragging your feet.
And what’s your name, little boy?
Hey, kid, hurry up, the store’s closing!
Listen, little boy, we got a lot of people waiting here, so get going!
What do you want for Christmas, little boy? My mind had gone blank. Frantically I tried to remember what it was I wanted. I was blowing it, blowing it.
How about a nice football?
Football. What’s a football?
Without conscious will, my voice squeaked out:
Football. Okay, get him out of here. A football! Oh, no. What was I doing? Wake up, stupid, wake up! I want an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot… range model air rifle.
Announcing (last minute as is tradition) the beginning of HoHoDooDa 2014 (or Holiday Doodle A Day!)
As nutty as November was, what with PiBoIdMo (thank you so much Tara Lazar!) and SkADaMo 2014, it was just what the doctor ordered as far as a shot of creative, mojo-inducing stress.
A few Decembers ago, to keep the momentum going, my fellow illustrator pals, the talented Marion Eldridge and Laura Jacobson along with myself, engaged in yet another month-long sketch-a-thin which we dubbed HoHoDooDa, short for Holiday Doodle a Day (hmmm, not really that much shorter. Is it?) We did our best to create a holiday-themed doodle a day… or even every other day… or as often as humanly possible, throughout December.
What with the holidays and all, I admit it’s a little crazy and there may be some gnashing of teeth and tears shed, but overall, I’m sure it will be a blast and very rewarding, as it was last year. So, doin’ it again this year!
Just like SkADaMo, anyone who wants to join in is more than welcome! Regardless of what winter holiday you celebrate!
Rules for HoHoDooDa:
“What are the rules for HoHoDooDa?” You may ask.
1.THERE ARE NO RULES! NO SIGN UP! NO REGISTRATION! NO GIVEAWAYS OR GUEST POSTERS! No regulations, themes, daily words, Facebook pages or anything else resembling organization. Just lots of holidaydoodling, commenting back and forth and hopefully lots of inspiration and craft honing!
HoHoDooDa Doodlers are scoff-laws and Mavricks! (Really, I’m just not that organized.) The only code we live by this month is Doodle! Doodle! Doodle! Doodle everyday from December 1 to December 31, or at least try to.
You may not Doodle every single day, but by golly you will have tried and you’ll have more doodles in your sketchbook at the end of December than you might have otherwise.
So, there’s that!
2. If you send me a link to your blog, (or wherever you are posting your HoHoDooDa doodles) I will keep a running list of all the participants and their links on my blog. This way we can all keep in touch and root each other on and enjoy the sugarplum fruits of each other’s doodle labors.
If you post to your blog it helps if you tag your illustrations HoHoDooDa or create a HoHoDooDa category. If you are posting to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram it helps to add a hashtag (#HohoDooDa.)
It has been my experience that Facebook’s hashtags are not all that reliable, which is why I decided to go back to listing any link you give me.
If there are any broken links, bad links, I forgot anyone, misspelled anyone’s name or any other heinous act was performed, please let me know and I’ll do my best to correct it.
3. Smile, this is fun!
Doodle on my fellow HoHoDooDa Doodlers, (should there be any!)
Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that…
I was not only perpetually four years old, but also a girl.
She just always gives you the nicest things, Ralphie.
Oh, isn’t that sweet?
Ralph, go upstairs and try it on you–
I don’t want to!
Go upstairs right now and try on that present!
Immediately my feet began to sweat as those two fluffy little bunnies… with the blue button eyes stared sappily up at me.
Come down here so I can see you better.
I just hoped Flick would never spot them…
as the word of this humiliation could easily make life… at Warren G. Harding School a veritable hell.
Isn’t that cute?
That is the most precious thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
Shut up, Randy.
He looks like a deranged Easter bunny.
Oh, it was beautiful. I could hardly wait to try it out. Can I try it out, Ma? Can I?
But outside. Okay, Black Bart, now you get yours. Oh, my God! I shot my eye out!
You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.
You’ll shoot your eye out, you’ll shoot your eye out! Ralphie, you be careful out there. Don’t shoot your eye out! She hadn’t seen! She didn’t know! My eye’s all right. The BB must’ve hit my glasses. My glasses! Oh, no!
You can enter to win a signed hardback copy of The Christmas Owl December 4 – December 12. Two lucky winners will receive a copy of these beautiful keepsake books and the hardbacks are only available here. Visit a Rafflecopter giveaway to get your entries in.
Also, during 12/4 -12/6 our Christmas Owl kindle book will be discounted to $.99 on Amazon (reg $3.50). Happy Holidays from 4EYESBOOKS!
It was Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol that transformed Christmas, first in Victorian England as the industrial age was barreling ahead, and then throughout Europe. Dicken's notion that the true Christmas spirit embodied caring and generouisity -- especially for those less fortunate -- influenced the thinking of multitudes and transformed the holiday.
The ancient orgins of Christmas and of Santa Claus have been traced to many cultures including Scandanavian (especially Danish), Germanic, Dutch and British.
The legend of Santa Claus, himself, was greatly enhanced by the poem A Visit from St Nicholas, written for his children, by the American, Clement Clarke Moore, in 1823.
Images by some of the great illustrators have deeply influenced perceptions of Santa and Chistmas. This is especially true for children. However, significant impressions in the minds of adults were also made by the Dicken's illustrations of John Leech (and later by Arthur Rackham) in Great Britain, and the yearly illustrations by Thomas Nast of A Visit From St Nicholasin the USA.
With the passing of time, the spirit of Christmas has changed. The idea of gifts for children, and then others, has evolved with stories, TV, films, merchants, and ceaseless marketing into an often overwhelming distortion of the original spirit of A Christmas Carol. But the spirit does live on.
A Christmas Carol
"Few works in the history of popular culture have had as much pronounced effect as Charles Dickens’s AChristmas Carol, first published in 1843. While Christmas Day had always been a sacred, solemn feast day within the Christian faith (just as the Winter Solstice had been in many pagan cultures before it), it wasn’t until the middle part of the 1800s that many began to see it less as a site of religious devotion than as a holiday to be celebrated, and to be celebrated most specifically through the act of giving. While A Christmas Carol didn’t spawn this tradition itself, it, more than any other force, popularized it throughout the western world. Through its powerful, secular story of redemption through charity and love, Dickens imparted to all that Christmas was a time to celebrate all that was worthwhile about the human race, most specifically our love for one another, and our compassion for those less fortunate."...
To read the rest of this excellent article by Jonathan Morris, theAntiscribe, follow this link It will take you to his comprehensive and instghtful article on the significance and lasting impact of Charles Dicken's and A Christmas Carol.Morris also provides, in this article, informed reviews of multiple film and TV versions of A ChristmasCarolthrough the years; he includes photos and video links.
This link will enable you to download/read the original version of A Christmas Carolby Charles Dickens"
This link will take you to the 1971 Annimated version of A ChristmasCarol produced by Chuck Jones, directed by Richard Williams, and with the voice of Alister Sim as Ebeneezer Scrooge. This is a classic and a favorite of Jonathan Morris:Annimated Christmas Carol
The top two illustrations on the left are by John leech. The illustration, on the right, is by Thomas Nast. The illustrator of the bottom left Christmas scene is unknown.
"I don't know what to do.' cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. `I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody. A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here. Whoop. Hallo.' "--
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
A Foxwoods Holiday Celebration
This wonderful illustration is by Brian Fox-Patterson for a series of children's books by Brian and his wife, Cynthia. To see more of his delightful illustrations, visit Foxwood Tales Illustrations.
"Their first story was published in 1985, and seven more followed. Since then the series of eight children's books have become modern classics. Over 1.3 million copies have been sold across 18 countries." (Wikipedia) For summaries of six of the books, visit loveReading4Kids. A compilation of four of the Tales can be found in the book, A Foxwood Treasury.
I discovered the Foxwood Tales through the illustrations. I haven't read the books, but I wanted to share the superb illustrations.
"The year 2014 will see the 48th annual Kwanzaa, the African American holiday celebrated from December 26 to January 1. It is estimated that some 18 million African Americans take part in Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas. It was created by Dr. Maulana "Ron" Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966. At this time of great social change for African Americans, Karenga sought to design a celebration that would honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress.
Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years."...Kwanzaa ends with a feast and gift giving... Holidays are forever
“One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Spirit of Christmas Embodied in a Therapy Dog
This is about Susan and Rose. That's Rose in the photos. It is also about the thousands of therapy dogs bringing unconditional love to young and old. Susan Purser is a retired teacher and has been working for several years with Rose in schools , hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. These are Susan's comments about working with Rose.
“No matter who you are or why you do pet therapy, it is the dog that opens the door…doors that would otherwise be closed to a well meaning human...
“I consider myself a facilitator…if my dog could drive, she would not need me. Rose seems to enjoy seeing people multiple times and developing a relationship with the people… She is a working dog by nature and she just loves these jobs. I am constantly amazed at the doors that Rose opens…she goes to places I could never get without her…reaches beyond my reach, touches a person deeper than my touch. The restless or agitated patient who is calmed by Rose’s touch...the child in the classroom who won’t settle down and get to work but when Rose sits by them, they quiet right down and the hyperactivity seems to dissipate. The child getting excited about reading to Rose every week; they wouldn’t do that for me, but they do it for Rose...
It is their touch or look that gives people that inner peace when their world is shrinking or spinning so fast they have lost control. When doors begin the final closing, there is that one last smile, nod, a hand that reaches for a dog that allows some of them to say good bye and close their eyes in peace.” The photos of Rose are courtesy of Susan Purser.
The Gift of Reading from LitWorld
Here is a joyous video from Litworld, celebrating the joy of reading, the joy of being somebody, the joy of hope. LitWorld gives the gift of readingto disadvantaged and at-risk children around the world...and they do this not only during the Christmas season, but throughout the year!
LitWorld supports hopes, possibilities and lives in fourteen countries around the world! This link will take you to an interactive map of where Litworld works, from Columbia to India and from Kosovo to California. Interactive Map.
Interview With Santa
This interview was conducted as part of a program to determine the truth behind the incredible story of The Snow Valley Heroes....
Interviewer: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and clarifying things.
Santa: I’m happy that the story is finally coming out.
Interviewer: Is it a true story?
Interviewer: Why haven’t we known about it before?
Santa: I think it was lost in the mists of time…It took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
Interviewer: Is it true that there was to be no more Christmas?
Santa: I’m sorry to say that it’s true. Until the dogs arrived.
Interviewer: The dogs?
Santa: It was a surprise to all of us in Santa Claus village. None of us, and that includes all the elves,had even heard of dogs.
Interviewer: Is that because you were so far North and rather isolated?
Santa: Well, that and the fact that dogs has just started arriving on planet earth. Prior to that time, there had been no dogs on Earth.
Interviewer: Really! Where did they come from? And how did they find you?
Santa: They had started coming down from their own planet – the Planet of the Dogs. They came down to help people. Somehow, they had heard we were in trouble, and one day, there they were, just like that...
The illustrations from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, are by Stella Mustanoja McCarty
Free copies of Snow Valley Heroes, a Christmas Tale; Planet Of The Dogs; and Castle In The Mistare available for therapy dog owners and organizations, as well as librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address.
All of the Planet Of The Dogsseries of books are available through your favorite independent bookstore and online through Barnes&Noble, Amazon, and many other sources.
"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
―Dr Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Finding Fido for Doglovers
"Finding Fido is a book that we believe each and every PetParent should not only read, but own. Finding Fido is a PetParent’s guide to: preventing the loss of their pets in the first place & also serves as a guide to PetParents for essential steps to recovering their pets if they ever are lost. If you’re a first time Pet Parent or a long time, seasoned Pet Parent, there are tips and tricks in here that will be helpful to you!...
As great as this book truly is, we’ve got one detail to share that completely sweetens the pot…the cherry on top if you will. All proceeds from the sale of Finding Fido are donated toward the Beagle Freedom Project" Kaitlin Jenkins- PetParent The cover design and content are by author and dog advocate C.A. Wulff
Holiday Season at the Movies
Fun stories.fantasy and imaginative annimation characterize the holiday movies for children...while dystopia, conflict and bloodshed continue to pour out of YA films.
My hope is that children will see the films intended for them, and stay away from the violence of current YA movies, designed, as Christopher Tolkien says below, as action movies for young people 15 to 25.
JRR Tolkien's son, Christopher, believes that the quest for commercial success by Peter Jackson and the movie industry has destoyed the essence of what his father wrote about the world of Middle Earth in the Hobbit books. Here are excerpts from a post regarding Christopher Tolkien's deep disappointment that appeared on Worldcrunch. The quotes by Tolkien are from an interview he gave to le Monde.
"Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? 'They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,' Christopher says regretfully. 'And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.'..
This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. 'Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,' Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. 'The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing' "....
The illustration,"Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raftelves, is by JRR Tolkien.
The Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies, opens Dec 17. Here is a link to the trailer: Five Armies:
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay1
The story of the Hunger Games continues through the Holiday Season and beyond, with Mockingjay 1.It opened in late November and is off to becoming another huge financial success. Audiences seem to like the film despite the fact that many critics were dissapointed.
Here is an excerpt from the review in the Atlantic by Christopher Orr entitled, Hunger Games: Mockingjay1, Darker, More Relentles than Ever.
"Is the film a bit baggy in places? Sure. Might it have been better if they’d squeezed the whole book into one movie? Probably. Nonetheless, Mockingjay Part 1 is a fine entertainment, shot through with moments of surprising emotional impact."
The dystopian story appears to be a theme for success in today's YA film market. In reviewing The Maze Runner, Jack Cole wrote that The Maze Runner doesn't separate itself from its YA dystopian bretheren. Here is the headline and an excerpt from Cole's insightful review:In 'The Maze Runner,' the maze itself is a letdown and the film presents boring explanations to the plot's mysteries. By Jake Coyle, Associated Press.
Has a cottage industry ever sprung up as fast as the YA land rush brought on by "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games"? I'd like to use a mortal instrument to put an ender to this game. Please, giver me a break.
But to be fair, there isn't anything inherently wrong with "The Maze Runner," directed by special effects-veteran Wes Ball. It's just that it does so little to find its own path separate from its dystopia brethren. All of the recent young-adult formulas are adhered to here: the teenage rebellion against tradition, the coming-of-age metaphors, the heavy sequel-baiting.
Here is a link to the trailer for The Maze Runner. The film has grossed over one hundred million dollars and continues to play. It was not expensive to produce. There will be a sequel.
Movie Violence and Children...
I believe that films with relentless violence, surround sound, fearful images and often in 3-D, will disturb children. How many children, twelve and under, are seeing the current crop of violent dyustopian films?
I presume the producers of these films, and to a lesser extent, the writers of the book series on which they are based, see violence as an important aspect of marketing and audience appeal.
Perhaps, many young adult viewers, after watching the Hunger Games, are more appreciative of the world they live in and of the fact that they are not one of the 25 million refugee children across the world.
After reading Jerry Griswold's enthusiastic comments about The Giver in the Unjournal of Children's Literature, I decided to research the movie and write about it. The film was based on a controversial, but well received book by Lois Lowry.The book was published in 1993 and the movie was released in July, 2014. The Giverhad a different take on dystopia and the use of violence.
I have now decided to see the movie before writing further about The Giver. To be continued...
Into The Woods
Into the Woods, which seems to be a Disney family film for children, YA, and parents, is now opening on Christmas Day, 2014. The film's slogan, "Be careful what you wish for", relates to the witch, a central character, played by Meryl Streep. Music by Stephen Sondheim, adds to the story, as it did in the original long running Broadway production.
In the story, the witch uses her magical powers to teach lessons in living to Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk. The original production was a big hit with audiences.
Opens Dec 18... Annie, a family movie, is based on the hit Broadway musical. The cast includes Jamie Fox, Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Diaz...Here is a summary from IMDB where you will also find more information, photos and trailers.
Annie looks joyous and entertaining in the trailer preview.
"Annie is a young, happy foster kid who's also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they'd be back for her someday, it's been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan. But everything's about to change..."
Holiday Children's Movies Galore
Here are three more kid's films that look good in their trailers and have been generally well received by reviewers. I have previously posted good notices for the following recently opened movies: Box Trolls, Book of Life, and Hero of Color City --
Big Hero 6
Critics Consensus from Rotten Tomatoes : "Agreeably entertaining and brilliantly animated, Big Hero 6 is briskly-paced, action-packed, and often touching." In 3D. Now Playing. Box office: 200 million thus far. Here is the trailer for Big Hero 6 ...Looks like fun.
Paddington Review...Here is an excerpt from the 3 star review by Xan Brooks in the Guardian
"Paddington, directed by Paul King from the original Michael Bond stories, spins the tale of a small bear (voiced very ably by Ben Whishaw) weaned on marmalade jars and idealised notions of England. The film is as warm as an eiderdown and as fluffy as its feathers. Cast out of his forest home, Paddington hops a cargo ship and comes to London, where his decorous dreams bump up against modern reality"
Opening December 12. Here is the trailer: Paddington Adopted from a classic children's book.
Critics Consensus from Rotten Tomatoes: "Penguins of Madagascar is fast and brightly colored enough to entertain small children, but too frantically silly to offer real filmgoing fun for the whole family."
Christmas Lights Moving Through the Hills
A Holiday treat, and a wonder to behold, the moving lights are on hundreds of sheep, running in the darkness, guided by sheepdogs...this is a classic video...Moving Lights
From Rescue to Reading...A Holiday Salute
We Salute the Planet Dog Foundation for their years of support for "the exemplary work of non-profit organizations training and placing dogs working to help people in need all over the country."
Through the years, they have given over one million dollars; in 2014, alone, they have given over one hundred thousand dollars.
The photo is from Brigadoon Youth and Service Dog Programs in Bellingham,WA
Circling The Waggins at Christmas
Here is an an excerpt from the doglover's book, Circling the Waggins, by CA Wulff. The dogs seen in the ebook cover (below) are the current residents of the cabin in the woods wherein this saga of a life with rescued dogs takes place.
"I feel like we are haunted by the ghost dog of Christmas past.The season brings a million reminders of our Troll, a dog who had loved Christmas more than any other time of year. He would get excited at the first signs of holiday decorations, and his eyes would shine with a child’s wonder. On Christmas morning, he would race to be the first dog under the tree, to tear at the packages full of biscuits and rawhides. Each of the dogs would tear at a package, but Troll unwrapped with such gusto and fervor, that they would all abandon their presents to stand back and watch him, and then make off with whatever treats he had revealed."
CA Wullf also created the cover for her book.
Way Cool Dogs On Finding a Puppy That's Good for Kids
Choosing the right puppy is a critical decision...here is an excerpt from a helpful article on Way Cool Dogs.
"How do you choose a puppy that is good for your children? It is a question every parent should ask before deciding to adopt one of the small puppy breeds for their child. Toy puppies can make great companions for kids if they are chosen properly, and the child is trained to handle small puppies properly. And to be fair, a child is the only one who can keep up with the boost of energy that puppies seem to be born with!
The good news is that you have a variety of small puppy breeds to choose from: mini Yorkies, Maltese, Havanese, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and many others. Smaller dogs seem to be less intimidating around children. If the puppies are small, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be aggressive with children. You just need to be careful when choosing a perfect small puppy for your home...
The illustration, from Planet Of The Dogs, is by Stella Mustanoja McCarty
Sunbear Squad guides good hearted people like those who sent Sunbear this post....
Christmas Rescue of a Lost Rescue Dog
Are you ready for a sweet Christmas story about a little lost doggy? We were walking our two dogs a few days ago and saw a little scared pup that looked like a Shitzu/Llasa Apso mix. He was limping, his hair was shaved, he had no collar. We scooped the little guy up and brought him home with us. We drove to Petco and Petsmart to ask if they recognized him. No one did. So we had him scanned to see if he was microchipped. He wasn't. So we listed the little fella on Craigslist and a lost and found pup website also. No luck. We called around to a few vet clinics in our area ... to no avail. So we took care of this little lost boy in our home for a few days.
We named the little guy Buddy. He was so sweet. He stayed with us and my two little dogs who played and slept and ate along with him. He seemed to limp a little less as the days went by. We wondered how his life was before he met us. We wondered if he was limping because he may have been a caged dog used for breeding because he was not neutered. We wondered if he came from a loving home or an abusive home. We were getting worried after our fourth day of loving on the little guy...