Wednesday, March 04, 2015

February Book List

Favorite Picture Books

Nature Adventures by  and 
Coming straight from the British Isle, this nature book combines the land of the poets and the land of nature with illustrations that draw me in to examining every detail with delight and interest. I've been renewing this book with the intention of using it to help me practice my drawing skills. But so far, no drawing has happened. There are bits of poetry and lyrics interspersed among the illustrated natural elements quoted by the young explorers depicted in the book. And it works. I love this book.

Mr. Brown's Fantastic Hat by  
I read this book while standing in front of the holds shelf in our small village library branch. (The intended borrower's last name being close enough to mine so that I could hardly help but notice what they had requested.) The story of a lonely bear who wears a hat that grows into a birdhouse of sorts is clever, but it is the ending that really made me smile at this book. The illustrations are warm and soft and just right.  This author/illustrator has other stories and retellings that look just as delightful.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Or, How Toys Become Real by , illustrated by 
I'll keep this short. I had never read this book until a couple of weeks ago. I hang my head in shame. It was wonderful and my youngest stuffed animal loved soaked it all in as we sat on the couch and read it together at her request. And afterwards, the bunny I made her for Christmas became The Velveteen Rabbit. What a dear little story. Don't be like me and wait until you're old to read this. 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
Another Brian Floca book. Another home run. This time the story of Apollo 11. It is a great retelling, suitable for good range of readers. There are diagrams and explanations for older readers and the rhythmic prose and onomatopoeia words for the younger crowd. And the illustrations take you to the moon and back. Look for his other books, they are all great.

G is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book by David M. Schwartz, illustrated by Marissa Moss
Let's just say, that when I read the page B is for Binary, the whole concept finally clicked after years of being married to an electrical engineer turned software engineer. The examples and charts totally made sense to me. Of course there are other great pages and math concepts explored and explained, but I will always praise this book for giving me a binary breakthrough. An interesting book idea and well executed. It's a good book to add to a Morning Time routine, reading one or two letters a day together.

The Mouse Mansion by Karina Schaapman
If you have a small person who loves Sylvan/Calico Critters or similar creatures in your home, this book will be poured over and plans to recreate the mansion will be talked of for many days straight. It was a winner and has been asked for us to get our own copy, please. The story follows in chapters two mice friends who have various adventures in and around the mansion that they share with other friends and family. And of course the house is amazing and is the result of many years of labor for the author. Be prepared to be asked for both the house and the book.

Chapter Books

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Alan Lee
I'm putting this under chapter books, even though this is a fully illustrated book. I recently wrote about me reading this book on my own and keeping a notebook on the story. This is Rosemary Sutcliff's retelling of Homer's The Story of the Iliad accompanied by illustrations by Alan Lee of The Lord of the Rings fame. Together this epic story of the fall of Troy unfolds before your eyes and makes it memorable. The same writing and illustrating team also wrote The Wanderings of Odysseus which we plan to read next.

Classics and Other Such Books

The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge
I wanted to like this Goudge novel more than I did. For me, it started off with such promise, but fell off the wagon somewhere near the middle where all the characters in turn seemed to indulge in strange mind wanderings that seemed to leave me the reader behind and wondering where it all went wrong when this novel is beloved by so many. Sigh. I'm sure it must just be me, so please don't let my confusion get in the way of you having a turn. Anyways, as they say, there are other fish in the sea.


Hungry Planet by  and 
I saw this book and the next one featured on the popular Brainpickings website. I couldn't read all the stories that accompanied each family, but I spent time looking at each family's week worth of groceries which was extremely interesting and enlightening. The comparisons and observations could last a lifetime and this book could easily be done ever fifty years(or less) for a social commentary on global eaters. Slightly dated, but still interesting.

Where Children Sleep by James Mollison
Another interesting social commentary this time on childhoods around the world. I have to say though that many of the children's bedrooms and lifestyles featured from North America, were unlike any children I have ever met in my lifetime. Those were definitely the where did they find these people moments.  And your heart breaks for what many children have to live in or out of in some cases. Good books to keep around as reminders.

The Path Through the Trees by Christopher Milne
This is the second book in Milne's memoir trilogy and was another great read for me. Other than the chapters where he expounds on his atheism, I soaked up every word and lived in his world for weeks.
The last book apparently spends even more time on his atheistic worldview which makes it likely that I won't be able to enjoy it when I can find a copy. But these first two books, The Enchanted Places and this one are wonderful reads. I'm almost done his book of essays and will have something to say about that next month if all goes according to my reading plan.

A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse by Mimi Thorisson, photography by Oddur Thorisson
As a general rule, I don't read cookbooks, I look at them, I use them, I refer to them, I buy them, but I don't actually sit down and read the whole thing in successive evenings. But Mimi, how could I not?
I will say up front, I'm not sure how many of the recipes I would actually make start to finish, but I can certainly add in her techniques to liven up the cooking I do now. But I think I will be getting my copy and will at some point want to try some of her gorgeous recipes. It's a great book to read and enjoy even if you're not in your kitchen looking for dinner inspiration. Well done, Mimi and Oddur.

1 comment:

  1. We ordered Moon shot as an inspiration for the 2015 lego contest. The theme is space this year and we were having a hard time getting excited about it. I really like Brain Floca's style.

    I refuse to look at Mimi Thorisson's perfection in every realm for even another second. She is so glorious I can't bear it.

    That where children sleep one was a difficult read. It was hard to look at my soft, clean bed after seeing the lack of any comfort in these little ones lives.

    Good list, again.


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