Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Little Bit About Gary D. Schmidt

When I heard that Gary D. Schmidt was coming to our local university for a lecture, I was thrilled! I'd just received a copy of his latest book, What Came From the Stars, and have really enjoyed his books in recent years (my reviews of Okay for Now [National Book Finalist 2011], The Wednesday Wars [Newbery Honor], What Came From the Stars, Trouble, and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy [Newbery AND Printz Honor]). As I waited patiently--oh, so patiently--at the end of the long line of autograph seekers, I decided to brazenly ask him for an interview via email.

And, you guessed it, he graciously agreed! Here are his answers to our interview questions. (For a terrific write-up of the lecture, see my friend Brandy's brilliant summary.) For those who may be unfamiliar with his name (shame on you!), in addition to the books mentioned above, Gary has written a Pilgrim's Progress rewrite, authored at least one other fantasy book, authored a book of Bible stories, is a professor of English at Calvin College, and, most recently, chaired the 2012 National Book Award for Young People's Literature Committee.

Getting to Know You  (short and sweet)

1. What is an early book you remember reading in your childhood?
My favorite book--or rather, set of books--from childhood is My Bookhouse, a collection of six volumes that came out in the 1920s edited by Olive Beaupre Miller.  It was a collection of great poems and stories--many legends and myths--that I loved.

2. Is there a favorite poem or literary passage you have memorized, perhaps from your childhood?
I think my first memorized poem was an Ogden Nash one about a caterpillar--then "Ozymandias" by Shelly in sixth grade, a bit of a leap.

3. Who are three of your favorite authors? What is your favorite hot beverage?
Favorite authors:  Charles Dickens, Patrick O'Brian, Katherine Paterson, M.T. Anderson, Lois Lowry. Favorite hot beverage:  Hot tea--Earl Grey.

4. What do you enjoy doing with your children and your family?
We enjoy traveling to New England, gardening, playing golf when we can....

5. Do you have other hobbies than reading/writing?
No real hobbies--maybe book collecting.  I collect first editions of the great Concord writers of the nineteenth century.

6. If you could recommend a book to our audience that you haven't written yourself, what would it be? (fiction/nonfiction/poetry; children's or adult)
The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi.

Your Writing and Work

7. Can you tell us anything about an early story or poem that you wrote--perhaps one you blush to recall but your mother or your wife kept it anyway?
I didn't really write at all as a kiddo.  I did have a first novel that is awful--the only writing I've ever had that was rejected outright by Jean Karl.  I still have that, hidden in a folder deep in the bowels of the desk.  I'll burn it before I die, I suppose.

8. How many times did you have to send off a manuscript before you first published a work? Do you work through an agent? Do you write specifically for a secular audience or have you sought publication through more "Christian" venues as well?
I sent the second book to Virginia Buckley, then at Lodestar, and she accepted it.  I have been with her ever since, so I never have had to do the multiple submission thing.  I do realize that this is very unusual.  I do not use an agent.  I tend to think more about editors than I do about sacred/ secular categories.  I write to work with the people I want to work with, given the project--and these are almost always friends.

9. What is your favorite of your own books? You mentioned at the UT/CCYAL talk that you identify with both Holling and Doug in certain ways. Would The Wednesday Wars or Okay for Now be your favorite? Another? 
My own favorite book:  Okay for Now.

A Bit More Philosophical Now
10. How would you define Truth and Story in literature? (see our definitions on our blog if you'd like) How does your understanding of these inform or influence your writing? Does this relate to your interest in the turning point in a young person's life when he or she turns to face adulthood? (You mentioned that in your discussion at UT and that you seek to portray that in your works--something that really sets your work apart from the general work for children these days for the better!)

A good story is always a true story.  And truth is almost always conveyed best through story.  It seems to me that they are very, very close.  If I want to tell a lie, the story I surround it with may glitter quite a bit, but will be hollow and false at the center.  If I want to speak of true things, then it seems to me that story is one way to do that that can get a reader's attention.  This does not mean that all stories are good stories; you can descend into didactic claptrap, or even propaganda--good or bad.  But a strong story will always have a center that speaks to us because of a fundamental human truth which is being vividly realized before our eyes--say, a la O'Connor.

For more great questions/answers, check out his publisher's Gary Schmidt website. Want to see the man himself? Amazon has two video interviews with Gary; a short 3-minute interview shows Gary near his farmhouse (and working on his TYPEWRITER) while discussing Okay for Now; the other is a longer, 20-minute interview with Gary.

Many Thanks to Dr. Gary D. Schmidt!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Came From the Stars

What Came From the Stars
Gary D. Schmidt

I'm a huge fan of the books of Gary Schmidt's I've read to date (Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Okay for Now, and The Wednesday Wars). So I was thrilled to win a goodreads "first reads" giveaway. I got an ARC for this book in the mail the week the hardcover hit bookstore shelves in September. I must confess that the first chapter really threw me--I knew this was a fantasy (a deviation from Schmidt's award-winning historical fiction novels), but it still threw me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

Lizzie  Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Gary D. Schmidt
Newbery Honor; Printz Honor

This is an excellent book! As you might surmise from those award stickers on the cover, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Historical fiction is Schmidt's strong suit; this particular book takes place in Maine in 1912 and centers on the white Buckminster Boy (Turner) and the black Lizzie Bright. Turner and Lizzie also represent town and country (island in this case), establishment and fringe, the way-it's-always-been and the way-it-should-and-could-be. All of this potential conflict set in a small town that's slowly dying as it faces the end of the industry that's kept it alive.

Turner grows up in this book. He makes hard decisions, stands up for what he believes is right, and watches those "right" decisions still not end happily all the time. A pitch perfect book for the 12-14 crowd, this is a book that raises great questions. Schmidt's biblical allusions are an added treat for those steeped in biblical literacy; his characterization is especially well done in this novel.

Things to Note/Discuss
  • When is it okay to stand up to a parent?
  • Are there decisions that Turner made that you feel are particularly noteworthy? Were there any you disagreed with or thought foolish?
  • What do you think Turner's father should have done in regards to the island (Malaga) and its people?
  • Any thoughts on looking a whale in its eye?
Book from my local library; cover image from goodread; drinking Private Selection peppermint tea

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trouble by Gary Schmidt: a Teabag Review

It's no secret that Megan and I enjoy a good cup of tea. So, in honor of our tea appreciation, I'm introducing a new review style: a teabag-sized review. You might consider our normal reviews to be a cup of tea to savor; a teabag is the short and sweet alternative, similar in length to a title's discussion in a weekly round-up but which appears all by its lonesome. Sometimes, we just want to let you know a book is out there! So, without further ado, here's a teabag-sized review of Trouble by Gary Schmidt.

Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion, 2008

Trouble takes place near Trouble (a location) and involves heaps of trouble in the lives of young Henry, his family, and a Cambodian named Chay. Schmidt's gift for description, intricate plotting, and terrific characterization come into play, as does his frequent treatment of a young person turning his/her face to adulthood--with all the drama and coming-of-age that implies. This is a book for an older audience than Schmidt's Okay for Now and The Wednesday Wars; I'd even say it's for an older audience than Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. Issues that crop up include racism, guilt/innocence, family relations, friendship. A touch long, in my opinion, and therefore a touch slow, this book is still a good read and one to provoke much thought.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Gary D. Schmidt Week!

This week, we're highlighting the work of a terrific contemporary author: Gary D. Schmidt.

Book reviews
Author interview!

Stay tuned for some great reads, some possible additions to your Christmas list, and for "a little bit about" Gary D. Schmidt.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Little Bit about Megan

As Betsy has begun the interview series, I'll explain that we decided to use a simple format of the same series of questions, asked of each interviewee. So you've learned A Little Bit About Betsy, here's A Little Bit About Megan, and we'll go from there. One thing I'll add is how Betsy and I started this blog.

We are so thankful for the handful of readers who have been kind enough to keep company with us! Thank you!

1. What is an early book you remember reading in your childhood?
I always loved fairy tales (my mother feared I was wasting my time and would never read anything else), but the book that stands out most in my memory is Magic Elizabeth about a girl who was visiting her Aunt Sally and trying to discover what had happened to a missing doll. I also loved the All-of-a-Kind-Family books by Sydney Taylor, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.

2. Is there a favorite poem or literary passage you have memorized, perhaps from your childhood?Sometime when I was in highschool I memorized "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes, in honor of Anne of Green Gables. I learned the poem from an old edition of Childcraft that had beautiful, haunting illustrations, and recited it (melo)dramatically at any opportunity that I could.

3. Who are three of your favorite authors? What is your favorite hot beverage?
Always hard to narrow it down! C.S. Lewis is one of the greatest ever, I think, not only for the Chronicles of Narnia, but also for Till We Have Faces, which is absolutely beautiful, poignant, and brilliant. I love the writing of Elizabeth Prentiss, especially Stepping Heavenward. Lois Lenski would have to be the third. I loved her regional fiction as a child and studied her historical fiction for my children’s literature thesis.

My favorite hot beverage is difficult to determine. I love hot tea (Teavana's Almondina Biscotti blend is my favorite), but we drink plenty of homemade lattes at our house. And of course, our signature homemade Saben Chai is hard to refuse…

4. What do you enjoy doing with your children and your family?
I asked my almost six-year-old this question and he answered "snuggling." He couldn't think of anything else. I am thankful to be homeschooling them so that our days are mutually engaging, the good along with the bad. We enjoy reading, taking nature walks and being creative...

5. Do you have other hobbies than reading/writing?
I have made a number of quilts over the last ten years: one for each of my three boys, one for a girl (if we ever have one!), one for the master bed, and a lap quilt for aforementioned snuggling. Now I’m more into knitting. I also love to make bread and wish I had more opportunities for ballroom or contra dancing!

7. Can you tell us anything about an early story or poem that you wrote--perhaps one you blush to recall but your mother or your wife kept it anyway?
My husband’s favorite of my early writing is a poem my mother kept about a goat who lived in a boat, and had a beak (hey, it rhymed with week and speak!). That’s all I’m going to say about that.

One more item...
8. How did Literaritea come to be?
Betsy and I attended Covenant College together and took a class on Children's Literature in which we were first introduced to the concept of T/truth and S/story. After graduation, I persuaded her to join me at Hollins University for a few summers to pursue a master's degree in Children's Literature (which was WAY too much fun!).

Some years later, after we were both married and had kids, I wanted to have a literary blog but couldn't keep up with it on my own. One day, while in the shower, the blending of "literature" and "tea" came to mind and I could hardly wait to see if anyone else had discovered this beautiful word: LiterariTea. Delightful--it ought to be in existence! Why not explore the pleasures of books AND tea?

Thankfully, Betsy agreed.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Little Bit About Betsy

We have some FANTASTIC interviews coming up, but we thought we'd take some time to interview ourselves first. So, here are my answers to the interview questions we're sending out.

Getting to Know You  (the short and sweet section)

1. What is an early book you remember reading in your childhood?
Frog and Toad! I also devoured Nancy Drew/Hardy Boy books, the "Anne" books, and the Ramona books. And I remember my mother reading the Little Bear books, the Narnia Chronicles, and George and Martha books to us. (All of which I thoroughly enjoyed!)

2. Is there a favorite poem or literary passage you have memorized, perhaps from your childhood?
"Sick" by Shel Silverstein was an early favorite of mine--and one I still know. I also memorized lots of Scripture which I still know.

3. Who are three of your favorite authors? What is your favorite hot beverage?
So hard to narrow down the authors! Edith Schaeffer (nonfiction), Jerry Bridges (nonfiction), and George MacDonald (fantasy works in particular) come to mind. So do Madeleine L'Engle, Annie Dillard, Lee Smith, C. S. Lewis, Jane Austen, N. D. Wilson, Gary D. Schmidt, Arnold Lobel, Beverly Cleary, Lloyd Alexander, Edith Nesbit, Jeanne Birdsall, Katherine Paterson, Megan Whalen Turner, .... I could go on and on, particularly when it comes to children's literature--but that's why I do this blog with Megan!
Hot beverage: Easy--tea! Especially a good, strong black tea.

4. What do you enjoy doing with your children and your family?
Reading (of course), hiking/spending time outside, drinking tea, singing hymns (my husband is an amazing pianist, so that adds to our family hymn sings!), cooking/baking, and travel.

5. Do you have other hobbies than reading/writing?
Hmm... this question is really more for actual authors, but I since I definitely DO read as a hobby (and write--if this blog and similar pursuits count), I'll answer it. Cooking, gardening, hiking, sewing.

6. If you could recommend a book to our audience that you haven't written yourself, what would it be? (fiction/nonfiction/poetry; children's or adult)
I'll defer our lovely readers to the multiple books on our book lists and book reviews!

Your Work (medium answers)

7. Can you tell us anything about an early story or poem that you wrote--perhaps one you blush to recall but your mother or your spouse kept it anyway?
I don't know that I wrote anything, really, that my mom kept. I do remember passionately wanting to be a writer as I consumed Emily of New Moon and Anne of Green Gables. One time, I'd just listened to Pachelbel's Canon and then wrote a VERY flowery passage that I thought was absolutely brilliant. My mother was not as impressed as I was :-).

8. How many times did you have to send off a manuscript before you first published a work? Do you work through an agent? 

9. What is your favorite of your own books? 

A Bit More Philosophical Now
10. How would you define Truth and Story in literature? 

Again, I'll defer the reader to the definitions we've already written!

We have several interviews planned, some of which are only in the pipe dream stage, and some of which have actually been completed. Stay tuned for Megan's "interview," and then for our upcoming interview with Gary D. Schmidt!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Round-Up

We haven't done a weekly round-up in a while (so much for weekly, eh?), but we definitely need a Advent-themed picture book round-up for Advent season! Christmas-themed picture books are a dime a dozen, my friends. Some are worth every penny of that dime; others are near priceless. Below are some Christmas-themed picture books we find particularly great. There are also some fun Advent-related links to explore below the books.

Mortimer's Christmas Manger
Karma Wilson, author
Jane Chapman, illustrator
Margaret K. McElderry, 2005

We've lauded the Wilson/Chapman duo before, but Mortimer's Christmas Manger is a real treat for the preschoolers in your home. A sweet (but not saccharine) story of young Mortimer who tries to find a place for himself in the nativity scene displayed near the Christmas tree. He discovers the real "reason for the season" in the process! Highly recommended. Worth owning!

The Third Gift
Linda Sue Park, author
Bagram Ibatoulline, illustrator
Clarion, 2011

An unusual break from mainstream Christmas picture book fare, this follows a young boy in a family who produces myrhh...and the rich men who want to buy some of this myrhh to take with them on a journey following a star. Illustrations look very in keeping with the time period and country! A nice extension of the story of the wise men.

B is for Bethlehem
Isabel Wilner, author
Elisa Kleven, illustrator
Dutton, 2004 (originally 1990)

I've mentioned this charming ABC book before, but I must mention it again. I love the bright collage-style art, the topics covered in the alphabet, and the final pages. Worth checking out from your library if you can get it--or even buying a copy to bring out year after year.

This Is the Star
Joyce Dunbar, author
Gary Blythe, illustrator
Scholastic, 1997

I love this beautiful cumulative, poetic approach to the Nativity and the extraordinary, photo-like oil paintings that accompany the text. Another one to look for in a library--or find secondhand.

Related Links of Interest
Fontanini Nativity Sets: high quality resin that can be handled by children without breaking--but these look SO much like precious figurines. My mom has collected a set for me slowly; you can often find the figures in department stores at this time of year.

Fisher-Price "Little People" Nativity Set: one of the better children's sets out there, this one plays "Away in a Manger." A definite toddler favorite

Good News of Great Joy free ebook of Advent readings from John Piper!

Names of Jesus Advent Chain: make a paper chain with the names of Jesus on each link for a different Advent activity this year!

Printable Advent Verses (Luke 2)

Simple Scripture Advent Calendar (cards printed and placed in mini envelopes--could use above linked printables for this!)

Sparking Spiritual Imagination: a guest poster at Redeemed Reader gives some great tips at working Christ-centered books into your Advent season

Five Christ-Centered Picture Books for Christmas: Same author as above link; I love that she includes The Three Trees

One Week of Kid-Friendly Christmas Crafts: I'm totally going to do these with my three!! Very fun ideas to spend time with your kids during this often hectic season. You might consider doing these activities with a cup of hot chai/chocolate/tea during a long winter afternoon!

50 Things to Do At Christmas And if you can sit down and make time to plan even a few of these traditions, maybe add a few more each year, it's a great way to make memories and traditions.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Favorite 2012 Picture Books

We're in our final week of Picture Book Month Celebration around here. It seems like a good time to throw out an old-fashioned book list: some of my favorite 2012 picture books (most, if not all, were published in 2012). Listed in no particular order; linked where applicable to Literaritea reviews/mentions. (You can also check out some favorite Retro Reads and other 21st Century Favorites on Pinterest.)

Frost, Helen. Step Gently Out. (Poetry plus photography)
Fogliano, Julie. And Then It's Spring. (ill by Erin Stead)
Stead, Philip C. A Home for Bird.
Stead, Philip C. Bear Has a Story to Tell. (ill by Erin Stead)
Buzzeo, Tony. One Cool Friend. (ill by David Small)
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Chopsticks.
Willems, Mo. Listen to My Trumpet! (an easy reader)
Barnett, Mac. Extra Yarn.
Willems, Mo. The Duckling Gets a Cookie.
Stewart, Sarah. The Quiet Place. (ill by David Small)
Murray, Alison. One, Two, That's My Shoe.
Long, Ethan. Up, Tall, and High (sort of an easy reader)
Bingham, Kelly. Z is for Moose. (ill by Paul O Zelinsky)
Robinson, Fiona. What Animals Really Like.
Jeffers, Oliver. Stuck.
Coombs, Kate. Water Sings Blue.
Polacco, Patricia. Bun Bun Button.
Salas, Laura Purdie. A Leaf Can Be.

Dynamic Duo #5: Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead

Wow--this contemporary pair is cranking out beautiful book after beautiful book. I love it. I think between the two of them, they have three out this year alone! Winners of the Caldecott Medal for their book A Sick Day for Amos McGee, they continue to produce marvelous works. All of the books below are in my local library--even the ones just published. So, check them out. Their artistic styles are quite different from one another; I go back and forth as to whose I prefer. Erin's are quiet, detailed, and have a contemplative feel; Philip's are more boisterous and colorful. I have not read Canned Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast yet, but I will remedy that shortly!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat 

And Then It's Spring (author: Julie Fogliano)

Bear Has a Story to Tell 

A  Home for Bird

Canned Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Picture Book Giveaway Winner!

Nellie is the winner of our picture book giveaway. Congratulations, Nellie!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dynamic Duo #4: Russell and Lillian Hoban

Oh, we do love the Frances books, Megan and I. Little Frances gets mentioned frequently in our conversations, as if she were a personal friend. We know all about her sister Gloria, how many ways little ones can delay going to bed, what it feels like to be tricked by your friend over a tea set, and all the marvelous little songs one can come up with one is feeling blue or happy or creative or mystified or... really, there is no time that is NOT right for a little snippet of a song.

We also know that it is best to parent together with our husbands, to remain firm yet loving in our mothering, to delight in our children, and that sometimes tea and cake at night with aforementioned husbands is the best way to end an evening. We know that young children love to make up songs, often have imaginary friends, and that navigating the relationships between family and friends can be tough.... Life lessons from Frances! We could wax eloquent--and Frances deserves another post, to be sure. But for Picture Book Month Celebration, we will reign ourselves in.

The creator of these delightful picture books is Russell Hoban. Sadly Hoban, like so many this past year, passed away almost a year ago. There is a nice little write up in the New York Times on his life and career (which included much more than his Frances books even though he's most well known for those).

The first Frances book, Bedtime for Frances, was illustrated by none other than Garth Williams (who also illustrated the likes of Charlotte's Web, Little  House on the Prairie, The Rescuers, The Golden Book of Fairies and Elves, and many, many others).

But the next six Frances books were illustrated by Hoban's wife, Lillian. And so we'll lavish our affections on them as a couple and celebrate their literary child, Frances, in all her delightful whimsy. If you have not met Frances, or if it's been a while since you spent some time with her, we urge you to remedy that ASAP. These are books which libraries keep on hand since they continue to delight youngsters year after year. I read Bedtime for Frances to my own three recently--first time in quite some time. They begged me to reread it as soon as I was done and laughed delightedly--and with much empathy--at Frances's bedtime dallying. These are also some of the books I delight to own instead of merely borrow. They work well with preschool children, but I think the 4-7 age range really gets the most out of Frances because they are so like her themselves....

What is YOUR favorite Frances book?

cover images from goodreads

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dynamic Duo #3: Leo and Diane Dillon

Sadly, Leo Dillon passed away this summer, one of the many famous children's book creators who left this earth. The Dillons have a very unique style that I find fascinating and robust. Their work has a unique style all its own, but they have chosen to illustrate a wide variety of picture books. Below are some of my favorites...

Mother Goose: Numbers on the Loose

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears (Caldecott)

Rap a Tap Tap (about a jazz player--a fun read aloud!)

To Everything There is a Season (Ecclesiastes 3; interesting and worth perusing)

Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch 

What is YOUR favorite work by the Dillons?

cover images from goodreads 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dynamic Duo #2: Ruth Krauss and Crocket Johnson

Did you know Ruth Krauss and Crocket Johnson were a couple? Can you imagine the picture book landscape without their contributions?! A simple blog post is no way to pay tribute to these giants of 20th century picture books, but thankfully there is a new double biography on the scene. Julie Danielson of 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast interviews its author and highlights some of the contributions of this truly dynamic duo.

But in case you are unaware of who these marvelous people are, I'll simply provide some book cover images below for you to browse....  (These are some of my favorites.)

The Carrot Seed

Harold and the Purple Crayon (and others!)

A Hole is to Dig

I Can Fly

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dynamic Duo #1: Sarah Stewart and David Small

You may not realize it, but there are several amazing husband/wife teams in picture book land. The first pair we'll highlight are the wonderful Sarah Stewart and David Small. If you have not been acquainted with their picture books before now, do so immediately! I believe there's only one I haven't gotten my hands on, but the rest are discussed here (please let me know in the comments which one(s) I'm missing). I own most of these, and my children love them almost as much as I do.

Before I discuss their work, let me draw your attention to a wonderful interview on Kirkus that Julie Danielson of 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast wrote up this fall (in addition to the material already on her blog!). When you view a couple's works as a whole, some similarities jump out. For instance, all of these titles begin with "the" and are simple titles. All feature a girl (most of them young) who is a little unique in her time and place and who is learning something very important about life in a quiet, steady manner. And each book is rich with unspoken detail. With the exception of The Money Tree, each of these books is a tall book. Three are epistolary in form. None of them feature the usual subject matter of picture books, if you assume that picture books must be about romping children and lots of activity. In fact, all are quiet stories, perfect for a snuggly fall afternoon with a cup of tea! Listed in order of my own preferences ☺.

The Gardener (1997; Caldecott Honor)
a young girl moves to live with her dour uncle and brings some joy and beauty 
to his life through her rooftop gardening

 The Library (1995)
when you love books and collect them's time to start a library!

The Quiet Place (2012)
a young girl moves to the US from Mexico in the 1950s 
and narrates her experience via letters to her auntie

The Money Tree (1991)
convicting tale of a woman who finds a money tree growing on her farm; 
she enjoys it for its beauty but passersby want it for its wealth

The Journey (2001)
a young Amish girl takes a journey to the big city and journals her experience

The Friend (2004; haven't read this one... yet!)

Also illustrated by David Small and worth reading:

Imogene's Antlers
endearing tale of Imogene who wakes up one morning to discover she's grown antlers...

The Huckabuck Family 
hilarious tale of the Huckabuck Family who raise popcorn

What's YOUR favorite Stewart/Small creation?
images from goodreads  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Picture Book Giveaway!

Ready for another giveaway? In honor of National Picture Book Month we have an AUTOGRAPHED paperback copy of Rumpelstiltskin written and illustrated by the wonderfully talented Paul O. Zelinsky available!

(cover image from goodreads)
To enter, first leave a comment on this post about your favorite picture book. Then, do one of the following:
  • please enter a second, separate comment with your email address so we can contact you if you win! (can use format like name(at)domain for spam protection); we will delete these at the end of the contest)
  • "like" our facebook page; we will contact you via facebook for contact info if you win!
  • "follow" us on twitter and send us a tweet @Literaritea; we will DM you for contact info if you win!
Contestants must live in the U.S. Entries will be accepted until 6 p.m. (EST) Friday, November 16 and the winner will be drawn from all three categories.

For bonus chances, you may enter from all directions!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Literary tins

Just for fun, here is what I did with some empty tea tins that I wanted to reuse.

Start with these.

Add these.

And here is the result!

I simply attached the paper to the tin using mod podge, then brushed four or five layers over top to seal it, letting the mod podge dry between layers.

Now I can lightly rinse the inside and it will dry without damaging the paper (but don't get it too wet otherwise). I'm considering adding further details: illustrations from damaged copies of favorite books purchased at library booksales, or memorable quotes or verses. For tea identification, I might simply use a removable label on the bottom, or put a slip of paper inside.
Fun, eh?

Hobbits and seed cake

Our family is joining Redeemed Reader for The Hobbit read-along, and the mention of seed cake in the first chapter caught my attention. The book's adventures really open and close with tea invitations, which is such a lovely, British way of doing things.

While sorting through my file of loose recipes today (including a number that Betsy has given me over the years), I discovered a recipe for seed cake that sounds like what Bilbo graciously shared with the unwelcome dwarves when they arrived at teatime, which reminded me that I ought to serve it to my boys while they listen (even though we're currently escaping goblins in the mountain and have almost reached Gollum. Don't you just LOVE how Tolkien doesn't waste any time in his adventure story?!).

Here is a fellow Hobbit fan who has put together a recipe for seed cake with photos. And now if you will excuse me, I'm going to see if I have enough caraway seed in my cupboard to try it. I'm sure it would be lovely with a cup of hot homemade chai concentrate!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Celebrate the Classics: Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak was a HUGE influence on children's literature in general and picture books in particular. He died earlier this year, and there was a collective moan in the children's literature world. What an impact this man had. What a gift for creating marvelous books that young children loved and grown-ups would secretly still take to bed if they thought they could get away with it. I remember Where the Wild Things Are vividly from my own childhood, and one of my children in particular is an avid fan (the others like it, too, but it seems to particularly resonate with one of my boys). We're also big fans of the Nutshell Library as well as books he illustrated which were authored by others. And could there be a more perfect marriage of talent than the collaboration between Minarik and Sendak in the Little Bear books? See below for covers of some of these marvelous works, and head straight to the library to check them out!

The Nutshell Library: 
One Was Johnny, Chicken Soup with Rice, 
Alligators All Around, and Pierre

A Hole is to Dig (by Ruth Krauss)

What Can You Do With a Shoe? 
(by Beatrice Shenk deRegniers)

Little Bear books (by Else Holmelund Minarik)

What are YOUR favorite Sendak works?
cover images from goodreads

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Celebrate the Classics: Virginia Lee Burton

We can thank Virginia Lee Burton in part for animating machines and buildings--and making them so lovable that we secretly long for the days of steam shovels, agree that country living is best as long as you're in a little house, and are so thankful San Francisco has brought back the cable car. Contemporary books like Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site and characters like Bob the Builder, while fun and charming, just aren't quite the same. Burton wrote and illustrated others than the ones pictured below, but these are the most well known and all center on her theme of beloved mechanical characters.

If you're unfamiliar with these works below, and you have young children in your life (preschool through early elementary), then make haste to the library to check these out! (Listed in order of publication)

Choo Choo: The Story of a Little Engine Who Ran Away (1937)

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel (1938)

The Little House (1942; Caldecott Medal)
Maybelle the Cable Car (1952)

Katy and the Big Snow (1971)

What is YOUR favorite Virginia Lee Burton picture book?
cover images thanks to goodreads