Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Giveaway for St. Nicholas Day!

As mentioned in my last post, to celebrate crossing 1,000 likes on my Good Books Facebook Page, I'm going to be hosting several giveaways throughout this holiday season.  

Here's the first one, a special "St. Nicholas Bundle" sponsored by EmiliasPost (the package will arrive at your house just in time for St. Nicholas Day!)...

The Saint Nicholas Bundle features:

  • 4 hand-illustrated postcards (featuring Saint Nicholas on the front and postcard design on back)
  • 1 bag of St. Nicholas chocolate gold coins (by Paidea Classics)
  • 1 handmade St. Nicholas cookie cutter with a cookie recipe
  • 1 “Life of St. Nicholas” card with instructions for celebrating his feast day

This is seriously the sweetest bundle of goodies from EmiliasPost, an Etsy shop that a young friend of mine recently started.  As a busy mom, she and a friend wanted to find some way they could help Syrian refugees - so they came up with the idea of selling the bundles on her Etsy page to benefit IOCC's Syrian Relief Fund

Traditionally, the chocolate gold coins are put in children's shoes that have been left out on the night of December 5th for St. Nicholas' visit.  But they make great stocking stuffers too!

I can't fail to mention this year's book recommendation for St. Nicholas Day on December 6th:  St. Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins by Jim Forest, luminously illustrated by Vladislav Andreyev. 

...the popular perception of Saint Nicholas today diverges greatly from his original veneration as a compassionate almsgiver and defender of the poor. Saint Nicholas has been reduced to the pop culture fi gure of Santa Claus, a jolly old man who brings presents to good little boys and girls. Th is book reacquaints those boys and girls with the authentic Santa Claus—Nicholas, a man who found greatness not simply in spreading "good cheer," but in being a true icon of Jesus Christ in word and deed.

Just as St. Nicholas gave gold coins to help the poor, I hope you take time this Advent season to teach your children to consider those who are poor and needy.

Everybody does Black Friday shopping, how about some Advent Giving...
I know this is a busy time with Thanksgiving approaching and with December right around the corner!  But I hope you'll stop by EmiliasPost Etsy Shop and (in the spirit of St. Nicholas) consider purchasing a St. Nicholas Bundle to send to someone special this December.
The St. Nicholas Bundles are $20, which includes shipping; 100% of the proceeds goes to IOCC Syrian Relief. You can also donate directly through IOCC here.

But back to my Celebratory GIVEAWAY! 
Leave a comment for your chance to win this bundle of joy...

  • You have from today through Sunday, November 28, 2015 to post a comment here and/or on Facebook for a chance to win the St. Nicholas Bundle.
  • Comments closed at midnight.  
  • Winner announced on Monday, November 30, 2015. 

Please watch and come back to see if you're the winner, then email me your address so EmiliasPost can get the bundle mailed out to you in time for St. Nicholas Day!

One Thousand Facebook Followers? Kindred Spirits!

Wow, yesterday my Good Books For Young Souls Facebook Page hit 1,000 "likes"!  I realize that many of you who follow my blog, follow me on Facebook as well - so thank you!  And thanks to all you Facebook followers who've made it over here to the blog, and take time to read my posts!

To celebrate, I'm planning some fun giveaways.  Watch Facebook for updates!

Nice to know there are so many "Kindred Spirits" out there in Facebookland who enjoy children's books as much as I do!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Advent Book Calendars!

It can be challenging to find ways to help children keep their focus on the birth of Christ during the annual "Countdown to Santa and Christmas Presents" that our frenzied culture of consumers gets so caught up in. Well, thank goodness for another kind of countdown: Advent, a time of joyous expectation.

An Advent Calendar of Christmas Books: I'd like to share some ideas for incorporating beautiful Christmas picture books into your family traditions during this time of anticipation. It takes a little planning, but it's worth the forethought and effort...
photo - detailgalblog

1- You need to determine how many books you need - this will depend on how many days leading up to Christmas you'd like to do this activity (during all of Advent - from November 15, if you're Eastern Orthodox, or the 25 days of December - or maybe just the last week leading up to Christmas).

2- Need book recommendations? Click here for my Christmas Book Resource Page, if you need book recommendations.


3- Choose the books. Gather Christmas books you already have. This is also a nice way to start collecting Christmas picture books - buy a few a year to add in!  You can also do what my daughter does: add library books - just be sure to label and read the ones from the library first, so they won't be overdue.


4- Decide how you want to display your Advent Calendar of Books.  Some families put them in a basket, wrapped or unwrapped; others wrap them up and number them so their children can open one each night.  Either way, it's a fun read aloud activity for the whole family!

5- Challenged for time? If you don't have time to get all these books, you might be interested in one Advent Storybook, with a reading for each night of December, or The Story of Christmas, a book set and advent calendar.  You can find both on Amazon - pictured below.

Whatever you choose to do, I pray you have a blessed Advent, in preparation for the coming of our Lord at his Nativity!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Practicing Thanksgiving with Tomie dePaola

Today I practiced Thanksgiving (the table, not the food) in order to showcase a sweet book that helps children give thought to the important act of giving thanks. It's by Tomie dePaola.

I don't know about you, but when I'm planning a special event, I like to do a practice run of my table-scape. Especially for holiday celebrations.

This year I won't be hosting Thanksgiving (we will be visiting my daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons in New York!)  But the temperatures here in Southern California have finally started falling, so it actually feels like fall - prompting me to break out my new (old) brown ironstone transferware, and celebrate with this little photo shoot!

In the same way that we practice setting our table, we need to help our children practice being thankful!  That's where this joyous book by Tomie de Paola comes in...(want to mention that I got my dishes and this book on Ebay!)

Let he whole Earth Sing Praise (2011) is a sweet and simple book, with text inspired by Old Testament Scripture and artwork styled after designs and embroideries of the Otomi people from the mountain villages around San Pablito, in Puebla, Mexico.

Joy is to be found everywhere - in the sun and moon, stars and comets, mountains and rivers, plants and creatures...in everything, give thanks!

I'm thankful for all my readers, and am offering a Fall Giveaway for the first person to leave a comment here!  It's a stenciled burlap "Happy Thanksgiving" Banner...it comes in three pieces, but they can be strung together in one long banner, or however you'd like.

Here's a Thanksgiving giveaway for everyone -  this lovely quote from St. Basil the Great:
When you sit down to eat, pray. 
When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. 
If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. 
When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. 
When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. 
Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator. 
-St. Basil the Great

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Cats

“The name that no human research can discover-- 
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess. 
When you notice a cat in profound meditation, 
The reason, I tell you, is always the same: 
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation 
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name: 
His ineffable effable 
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.” 
 ― T.S. Eliot, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

Some Popular Book Cats...

Go here for my past post about T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.  (Edward Gorey's illustrations are amazing!)

You can read my review of The Cat at Night by Dahlov Ipcar here.

Who wouldn't be smitten with The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter?

Or the story of Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag?

Paul Galdone's telling and illustrations of the Three Little Kittens nursery rhyme is adorable.

My grandson's choice would be Pete the Cat - all the stories are rollicking good fun - from Eric Litwin - with illustrations by James Dean.

And don't forget this guy...

Last, but certainly not least, I can't leave out Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat...

Update, November 3, 2015:  Hat tip to my blogger friend, artist and author Valerie Greeley (you'll find her over at Acornmoon) for a wonderful addition to this list, The Molehouse Cat.  I had never heard of this lovely cat story, but found an amazing Youtube video of the book that I've embedded below.  Enjoy!!!!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Some Vintage Goodies On My October Bookshelf!

I spent yesterday gathering some October/Fall themed books off my shelf; and today I'm trying to decide which volumes to put in a book basket I'm assembling for our church's annual Oktoberfest Silent Auction.

This year some of the proceeds from our annual fundraiser will go to IOCC's Syrian Relief Fund.  Our church youth group and women's group are also making emergency kits to send in for Syrian Refugees.  (For more information about how to donate, go here.)

About the fabulous fall line-up of books you see pictured.  Most are vintage, but I'll start with the new ones first...

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the new illustrated edition from Jim Kay!

I can't tell you how excited I've been to see this book in person.  It will not disappoint, and will be such a great read aloud for fall (or anytime).

Jim Kay's illustration of "the Boy Who Lived".
Inside cover endpaper loveliness - Hogwarts.
One of my favorite illustrations - Hagrid and Harry.

Murder at Mansfield Park (2010), by Lynn Shepard.  I'm having a bit of trouble getting into and excited about this one.  I enjoyed Death Comes to Pemberly (2013) by P.D. James more, but maybe that's because I liked Pride and Prejudice more than Mansfield Park in the first place?  (Young adult)

Whoo's There: A Bedtime Shadow Book (2005), by Heather Zschock, illustrated by Martha Day Zschock.  This is such a fun and unique book!  You read it with the aid of a flashlight, which you shine through the page ''windows'' to cast pictures on the wall as you read with your child at night.

Sarah, Plain, and Tall (1985), by Patricia MacLachlan.  2015 marks Sarah's 30th Anniversary of publication, so I couldn't leave out this classic Newbery Medal winner! Sarah, Plain and Tall gently explores themes of abandonment, loss, and love. It's a surprisingly short book that delves deeply into the characters of Sarah and the family she joins to wife and mother.  Below is the edition I grew up with...

Pumpkin, Pumpkin (1986), by Jeanne Titherington.  Simple story in a sweetly illustrated picture book for fall: A young boy named Jamie plants a pumpkin seed in the spring and, after watching it grow all summer, carves a face in it for Halloween! But best of all, he saves some seeds that he will plant again next spring. (ages 2-4)

Costumes for Nursery Tale Characters, (1975), by Jean Greenhowe.  Let's hear it for Literary Costumes! (go here for my previous post)  I found this fun vintage book at my library bookstore, and couldn't pass it up.  Starting with a basic one-piece tunic and pants pattern, some of the character costumes include Cinderella, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little Miss Muffet, and Little Red Riding Hood.

Now all I need to do is make a final decision about how to pack my basket of books for the silent auction.  And if I have time, I might put together a centerpiece basket of fall foliage to auction off as well, like the one pictured below that I saw at my sister's church over the weekend!  Happy October!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"The Secret Lives of Animals" - Blog Tour & Publisher's Giveaway!

Do you have a child who loves random facts about animals?  I'm happy today to be one of the stop-offs along a blog tour introducing a brand new not-to-be-missed book, The Secret Lives of Animals.

The book's intriguing subtitle will grab the attention of its target audience: kids aged 6-12...
1,001 Tidbits, Oddities & Amazing Facts about North America's Coolest Animals

I just love this book.  When my review copy arrived, I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it and immediately sought the opinions of four experts: my three home-schooled goddaughters and their mom.  They all agreed that it's a fun book, and one they would enjoy sitting down together with! 

The authors, Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer have done an excellent job with the text which is at once informative and engaging. Their enthusiasm for the world of animals and nature is contagious! (This is their second book collaboration.  Their first was The Kids' Outdoor Adventure Book.)  

Having written a volume that's perfect for home schooled or traditionally schooled children, Ken and Stacy are inviting kids to become privy to lots of lots of random amazing facts and secrets about North American animals.

Take for example, the OWL:
Owls fascinate people all over the world.  They have gained a lot of popularity in the past several years, maybe in part because of Harry Potter.  Actually, there have been lots of owl characters in movies and literature over the years...

Little Known Facts
1. While owls mostly stick to themselves, a group of owls is called a parliament.
2. It might seem that owls can turn their heads all the way around, but that's not really the case.  They can turn their heads about 270 degrees but not a full 360 degrees.
3. Some owls often have to survive in the cold because their range goes well into northern areas.  One thing that allows them to do this is having feathers that go all the way down on their feet too.
4. Owls don't create (or excavate) their own nests out of trees.  Instead they find nests that have been created by other birds...
...and it goes on and on!  Twelve facts in all for the owl!

The chapters are organized by animal classifications. There are a couple of pages devoted to every animal, with a nice illustration by Rachel Riordan for each one. At the back of the book there's also an index of animals by state and province. 

In addition to the "little known facts" about each animal, your child will read about the animals' sizes, what they eat, who eats them, and where they hang out.  There are also science Q&A's, animal "all star picks" from around the world, and "go outside" challenges.

Shoes, book, and t-shirt giveaway! Click to enter publisher's giveaway.


The publisher is doing a cool giveaway, which you can learn about and enter by going HERE.  (There’s an added fun part…whoever wins gets to choose a friend to send a book and t-shirt to as well!)

The Secret Lives of Animals is available on Amazon and from Barnes and Noble.