Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm an Artist-ish

This sweet picture book was recommended to me by my dear friend Louise. Ish is all about living and enjoying your imperfection. All you really need is to try to do things to the best of your abilities.

In this story, little Ramon loves to draw. His older brother looks over his shoulder and laughs at Ramon's drawing. From that moment forward, Ramon looses his drawing mojo, feeling like his drawings will never measure up to the real deal. Until, that is, his little sister sees the artwork for what it is.

So what if the flower vase doesn't exactly look like the real thing? It looks vase-ish!

Life isn't perfect, and neither is art. One can still be an artist, even if what one draws or paints or writes or stitches is not perfect. So be imperfect -- add your creativity to your world!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ol' Amos McGee

As a long-time fan of children's literature, I've been collecting the Newbury Award and Caldecott Award books for years. Short as they are, I've not read most of the books in my collection!

So one of my goals for 2012 is to read the Caldecott books. These are the picture books, so the goal is quite do-able, even though I haven't been reading a lot of books lately. (My main reading tends to be blogs these days. Wonder why?)

For Christmas, my librarian daughter, Julie, gave me A Sick Day for Amos McGee written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by his wife, Erin E. Stead. This is a totally charming book!

It's a simple story of an older gentleman, Amos McGee, who rises early each morning to catch a bus to the zoo where he works. The animals are his friends. Amos spends one-on-one time with his friends doing activities unique to each. He plays chess with the elephant, races with the turtle, sits quietly with the shy penguin, wipes the nose of the highly allergic rhinoceros and reads bedtime stories to the owl (who is afraid of the dark).

One day Amos awakes, not feeling well. He stays home from work. His animal friends are worried about him so go for a visit. Each one cares for Amos in his own way to help Amos feel better.

As with so many Caldecott award winners, the story is sweet and is largely a vehicle for the extraordinary artwork. This book has gentle pencil illustrations, each with a dash of color. The attention to detail is a large part of the charm: the pattern of the quilt, the socks on the penguin's feet, the way the owl wears spectacles... even the polka dots on the rhino's handkerchief.

A wonderful aspect of these books, for me, is that though they are intended for children, adults can appreciate them as a feast for the eyes and a sigh for the soul.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I've been reading a thoroughly engrossing book this week, Barefoot Sisters: Southbound. It's the true story of two sisters from Maine who hike the Appalachian Trail from north to south -- barefoot. There are great descriptions of the land and the people they meet along the trail. They make up songs and stories along the way. I highly recommend this book for people who want to go on a journey of inspiration ... especially if you're snowbound and ill as I've been this week!

Today, I read this haiku, written by jackrabbit, the younger sister. She was wistful about a fellow hiker she met early in her journey who was now far, far ahead of her on the trail:
Winter moon, tangled
branches -- now not even dreams
return him to me
That image struck me with poignancy.

I found it amusing that I should run into a haiku in the book. It's not a form of poetry one stumbles over every day. Yet just earlier in the day my daughter Jodie was waiting in the rain at the bus stop, wanting a ride home from school. She texted me a series of four haiku! Here's my favorite (not bad for a girl grumpy due to wet feet!)
Couple strolling forth
Beneath single umbrella.
Romance is alive.
Since I've been under the weather, texts from my daughter help keep my spirits up. My haiku reply to her was not nearly as inspired, but is nonetheless a window into my slightly stir-crazy situation:
I'm messing around
on my computer right now.
Nap in my future.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Black Magic Dancing Woman

This is mesmerizing

I never would have considered Black Magic Woman with belly dancing, but it totally works!

Many thanks to my friend Jim for sharing it with me.