Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother and Child

I took a photography class years ago and a fellow student mentioned this book.  And since I have always loved portraiture, old-fashioned clothing, the subjects of women and children, it makes sense that I would be drawn to these pictures.

This is Dorr's introduction:

The Story is from everlasting to everlasting.  Yet when it happens to you, that your new-born child is laid for the first time in your arms, it is the whole miracle of creation and your heart cries out as did Mary's"  "My soul doth magnify the Lord."  You know without being told that you are as near to touching the divine mystery as one may come in this life.

Here are pictures of my children, my children's children and my god-children.  These are our rooms, our houses and our lands in the States of Connecticut and New Hampshire where we live.  Our story begins on the day of Bet's wedding and speaks of these last years.  Sequence is of no importance here.  A day is remembered for itself and the picture is all that we finally keep.  I am here with my children.

Nell Dorr 1972

A remarkable bit of trivia is that Dorr was good friends with the artist Tasha Tudor and these photographs were in collaboration with her and her family.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hailstones and Halibut Bones

They make you feel
Every feeling there is
From the grumpiest grump
To the fizziest fizz.
And you and you and I 
Know well
Each has a taste 
And each has a smell
And each has a wonderful
Story to tell....

Hailstones and Halibut Bones
Mary O'Neil
illustrated by John Wallner 1989

Mary O'Neill has written a marvelous book about colors.  Each poem describes a color, weaving in all the senses in such clever and glorious ways.  We love reading this and talking about how the colors make us feel, or the things we think of when we think of a particular color.   Did O'Neil get her descriptions right?  

Gold is the sunshine 
Light and thin 
Warm as a muffin
 On your skin.

Brown is a freckle
Brown is a mole
Brown is the earth
When you dig a hole.
Brown is the hair 
On many a head
Brown is chocolate 
And gingerbread.
Brown is a feeling
You get inside
When wondering makes 
Your mind grow wide.
Brown is a leather shoe
And a good glove---
Brown is as comfortable
As love.

Orange is zip
Orange is dash
The brightest stripe
In a Roman sash.
Orange is an orange
Also a mango
Orange is music
Of the tango.
Orange is the fur
Of the fiery fox,
The brightest crayon
In the box.
And in the fall
When the leaves are turning
Orange is the smell
Of a bonfire burning...

Charlotte particularly agreed with this part from the Purple poem:
Purple's more popular 
Than you think...
It's sort of a great
Grandmother to pink.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Homes and Habits of Wild Animals

Home and Habitats of Wild Animals
Karl Patterson Schmidt
illustrated by Walter Alois Weber 1934

Just look how beautiful this vintage book is!  If I had the heart to tear it up, I would take out and frame some of the pages.  (Which would look amazing decorating the walls of the rustic Adirondack summer house I imagine having some day!).  It's fun to read, even though it's pretty dated.

"Every country boy who has trapped muskrats to make a fur coat for his mother or to add to his spending money has learned a good deal about the furs with which animals are clothed."

The colors and large size make it a rather nice coffee table book too!

Should you journey to the great Rio Grande, whose name means "River Great" in Spanish, and hunt through the jungle-thick growth of mesquite and persimmon and cactus, you might find a track in soft ground that would be just like the track of a tabby cat in your backyard at home, but so immensely large that you would be much more likely to beat a retreat than to follow it up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Brock Cole 2000

Madeleine and I ADORE this book.  Set in the Regency time period, the patriarch of a family has burst the buttons off his pants and calamity ensues.  Each of his three daughters selflessly hatch a plan to get more buttons for their father (who can't leave his bed for shame!).  The oldest daughter, a beauty, plans to parade around and attract a handsome wealthy husband (who will supply buttons), the middle daughter will disguise herself as a young man and join the army where she will have plenty of buttons on her uniform.  And the silly youngest daughter decides to run through the fields every day hoping to catch buttons that fall from the sky.  None of the sisters' plans go accordingly, but even better things happen and in the end, thanks to a lovestruck cowherd, buttons are finally to be had!

The pictures are fun with costumes that suit the time period, and the story had us laughing out loud.   What a rare treat to find a story that is silly, sweet and charming with three capable heroines and romance all around.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Floral Fantasy

Just in time for spring- more of Walter Crane's beautiful flower illustrations.  A nice companion book to Flora's Feast a Festival of Flowers.

In an old world garden dreaming
Where the flowers had human names,
Methought, in fantastic seeming,
They disported as squires and dames.

A Floral Fantasy
Walter Crane 1899

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sister of the Birds and Other Gypsy Tales

This book has been our companion these chilly Spring nights.  As with all my kids, Charlotte is getting a healthy dose of fantasy before bed!  I'm familiar with many fairy tales and fables, many of which are just variations of similar stories, but these Gypsy tales are unlike any others that I've read before.  I particularly liked learning about their origin.   Jerzy Ficowski was sent to Auschwitz during WWII where he met many Gypsies and after the war he travelled with them collecting their stories, songs, and poetry.

Charles Mikolaycak does the illustrations, which is how I discovered the book in the first place.

Jerzy Ficowski
translated by Lucia M. Borski
illustrations by Charles Mikolaycak 1976

There's a handy pronunciation key at the back.