RETRO ROCKETS AND MORE

THIS IS THE LAST DAY YOU CAN ENTER MY SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY - be sure and leave a comment or click here for details about my drawing for BOB BOOKS SIGHT WORDS. Contest ends at midnight tonight - winner announced tomorrow, Sept. 30, 2011. CONTEST OVER.  Giveaway winner: Theron Mathis!  Congratulations, Theron, send me an email with your address so I can mail you the sets. 

Today I'd like to showcase a unique book, THIS IS THE WAY TO THE MOON, by M. Sasek.  It's one of those books that grabs your attention with its bold, retro artwork. This title was first published in 1963 as This is Cape Canaveral, then later as This is Cape Kennedy. It was reissued in June 2009 as This is the Way to the Moon. Why so many titles?
Cape Canaveral was renamed Cape Kennedy after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. However, since the new name wasn't popular with local residents, the former name was restored to the area of Cape Canaveral in 1974. But the NASA installation base there goes by the name Kennedy Space Center, so you can see why this gets confusing!  The new title is a neutral way of describing the space center and the surrounding area.

Miroslav Sasek (born in Prague in 1916, died in 1980) was a Czechoslovakian author/illustrator of nonfiction for children.  From 1959-1974, he published his THIS IS... series.  These wonderful books are full of nostalgia and introduce children to great countries, cities, and landmarks in an entertaining and understandable way. (More about the other titles from his series in a future post).

But back to today's book, THIS IS THE WAY TO THE MOON... it is an awesome historical record of the perceptions and attitudes during the '60s about space (included in this edition are footnotes of facts and figures that have changed since they were first printed).

Kids of all ages (but especially 4-8 year olds) will enjoy the bold, colorful illustrations of giant missiles, huge antennae, astronauts (human and non-human) and even a chocolate space shuttle, all recreated with amazing detail. THIS IS THE WAY TO THE MOON will also jog the memories and delight the souls of those adults who may remember it from their own childhoods.

BEYOND BUZZ LIGHTYEAR:
If your kids love space and the cosmos, you can find more fun book recommendations (fiction and non-fiction) from my past post HERE.

Have you ever wanted to make a child's quilt with a space theme? Check out the adorable fabric at the FAT QUARTER SHOP.

Don't sew? Don't worry - go to The Pat a Cake Baby to order RETRO ROCKET RASCALS themed baby gear HERE.

What about throwing a rocket/astronaut themed birthday partyCLICK HERE for ideas and a DIY tutorial for making jet pack favors for the attendees. Of course you'll need a rocket ship birthday cake - find a step-by-step recipe HERE from Parenting.com.


Invitations? How about these nifty printable retro rockets from Etsy...

A Tiny Story about a Huge Mama Squid


Welcome!

I wrote a 200 word piece about a mama squid for Rachael Harrie's 2nd Platform-Building Challenge. Here are her rules: 200 words or less. You must use the word imago in the title, and these words in the body of the story: lacuna, miasma, synchronicity, and oscitate. Well, of course I had to look up lacuna and oscitate! But I knew the rest. Anyway, enjoy.

The Baby Squids' Imago Settles In

Mama pressed her 1,300 unborn ones close as she swam toward the schooner. It had sunk in deep waters where predators were few. She propelled through its porthole by oscitating her mantle outwards then inwards. Running a stream of saltwater through the delicate infant sac, she settled it into a wooden chest filled with shiny gems. A miasma of bubbles shimmied up and out through the porthole.

Mama was hungry, but before she ate, she needed to make sure her embryos were safe. Peering around with eyes that sucked in the dim light, she searched for famished sharks and tuna. None. Safe. Next, she searched for food.

Along the rotted wall, algae grew. She propelled up gently, as to not disturb her spawn, and jetted over. The lacuna of the pliable greenery hid pearly fish. With four of her limbs, she stuffed as many as she could hold in her beaklike mouth.

Satisfied, she undulated back and spread onto her precious cargo. Soon, she felt tiny nudges and twitches. Raising slightly, she saw hatchlings, transparent and quivering. She was so lucky to have found this sanctuary in time. Ah! The sweet synchronicity of life.


ELSA BESKOW: A SWEDISH ILLUSTRATOR

Cover of a Swedish school reader, Vill du l√§sa? (Do You Want to Read?)
Autumn is officially here, and what better illustration to post than this beautiful offering by one of my favorite children's book illustrators than Elsa Beskow (1874-1953).

In 1894 Beskow started to contribute to the Swedish children's magazine Jultomten. She went on to publish forty children's books with her own text and images. In her books Beskow used her own childhood experiences as a source for ideas. Her six children also inspired her work. Many of her books focus on nature, the relationships between children and adults, and children's independent initiative. She frequently combined reality with elements from the fairy tale world. In her stories and artwork, children meet elves, goblins, or fairies, and farm animals who can talk with people.

From Peter in Blueberry Land

Elsa Beskow is one of the most well known of all Swedish children's book artists (she's been called the "Beatrix Potter of Scandinavia"). Many of her books became classics and are continually reprinted. Beskow also illustrated ABC books and songbooks for Swedish schools. Her beautiful book pages are often bordered by decorative framework of the Art Nouveau style.

From Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip

BEAUTIFUL BOOKS BY ELSA BESKOW:
AROUND THE YEAR - Delightful verses and delicate, playful illustrations that take young children through the special joys of each month of the year, from icy February to the green shoots of April, the red poppies of July, September’s apples, and the delights of December.

CHILDREN OF THE FOREST - Deep in the roots of an old pine tree live the children of the forest. Playing hide-and-seek with the squirrels, and snowballing in winter, each season brings its own adventures.

PELLE'S NEW SUIT - Pelle shears his lamb and gets the wool carded, spun, dyed, woven and made into a fine new suit.

PETER IN BLUEBERRY LAND - Peter is looking for blueberries for his mother’s birthday and he can’t find a single one. Suddenly he feels a light tap on his shoe, and a strange and magical adventure is about to begin.

WOODY, HAZEL AND LITTLE PIP - Woody and Little Pip Acorn have an unexpected adventure when they take a ride on an oak leaf. Mr. Squirrel and their friend sweet little Hazel Hazelnut go searching for the acorn boys, and they meet gnomes, trolls, a salamander and other woodland creatures along the way. A wonderful, fun story with beautiful illustrations that capture children's imaginations beautifully.

Just a few more days to enter my SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY!  Bob Books SIGHT WORDS set for Kindergarten and First Grade is the gift.  To enter, leave a comment, start following my blog, or "like" my Facebook page by September 29th.  Winner will be announced on September 30, 2011.  CLICK HERE for more info. CONTEST OVER.

FALL IS CALLING MY NAME...

Here in Southern California, if it weren't for our "Liquid Amber" trees, we wouldn't get much fall color. When I catch a glimpse out my front window of the leaves beginning to turn red and gold, I can't help but harken back to the days when my kids were still at home...



pumpkin patches, hot cocoa with marshmallows on Saturday mornings, planning Halloween costumes, cooler nights...










My son, Jonny (second from the right with sunglasses)
...and as they got older, marching band practice, and high school football games

and even a few trips to where we could REALLY find fall!
My daughter in NY City's Central Park.

I miss those days, but now I have more free time with my hubby, for fall wanderings, pumpkin lattes, and Autumn Breakfasts out on the patio...



...and more time to search out fun children's books and poems to share with you on my blog.  This poem is perfect for the beginning of fall, and is simply titled:

"PUMPKIN POEM"


One day I found two pumpkin seeds.
I planted one and pulled the weeds.
It sprouted roots and a big, long vine.
A pumpkin grew; I called it mine.
The pumpkin was quite round and fat.
(I really am quite proud of that.)
But there is something I'll admit
That has me worried just a bit.
I ate the other seed, you see.
Now will it grow inside of me?

(I'm so relieved since I have found
That pumpkins only grow in the ground!)

(From: The BIG Book of Reading, Rhyming, and Resources: Programs for Children, Ages 4-8, Authors:  Beth Maddigan, Stefanie Drennan, Roberta E. Thompson)

HELPING YOUR CHILD BECOME A STRONG INDEPENDENT READER

Just a few more days to enter my SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY!  Bob Books SIGHT WORDS set for Kindergarten and First Grade is the gift.  To enter, leave a comment, start following my blog, or "like" my Facebook page by September 29th.  Winner will be announced on September 30, 2011.  CLICK HERE for more info. CONTEST OVER.

SEPTEMBER REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY: BOB BOOKS "SIGHT WORDS" SETS

I discovered BOB BOOKS years ago, through homeschooling, when I used the BEGINNING READER FOUNDATION SETS as a supplement to the phonics curriculum we were using.  


These awesome little books helped me guide my children, step by step, to the next level: actually reading books by themselves! Which is the reason I am so enthusiastic to I announce that Scholastic has graciously agreed to sponsor my SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY by offering this double set of Bob Books Sight Words - the newest set of the series - to the lucky winner of my drawing.  (More about that at the end of my post.)


BOB BOOKS are such an important piece in the learning-to-read puzzle. They give new readers confidence as they're discovering word recognition and beginning to put letter sounds together. You can learn more by visiting their WEBSITE HERE, or...
WATCH this helpful video about BOB BOOKS from Scholastic:


ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY BOOKS: 
Sight Words are words that are recognized by sight rather than sounded out, in order to achieve reading fluency. They are the most frequently used words in the English language, and are often unable to be read phonetically (“was”, “are”, and “out” are examples). Sight Words are words that are recognized by sight rather than sounded out, in order to achieve reading fluency. They are the most frequently used words in the English language, and are often unable to be read phonetically (“was”, “are”, and “out” are examples).

I love the subtle humor these books use to get sight word recognition across!  For example, in "THE JET" (from the Kindergarten Sight Words set), one of the words your child will learn is "fly"...as in "A bug can fly" (and of course the bug shown is a fly).  They will learn that a bird can fly, a car cannot, a jet can fly, and you can fly in a jet.
Bob Books Sight Word Kindergarten Set contains stories with basic three letter words, consistent vowel sounds, and simple stories. Children are challenged by sight words that must be memorized, but encouraged because all of the sight words in this set are less than four letters.  The Sight Word First Grade Set continues with simple words and stories, but introduces longer and more complex sight words. This set builds fluency in the more demanding sight words and reinforces decoding skills.

Sight Words - Kindergarten
Sight Words - First Grade
Each Sight Words box includes 10 original books that are about 12 pages each, 30 flashcards, and a parent guide.  My GIVEAWAY consists of BOTH sets.


HOW TO ENTER MY GIVEAWAY:
1 - Leave a comment after any of my blog posts dated between September 20 and September 29, 2011.
2 - "Like" my GOOD BOOKS FOR YOUNG SOULS FACEBOOK PAGE by September 29, 2011.
3 - Post a comment on my FACEBOOK page between now and 9/29/11.

4 - Comment as many times as you like, your name will be entered for each comment.
GIVEAWAY ENDS 9/29/11 at Midnight WITH A RANDOM DRAWING, AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2011. CONTEST OVER


ONE GIVEAWAY NOT ENOUGH?? Visit the Bob Books BLOG, to enter their Giveaway for their Reader Sets 1 & 2.  Hurry - it ends Sept. 23, 2011. CONTEST OVER

Full disclosure: I was provided a set of books at no cost to review and the prizes for the giveaway, but no compensation for this post, nor was I influenced, directed or told what to post.  This review is based on my actual experiences with the product.

Brussels Sprouts, Favorite Painters and "From Scroll to Screen" Lev Grossman's article on Pubbing Revolutions




I'm posting random treats!

First, thanks to Sam de la Pena and Mel Corbett for gifting me with two Versatile Blog Awards. Sam describes himself as an author/nursing student/bleeding heart heretic. I've really been enjoying his posts. Visit his witty blog here. Mel writes speculative fiction. Take a look at her blog here. As for the Versatile confessions that I'm supposed to reveal when granted this award, I'll give you a few. Um... I love Brussels Sprouts sauteed with peanut butter; I love the shows Louis CK and Celebrity Rehab (I know, I should be ashamed of the latter, but Dr. Drew is addictive). And, some of my favorite artists are Janet Fish, Charles Burchfield and Alexis Rockman, two of whom have seen my paintings, which is amazing in itself. One of my prized possessions is a Burchfield drawing of thistle my hubby gave me. Above, from left to right, is Burchfield's Four Seasons, and a Janet Fish painting. On the bottom, is an Alexis Rockman, who speaks to bio-tech and climate change.

Next, here's a link to author, Lev Grossman's New York Times article "From Scroll to Screen" on revolutions in reading that include the ancient use of scrolls, the invention of the Guttenberg Press that spawned an explosion in "codex" literacy, and the rise of eBooks that democratize the publishing playing field. Read it here. Lev has written The Magician and The Magician King.



"I READ THE WHOLE BOOK BY MYSELF!"

That declaration is music to a parent's ear.  Especially if you have a child who has struggled with learning to read.  As a parent who home-schooled my children, hearing that phrase elicited feelings of not only relief, but gratification.  I was very lucky to have been directed to some wonderful little readers that got my kids off on the right foot...they're called "BOB BOOKS".

"Bob Books" were first introduced 35 years ago.
I'm excited to announce that BOB BOOKS and SCHOLASTIC Publishers have graciously agreed to sponsor my SEPTEMBER GIVE-AWAY!  Stay tuned to see what the free gift will be.  The post review will go up in the next few days.  TELL YOUR FRIENDS!  The drawing will be on September 30, 2011.

CONTEST OVER!
You can enter my SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY by:
1 - Leaving a comment here on any of my blog posts dated between today (9/20) and September 29, 2011.
2 - "Liking" my GOOD BOOKS FOR YOUNG SOULS FACEBOOK PAGE between today and September 29, 2011.
3 - Posting a comment on my FACEBOOK page between today, 9/20/11 and 9/29/11.

These fun little books were created by Bobby Lynn Maslen for her preschoolers when she discovered she couldn't find early readers that were interesting.

The first BOB BOOKS were individually hand-drawn. When it became too cumbersome to make books for each child, Bobby Lynn persuaded the school to print 300 copies. This eventually led to more sets - starting a cottage industry and self-publishing.  Bobby's husband, John, illustrated them. The series, first adopted by homeschoolers and Montessori teachers, was picked up by Scholastic.

Today, BOB BOOKS are still very much a family-run business with management being handed down to the eldest daughter, Lynn, who has been involved with the BOB BOOKS right from the beginning. She started out with paste-up and lettering of the first edition in the 1970’s, but later spent several years in other ventures. Lynn then returned to the family business as her own daughter was beginning to read. That was when she gained true appreciation for the simplicity, fun, humor and easy success of Bob Books. Her daughter now joins the millions of kids that happily exclaim, “I read the whole book!”® Lynn lives in Seattle with her daughter and husband.

"WHO DUNNITS" FOR PRETEENS...

. . . people read mystery stories for a diversity of reasons. Some, for the intellectual challenge of the puzzles they present, others for the vicarious pleasure of the chase. Others believe . . . that the vast popularity of the genre lies in the fact that, in a disorderly world, it represents one of the few fixed points of order and morality, where justice may be counted on to emerge triumphant. -Howard Haycraft ("A Treasure of Great Mysteries")

On this day in 1890 English mystery writer Mary Clarissa Agatha Miller, later known as Agatha Christie, was born in Torquay, England.  (I was privileged to visit this beautiful seaside town in the county of Devon with my family the summer after my high school graduation. Not sure if I was aware at the time that this gifted writer was born there.)

Anyway - I've discovered some interesting trivia about Dame Agatha that I'd like to share with you before I move on to some fun mysteries for kids...


- She was educated at home.
- At sixteen she was sent to school in Paris where she studied singing and piano
-In 1914 she married Colonel Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple had one daughter, Rosalind.
-In 1926, Archibald announced that he had fallen in love with a younger woman, Nancy Neele. That same year, Agatha Christie's beloved mother died and Agatha experienced her own real life mystery: she disappeared for a time and lived in a Harrowgate hotel under the name 'Mrs. Neele'. Agatha and Archibald divorced in 1928.
-Christie worked as a nurse during WWI, which helped her learn about prescriptions and poisons -- something which figured strongly in her writing career.
- Influences: Anna Katherine Green, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GK Chesterton.
- Christie is the Guinness World Record author: her work has been translated into more languages than Shakespeare.
- Agatha Christie never wrote a novel or short story featuring both her sleuths, Poirot and Miss Marple. Christie revealed the reason for this: "Hercule Poirot, a complete egoist, would not like being taught his business or having suggestions made to him by an elderly spinster lady".

I remember reading Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE in high school, but I was first introduced to her popular sleuth, Hercule Poirot, through the PBS Masterpiece MYSTERY! series. I love David Suchet's brilliant portrayal of Christie's Belgian detective.  If you've ever watched any "POIROT" on PBS, I'm sure you've noticed the macabre, yet merry world that illustrator Edward Gorey has created as the backdrop for MYSTERY! (ever since the series began in 1980).

Gorey illustrated the covers for some of my son's favorite "juvenile reader" Gothic mystery novels by John Bellairs, featuring amateur sleuth Johnny Dixon and his elderly friend Professor Roderick Childermass.
The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs
Which brings me to...KIDS AND MYSTERY STORIES:
According to Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute"The mystery story can be an excellent stimulus for utilizing study skills needed to be a good critical reader, such as cause-and-effect, logical deduction, and assessing vital information and facts. These same skills are also valuable in forming a “budding” writer.... the devices of the mystery story... are the hallmarks of all storytelling: the problemthe characters needed to make the reader care about them, the events that occur in their solving of the problem and, in the end, the reader feeling a satisfaction in being included in the solution."

Most of us remember Trixie Beldon, Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys; but here are some mystery/detective books for kids you may have missed...

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, by Herge. These are great mysteries for reluctant readers, in comic book format.

THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR, by Virginia Hamilton (A historical mystery) From Amazon: A huge, old house with secret tunnels, a cantankerous caretaker, and buried treasure is a dream-come-true for 13-year-old Thomas. The fact that it's reputedly haunted only adds to its appeal! As soon as his family moves in, Thomas senses something strange about the Civil War era house, which used to be a critical stop on the Underground Railroad. With the help of his father, he learns about the abolitionists and escaping slaves who kept the Underground Railroad running. While on his own, he explores the hidden passageways in and under the house, piecing clues together in an increasingly dangerous quest for the truth about the past. Newbery medalist Virginia Hamilton creates a heart-pounding adventure with this absorbing classic for older readers.

GREAT BRAIN SERIES, by John D. Fitzgerald. Hilarious adventures of an Irish-Catholic family in Mormon Utah in 1896. Tom - a.k.a. The Great Brain - is a 10-year-old genius con man, always interested in making a profit (and always learning a lesson.)

BOY'S BOOK OF GREAT DETECTIVE STORIES (compile by Howard Haycraft) A collection of detective stories by well-know authors emphasizing deduction, not crime.

DETECTIVES IN TOGAS by Henry Winterfield (also: MYSTERY OF THE ROMAN RANSOM).  Read about these in my previous post HERE.

VESPER HOLLY BOOKS by Lloyd Alexander.  Think: Nancy Drew meets Indiana Jones. Vesper Holly never travels alone; her bumbling guardian, Professor Brinton Garrett is by her side, ready to be dragged through jungles and prisons for her sake.

Helen Mallon, guest Blogger Discusses Contrasts in Adult & YA Fiction



I've invited over Helen Mallon, author extraordinaire.
She writes mostly for adults, but has a few short stories aimed for the teen/crossover market. She says her proudest moment came when she received her first royalty check for her e-story entitled "Did You Put The Cat to Bed?" Currently, she's working on a novel entitled Quaker Playboy Leaves Legacy of Confusion. She also loves her work as an editorial consultant for writers of all stripes. Learn more at helenmallon.com.

Today, I've asked her to speak to the differences and similarities between the adult and YA markets.

Helen: Obviously, publishers market to different audiences, YA or adult, but the writing itself also addresses different points of view. Not only the point of views of characters, but of readers. For example, in my adult short story with a teen protagonist. You Say You Want a Revolution, coming out soon with bookstogonow.com. It's a dark tale about a girl who's gotten involved with a teacher, and told from alternating points of view: the teacher and Sarah's. If a teen asked me about reading it, I'd say "Check with your parents first."

Mark hadn't planned to get involved with a student when Sarah came to him for math tutoring. But her long brown hair as she sat beside him in the tiny study room had reflected tints of roam, even peach. Then unexpectedly, the florescent light overhead stopped buzzing and she had looked up at him, startled... so Mark convinced himself that... it was she who had seduced him.

Yes, YA can and should deal with tough subjects and nothing should be taboo. However, if this story were written for a YA audience, I would have emphasized Sarah's voice because ethically speaking, the two voices are not equally "valid." Adult readers are generally better equipped to untangle moral ambiguity, and authors have a responsibility to respect the developmental level of their readers, without "talking down" to them.

At the story's end, Sarah discovers her own power when she and the teacher encounter another teenager being mocked. "Keep going!" Sarah's hands were fists. She was buoyant and upright, and she wanted to run like hell as soon as she knew that Greg was safe. She had never before saved anyone.

Including the point of view of a child molester is not the only thing that makes this an adult story. The Beatles inspired title makes an ironic reference to the sexual revolution, which hints at Sarah's victimization and emerging power from a decidedly adult, poignant distance.

In contrast, my story I Want to be Just Regular is intended as a crossover piece--for both teens and adults. Olivia's dad has moved into the bathroom and won't come out. Will Dad emerge to attend her high school graduation or will he let her down? Here, Olivia describes an English elective she took, hoping to understand him better.

"Shakespeare and Madness" wasn't explaining my father better to me. Shakespeare's crazies were either faking it or they pretty much brought it on themselves. I thought Ophelia was kind of a twit. My father wasn't filled with hubris or sick with love. He owned a big moving company whose motto was 'We Bring Them Home.' And before that, he liked to fart around in his vegetable garden.

What makes this YA appropriate is the lightness around Olivia and her nutty father. Olivia sets the tone... I believe that the same first person character would speak differently in a book intended for adults... as a child speaking to an adult audience is regarded from a terrain of years and experience. What we might consider narcissism in teens is actually a path to discovery in which common events such as falling in love, breaking up and making career decisions are fresh experiences that never have happened to them before!

Consider an adult book with universal appeal, To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout's first person narration is often from a child's innocent point of view, yet it's also moderated as she looks back from a position of adult experience.

What about you? What differences do you see between writing for teens and adults?

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT HAPPENED TO CHRIST'S CROSS?

Have you ever wondered what happened to the Cross of Christ, after his crucifixion? Well, the answer involves a queen named Helena, who was the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great.  In the twentieth year of his reign (326), the Emperor sent his mother to Jerusalem to find the site of the Holy Sepulchre and of the True Cross (a story in itself). After finding the Cross in Jerusalem, Queen Helena travelled to Cyprus to gift a small piece of the Cross to the church there. Too much for kids to comprehend?  Not in this new children's book, THE QUEEN AND THE CATS: A Story of Saint Helena, by Calee Lee.  It debuts today, September 14, which for Orthodox and Catholic Christians is a special "feast day" commemorating the finding of the Cross of Christ...


Told through the eyes of a young girl, the story begins as Queen Helena arrives to bring the greatest of gifts to the people of Cyprus. But when she tries to present the treasure, the Queen discovers that the local churches have been infested with a deadly problem: snakes! It’s up to Queen Helena and the little village girl to come up with a solution that will make the churches safe once more.

As Calee describes it, “this story brings Saint Helena to life in a way that is both accessible and enjoyable for little ones. The lives of the saints provide so many rich stories for our children. I’m thrilled to have partnered with illustrator Turbo Qualls to bring this story to Catholic and Orthodox families around the world.”

While this captivating picture book is geared towards kids ages 4-8, older siblings will be quick to take over the read-aloud duties and littler ones won't be able to resist Turbo's 24 full-color graphics. This is the first story of its kind to be available in ebook format (the Kindle version is less than $5 and works on phones, tablets, laptops and more).  But not to worry, all you "traditional book" people (like me) can preview and purchase a print copy from Amazon by clicking HERE.

Calee M. Lee visited the island of Cyprus for Holy Week in 2009 and fell in love with the country’s beautiful scenery and friendly cats. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Calee has worked extensively as a freelance writer, editor and video producer. She attends Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California with her husband and two children. You can read more about Calee on her BLOG.

Turbo Qualls is an accomplished artist and illustrator in the Southern California area. Along with his wife and four children, Turbo attends St. Barnabas Orthodox Church in Costa Mesa, California.

And just in case you were wondering...Saint Helena really did send cats to the island of Cyprus. There’s even a breed of cat called the "St. Helen" that is traced back to her gift. Click here to read more...

IT'S ROALD DAHL'S BIRTHDAY


September 13 is "Roald Dahl Day", celebrated every year on what would have been the author's birthday. This year also marks 50 years since Dahl's classic tale James and the Giant Peach was first published.  Your child can celebrate by sending a Peach-gram to a friend!

illustration by Jed Alexander

From THE GUARDIAN:
According to his biographer Donald Sturrock, in Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl (2010), Dahl was "a conundrum". Certainly, by any standards, he led a strange and complex life. Born to Norwegian parents, brought up in Wales and in England, he crashed in a plane in the desert in the second world war, and then became a spy in America, befriending the great and the good, before eventually settling back down in England, where he overcame three great tragedies: an accident that caused his baby son, Theo, brain damage, in 1960; the death of his daughter, Olivia, aged only seven, in 1962; and his wife's stroke in 1965. (A fourth tragedy occurred in 1990 when his stepdaughter, Lorina, died of a brain tumour.)


Dahl's daily retreat from the world was his famous writing hut. "I go down to my little hut, where it's tight and dark and warm, and within minutes I can go back to being six or seven or eight again," he said. In the hut, snuggled up in a sleeping bag, with his famous green baize writing board across his armchair, his lined yellow legal pads and his Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, he wrote, pausing only for lunch, The World at One, and then dinner, drinks and a game of snooker.
Dahl's writing hut, "The Gipsy House", Buckinghamshire, England.
Photo: Eamonn McCabe

The interior has been left unchanged, since Dahl's death
from Leukemia in 1990.

Photo: Eamonn McCabe 
To read my 2010 birthday post for Roald Dahl, click HERE.

MY TOP TEN PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT FOOD

(Stay tuned for my September GIVEAWAY! In the meantime, bear with me as I blog about food...)

"What can I eat?" Ah, the never-ending quest for food.  Ask my son, who just left for college last week. When I dropped him off, we quickly stocked his apartment kitchen; but he called me yesterday and is already running out of ideas: "Mom, if you could email me some-good-and-quick-and-easy-with-maybe-three-ingredient-recipes, that would be great".  Sigh.

I started googling around and found a blog, called STONE SOUP ("delicious meals in minutes"), with 5-ingredient recipes. That got me thinking about the children's book, Stone Soup and some of my favorite picture books about food...

Stone Soup (Favorites on CD)1. STONE SOUP by Marcia Brown. Three soldiers came marching down the road towards a French village. The peasants seeing them coming, suddenly became very busy, for soldiers are often hungry. So all the food was hidden under mattresses or in barns. There followed a battle of wits, with the soldiers equal to the occasion. Stone soup? Why, of course, they could make a wonderful soup of stones...but, of course, one must add a carrot or tow...some meat...so it went.
Blueberries for Sal2. BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL, by Robert McCloskey. (CLICK HERE to read my review).
Very Hungry Caterpillar3. THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, by Eric Carle. Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a perennial favourite with children and adults alike. Its imaginative illustration and clever cut-out detail charts the progress of a very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through the week. (My post about Eric Carle can be read by CLICKING HERE.)
Jamberry [Deluxe Edition] Publisher: HarperCollins4. JAMBERRY, by Bruce Degen. (My previous post about this book can be found HERE.)
The Carrot Seed 60th Anniversary Edition5. THE CARROT SEED, by Ruth Krauss. (CLICK HERE to read about this book in my "Time for Gardens" post.)
The Duchess Bakes a Cake6. THE DUCHESS BAKES A CAKE, by Virginia Kahl. (CLICK HERE to read my review.)
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (Dragonfly Books)7. HOW TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE AND SEE THE WORLD, by Marjorie Priceman. The world becomes a young girl's grocery store, as she goes on a global journey to find ingredients for an apple pie.  (And yes, there's a recipe at the back of the book!) 
8. I WILL NEVER NOT EVER EAT A TOMATO, by Lauren Child. Lola is a fussy eater. A very fussy eater. She won’t eat her carrots (until her brother Charlie reveals that they’re orange twiglets from Jupiter). She won’t eat her mashed potatoes (until Charlie explains that they’re cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji). There are many things Lola won’t eat, including - and especially - tomatoes. Or will she? (To read my past post about Charlie and Lola books, CLICK HERE.)
Sun Bread9. SUN BREAD by Elisa Kleven. Winter’'s gray chill has set in and everyone misses the sun—. So a baker decides to bring warmth to the town by making a "sun" bread. As the bread bakes, rising hot and delicious, everyone comes out to share in its goodness. Everyone, including the sun itself. Kleven offers a lilting, rhyming text, colorful illustrations, and a recipe for baking your own sun bread!
The Popcorn Book10. THE POPCORN BOOK, by Tommie dePaola. Brothers Tiny and Tony are hungry for a snack, and their mother allows them to make some popcorn. The two boys learn about the history of popcorn in the Americas, how much popcorn is eaten on an annual basis, and methods of popping corn. Two recipes to pop corn are included in this book.

Did I leave your children's favorite off my list?  Ask them, while you all munch on some yummy, healthy, quick-and-easy after-school snacks that I found HERE (Lady and the Blog) and HERE (Family Fun). Hmmm, maybe I should send these links to my son. You're never to old for fun snacks, right?

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