Sunday, April 12, 2020

TRINA SCHART HYMAN

     I've been thinking about a book I love called Star Mother's Youngest Child. It's a Christmas story and is a beautiful and intricate tale about everything that matters. Star Mother's youngest child wants to celebrate Christmas. When he lands on Earth at the home of a grumpy old woman, against all odds, they experience a gorgeous and meaningful celebration together.

     I think one of the reasons I'm thinking of this book is because of the old woman character. If I remember correctly (unfortunately I do not own a copy of this beloved book), she was so old that everyone had forgotten about her, and cranky in her loneliness. I've been thinking about people who are alone and forgotten during this pandemic and time of isolation, perhaps feeling cranky like the woman in the story. I know I would be feeling that way.

     The story, by Louise Moeri, is enhanced by illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman. Her work and career are so astounding. I own several books which she illustrated, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, A Child's Calendar, A Child's Christmas in Wales and Peter Pan, but there are so many more. I'm sure there have been retrospectives of her work, but I've never been to one, and would love to see a show like that. She illustrated over 150 books, and won the Caldecott award, as well as being the first art director of Cricket magazine.

    I once saw her speak, many years ago, and something that sticks in my mind is her work ethic. She mentioned that her daughter had once said that when she woke up in the morning, her mother was working on her illustrations, and when she went to bed at night, she was still working on them. I also remember her saying that she lived in Sweden for a time when she was young, and found out in the forests that elves and trolls and fairies really did exist.

    I hope you take a look at her fabulous work. As for me, it's time to order a copy of Star Mother's Youngest Child. The original publication date is 1975, but there is a 2005 Anniversary Edition, fortunately. By the way, my copy of The Beast of Monsieur Racine should arrive next week!

   

Monday, March 30, 2020

TOMII UNGERER

     I've been thinking of Tomi Ungerer today. I love his work. His children's books were unique, just like him. Years ago I read his autobiography, Tomi: A Childhood Under the Nazis, which was fascinating.
     Of course, I don't know that much about many of today's current children's writers and illustrators, but I'd be surprised if any of them were quite as colorful and original as he was. He was one of a kind.
     Which is not meant to denigrate current artists. There are so many beautiful, splendid books. But some seem more earnest and serious than his were. Perhaps it's a generational thing. Picture books, like any art, are always growing and changing, and his books are from a different era.
    I've been thinking that Molly, my eldest granddaughter, a kindergartner, would appreciate reading some. The Three Robbers is still available at our library (when it reopens after the pandemic), but I will have to buy a copy of The Beast of Monsieur Racine. I think that book will suit her imagination very well. I see that it is available on bookshop.org - yay!
    My daughter has been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to her while school is out. Molly has taken to putting on a bonnet and walking around the backyard many times, to relive the two and a half mile walk Laura took before she went to school. I wonder what it will be like for Molly when school finally starts again, and if she will be able to complete her year of kindergarten. Of course I miss her and her sisters terribly, and her cousin, my one year old granddaughter, Annabelle. I hope I can visit them soon.
     Meanwhile, I'll be here, reading, writing, and visiting old friends by phone, online, and in the pages of books.
 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

SHELTER IN PLACE: WEEK TWO: THE NEW ROUTINE

7 a.m. Get up. Make coffee. Turn on the news to see what is happening with the virus. Go outside for newspaper. Hear the birds, breathe the fresh air. Bring coffee to hubby.

7:30 a.m.  FaceTime with granddaughters, E., H. & M.

8 a.m.   Make breakfast. Read newspaper. Do all crosswords and Jumble. Facetime with granddaughter A.

9 a.m. Take shower. Get dressed. Straighten up. Telephone a friend or family member to see how they are.

10 a.m. Turn on the computer. Emails, facebook, news.
Try to work.

11 a.m. Still trying to work.

Noon   Eat lunch. Take a reading break.

1 p.m. Go out for a walk with husband. Stay six feet away from other walkers. Do not look at or talk to other walkers. Waving okay.

3 p.m. Teatime.
Facetime with granddaughters.
Second reading break.

4 p.m.  Clean out a drawer or closer. Bemoan amount of stuff. Keep most of it

5 p.m. Computer

6 p.m. Watch the PBS Newshour. Thank you, Judy.

7 p.m. Dinner
Clean-up

8 p.m.  Televison. Reading.

10 p.m.  Go to sleep

4 a.m. Wake up and worry about the virus

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Mouse Songs

   I'll be presenting a program with THE MOUSE WHO DANCED THE HORA at the Jewish Community Library next month. It will be a mouse storytime so I'm busy creating some new flannal board games and songs. Of course, we will dance the hora too, just like our little mouse, Tillie Mouscovitz. PJ Library sent the book to six year olds, but I'm thinking younger children will probably come to the storytime. We shall see!

     There are many books which feature mice as main characters because, like children, they are small but mighty!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving




   Happy Thanksgiving to All. It is good to give thanks. On this cozy, rainy Tuesday as I start my preparations, I look forward to grandchildren, family, cheer and good food on Thursday.  Though the origins of the holiday are not what we were taught in school, the way it is celebrated now, in modern America, is a beautiful thing. May all of the diverse cultures which make up our America lend their own food and traditions to the holiday. Let us all sit around the table together and in the spirit of the holiday honor a day of gratitude, of justice and freedom, happiness too, for us all. And - hey, as I wrote this the clouds parted, the sun shone through and parts of the sky turned blue, even though it is still raining. A metaphor for what will be a beautiful holiday!

Monday, July 8, 2019

BIC

     I am often asked what is the best formula to write a book. Some folks seem to think it's like following a recipe in cooking, put in the ingredients, mix together, stir and voila! If they can just follow the steps, they will be a published writer.
 
     Hmm, it's not that easy, in fact it is rather hard. However, there is a method for writing children's books, just one proven method that works. It is called the BIC method of writing.

    For those who don't know, the BIC method is an acronym. The letters stand for Butt In Chair.

    Yep, that unfortunately is the only known formula. Sit in your chair, put in the time, and do the work.

    Kind of like other professions, isn't it? I suppose that since stories can sometimes create a sort of magic, writing one seems like it should be magical too.

     On several occasions people have told me that they have written a children's book. They tap their temple with their forefinger and say, "It's all right here."

     When the story is in your head, that is called thinking. To write a story, you do have to actually write it down.

     Thanks for listening. Now it's time for me to put my own butt in my chair, and get to work.

Friday, May 31, 2019

HORA

     My new book, THE MOUSE WHO DANCED THE HORA, will be out in September.  It's about a mouse, Tillie Mouscovitz, who longs to dance the hora at a wedding. "But for a mouse - it's not".

     The other day, I had an inspiration about what led me to write this story. I realized that it stemmed from the times I assisted my husband when he photographed weddings and bar/bat mitzvah celebrations. My husband is a professional event photographer. I often went with him, even though sometimes my only task was to watch his equipment. (All of his camera equipment was once stolen from a major San Francisco hotel while he was photographing in a different room). Like Tillie, I was an observer at these events, standing on the sidelines. My husband was busy taking pictures, and the guests were busy dancing.

      It is really hard for a Jewish person not to join in when she hears the music and sees others dancing the hora!

     Actually, the hora is not the only dance which is second nature to me. While waiting in line to order a hot dog at the San Jose Giants game on Memorial Day, I heard the Hokey Pokey being played in the stadium. Of course I put my right foot in and right foot out while waiting in line. I couldn't help it.

     Could you?