Month: April 2018

Heart is everything in today's Perfect Picture Book Friday review of Pandora.

I was about four years old at the time, sitting under the dining room table, surrounded by wooden boxes that brimmed with colorful Legos. The forest-green, woven tablecloth draped over the sides like a tent. A sunbeam streamed through the window beside me, warming the place where I sat. Snap! Click! The walls of my Lego house rose brick by brick, taller and taller.

I was a young architect who didn’t understand the basics of construction. I snapped the next brick in place, the walls of my little house fell, and I didn’t know why. My father walked by, though all I saw were his wrinkled work pants and leather shoes. I called to him to help me. Dad crouched down, examined my poor construction, and offered encouraging, consoling words as he bent his head to fit in the small space beside me. Brick by brick, the walls of the Lego house grew taller and taller…

…and stayed!

Dad was my hero.

Over the remaining years of my childhood, my adolescence, and my adult years until the day I lost him, Dad remained my hero – the man who could fix anything I broke and could help me understand anything I couldn’t figure out. Dad always helped me with kindness, patience, and the sort of hug I wished could last forever.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book review is about the deep desire to fix what is broken.

Title – Pandora

Written and illustrated by – Victoria Turnbull

Published by – Clarion Books – 2017

Topic – compassion, hope, friendship

Opening – 

Pandora lived alone,

in a land of broken things.

She made herself a handsome home

from all that people had left behind.

But no one ever came to visit.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Pandora lives alone, in a world of broken things. She makes herself a handsome home, but no one ever comes to visit. Then one day something falls from the sky
. . . a bird with a broken wing.
Little by little, Pandora helps the bird grow stronger. Little by little, the bird helps Pandora feel less lonely. The bird begins to fly again, and always comes back—bringing seeds and flowers and other small gifts. But then one day, it flies away and doesn’t return. Pandora is heartbroken.
Until things begin to grow . . .

Here is a stunningly illustrated celebration of connection and renewal.

Learn more about Victoria Turnbull HERE.

Why I love this book: I’m continually drawn to those whose hearts shine through everything they do. Pandora has such a heart. The illustrations are as powerful as the story and add an important emotional level. I must confess, this is a book I have enjoyed countless times, and I know the next time I read it, I will enjoy it again.

 Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Wishes Happy Birthday to Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Today is a special day in many ways. Yes, today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, but it is also Poetry Friday and the birthday of the beloved poet and anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins whose poetry anthology book, School People, I recently shared with you. If you want to join in the birthday celebration for Lee, the party is well underway over at Robyn Hood Black’s blog.

Lee Bennett Hopkins

As you probably guessed, today’s picture book review is a poetry anthology- a book of poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins about a place that is dear to my heart.

The library.

I came from a serious, book-loving family. My father designed and helped build the house I grew up in, and instead of wallpaper, Dad cut and sanded looooong pieces of wood for floor to ceiling and wall to wall bookshelves. Those shelves were deep enough to hold two or three rows of books–and they did!

Imagine pulling a book off of a shelf and finding another book behind it and another book behind that one. Owning thousands of books seemed normal to me.

Dad was fond of saying, “When I have a little money, I buy books. If I have a little money left, I buy more books.

I figured everyone lived in a house filled floor to ceiling and wall to wall with books until I was invited over to a friend’s house back in the first grade. Dad had taught me that I can learn much about a person from their books. So, I was naturally excited to learn more about my friend, Carol, from the books she and her family piled, gathered, and stacked on their shelves. But the first thing I noticed at Carol’s house was NO books! (No books except the one they kept in their bathroom.) I wanted to go home because her house didn’t feel like a home to me. I didn’t care that Carol had piles of games and stuffed animals to play with. I simply wondered how anyone could be happy in a house without books.

“Dad!” I said when he picked me up later that afternoon, “I thought people were supposed to buy books when they had a little money. Carol and her family must be stone poor because they don’t have any books!”

Dad took my hand in his. “I know a place that has more books than we have at home.”

“Can you take me there?”

That afternoon, Dad introduced me to a place I have come to think of as my second home–a place with friendly, knowledgeable people who went out of their way to find the book I wanted to read, find more books on subjects I was interested in, helped me  navigate the card catalogue, and always made me feel welcome.

Yup! I’m talking about the library.

In honor of the library, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Poetry Friday, and Lee Bennett Hopkin’s 80th birthday, I’d like to share a special book of poems dedicated to the library.

Title – Jumping Off Library Shelves

Poems selected by – Lee Bennett Hopkins

Illustrated by – Jane Manning

Published by – WordSong – 2015

Topic – poems, the library, books

Opening –  I’ll only include part of this poem with hopes you will visit your library to find this treasure of a book and read on. 

Breakfast Between the Shelves by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Morning pours spoons of sun

through tall windows, rests along

a reading chair, a copper rail;

hovers over crumbs, small supper scraps

left by those who opened books

last night, to live in story.

Mice scamper

between shelves,

pass poems

like platters of cheese;

Please read this about Owl!

And this about Giant!

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Here is the library, not just as a place that houses books, but as an experience. Fifteen poems celebrate the thrill of getting your first library card, the excitement of story hour, the fun of using the computer, the pride of reading to the dog, and the joy of discovering that the librarian understands you and knows exactly which books you’ll love. The poems, compiled by noted poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins, pay homage to the marvels of books and reading. Accompanied by Jane Manning’s colorful, imaginative illustrations, this collection lyrically celebrates the magic of libraries.

 I like this book because… the fifteen poems gathered like friends between the covers of this anthology express the happiness I have always felt, and still feel, about a visit to the library. Each poem serves as an ingredient which, alone or combined, conjures up childhood memories like the magic of a bulging bag of books, the pride I felt when I held my first library card, learning about faraway places and people-fictitious and real. This collection of poems paints a clear picture of the place I call my “other home.”
Happy Birthday, Lee Bennett Hopkins! I’m glad I got to meet you through the Highlights Poetry workshop, taught by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.  Your passion for poetry is delightfully contagious. Hugs and heartfelt thanks,
Leslie Leibhardt Goodman
Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Meets The Cubs Famous Goat Curse.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review is about a famous animal curse. And speaking of feeling cursed by an animal… Did I ever tell you the story about the stray cat that cursed my living room when I was a child?

I was about ten at the time, drawing pictures on one of those sweltering, mid-west, summer days when my mom came in from gardening. “Look what I found tromping through my garden!” she said.

Mom held out her hands which were cupped together around something.

“A Luna Moth cocoon? A Walking Stick? A Monarch butterfly? What?” I asked.

Something inside my mother’s hands squirmed. A small pink nose pushed between her fingers followed by a set of whiskers and a dark-eyed, furry face.

Meeeeeeew!

I was in love.

My father, not an animal lover from way back, was not in love.

“Take it back outside where you found it before you or the kids get attached to it!” he said.

Too late.

Turns out, we all felt sorry for that poor, widdle kitty… even my dear dad. After Mom made a quick dash to the grocery store for cat food, she fed the kitty and returned to gardening. Then, I came into the kitchen. Moved to pity when the kitty gave me a look of desperation, I fed it. My sister strolled in a while later. Sure enough, she set out a bowl of food, too.

When my sister and I were back in our room, Dad entered the scene. With one sweet Meeeeeeew and a rub against his leg, he fell victim to the cat’s powers. I can still hear Dad’s voice, echoing over the chasm of time. “First everyone wants this stupid cat, and then they don’t think to feed the darned thing!” Yup! Poor, widdle kitty ate better than a king! Grew BIG as a king! Then, it developed… gas!

While the family gathered in the living room one evening to watch The Love Boat, (don’t judge me) that cat came rocketing through the room, leaving behind a trail of toxic exhaust.

Out of a natural survival instinct, I locked myself in my bedroom and gulped in the sweet, untainted air.

Dad’s voice thundered, “You wanted this darned cat! If we have to smell it, so do you! Get back out here, or that cat goes outside forever!”

Enough said. I wrapped a couple scarves around my nose and mouth and returned to the danger zone.

And, speaking of animals and curses, today’s picture book review is about a famous goat curse. I’m referring to the Chicago Cubs Billy Goat Curse that started with one stinky goat.

Title – Murphy’s Ticket: The Goofy Start and Glorious End of the Chicago Cubs Billy Goat Curse.

Written by – Brad Herzog

Illustrated by – David Leonard

Published by – Sleeping Bear Press – 2017

Topic – Chicago Cubs, Baseball team, historic curse

Opening – Like the famous ivy in Wrigley Field

that clings to the outfield wall,

a legend has grown throughout the years

about the curse of Chicago baseball.

It tells of a goat who lived long ago

and the fans of a lovable team,

who never lost their loyalty

or their faith in a World Series dream.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. For 108 years, fans of Chicago Cubs baseball suffered every playoff season, with mishap after mishap each being traced back to 1945 when a friendly goat was kicked out of a World Series game. But the 2016 season felt different. Would this finally be the year that the Billy Goat Curse was reversed? Author Brad Herzog tells the story of the curse’s origin and follows the Cubs right through that fateful November night in 2016 when the Cubbies could finally fly the “W.”

 Why do I like this book? I have to admit I’ve been curious about the famous Cubs goat curse for years, and this upbeat, rhyming picture book tells the whole story, starting back when the famous goat was a baby that bounced off a truck and wandered into a saloon owned by Billy Sianis, the man who placed the curse.
Cub's Billy Goat
If you’re interested in reading the AMAZING coincidences about the Cub’s World Series win, check out this website.
Until next Friday!