Tag Archives: beauty

From Russia with Love

I’m savoring these precious days with our new baby girl… spending all my hours nursing, changing and holding the baby while wondering how to make the laundry do itself.

And I’m watching the Olympics! We love the Olympics in this house! I won’t spend hours telling you about all the great picture books about Russia; there are plenty of lists online.  But I will spotlight my three very favorite (excluding Christmas themes, that is) stories based in Russia from our collection:

  I am especially fond of The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Bliss right now because my daughter finally has a sister!  And this story captures that special relationship between sisters just beautifully.  The tiniest little sister gets lost and goes through a series of adventures before finding her way back to her home with the other matryoshka sisters.  Lovely gentle art throughout…

 No one captures pastoral Ukraine or Russia like Patricia Polacco and Rechenka’s Eggs is one of our very favorite books to bring out toward the end of Lent and close to the Easter season.  It’s a great kickstart to any kind of pysanky projects one might want to delve into.  Another variation of this folktale can be found in the lovely book: The Birds’ Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story by Eric Kimmel.

 Lastly is A Symphony of Whales by Steve Schuch.  A couple years ago, I based an entire unit study on this book.  I am so in love with everything about it:  it’s  based on a true story of villagers saving some beluga whales from ice entrapment, it’s richly illustrated in oil paintings, and the story is based in a unique geographical area that doesn’t usually get much attention: the Chukchi Peninsula.  It is truly a living book if ever there was one.  In fact, I need to replace my paperback copy to get it hardbound.


“Little by little, one travels far…”
-Tolkien
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Pick of the Week: Somewhere In The World Right Now

Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Schuett is a beautiful book that introduces the concept of time zones and geography and what’s happening at any given moment around the world. The art is superb. In fact, it’s one of those excellent books where it is almost obvious that the author had to be the illustrator as well… because the marriage between word and picture is so complete and so congruent. The book would be an excellent study for any child studying the world-at-large or time zones in particular. I also think it pairs nicely with the excellent On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather as they both give an instant glance at the larger cultural/sociological picture of life. I sigh a happy sigh when these types of educational books are executed in a way that the educational attempts of it are not so orchestrated and obvious… but flow seamlessly and beautifully within the book. Well done indeed!

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Bargain Book Roundup!

Skimming through the current Bargain Books on Amazon can be daunting because there is so much chaff and very little wheat. But here are some notable hardcover books that are currently on sale for a good price! Get ’em while they’re hot!

The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I I just talked about how much I love Frane Lessac a couple weeks ago! I was so excited to see this book on sale, it’s my favorite WW1 picture book to date.

The Legend of Saint Nicholas Demi’s version of the story, criticized for having a Catholic bias. I hate to break it you everyone, but Nicholas of Myra was in fact, a Catholic bishop.

Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert This is a pretty new book on St. Martin. I bought it full price last year when it came out… so great was my curiosity. Some folks were a bit offended that the monks in here were portrayed as meanish or critical. I don’t know St. Martin’s story really well, but I do know that the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints… and that sometimes, holy people have faced more persecution from INSIDE the church than outside of it! So I was not too bothered by any biases that some saw in this book. It had lovely art and was a good primer on a wonderful man.

Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott I just learned a little about this famous author and was surprised to find out that she never WANTED or INTENDED to write a book for girls! She had other material that her first publisher didn’t love and she was asked to write a story for girls… so she did, and did the sequels just to keep the bills paid. Despite the fact that those stories weren’t what was initially on her heart, she sure made a success of herself for generations to come!

The Trouble with Wishes This is a light, fun retelling of the famous myth about Pygmalion.

Pandora I love Robert Burleigh’s Hercules book and he writes a bunch of other excellent non-fiction titles as well.

Adèle & Simon in America I absolutely love Barbara McClintock; her illustrations are so old-world evocative… and this is a fun little look and find book for little eyes.

Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman One of my favorite Johnny Appleseed picture books.

Snow Superb picture/text symetry here. This would be a great addition to anyone’s winter basket (the general part of this season sometimes gets overlooked in deference to the millions of Christmas season books…)

Close to the Wind: The Beaufort Scale I have not seen this in person yet, but it looks absolutely delightful and original and perfect for explaining not only the scale on which wind is measured but so many other nautical things too, lovely art!

Angela and the Baby Jesus A beautiful picture book embodying the “real meaning” of Christmas from the author of the famous Angela’s Ashes.

Merry Christmas, Curious George! I don’t generally advocate for commercial characters in picture books, but Curious George was cool before he became… well… cool. So if you have any young fans in your house who’d love a George Christmas book, this is your ticket…

Corn. Gail Gibbons may not author the most beautiful books on the planet, but they sure are excellent contributions to non-fiction topics. Corn would be a great addition to anyone’s harvest or autumn basket of books. I recently found Spiders at the thrift store for our Fall basket and think Corn would accompany that nicely!

Panorama: A Foldout Book I don’t know much about this book, but it looks intriguing and like it might make for a beautiful, unique gift. Here is a blog post I found describing it a bit more in depth.

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The Children of China

The Children of China is a beautifully unique book; I don’t suppose it could be considered a traditional picture book since there isn’t a central story per se. Rather it’s an account of an artist’s journey through remote regions of China, painting gloriously along the way. So each page features a beautiful piece of art and the opposite page is sort of a narrative about both what’s going on in the picture as well as memories of his personal experience growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution. This would make an excellent, excellent supplement to any kind of unit study on China as it features many of the lesser known ethnic groups in China. This is also the type of book that makes for perfect “strewing“… and that’s what I did in my own family.  Like so many other books left alone to be ‘discovered’ this one found the rapt attention of a nine year old…

Some pieces of the book to delight you; Zhang’s art is stunning.  Click to enlarge the images:

 

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Isabella’s Garden: Library Pick of the Week

There are a million and one books that have copied the old “This is the house that Jack built” rhyming structure. While this does mean it can get tiresome… It does not mean that all new versions of it are unoriginal. Isabella’s Gardenby Glenda Millard is a lovely, lovely book. Originally published in Australia in 2009, it’s finally made its way to our shores and would make a gorgeous addition to anyone’s springtime basket. Well, it goes through all the seasons really, but the underlying theme is in the seeds lying “dark and deep”…

What really make this a treasure is the artwork done by artist Rebecca Cool; it is her first children’s book and we can only pray for more! It looks like a folk collage that you’d see hanging on a metropolitan art museum wall. The colors are perfect and bold and exciting, the people move with strange fluidity and vibrancy. I absolutely love it all!

These are the flowers that waltz in the wind that ruffles the buds all velvety skinned…
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brief pick and pass

I just wanted to briefly mention the best and worst library grabs of the week.  Both were chosen by the children and approved by me:

WORST: Goldilicious.  Brought to you courtesy of the 2 year old who loves all things pink and princessy right now.  This is part of the uber-saccharine, girly series: Pinkalicious, Silverlicious, Purplelicious, etc. The book had nothing objectionable in it so I allowed it as some cotton candy fluff to our stack.  It does make great fun to watch a big, strong papa read this book to his little girl though… (I’ll have to seek out some traditional, old school princesses to keep this up.)


BEST: King Midas and the Golden Touch.  I can always count on my discerning nine year old to seek out quality artwork and full, satisfying stories.  We have loved Kinuko Y. Craft’s illustrations in the past and she doesn’t disappoint at all in this gorgeous retelling of the famous story.


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The Motherload List of Excellent Catholic Picture Books

***last updated August 2018***

catholic-picture-booksHere is my personal, comprehensive list of excellent picture books that help nurture a love for the Catholic faith and Christianity in general. This is just my opinion, mind you.  There are certainly other Catholic books out there but I have been pretty selective in highlighting only ones that I either have or would buy myself. You won’t see ugly or inane books on this list; I don’t think we should buy/read “twaddle” even if it comes packaged as a “saint story.”No sense in dumbing down the beautiful!  However, there are a couple compromises on this point… only because either the pictures or the text are in and of themselves absolutely worth your time. This used to be a post linking you to my Listmania lists on amazon.com but they limit you to 40 titles.  🙂 I also left out the entire St. Joseph Picture Books series (which admittedly do have their place, especially being thin, cheap and Mass-friendly), as well as most Christmas books since that genre is too big for my purposes here, another time maybe…  I’m interested only in STORY picture books here, that happen to reinforce specifically Catholic/Christian values.  I starred *books that are my own very special favorites. Either way, enjoy the list!

Saints
An Alphabet of Saints*
Saints for Girls: A First Book for Little Catholic Girls
Saints for Boys: A First Book for Little Catholic Boys
Lives and Legends of the Saints
Saints: Lives and Illuminations
More Saints: Lives and Illuminations

Mary

Mary
The Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe*
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Gifts of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mary and the Little Shepards of Fatima
The Life of Mary
Mary: The Mother of Jesus
The Lady in the Blue Cloak: Legends from the Texas Missions

St. Francis
Clare and Francis*
Saint Francis of Assisi: A Life of Joy*
Francis Woke Up Early
St. Francis and the Proud Crow
Wolf of Gubbio
Saint Francis of Assisi
Canticle of the Sun: Saint Francis of Assisi
Brother Sun, Sister Moon*
The Good Man of Assisi
Brother Juniper*
Saint Francis

Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc*
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc

St. Nicholas
The Real Santa Claus: Legends of Saint Nicholas*
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale
Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend
A Special Place for Santa: A Legend for Our Time*
The Legend of Saint Nicholas*
Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins

St. Wenceslaus
Good King Wenceslas
Good King Wenceslas
Stephen’s Feast

St. Valentine

Saint Valentine*
Saint Valentine

St. Hildegard
Hildegard’s Gift
The Secret World Of Hildegard

St. Christopher
Legend of Saint Christopher*
Christopher: The Holy Giant

St. George
Saint George and the Dragon (more legend than fact, but still fun to read…)
Saint George and the Dragon

St. Benedict
The Life of Saint Benedict
The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica*

St. Martin de Porres
The Pied Piper of Peru
Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert
Martin’s Mice
Snow on Martinmas

St. Patrick

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
Patrick: Saint of Ireland*
The Life of St. Patrick: Enlightener of the Irish

St. Columba
Across a Dark and Wild Sea
Man Who Loved Books

Other Irish Saints
The Blackbird’s Nest: Saint Kevin of Ireland*
The Ravens of Farne: A Tale of Saint Cuthbert
The Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare
The Saint and his Bees (St. Modomnoc)
Saint Ciaran: The Tale of a Saint of Ireland

Misc. Saints
St. Anthony the Great
Bernadette and the Miracle of Lourdes
A Saint and His Lion: The Story of Tekla of Ethiopia
St. Jerome and the Lion
Pascual and the Kitchen Angels*
The Wonderful Life of Saint Sergius of Radonezh*
Saint Brendan And The Voyage Before Columbus*
Peter Claver, Patron Saint of Slaves/Pedro Claver, Santo Patrono de los Esclavos
John Mary Vianney: The Holy Cure of Ars
Bernadette: The Little Girl from Lourdes
Lucia, Saint of Light
The Little Friar Who Flew (St. Joseph of Cupertino)
Saint Jude: A Friend in Hard Times
Saint Felix and the Spider
Mother Teresa
Yes! The Life of Blessed Josemaria for Young Readers*
Lolek – The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II
Roses in the Snow: A Tale of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree
St. John Bosco and His Big Gray Dog

 

Bible Stories
Old Testament
Creation
Paradise
Noah’s Ark*
Noah’s Ark
The Tower of Babel*
Exodus*
Sarah Laughs
Moses: The Long Road to Freedom
Moses
The Angel and the Donkey*
Jonah and the Whale*
The Book of Jonah
The Story Of Ruth
The Story of the Call of Samuel
Jacob and Esau
Joseph
Benjamin and the Silver Goblet*
The Coat of Many Colors
David and Goliath
The Wisest Man in the World
Kings and Queens of the Bible
Old Testament Rhymes
Queen Esther Saves Her People*
The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale
Daniel and the Lord of Lions
The Lord is My Shepherd
To Every Thing There Is A Season*

New Testament
The Nativity: Six Glorious Pop-Up Scenes*
Jesus
The Miracles of Jesus
The Parables of Jesus
Loaves & Fishes
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The Parable of the Vineyard
The Parable of the Sower
Parable of the Bridesmaids
The Twelve Apostles
The Easter Story*
Easter
The Thornbush
St. Peter’s Story
St. Joseph’s Story
Love Is . . .
The Way of the Cross: Holy Week, the Stations of the Cross, and the Resurrection

Prayers/Faith
The Saving Name of God the Son *
The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith*

Angel Stories from the Bible
Twice Yours
I Believe: The Nicene Creed
The Lord’s Prayer
This Little Prayer of Mine
This Is What I Pray Today: Divine Hours Prayers For Children
Prayer for a Child
If Jesus Came to My House*
If Jesus Came to My House (newer edition)
A Child’s Rule of Life
Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI Talks to Children on Their First Holy Communion
A Is for Altar, B Is for Bible
Our Holy Father, the Pope: The Papacy from Saint Peter to the Present
Manners in God’s House: First Prayers and First Missal
I Believe: The Creed, Confession and the Ten Commandments for Little Catholics
Just For Today*
I Went to Mass: What did I See?

Misc.

The White Cat and the Monk
The End of the Fiery Sword
Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb
Jacinta’s Story
Brother Hugo and the Bear*
The Miracle of St. Nicholas*
Brother Bartholomew and the Apple Grove
The Clown of God*
The Little Juggler*
The Acrobat and the Angel
The Monk Who Grew Prayer*
The Little Rose of Sharon*
The Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God’s Gift of Purity
The Squire and the Scroll
Brother William’s Year: A Monk at Westminster Abbey*
Joseph’s Hands*
Sister Anne’s Hands
The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale
Song of the Swallows
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane
Brother Giovanni’s Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born*
Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat
Max and Benedict: A Bird’s Eye View of the Pope’s Daily Life
The Monks Daily Bread
The Monks Stormy Night

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(Theoretical) Library Pick of the Week


This is theoretical because we’ve not actually checked this book out. It was on our holds queue and I was devastated when I couldn’t pick it up. Truth be told, we are currently blocked from the county library system. Apparently they don’t tolerate a $40 bill. See, when your library charges 25 cents/day/book for overdue items, this really, really adds up when you are checking out 30-40 books at a time. Now, there is no excuse really, we live within walking distance to our local library. But the trouble is when we “lose” a book (it’s under a mattress or behind the piano) and another user has holds on it, it is unable to be renewed… and accrues late fees. Couple that with an unfortunate incident involving a wiggly boy, a large glass of water and a $20 book, and your account quickly goes into the delinquent status. (As I type we are racking up fees for one errant book: Babar Visits Another Planet— because it is unable to be renewed since our account is delinquent and it is nowhere to be found) Meanwhile, the library keeps sending me notices that I have holds to be picked up which agonize me that I can’t pick up until our account is paid off–maybe next payday. But I digress.

I am certain that A Butterfly Is Patientis a fantastic book in the same vein as this author’s other two mentioned books here: An Egg Is Quietand A Seed Is Sleepy. I loved how the other two books wove readers into a spell of story and science and found the illustrations and prose delightfully engaging… these would certainly be worthwhile books to invest in full price for both the sake of its beauty and its academic merit. A Butterfly is Patient was released this May and after a 30 second perusal at a small bookstore on the Oregon Coast, I was convinced it merited mention even if I’ve not read it in its entirety yet. So look for it and its predecessors as soon as you’re in the mood for delight!

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