December 29, 2007

Saturday Review of Books Challenge

Saturday Review of Books Challenge

Completed - at the last minute - but completed!

The Titles:

Five Children and It by E Nesbit (Completed 7/27/2007)

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale/The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Competed 11/10/2007)

A Seed is Sleepy/An Egg is Quiet by Diana Aston (Completed 12/21/2007)

Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman (Completed 12/27/2007)

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman (Completed 12/26/2007)

A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schiltz (Completed 11/27/2007)

In My Book . . . A resolution to be remade yet again should be no more procrastination!!!

Saturday Review of Books Challenge - Book 6

Good Intentions!


I completely identify with the students who come to me frantic for the condensed version or the shortest book on the approved list for their book report which is due in four days! Of course, the condensed version or the shortest book has already been checked out by their fellow students who also don’t want to read anything without a picture on every other page or has more than 100 pages. But I love them anyway and convince them that they really can finish their assignment. In that vein and to prove to them that they can accomplish that goal, I confess my procrastination and finish my challenge in four days!

I am substituting a title that is on the list of Saturday Review of Books but that is not on my list of choices for the Challenge. I did not obtain The Goose Girl in time - note my identification with students; however, in my favor I did not choose to substitute The Penderwicks or A Wrinkle in Time both of which are on the approved list and for which I have already done reviews.

I am choosing as my replacement The Hound of the Baskervilles which I promise I had not read until this fall. Yes, I read many books during the fall - just not my assignment - again note my identification with students. I read Hound just after my completion of A Drowned Maiden’s Hair; and if you read that review, you will notice my mention of Arthur Conan Doyle. I have read many, many of Sherlock Holmes' cases and have watched many, many cinematic versions of The Hound. As an aside, in my opinion Jeremy Brett is the Sherlock!

The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I feel completely inadequate to review this book. What more can be said about the incomparable Sherlock Holmes? All I can say is I loved it. The mystery genre is my genre of choice. I am happiest with a good mystery in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. My favorite authors cannot write fast enough to please me. Many literary scholars credit Poe with developing the detective novel. But along with many others, I think that Sherlock is the epitome of the Great Detective.

'The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes. Where do you think that I have been?'

'A fixture also.'

'On the contrary, I have been to Devonshire.'

'In spirit?'

'Exactly. My body has remained in this armchair and has, I regret to observe, consumed in my absence two large pots of coffee and an incredible amount of tobacco. After you left I sent down to Stamfords for the Ordnance map of this portion of the moor, and my spirit has hovered over it all day. I flatter myself that i could find my way about.'
'We are coming now rather into the region of guesswork,' said Dr. Mortimer.

'Say rather, into the region where we balance probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination, but we have always some material basis on which to start our speculation.'

The more outre and grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be examined, and the very point which appears to complicate a case is, when duly considered and scientifically handled, the one which is most likely to elucidate it.'

Doyle takes the reader to a place where it is perfectly logical that a mystical beast could exist.
'I say, Watson,' said the baronet, 'what would Holmes say to this? How about that hour of darkness in which the power of evil is exalted?'

As if in answer to his words there rose suddenly out of the vast gloom of the moor that strange cry which I had already heard upon the borders of the great Grimpen Mire. It came with the wind through the silence of the night, a long, deep mutter, then a rising howl, and then the sad moan in which it dies away. Again and again it sounded, the whole air throbbing with it, strident, wild, and menacing. The baronet caught my sleeve and his face glimmered white through the darkness.
And then, as always, Holmes gets his man!

In my book . . . What could be better on a cold winter night that to curl up with a book that takes one to foggy London town and hear “The game is afoot.”?

December 28, 2007

Poetry Friday and Saturday Review of Books Challenge - Book 5

"Diving Beetle's
food-Sharing Rules"
Any type of larva is mine,
as well as all tadpoles, minnows, and newts.
Sticklebacks, caddis flies, spiders,
and small frogs of any kind - mine.
Snails, eggs, and bugs - all mine.
In short,
if it moves, it is mine.
It it's anywhere near me, it is mine.
If I'm hungry (and I'm always hungry),
it is mine, mine, mine.

And if, by chance, I choose
to crawl up yonder smartweed,
bask for a bit,
open my armored wings,
and fly about my kingdom
(within which everything is mine),
do not forget what is mine.
For if I return
and you have taken it,
are mine.
from Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems
poems by Joyce Sidman
illustrated by Beckie Prange

This is a wondrous book - every entry more special than the last, every page more beautiful than the last. It was a Caldecott Honor Book for good reason. It is informative, entertaining, entrancing. A young reader would never realize that she was learning at the same time as she was reading or hearing these amazing poems.

What youngster doesn’t love a cumulative poem?

concluding stanza of “In the Depths of the Summer Pond”
Here hunts the heron, queen of the pond,
that spears the fish
that swallows the frog
that gulps the bug
that nabs the nymph
that drinks the flea
that eats the algae, green and small,
in the depths of the summer pond.

Word Joy!

My young library visitors love Melinda Long’s How I Became A Pirate so I think that their favorite song would be the title poem.

concluding stanza of “Song of the Water Boatman
and Backswimmer’s Refrain”
I guess by now, it’s clear to see
the boatman’s life is the life for me;
among the weeds I’ll always be
. . . on a sunny summer’s morning.
Yo, ho, ho,
the pond winds blow;
the backswimmer’s life is the life I know!
In My Book . . . Sidman’s extraordinary book reminds me of Paul Fleischman’s Newbery Award winning Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices - a favorite at my house with my once-upon-a-time young son - irresistible!

December 27, 2007

Saturday Review of Books Challenge - Book 4

The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish

by Neil Gaiman

This is my first title by Neil Gaiman; and because I have read so many good reviews of his books, I was surprised that I really did not like this one. The idea based on a real incident with his own son is an interesting one. But I thought that the idea was stretched a little too far - a few too many swaps. In addition, the illustrations in places caused the text to be almost indecipherable.

Of course, as I mentioned in my previous post of A Seed Is Sleepy/An Egg Is Quiet, I am looking at these books from the point of view of an elementary librarian and from my interactions with one elementary school. The students that I see would find the illustrations very strange and would think that the book takes ultimately too long to reach its point that the dad was oblivious to the events surrounding him.

I did enjoy the brother/sister interaction. They acted like typical brothers/sisters - always trying to get each other in trouble. But I really liked Gaiman’s choice to have the mother think that the sister was talking with her mouth full, and this is one time that illustrator Dave McKean really succeeded!

In my book . . . This title works best with adults - an adult picture book if you will.

December 26, 2007

Saturday Review of Books Challenge - Book 3

A Seed is Sleepy
An Egg Is Quiet

Both titles are
Written By Dianna Aston
Illustrated by Sylvia Long

These books are truly amazing - at least the illustrations. The illustrations are magnificent, magical, mystical. And they overshadow anything that accompanies them.

I had known that the books would be beautiful. One only has to look at their covers on any book purchasing site to know that they are beautiful. However, as an elementary librarian, I had hoped that they would also be amazing as read alouds to first and second graders; and I have doubts that they would be successful for this purpose. The illustrations while striking would not hold the attention of restless young library visitors for very long, and the text though written in elegant calligraphy is simply not that attention grabbing. I do believe that these books would work very well as one on one storytime reads. A one-on-one reading or a teacher read illustration for a classroom curricululm unit would allow the explanation of some of the language and facilitate the understanding of how many of the fascinating plants and creatures included in these books come to be.

A seed is sleepy.
It lies there tucked inside its flower,
on its cone, or beneath the soil. Snug. Still.

(a lyrical beginning - a sunflower deluge)

A seed is sleepy.
but only until it has found
a place in the sun
and it has had its breakfast
and a drink of water.
Then a seed is . . .

(a bold end - a sunflower delight)

An egg is quiet
It sits there, under its
feathers . . .
On top of its
feet . . .
buried beneath
the sand.
Warm. Cozy.

(shimmering hummingbird . . . stately penguin . . . sea faring turtle)

An egg is quiet. Then, suddenly . . .
An egg is noisy!

(crunching caterpillars . . . cheeping ducklings)
I was especially fascinated by the two page spreads in the front and at the back of each book. Thirty-seven seeds become thirty-seven plants. Fifty-nine eggs become fifty-nine creatures. Gorgeous idea! However, speaking strictly as an elementary librarian, I think that young readers would be frustrated by these pages because the plants and creatures do not correspond in placement on the page to the seeds and eggs. Speaking as an adult reader, I an entranced.

In my book . . . These incredibly beautiful books visually function best as picture books. They are stunning to look at. They do contain some interesting facts. For example, the seed of an extinct date palm was successfully sprouted; and a cassowarie has a rough surfaced egg. Share these books one on one or with a classroom eager to know that a seed and an egg function very similarly to nurture the life that is within them.

December 24, 2007

Poetry For Christmas Eve

English Nursery Rhyme
Christmas is a-coming.
The goose is getting fat,
Please to put a penny
In an old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny,
A ha’penny will do.
If you haven’t got a ha’penny,
God bless you!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Longfellow wrote this poem on Christmas day in 1864 during the American Civil War. It inspired the carol sung today.

Speaking of bells - - -
Stanza 1 of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells”
Hear the sledges with the bells -
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the Heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
“A Christmas Carol”
by Christina Rossetti
In The bleak
Frosty winds made
Earth stood hard as
Water like a stone
Snow had fallen,
snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven
cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth
shall flee away
When he comes to
In the bleak
A stable place
The Lord God
Jesus Christ.

In my book . . . Christmas is a time for the heavens to twinkle with a crystalline delight and bells to carol wild and sweet words of peace.
For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given,
And the government will be on
His shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of
Of the increase of his government
And peace

There will no end.
Isaiah 9: 6-7

December 7, 2007

Poetry Friday - Passing Away

This day is a national day of remembrance for those who gave their lives for our country, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States officially engaged in war - World War II.

It is also a day of remembrance for my family. We lost a dear member of our little group this week.

a poem by Emily Dickinson
Because I could not stop for Death -
He kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just Ourselves -
And Immortality.

We slowly drove - He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too
For His Civility -

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess - in the Ring -
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain -
We passed the Setting Sun -

Or rather - He passed Us -
The Dews drew quivering and chill -
For only Gossamer, my Gown -
My Tippet - only Tulle -

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground -
The Roof was scarcely visible -
The Cornice - in the Ground -

Since then - ’tis Centuries - and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were toward Eternity -
a poem by Emily Bronte

"No Coward Soul Is Mine"
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven’s glories shine,
And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life, that in me has rest,
As I, undying Life, have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain:
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years.
Pervades and broods above.
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears.

Though earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And thou wert life alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou-Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.
In My Book . . . Ecclesiastes still has the last word. There is a time
to be born and a time to die,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time
to dance,