Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Literature’

Hello Readers!

Today’s post is dedicated to the wonderful world of French language children’s books!  Though most of us are familiar with the wonderful works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Jean de Brunhoff, and Hergé, I have just recently learned of a wonderful treasury of Belgian children’s books by Gilbert Delahaye and illustrated by Marcel Marlier.  Originally published in French the Martine books number over 50 and have been translated into many languages.  I only recently learned of these through Eve Ratthe, who is a friend of my niece Faye Hanoian.  At a recent seminar in Orange County, the topic was the way in which children’s books can be inspirational to a child’s future destiny.  Eve was eager to share how the Martine books were formative to her life’s passion and how that has been realized in her life.  I think you’ll find her story and these books delightful!

Hello readers,Martine bathing baby

My name is Eve Blanchard Ratthe and I am a French Canadian living in Orange County with my soul mate/best friend and my 7 blessings from above.  There are many things in life I am absolutely passionate about, one of which is holding a good book in my hands, smelling it (the older the better) and looking at it with anticipation. I try to find ways to carve out some time from my busy schedule to discover it’s beauty and how it will affect and change my life!

I recently went to Rea’s literature seminar in Orange County and was thrilled to meet her. During the seminar, my love for books grew bigger and deeper. The idea of writing my own book some day became a little closer to reality! After the seminar, Rea asked me if I would be interested to share about the books I liked as a little girl and how they influenced me now as a mother, wife,  baker–I was delighted!

This is one of my favorite scenes, so tender and filled with love…oh how I longed to hold a baby…I was crying. That day I remember vividly my mom letting me go babysit with my older sister so I can hold one of these precious miracles until one day I could hold my own…

How excited I am to share these awesome books with you. This beautiful French collection is called “MARTINE” and there are 60+ books in the series. It’s been translated in many languages and for those of you who would like to learn French, some are accompanied by a CD which has a narrator telling the story.

As a little girl, I loved Martine’s sweet character, full of life and how she brought me into all her adventures. The incredible art work would transport me into my dreams. They allowed me to visualize them, they were a tangible way of seeing that my dreams can come true. Often times, right after reading these books, I would ask my mother if I could play out what I saw in those pictures and she would let me. I would gather all that I needed and would re-create exactly what I saw in those pictures.

I truly believe I had hidden those BEAUTIFUL images in my heart and that one day they would come true for me . . . and they have . . .

I am now rediscovering them through the eyes of my children! I couldn’t wait to have my own children and experience motherhood, I couldn’t wait for them to have their own library and mark those special books with Ex Libris. When I gave birth to my first child, I immediately thought of starting her library and book collection. I asked several people in our families to give our daughter a book that they liked as a child and that influenced their own childhood. I wanted her to have this “MARTINE” collection that was so dear to me . . . of course. Whenever we go to Quebec, we never miss a chance of expanding her collection and mark those trips with one or two new Martine books. When our families come visit us, they also bring some with them. All my children truly enjoy reading them. The other day, my daughter Armanie shared with me that it was her absolute favorite collection–how thrilled I was to hear that!

Last year, the illustrator “Marcel MARLIER” who is now in his 80s, came to Quebec to visit the town where my sisters live. My sisters had each bought a book for my daughter and had it signed by him, needless to say, my daughter and I were incredibly touched. He wrote her a little message in each book and gave her a card as well. This is priceless to both of us! These two books are now marked with a very special autograph. Just as I have dreamt, I truly hope my children dream as they open these books . . .

These pictures increased my love for cooking and I’m sure had something to do with me entering pastry school!!

In these theater scenes, I just wanted to jump in the book and play with them.

 

Martine Plays Theatre, Martine is a Ballerina, and Martine and the Birthday Present are some of our favorites! I believe that just like they were for me, the Martine books are candy for my children’s sweet little eyes . . .

Read Full Post »

Dear Readers,

In my last posting I mentioned the work of Anita Silvey and recommended her resources for those “stories behind the stories” of great children’s books.  You can read that posting here.  Just a few weeks ago, Anita began publishing a blog entitled “Anita Silvey’s Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac.  In my humble opinion, Anita’s almanac will become the children’s literary counterpart to The Writer’s Almanac of Garrison Keillor.  This blog will introduce readers to countless classic as well as contemporary books that, as Anita notes, are on their way to becoming classics. And just like The Writer’s Almanac, the book postings will be connected to important historic milestones,  author’s birthdays, or other events related to the history of children’s literature.

On that note, today, November 19th, is the anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address of 1863.  To honor Lincoln, Anita kindly posted the story of our reissue of Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire.  You can read her lovely post here.  If you’ve been touched by this book, post a comment on Anita’s site and tell her how this book has enlarged, enhanced or impacted your view of America’s 16th President.

As Anita notes, Ingri D’Aulaire’s family was living under Nazi occupation in Norway at the time she and Edgar were working on their biography of Lincoln’s life.  As European immigrants in America, the character of Lincoln so captured their imagination, that they saw in him and his remarkable story an antidote to the madness and insanity of Hitler‘s rise in Europe.  That was a key reason they were so drawn to his story at this tumultuous and trying time in history.  An in an ironic twist, the very day the D’Aulaire’s received the Caldecott Medal for this book, the famous Dunkirk evacuation was taking place.  So today, the anniversary of one of the world’s greatest speeches, pick up your copy of this remarkable book and remember the man behind the legend.  Happy reading!

Read Full Post »

Dear Readers,

Last Saturday I had the gratifying experience of meeting with 40 lovely ladies for a full day seminar discussing children’s books, education, literature, and history.  Despite the fact that we had over six hours together delving into these absorbing subjects, as usual there simply wasn’t enough time to cover it all!  So in response to some of the requests that emerged in our discussions, I’ll be posting over the next few days on some of these topics.

First of all, and a topic I come to with a great deal of enthusiasm, is the “story behind the story” of many of the best children’s books.  Honestly, the reason I come to this with such eagerness is that in this arena I happen to know one of the foremost authorities on children’s literature today!  Her name is Anita Silvey and I had the delightful opportunity to sit under her while doing my graduate work in children’s literature at Simmons College in Boston.  Since that time, Anita and I have maintained a warm friendship and I never miss a chance when visiting Boston to make a date with Anita.  She is one of those people who brings out the best in everyone she knows, and just sitting discussing children’s literature with her for an hour over lunch is always inspiring, informative, and invigorating!  I know if you were able to meet her you would feel exactly the same way!

So here’s one of my secrets:  Anita’s books on the history of children’s authors and illustrators!  I posted last year about her book Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book and you can access that here. A number of the stories I shared with you on Saturday–Robert Ballard, Jim Trelease, Andrew Wyeth, David McCullough, were adapted from this book. There are many, many, more on contemporary authors and the books that inspired them as children. I find these stories SO valuable because as mothers and educators we never really know which book or books may be the catalyst or inspiration to focus our child on their particular path in life. And of course, this points to the importance of Charlotte Mason’s notion of “abundant and orderly” serving of books.

Now, if what you’re really looking for is the stories of the authors themselves, then Anita offers a number of really important resources. But to start, I would recommend one of two: Children’s Books and Their Creators and The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and their Creators. Hardly a month goes by for me that I am not pulling one or the other of these off my shelf to reference. The first title is over 800 pages and contains about that many entries related to children’s authors, genres of children’s literature, historical and cultural forces as formative to various genres, and personal perspectives from the authors themselves. The Essential Guide offers many of the same components (and indeed carries over into this paperback edition much of the same material) but arranged alphabetically from Aesop to Zwerger (you may remember that name as Zwerger is the remarkable illustrator of the edition of The Selfish Giant that we looked at in the literary analysis component of our day). So for the really ambitious I would recommend the first title, and for those that want a slightly simpler more condensed (albeit still 500 some pages!) version I would select The Essential Guide. This is a great place to start. I have many more guides to children’s literature that I will feature later, but this is a wonderful place to start!

Read Full Post »

Hi Reading Friends,
The Orange County Literature Seminar is just around the corner!  I am extending the deadline for the discounted rate until tomorrow night at midnight!  So you can still register here.  Also, for those of you that are already registered, please be thinking of a favorite children’s book you’d like to share during our working lunch!  I’ll also be emailing you with specific details by Thursday so be looking for that to come through your regular email.  Can’t wait to spend this time with you!

Read Full Post »

Since a number of you have read my article in this summer’s edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, “Crossing the Educational Rubicon: Charlotte Mason through High School” some questions have been posed to me since the article has variations from my Ancient History Through Literature Study Guide.  So I will clarify some things here as well as give you some things to be looking for as the upcoming school year unfolds.

First of all, the Ancient History Study Guide will stand quite well on its own, and there is no need to supplement or enhance unless you chose to do so.  Since my experience in teaching these various subject areas is always evolving and since the world of book publishing is continually changing, I often discover new jewels that can be added to a particular historical period that either weren’t available when I wrote the guide or I just didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to attempt them. Such is the case regarding the ancient period, as in the last few years countless titles have come out for young people on the various topics related to the classical world of ancient Sumer, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Also, I recently had the privilege of working with a wonderful and experienced teacher team-teaching this period to a class of high school girls!  That aroused a whole new level of research, interest, and delight in discovering the treasures of the ancients.  One work that was particularly meaningful was the Epic of Gilgamesh by Geraldine McCaughrean. McCaughrean–a British author, has been awarded the Whitbread Prize on the three occasions, as well as the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award.  As a contemporary children’s author you cannot attain a much higher level of honor and recognition for a body of work. So I recommend her highly and in the case of the Epic of Gilgamesh, she offers a wonderful way to introduce this historical work to your student in her book, Gilgamesh the Hero.

In the world of epic literature, Gilgamesh stands as the very first, and as a literary work offers a valuable way to introduce and learn the stages of the heroic quest (also referred to as the Hero’s Journey), a series of events that every heroic figure must go through to apotheosis or catharsis.  Once you’ve learned the hero’s quest you will never look at literature in the same way.  Indeed, analyzing heroic figures from the Bible takes on a richer and deeper meaning as well.  See my previous blog posting entitled “What is the Heroic Quest? under Ancient History.  So for those introducing this for the first time I recommend McCaughrean’s book or those teaching high school level can opt for a recent translation by David Ferry. Do preview before delving into this with your student.  Now, the exciting part is that in 3-4 weeks we will be offering a downloadable ebook with study notes for this epic which will make this approachable and user friendly.  So watch the blog for announcements.  We will also be working on notes for the Stanley Lombardo translations of both the Iliad and the Odyssey and making those available in the fall as well.  I will continue to post more on this topic in the coming days related to teaching this at the high school level and using the works of Edith Hamilton and Stanley Lombardo for those teaching at the high school level.

Read Full Post »

For those of you who love the D’Aulaire biographies I think you’ll be interested to read the following article which concerns the New York Public Librarian who first established the children’s library in America–Anne Carroll Moore. While she was the inspiration for Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire to first write and illustrate children’s books, her relationship with another beloved author–E.B. White was less than amiable. After having urged him for years to write a children’s book, she became his most stalwart critic and literally banned Stuart Little from the NY Public Library. Interesting and distressing, but true. E.B. White’s ability to stand in the face of her unremitting resistance to his work is a lesson for all of us in staying true to your mission and vision. If he hadn’t, one of the world’s most priceless and beloved children’s tales–Charlotte’s Web, would never have been written. Here is the link:
The Lion and the Mouse (more…)

Read Full Post »

I’ve just returned from CHEA–which for those readers outside of California is the California Home Educators annual conference held in Pasadena.  I spoke there a number of times and had the delightful opportunity to connect with many of you and I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog so we can continue to keep in touch!  We talked and talked and talked some more about good books and it was wonderful to hear your stories about how good books have changed your lives!  One beautiful young mother came up and shared how hearing me talk about the power of good books a few years ago had totally changed the direction of her family’s home schooling journey and delightfully so.  They decided to scrap the textbooks and entered on the wonderful journey of literature!  Thank you, Monica for sharing!  Loretta persevered in her commitment to the power of literature over a traditional academic approach despite the often disparaging comments of friends–you know, the “What do you actually do for school?” “Well, we read great literature.”  “Oh . . . really–is that all?”  Loretta’s disparaging friends were quite surprised to find her literature rich son accepted to West Point where he is currently in his third year.  Many testimonials like this encouraged us to continue to press on sharing our passion and commitment to the canon of literature for its own sake.

So here’s another all-time favorite for summer reading, family read-aloud, character building books.  This one is particularly dear to my heart because it offers fathers a sure bet for a read-aloud experience they will look forward to each night!  Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers is the powerful true story of young Ralph Moody, who in 1906 moves from New Hampshire to Colorado with his family.  Through young Ralph’s eyes we experience the hair-raising adventures of a passionate, impetuous young boy as he and his father attempt to carve out a ranching life amidst the perils of tornadoes, water wars, flash floods, and grinding poverty.  Ralph’s perspective offers a lens into the character of a father committed to raising Ralph to be honest at his core. The tender pathos of their conversations, the father’s profound strength when faced with overwhelming difficulties and his devotion to his son all offer lessons rare in our day.

The sequel to Little Britches is Man of the Family.  Following this there are 5 more titles in the series.  Every family should experience the wonder of these books at some time in the life of their family.  We are currently reading Man of the Family to our daughters aged 10 and 15.  They love them and beg for more most nights (excepting the ones where we don’t get to read-aloud time till after 9 or 10 pm!  Well, it is summer after all!).  For our family, this is probably the third time over the years reading this series and repeated readings only increases our devotion. If you’ve enjoyed these books with your family, please let us know your thoughts and how these books impacted you.

Read Full Post »

Hi!  My name is Rebecca and I’m Rea’s eldest daughter.  As she’s been busy with lots of projects she’s asked me to write some guest entries for her book blog.  As a bibliophile myself, I am happy to jump in!  I have my own blog over at http://scottybecca.wordpress.com where I write about my life in Scotland, books I love, and anything else that piques my interest.

I am excited to be doing a series of entries over the next few weeks on some of my favorite summer reads – ranging from picture books to literary classics.  Today we get to explore the world of picture books, an area that holds a special place in my heart. One should never outgrow a good picture book – the beauty of a simply crafted story accompanied by creative illustrations, these are books for all ages.

The Obadiah Books by Brinton Turkle: Thy Friend, Obadiah, Obadiah the Bold, and Rachel and Obadiah

These books were staples of my childhood, bringing alive a time and place far from my experience.  Set during the height of the whaling age these stories feature the Starbuck family, Quakers living on Nantucket amidst all the hustle and bustle of a vibrant shipping port community.  Obadiah, the youngest son, is the main protagonist and he’s very much a classically mischievious boy.  Brinton Turkle wrote and illustrated each of these books with a specific purpose in mind: “In writing, I use all sorts of tricks to capture the attention of my young audience: suspense, humor and even charm, when I can muster it. But no matter how successfully I may entertain, I am really up to something else: subversion. My abilities are implacably lined up against the hypocrisy, materialism, and brutality that so pervade our society. As my readers leave childhood behind, I hope that they will carry with them an appreciation for such alternatives as integrity, mutual respect, kindness and reverence for life. These alternatives are in my books and I pray that exposure to them will play a part in the construction of a better tomorrow.”  As a child, I never suspected these stories of being subversive – they were just good stories that worked into my small brain the ideas of kindness and generosity and courage.  The best stories are like that – they teach great lessons without being didactic.

Illustration from Obadiah the Bold

Turkel’s illustrations are so charming and I can remember looking at each detail as a child.  Although these were often read aloud to me, I also loved reading them myself, making them perfect for summer.

Wilfrid Gordon Mcdonal Partridge by Mem Fox was a newer discovery for me and I loved it from the first time I saw it.  How could I not?  The illustrations of delightfully rumpled children living in realistically messy houses are charming.

Illustration from Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

I remember hoping that the story was good enough to justify such great illustrations and was delighted to discover that the story is a treasure.  Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, who isn’t very old, is best friends with Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, who is very old.  In his heroic attempt to help Miss Nancy find her “lost” memory, Wilfrid has all sorts of adventures and the story beautifully illustrates the friendships that can exist across all ages.  Charming, whimsical, and moving, this is one of my all-time favorites.

The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola

Another later discovery, this book is a bit heart-wrenching.  The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola is based on an old Italian legend about a clown who offers the Christ Child the gift of his talent and the miracle that follows.  Much like the story of the widow’s mite it’s a good reminder that the best gift one can give is the gift of self.  I am also taken with the illustrations which seem to me to model those of stained glass windows.

Illustration from the Clown of God

As a side note, I love this book but do recognize that the ending can be upsetting.  Please preview it before sharing it with especially sensitive children.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen is a great bedtime story.  It’s as quiet as a wintery night and speaks of the special relationship between a young child and her father.  Expansive illustrations play well with the sparse text giving the story a bigness that is uncommon in a children’s book.

Illustration from Owl Moon

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into some of my favorite picture books.  I will be back with more and in the mean time, please share your favorite picture books.  I would love to hear about what you’ve been reading, what books you loved as a child, and even what books you’re planning on reading this summer.  I’m sure the other readers would love to hear too – so share your thoughts.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: