Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Edward Gorey!

Today would have been Edward Gorey's 88th birthday.
Even Google has chosen to celebrate with the doodle:

Edward Gorey is the true master of the macabre.
One of my all time favorite books, albeit quite macabre, is his book:

The Gashlycrumb Tinies: or, After the Outing

First published in 1963, this book tells the tale of 26 children (each name beginning  with a different letter of the alphabet) and recounts the gory and untimely demise of each one.

This book is sarcastic, morbid, macabre and GOREY. It is wonderful!!
(albeit maybe not really a book to read aloud with your small child)


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Elizabeth George Speare - Historical Writer Extraordinaire

Have you ever read any of the books written by Elizbeth George Speare?
She wrote some wonderful historical fiction, and also won 2 Newbery Award Medals, and 1 Newbery Honor Medal.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Winner of the 1959 Newbery Medal
Kit moves from her island home of Barbados to live with family members she has never met in their Puritanical community in Conneticut . She feels out of  place and alone, and seeks solace in the woods where she meets Hannah Tupper. The Puritans think that Hannah is a witch and soon she is accused of such. Kit eventually is tied to her and also accused of  being a witch.
This is a wonderful wonderful story. I've loved it since I was young. It captivates you and leaves you filled with emotion. The best part is that it paints a wonderful picture of 17th Century life in New England.
One of my favotire quotes from this book:
“What a pity every child couldn't learn to read under a willow tree...”
―  T
he Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Bronze Bow
Winner of the 1962 Newbery Medal.

Daniel is a young Jewish rebel who wants to avenge his father's crucifiction by the Romans. This story is set in Galilee during the time of Jesus. Daniel even listens to Jesus and talks with him. The overall themes of this story is loving your enemies. This is such a fabulous work of historical fiction, I can't even express how much I revere this book. It would be a travesty if a child was never exposed to this story (really).

Here is one of my favorite sections from the story:

“Daniel, he said. I would have you follow me.

Master!....I will fight for you to the end!

My loyal friend, he said, I would ask something much harder than that. Would you love for me to the end?

...I don't understand, he said again, You tell people about the kingdom. Are we not to fight for it?
The kingdom is only bought at a great price, Jesus said. There was one who came just yesterday and wanted to follow me. He was very rich, and when I asked him to give up his wealth, he went away.
I will give you everything I have!

....Riches are not keeping you from the kingdom, he said. You must give up your hate.”

―   The Bronze Bow

The Sign of the Beaver
The Sign of the Beaver
1984 Newbery Honor Medal

It is a young boy who goes with his father to Maine to stake a claim. His father leaves him to hold the cabin while he returns for the rest of the family. The boy is befriended by a local Indian chief's grandson and they help him survive.  They encourage him to come live with them when his father's return never appears to be happening.
This is an enjoyable read and very interesting.
I will note that it is a book that is highly panned by many Native Americans. Speare's uses some words that are stereotypical, such as "squaw" and also some rather stereotypical Indian behaviors.
I can't speak to this obviously. In my estimation it is a very good book.
Sometimes these types of issues are good points to discuss with children the changing landscape of native people in stories and other issues of race and creed.
Overall, I think it would be a shame if a child was not given the opportunity to read this story.
Happy Weekend!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

We are the Ship

We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Where would baseball be without the legacy of the Negro League players. In the famous words of Negro League founder Rube Foster, "We are the ship, all else is the sea." African-Americans weren't allowed to play in the major leagues so he had the audacity to establish the Negro Leagues and made it great.

This book came out in 2008. The fact that it won neither the Newbery Award or the Caldecott Medal was a COMPLETE miss in my opinion. This book is amazing. The illustrations alone are worth the read.

I used this in 5th grade as a History text. It is a great grab for a sports/baseball fan, and it subtly chronicles all the social and political issues as well of the day.

I have to add that I didn't know much about Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige. He was a pitcher in the Negro leagues and eventually played Major League Baseball and was a legend in his lifetime.
Because of the league being segregated, he was the oldest MLB rookie at age 42!!!
That fact still floors me. He was amazing.

Check out this book. It's a great spring sports book (spring is coming right?) as well as a fabulous book for February: Black History Month.

"Safe at Home"

Smokey Joe Williams

Josh Gibson on deck

Josh Gibson

Kansas City Monarchs Dugout