Monday, May 21, 2012

My Birthday Party

I love the day after a birthday party when I can have coffee and birthday cake for breakfast!

Yesterday our backyard was swarming with kids playing on the treehouse and swings.  And then Charlotte tore through her birthday presents so fast that I have no idea who gave what.  It was a busy day and so much fun and we were all delirously exhausted by the end of it.

Poor Charlotte was sick on her actual birthday this year. She didn't even want to eat her piece of cake. I read this book to her in bed because it's about a little boy's birthday party. They rhyme is nothing to rave about, but I love the pictures. They must have been good inspiration for our party because my cousin commented that our backyard looked like something from the 1930's.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Are You My Mother?

P.D. Eastman 1960

I remember my brother and Henry really liking this book when they were little. Maybe because it's about a little boy bird and his mother. It always worried Henry- would the baby bird find his mother, why was the Snort so scary? The end is of course a happy reunion between mommy bird and her son.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Here's a sweet little poem from one of our vintage books. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Look What I Can Do

Jose Aruego

Charlotte finds this book hilarious (Madeleine and Henry think it's funny too).  There's only three sentences, the rest is told in pictures, but we like to add our own sounds and dialog to the story.  Once again, we've found an autographed copy at the thrift store.  I also think the style looks a lot like Sandra Boynton.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Outside Over There

Maurice Sendak  1981

In memory of the incomparable Maurice Sendak, here is one of my favorite books by him.  (Where the Wild Things Are is probably my favorite Sendak book).

The pictures are glorious in all their rounded, muted colors.  And the story is simple, sweet, magical, mysterious, and odd- all the things Sendak was good at.

Ida played her wonder-horn
to rock the baby still-
but never watched.

"If Ida backwards in the rain
would only turn around again
and catch those goblins with a tune
she'd spoil their kidnap honeymoon!"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Moon's Revenge

We missed the perigee moon.  It was so cloudy on Saturday night that even the largest moon rising couldn't be seen from our yard.  We managed to spot a smaller waning version the next night, still looking almost full to us.

Joan Aiken
illustrated by Alan Lee 1988

I remembered this story of a cranky and angry moon who has to give a boy a wish but makes him pay for it.  Seppy throws his shoes at the moon but when the moon finally comes down with his face all dented and bruised, he is told that until all the shoes are back in the grandfather clock (where they were stored) his little sister won't talk or make a sound.

As the years pass, Seppy plays his fiddle and nurtures a sweet relationship with his silent sister. Then comes the day that he saves his seaside town from a sea monster and his sister's first words are spoken.

Joan Aiken is a wonderful storyteller. Though we've loved her novels, this is our first picture book of hers, and the pictures by Alan Lee are quite beautiful.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mathew Brady Civil War Photography

Madeleine has been working on an essay for her history class about Civil War photography and Matthew Brady in particular.  So of course being the helpful mother that I am, I pulled out some books that I thought might be helpful to her.  I often feel like kids these days don't know how to do research with, you know, actual books.  Madeleine tells me that they are mostly taught how to site websites or online information in bibliographies because that's what everyone uses for their papers.  I won't even go into how appalling I think this is!

I knew of Mathew Brady as being the most famous Civil War photographer- it turns out he never took the photographs himself but hired assistants. He simply "ran the show" so that any photograph where he is on site supervising or helping to set up the shot is credited to him.

A couple years ago I took a workshop and learned to make my own wet plate tintypes and ambrotypes. The process is beautiful but a bit temperamental and something that you need to practice to get a good knack for. The fact that these Civil War photographs were taken out in the field during battle conditions using this complex process makes them all the more impressive.

Apparently Brady had this dream of documenting the war and selling his images for collections and posterity. He did manage to sell to the U.S. Government but died in poverty. There was no market for his greatest project, for in the end people were so war-weary that they didn't want photographic reminders of that dark and sad time. Perhaps his dream was realized in a way in that so many of his photographs have become the iconic images that we think of for that time in American History.

Books listed:

Mathew Brady by Barry Pritzker 1992
(has large photographs and a nice biography of Brady)

The Visual Dictionary of the Civil War Dorling Kindersley Visual Dictionaries 2000
(These DK books are always filled with great pictures and bits of information.  There's even a whole page of Civil War photography for Madeleine.)

The American Heritage New History of The Civil War Bruce Catton and James M. McPherson 1996
(Giant book filled with drawings, maps, photographs, etc...  A good book to browse through on a rainy afternoon.)

Fields of Fury James M. McPherson 2002
(Has a nice feature of "Quick Facts" on each page.)

Photographing History The Career of Mathew Brady Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler 1977

The American Image Photographs from the National Archives, 1860-1960 Alan Trachtenberg 1979

War, Terrible War Joy Hakim 1994
(Would make a great textbook for kids.)