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)

Monday, May 18, 2015

My FIVE Year Blog-iversary Adventure (and Giveaway: 5 Years, 5 Gifts, 5 Winners!)

"Would you like an adventure now?
Or would you like to have your tea first?"
- Peter Pan
Wendy said "tea first", quickly.

What were you doing five years ago? It's hard to believe that in May 2010, just before Mother's Day, I became "WendyLady@Good Books" and started this blog ADVENTURE!  I'm so happy that 703 posts later - even after a "Bookish" shop endeavor and two grandchildren - I'm still here, blogging away!

And an added piece of fun news - today I was surprised to discover that Good Books For Young Souls is on the OrthodoxWiki "Orthodox Blogs" page under the Children and Education heading. Be sure and visit the page - there are lots of great Orthodox blogs linked there. I was so excited I took a screen shot of the page from my phone! I feel very honored to be included.


Three important people were the inspiration for this blog: David, Mary, and Jonny - my own children, who are now all grown up! Years of reading aloud and homeschooling gave us quite a large look into the world of literature...we enjoyed discovering stories that were captivating, characters that were endearing, and words that were transporting.

Mother's Day 2015, with my kids.

These days I enjoy sharing and exchanging old favorites with other parents, grandparents, teachers...in person, through my blog, and on Facebook and Pinterest.

And with the help of my daughter, I'm constantly discovering new books for my grandchildren at local libraries and bookstores.

With my grandson and goddaughter at my favorite Orange County
children's bookstore,Once Upon a Storybook.

Please join me in celebrating these past five years of books and blogging.  My little "Bookish" shop is gone (read my "farewell" here), but I've been saving some items for my readers for just such an occasion...today I've got 5 gifts for 5 winners!  Leave a comment by Sunday, May 24, 2015 at midnight to enter the giveaway.

But wait! Tea First!  The first twelve (12) commenters will receive a "Tea for Two" greeting card (Cavallini & Co.), along with some tasty tea bags. 

  • Leave a comment here on this blog post to enter the giveaway.
  • Please specify which gift(s) you'd like to enter to win (i.e. Gift #1 and #3).  If you don't specify, you'll be entered for Gifts #1-5 (but you will be randomly picked to win only one of them).
  • 5 Gifts/5 Different Winners
  • Please comment only once (but remember, you can specify more then one gift when you comment.)
  • First 12 commenters will receive a "Tea for Two" greeting card and some tasty tea bags! 
  • Comments must be entered by Sunday, May 24, 2015, no later than midnight PST.
  • Winners announced on Monday, May 25, 2015.

GIFT #1:  Bookish Pendant
"So many books, so little time" pendant,
bronze, on a 27" chain.  

GIFT #2:  Bookplates
 Cavallini & Co. "My Book" Bookplates (two packs of 18)

GIFT #3:  Vintage ABC rubber stamps from Cavallini & Co.
Lowercase Alphabet mounted rubber stamps.

GIFT #4:  Sticky Memo Pads (2 packs of 3)
1 set of Vintage Office sticky memo pads, 
1 set of Vintage Cats

GIFT #5:  Orthodox Children's Book
A Child's Guide to the Divine Liturgy
New from Ancient Faith publishing - reviewed here.

Rules (one more time):
  • Leave a comment here on this blog post to enter the giveaway.
  • Please specify which gift(s) you'd like to enter to win (i.e. Gift #1 and #3).  If you don't specify, you'll be entered for Gifts #1-5 (but you will be randomly picked to win only one of them).
  • 5 Gifts/5 Different Winners
  • Please comment only once (but remember, you can specify more then one gift when you comment.)
  • First 12 commenters will receive a "Tea for Two" greeting card and some tasty tea bags! 
  • Comments must be entered by Sunday, May 24, 2015, no later than midnight PST.
  • Winners announced on Monday, May 25, 2015.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Baked with Love

My maternal grandmother, "Grandma", fell asleep in the Lord on this day 20 years ago!  An accomplished musician and music lover, she was the church organist at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN for many years.  She was also a piano teacher.

Three generations: my Grandma, my Mom,
and me.

But that didn't mean much to us, her six grandchildren.  What mattered to us was her love, given freely in hugs, a listening ear and thankful heart, and her homemade chocolate chip cookies!  The best I've ever had...probably because they were baked with so much love!

I treasure my copy of her recipe, carefully written in her own handwriting.  It makes me feel all warm and safe inside to see her precise lettering - I'm a little girl again, at her side in her retro kitchen.

And tonight in my kitchen, it was almost as if she was here with me as I leveled off the flour in the measuring cup with the back of a butter knife, just like she taught me.  But in reality I was creating new memories, as I let my grandson help stir the chocolate chips into the batter and lick the spoon.

Every year I try to make up a batch of her cookies on the anniversary of her death or on her birthday. But they never taste quite as good as hers did!

Tomorrow, my grandson and I will have the cookies with some milk.
And we'll look at old photos of Great-Great Grandma, whom he never met.
And we'll probably read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. 
And laugh and laugh.
My Grandma would love it!
And she'll laugh too, as she watches from Heaven.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Some Help for Big Brother From Eloise Wilkin...Bringing Home The New Baby!

Today was the day!  
My new little grandson Edward came home!  
And I had the perfect book for his Big Brother Peter...

We read Esther and Eloise Wilkin's The New Baby together several times before Mommy and Daddy arrived.  The little girl in the story has a doll named "Baby Dear" (more about that at the end of my post).  

My grandson showed the book to some of his favorite stuffed animals...

Just like the little girl in the story, he was in full anticipation of 
The Homecoming...

He had practiced being gentle with his stuffed animals so he could hold Mommy's new baby, just like the little girl we read about...

I think Big Brother did a pretty good job!
Welcome home, Edward!

Fun trivia bout this book: 

  • Eloise Wilkin (1904-1987), who illustrated more than 50 books for Little Golden Books, often illustrated the titles of her sister, children's author Esther Burns Wilkin (who married Eloise's brother-in-law).
  • Eloise often used her own children as models for the children in her books, and later used her grandchildren as models.
  • In 1960, Vogue Dolls, Inc. launched the first doll designed by Eloise Wilkin. "Baby Dear" came in 12 and 18 inch-sizes and sold for $6 and $12 respectively.  
  • In all, Eloise designed eight dolls for Vogue and Madame Alexander. 
  • Baby Dear and So Big, both written by Esther Wilkin and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, feature the Eloise Wilkin dolls.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Grand-Baby #2 Update...

My daughter and I have been reading Olivier Dunrea's cute book, Ollie, to my grandson since before Easter, in anticipation of the birth of "Baby Brother".

Like Ollie, Baby Brother has been waiting until he is ready.

And like Gossie and Gertie, we've been waiting......and waiting.

And yesterday, Baby Brother finally arrived!!!!  Safe and sound!

Mommy, Daddy, and Baby are doing well.  

Big Brother is beyond excited and learning to be gentle. 

And Grandma and Grandpa are proud, thankful, and...relieved!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Word of the Day: MUM

"Mothers hold their children's hand for a short while, but their hearts forever".
-Author Unknown
Spring Princess by Carl Larsson (1853 - 1919, Swedish) 

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness, and children sleep soundly in them."
-Victor Hugo
Mother And Child, Candlelight by William Rothenstein (1872 – 1945, English)

"The Mother's heart is the child's classroom."
-Henry Ward Beecher
Arthur John Elsley (1860 - 1952, English)

Happy Mother's Day to all my readers.  Who are some of my favorite literary mothers?  go here for my list!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Planes and Trains and Roars: Let's Hear it for the Boys!

The due date of my daughter's second boy is drawing closer; and right now for her two and a half-year-old firstborn son, it's all about anything that zooms, stomps, or roars: planes, trains, trucks, elephants, lions and dinosaurs!

My grandson's current favorite things include his new airplane riding toy (complete with working propeller - though he's a little bummed it doesn't really fly) and Disney's Jungle Book movie.

So I scored at a local bookstore the other day when I found one of Lois Lenski's "Mr. Small" books, The Little Airplane (read my past posts here about these sweet books and their author).

I also spotted and picked up a "Baby Lit" books, Little Master Kipling:  The Jungle Book. My grandson loves to "roar" like a tiger and trumpet like an elephant, but I have to be careful not to roar too loudly when we get to the page with "Sher Khan", the Tiger, or he gets a little too scared.

The Baby Lit board books are so cute, but they are aimed just as much (if not more) at literature-loving-adults then at kids.  I mean, seriously: Anna Karenina?? Wuthering Heights??  for children?

We like Little Master Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes (read my past post here) and Little Master Carol: Alice in Wonderland.  Another, Little Master Baum: The Wizard of Oz looks super adorable - can't wait to get that one; and I'm guessing my grandson would like Little Master Melville: Moby-Dick.

On to trains:  Thomas the Tank. All. The. Way.  I'm referring to the "old school" Thomas, not the new, strange looking (in my opinion) CGI "Thomas and Friends".  If you haven't read my past post about the wonderful Rev. W. Awdry (Thomas' creator) and his original books, go here.

Currently, my grandson is obsessed with cabooses in particular...

His latest favorite from the library is C is for Caboose: Riding the Rails from A to Z by Traci N. Todd.  Any child who loves trains and is ready for "a-b-c books" will enjoy this picture book, uniquely illustrated with a mix of vintage drawings and modern photos!

He also likes the Caldecott honor book, Freight Train by Donald Crews...

 and the Little Golden Book The Little Red Caboose.

Maybe her love of travel and my grandson's love of trains inspired my daughter to set up this cute little changing area for her soon-to-be born little boy, with all the supplies organized and ready-at-hand in an old vintage suitcase!

All Aboard!  Click the links below to go to my previous posts with some fun toddler and preschool book recommendations:

Hope you'll check out some of the books we love.  What are (or were) your little boy's favorites?

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Humble Message from a Blockbuster Movie: "Have Courage and Be Kind"

I think that she [Cinderella] learns to turn the other cheek with strength. She has no sense of self-pity, no sense of being a victim. She makes her own choices, she doesn’t indulge in her own pain or hardships. She looks at the world with compassion. I find her such good company because she’s so un-showy, and yet she’s so charismatic. I think she really knows herself.
-Kenneth Branagh, director of Cinderella

A young and beautiful Lily James portrays Ella.

A couple of nights ago, my daughter, Mary, and I went to see Disney's new live-action Cinderella film, directed by Kenneth Branagh (it was my second time seeing the movie, Mary's first.)

BRAVO, Mr. Branagh (Sir)!!!!

The humble message of this fairytale - to "have courage and be kind" - danced right off the screen like a shining beacon of light.  It's a message that will never grow old, and that all young people - boys and girls - in our modern times can certainly benefit from!

Dancing with the Prince (Richard Madden)

If you haven't been exposed to the fairytale of Cinderella beyond Disney's 1950 animated version, go here to read my daughter's past post (she has some experience with Cinderella - she loved many picture book versions of the story as a child and portrayed Cinderella as a princess at Disneyland Paris for nine months!)

It takes Courage to be Kind...
Cinderella is a different kind of heroine than most kids may be used to. Like many modern-day female characters, she is strong and courageous, but Cinderella's strength of character stems from patience and love. Most of all, she is kind. As my daughter wrote in a past post (here in 2010) about this fairytale character:

"Cinders" is a beautiful and lovely girl, who, even in what should be her moments of greatest despair, never loses hope, respect, patience, or love. Children can relate to and learn so much from this story. While we may not have all grown up with an evil stepmother and mean, tormenting stepsisters, or had only animals for friends, and endured patiently - until one day we stumble upon our fairy godmother who helps us meet our prince and makes all our dreams come true - any person can empathize with this story. In various ways we've been there - we've all lived through a painful situation in life. But who can say that they offered kindness, respect, and love in return for the harsh treatment or hatred that might have been given?

The tale of The Little Glass Slipper has never gone out of style!
Disney's new film was beautifully done, and I am so happy with Branagh's decision to keep it a traditional telling.  The true heart of the tale is there, complete with darkness and light, the sadness balanced with a happy ending.  Regarding the film's on-screen scenes dealing with the death of both of Ella's parents, Branagh said:

The responsibility of introducing loss on that profound level to children made me understand why fairytales perhaps should not be dismissed [as trite]. They become ways in which we manage these very difficult life issues when we’re involved in talking to our children.

Some of my personal favorite things about this movie:
  • Sir Derek Jacobi as the King!
  • Gus-Gus was there, and chubby.
  • Cate Blanchette's green-with-envy gowns, and her porcelain complexion that, at 45, rivaled 25-year old Lily James' glowing face - wow!
  • The on-screen transformations of the pumpkin, mice, lizards, and goose into their respective magical roles involved in Cinderella's conveyance to the ball.  The visual effects were amazing!
  • The lavish sets.
  • All the literary and biblical symbolism (go here for an excellent article).
  • The film score. Make sure you stick around for all the credits - you'll hear songs from the Disney animated film, sung by Lily James and Helena Bonham Carter!

In defense of Cinderella...
As expected, there has been some negative feedback about the movie; but I've been happy to read several positive essays and reviews about this new live-action film. Two I'd like to specifically mention are Cinderella, the Fool For Christ by Gabe Martini, and The Audacity of Cinderella by Rebecca Reynolds.

My daughter's favorite Picture Book versions of Cinderella...
MARCIA BROWN'S sumptuous watercolors illustrate the Charles Perrault fairytale.

RUTH SANDERSON'S retelling (and don't miss her adaptation of The Twelve Dancing Princesses).

K.Y.CRAFT'S illustrations are reminiscent of opulent 17-18th Century France.

SUSAN JEFFERS' adaptation has very natural looking artwork.

WALT DISNEY'S, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by MARY BLAIR.

THE EGYPTIAN CINDERELLA, by Shirley Climo, illustrated by RUTH HELLER.