Monday, March 2, 2015

At the Water's Edge

 At the Water's Edge

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
The very first word in this book had me hooked.   Drumnadrochit.  I know the what’s and where’s of Drumnadrochit.   It’s a small place in Scotland, on the shore of Loch Ness.  And we were there! So, yes, immediately, I was hooked.

But it didn’t take long before I was pulled into the story.  Set during World War II Ellis and Maddie Hyde, a very mismatched couple, find themselves ostracized from Ellis’ wealthy family in Philadelphia.  Ellis, a cad with a capital “C” decides the only way to win his way back into his father’s graces, and his bank account, is to go to Scotland and find the Loch Ness monster for real.  Not the one his father faked finding years ago. 

Maddie, Ellis and Hank, Ellis’s other half, travel the u-boat infested Atlantic to Scotland and set up shop in a small inn on the shores of the Loch.  Ellis and Hank’s snobbery turns everyone against them. The villagers can’t quite accept two able bodied young men such as Ellis and Hank not being in the war.  Ellis is color blind and Hank has flat feet.  War has reached all corners of Europe and the little village of Drumnadrochit is no exception.  Maddie who is left behind during their excursions endears herself to the people in the village by helping out, learning, and sharing. 

Whether you believe in the Loch Ness monster or not, many have tried to either prove or put to rest the stories.  Don’t decide because of the setting and the legend that this book isn’t worth your time.  It turns out that monsters aren’t just in the lake. 
This book was made available through Edelweiss Above the Treeline




Friday, February 27, 2015

This week's children's books

This week a little guy in Elizabeth's class came up to me and said, "I like Tuesdays best because you come in and read to us."  Holy cow!  Go ahead, make my day!

 This is a new book.  I liked it immediately for the art work but when I got to the end I had a big smile on my face.  Anytime a book does that, it's mine.  Imagine catching a little one out and hearing a far fetched excuse about how the thing really went down.  We are being told this story by someone who is explaining why a sandwich is gone.  We are told bear ate it and just how bear managed to do that.  The ending is a surprise. 
 This is one of my all time favorites.  The author has gone on to write several more books featuring the Good Knight and the three little dragons but I like this one the best.  First, though, we talk about the two different kinds of night/knight and how they sound the same but are spelled differently and mean something different.  The good knight is standing guard at the top of a crumbly, tumbly tower when he hears a very loud roar.  He goes to investigate and finds a cave with a dragon dressed in jammies asking for a glass of water.  He doesn't know what to think, but because he is a good knight he gives a drink to the dragon.  And so on with dragon two wanting something and dragon three wanting something.  Just picture your little dragons stalling bedtime and you get the picture. Very cute.
Anytime David Catrow illustrates a picture book you just have to take notice.  Molly Lou Melon stands just taller than her dog and is the smallest girl in first grade.  She has buck teeth she can stack coins on and sings like a frog and is fumble fingered. But her grandma told her to "walk proud and the world will look up to you." "Smile big and the world will smile right alongside you." "Sing out clear and strong and the world will cry tears of joy." "Believe in yourself and the world will believe in you too."  So she did.  But then Molly Lou Melon moved to a new city and a new school and had to confront bully Ronald Durkin everyday.  Oh, my, you will love Molly Lou Melon, too, when you use her to illustrate self esteem or bullying. 
 Oops, here's another with David Catrow illustrations.   This one is written as a letter from Dad to the kids who are visiting Grandma.  It's a tribute to the very large tree in their yard.  A tree saved when the new house was going to be built and then endeared itself to the family through the years. Picnics beneath, swings and hammocks, shade, clothesline holder, hiding place, third base, you get the picture.  It's also the story of endurance, noticing the things that hold a family together,  appreciation for a good friend, and understanding.
 This is another new book this season.  Mr. Panda has a box of donuts and he asks his friends, one by one, if they would like one.  Not liking how they respond, he tells them they can't have one and walks away.  But one, just one animal answers correctly and is rewarded for having good manners.  Very simple pictures, very simple story with a very big message about manners.
The children of the village gather for stories on Babba Zarrah's knitted story blanket. Babba Zarrah notices one day that one of the children has a hole in his socks, but because the winter snow is deep she can't get out to buy wool. She unravels a bit of the blanket and knits socks then anonymously  leaves them for the little boy.  One by one as she sees the need, the villagers and children receive knitted scarves, hats, mittens, etc. but no one knows who they're from until one day the children notice there's no blanket left.  Everyone decides to repay an anonymous kindness with more anonymous kindness. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shadows over Paradise

Product Details

Shadows over Paradise by Isabel Wolff 

Lest you think by the title and cover this is a carefree beach book, guess again.  Shadows over Paradise goes deep. 

Jenni Clark is a ghost writer. Her name is never on the cover, yet she’s immersed herself into the lives of many people and presented them to the world.  When Jenni is approached to write the memoir of Klara, she accepts but with reservation after she finds out where Klara lives.  Klara lives in a town Jenni never wanted to go near again in her life.

Klara’s memoir is a difficult one for all of us.  We are well aware of the Holocaust and the horrors of war and genocide in Europe but we are maybe not so familiar with the atrocities the Japanese delivered on prisoners and residents in occupied territories during World War II.  Klara was one of those people and her story brings it all to the surface again for herself and ultimately for her family. It isn’t pretty but finally just telling the story helps Klara finally understand it.  

While spending time with Klara in this town Jenni wanted to forget, her story, too, comes to the surface and is revealed not only to us but to the people in Jenni’s life who were completely unaware of the burden she carried.

We who don’t know as much as we should of the war’s affect in the Pacific should take note.

This book was provided by Edelweiss Above the Treeline


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

To read or not to read...

You're all wondering aren't you?  Wondering why it seems this blog has turned into a book review column and whether I've abandoned quilting.  I know this works on your mind causing you to toss and turn all night.  Well, truth is, I have  been reading a lot more lately and the adult books I post about are ones I've received in advance of publication with the promise that when I finish them I would post a response on my blog, on Goodreads and send one back to the publisher showing I'm making good on my promise. Ideally, these are supposed to be posted no sooner than two weeks before publication.  I kind of hold to that line.  Kind of. The list is long and life is short!  But I won't apologize for book posts. Reading is a huge part of my life. 

But it isn't all I've been doing.  The quilting is a little stagnant right now but not entirely.

The Santa quilt was ready to be pinned but first I noticed the stripe fabric needed to be cut away from his face because you could see it. 

Then I pinned him.  It was tricky because while making the front and back I measured and measured and measured to make sure the figures lined up perfectly.  It worked,  but put the batting in and suddenly I couldn't feel the bottom Santa.  So it took awhile but I think I got it.  He's a simple quilted answer to a problem.  I think it will be good.

Remember the much loved quilt whose binding had gone raw?  The consensus after inspection in person from friends Marilyn and Jan was to go over the old.  I'll trim away the raggedy strings.  But then the challenge was finding something that worked for a new binding.  The quilt is faded from use and washing and I had to find something that looked like it belonged to the quilt.
 I searched - without having the quilt with me - and found this.  The store kindly gave me a strip to bring home. I thought it was good.
So I went back to the store and bought it.   

I am going to scissor fussy cut it so the border design will be absolutely straight.  I think I did a pretty good job finding something that fits!

Our weather has been brutally cold and today it's snowing yet again. I think tomorrow is the meteorological first day of spring.  Well, looking out the window now there's a long, long way to go.  No pansies this March.

 Today on the way to read at the grandgirls' school I passed these two barns.  Cold and windy and bitter as it was I stopped.  It's hard to see the highland cow ( in Scots it comes out sounding like "highlun coo" ) standing just outside the barn door but the snowbank between us was too tall to climb to get closer and the gale force wind just didn't play nice.  Now that I know where the cow lives I'll come back another day.
 I took a different road to the school and found this!   I screeched on the brakes when I saw the apple trees perfectly framed in this door.
 This might be my favorite barn so far.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Picture books

Can't believe I did this.  Monday Friends Marilyn and Jan were here for a playdate and I didn't take any stitching pictures to show!!!  I blame the weather.  We're a little numb right now with cold.  Very cold.  Lots of snow last weekend and this week.  This whole winter thing has overstayed its welcome.

So today I will show you more of the books I've read to the kids in my grandgirls' classes.  The first four I read yesterday, the last two are from a few weeks ago.  If you have little ones in your life, you can truly be safe choosing these for your lap times.  They are kid tested and approved.

 The kids always like hearing that a story is true.  Who hasn't heard of Winnie-the-Pooh?  This is the story of the man who bought a bear cub at a train station in Winnipeg, Canada during World War I and when he was deployed to England, Winnie went along.  Because Winnie was raised as a pet she was remarkably tame.  The war continued and Winnie had to be somewhere safe so the London Zoo was chosen.  As time went by it was decided the zoo should be her permanent home.  She was so tame children were allowed to ride her and hand feed her!  One of those children was Christopher Robin.  
It doesn't take much to set us apart from others.  In this case Salma and Lily, inseparable best friends,  make the mistake of commenting on each other's sandwiches at lunch one day.  A nasty food fight is the result - along with a visit to the principal's office.  When things calm down the girls timidly ask each other if they might like to TRY each other's sandwiches.  The result is a collaboration that involves opening the palates of everyone in the school.  This is such a simple way of inviting us all to be a little more tolerant of differences in cultures.  
 Adelaide wanted me to read this one.  The King of Little Things is in charge of the small objects in our lives that we don't think about but wouldn't want to live without.  Buttons, forks, screws, coins, spools of thread, keys etc.  King Normous wants everything in every kingdom to be his and sets forth acquiring.  When he thinks he's finished and everything is his to control he is informed of the existence of the King of Little Things.  Off to the dungeon!  But the little things are loyal to their king and rebel.  King Normous discovers the little things really are very important.
I use this one to talk about using your imagination.  Pretend play.   Elizabeti's mother has a new baby and Elizabeti wants a doll.  But there are no dolls.  She finds a rock that is just the right size to be her doll and names her Eva.  She takes good care of it, mimicking the things her mother does for the baby.  But unwittingly, Eva is lost!  In resolving the story the kids also see what other children do for toys when no stores are available.  After I read it, always a dozen hands go up with examples of how someone pretends. 
 This title is a show stopper.  I remember the look on her face the first time I told Elizabeth about this book.  It was during a fussy eating spell when she decided what she ate yesterday she didn't like anymore.  It never fails to stop the clock and you will, within minutes, find yourself with a child on your lap reading this.    Momma Crocodile fixes all good things for Achilles to eat but this particular day none of his favorites will do.  "I'd really like to eat a child," he says.  And nothing she can offer him will do.  Not even breaking her own rules and plying him with chocolate cake for breakfast.  He goes off to find a child.  And he does find one.  But he discovers she is much bigger than he is and she does a little too much cootchy coo.  Achilles, embarrassed, goes back home to eat the good food his mother has for him so someday he will grow big enough "to eat a child."   This one never fails.

This is one of those books that starts on the inside front cover.  Don't skip to the first written page (in fact, never skip to the first written page.  All picture books start with the cover.  Start there when you read.) because the things happening on the inside cover are important to the story.  A huge wheel of cheese falls from a wagon and goes rolling down the hill and off a cliff, landing on Squirrel's branch.  He thinks the moon landed in his tree and his first thought is fear that someone will think he stole the moon.  He sets off to fix this predicament.   This story is very funny, beautifully illustrated and the end will put a smile on your face.   This story is told very much through the pictures.  You talk and observe your way through as much as you read.  There are very few words.  I like this.  I like that a child can pick up a book and 'read' the story for themselves by spending time with the pictures.  If you spend lap time observing and picture talking your way through books your little ones will learn 'slow time' is important and their observational skills will be all the better for it.  Lap time vs. screen time....hmmm.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quilty question

Yes!  A quilty question, not a book review!  

My DIL asked if this binding could be fixed.  It's the quilt Friend Marilyn and I made for her when she and my son were engaged.  It's been a much loved and used quilt and she's washed it a lot.  A lot. Now the binding all the way around has frayed and split.  I know I can put a new binding on, but the advice I need is which way is better?  Do I take the old binding off or put the new one over the old?   I have Friend Marilyn's advice and it's not that I don't like or believe what she said, I just wonder if there is a general consensus out there about the right way to do this.  Take it off or go over it?  What do you say?

I absolutely love seeing this quilt so used and loved.  They were not afraid to make this quilt a part of their lives. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Novel Interiors by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti
Novel Interiors – Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature  by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti  Photographs by Ivan Terestechenko


The back cover of this book says "You don't just read a good book you inhabit it."  And oh, goodness, from the front cover to the end we inhabit this book!
Would you, if you could, build a room for your home, for yourself, inspired by your favorite piece of literature? 

The author of this gorgeous book offers us interiors that classic authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot would be comfortable in. The formal elegance of Evelyn Waugh, Henry James and Edith Wharton, the glamour Fitzgarald’s Gatsby and the tribute to the earth found in the works of Lawrence, Cather and Bronte and Hardy.

The pages are scattered with quotes from the works of these authors and many, many more, the design style is such that we would expect to see one of our favorite authors sitting at the table or coming round the corner into the room, startled that we were there, much as the quotes made me feel when poring over the pages and finding a tidbit from one of their books or the author themselves tucked into a spot on the page. ‘Oh, hello!  You’re home today?”

We are given gorgeous photography, explanation of style and design tips if we want to try to create the style of our author and those wonderful affirming quotes everywhere.

I can’t even imagine being able to replicate the charms of these rooms but that would not have stopped me from purchasing this book just to look over and over again at the photos. I did find several ideas that I certainly can incorporate into my home or create a corner that makes me feel like these rooms do. It’s lush, it’s beautiful, it’s delightful. Yum!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.