Saturday, December 10, 2016

Can books be delayed by snow?

Can books be delayed by snow? Can book reviews? Snow wasn't the only delay of course - there was an internet provider who unexpectedly closed our account for us, another one that found their cable had been cut, snow that meant no one could dig to lay a new cable, Christmas that meant no one could be assigned to laying a new cable, more snow, new cable, new internet, then power outages so the new internet went out, then...

Somewhere in there I meant to post this, but it landed in drafts. Enjoy.

Someone expressed surprise recently on learning that I like to draw as well as to write. In high school I insisted on studying art at the same as all my "academic" subjects. I couldn't imagine not having at least some time in the week scheduled for enjoying myself (and I'd given up English by then--life was all math and physics--all fun enough, but never done just for me). I sketched with multiple pencils of different thickness and types of lead. I painted in water-colors and oils. I created large canvases and tiny icons that fit onto postage stamps. And I doodled, doodled, doodled all the way. I still love drawing. I still illustrate some of my own books, though I tend to use the computer instead of the pen. And I still doodle, whenever there's paper (or a shopping list) to hand. But mostly I read and write, because both of them add to me, I think, while drawing just lets me out. And math? Math is patterns and symbols and shapes--it's in reading writing and drawing, and it gives meaning and focus to what might just be letters and colors on the page.

I've read some children's books recently with illustrations that are vastly different from each other. So find some coffee to match the scene, sit down and see which ones you'd like to read.

First is Santa’s Rescue Dog by Monty J McClaine--a chapbook for young readers, perhaps, or a wonderful story to share with the little ones. Each chapter starts with a bright and stylized image, with easily recognizable Santa, dog, elves, sleigh, reindeer and more. It's a fun story, combining familiar concepts (like Santa stuck in the chimney), not too distant history (when bears might easily roam into villages), nicely intriguing touches of technology (because Father Time can steal from the future), and a hint of all things Christmas, even the manger scene. Best of all, it turns out it's a story about a dog, and I love dogs! Enjoy with some bright, easy-drinking two-star coffee and have fun.

Nina the Neighborhood Ninja by Sonia Panigrahy is a picture book with bright images of a tidy little girl who grows messier the more she stops to help her animal friends. I like the way the images grow with the story until Nina takes her bath at the end, and her hair hangs limp around her face. But Nina the smart, strong and speedy uses these powers like superpowers, and other kids can too. The story ends with a nice around-the-world question--what will you do with your power? Enjoy with some more bright, easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Little Lek Longtail Learns To Sleep by Bette Killion is a gorgeously illustrated picture book about a Thai Argus pheasant with a beautiful tail, a pleasing disposition, and an entirely sensible fear of those nighttime creatures who might eat him. Wisdom is hidden in the words, just as mysteries are hidden in the pictures, making this a very satisfying book that might well grow with the child. Enjoy with some well-balanced four-star coffee.

My final review is for Granny of the Pacifiers by Anat Umansky, an old-style picture book that accepts how tiny children love their pacifiers and teaches how older ones might learn to let go. The writing's all in capitals, nicely enclosed in scroll-worked boxes, with pastel scenes of birds, countryside and people, all reminiscent of old fairytales. Enjoy this mild light read with some mild light one-star coffee.

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