Illumination

CIMG8072I am a dog. A dog who happens to like books. Crazy, I know. But there it is. I love the smell of books, the sound of pages turning, and the sound of the words coming from the voices of readers. (I used to enjoy the taste of books but I have grown beyond that now.) I am surrounded by books at my home. That’s because the people who live in my home love books as well. That’s where my book adventures began.

I have come to learn that there is more to a book than intriguing smells and tasty pages. A book is more than the words that it contains. There is a history behind each book and behind books as an object of reverence. My Mom Person has read books to me about that history and about the art and craft of bookmaking. Books like A Gentle Madness and Patience & Fortitude by Nicholas A. Basbanes. and A Degree of Mastery by Annie Tremmel Wilcox. (For more about Ms Wilcox, please check out this post at Books on Books.)These books are BIG books with lots of words and lots of pages and are way beyond my canine brain’s capabilities of comprehension.

But now my Mom Person has found a book about book history that is just right for my small brain.

IMG_0787Brother Hugo and the Bear
by Katy Beebe
illustrated by S.D. Schindler
published by Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers in 2014

It begins ….
It befell that on the first day of Lent,
Brother Hugo could not return his library book.

Did you know that a way, way long time ago – way before there were printing presses and computers to print out all the pages of books and put those pages all together – books were hand made by monks? Monks are religious fellows who live together in monasteries and do religious things like praying and doing service things for God. One way that they did this way back when, was to pass on wisdom and knowledge by making copies of books. Completely by hand! They had to make the paper and the ink, then they had to write out each book, word by word and page by page – by hand. They not only wrote out the words, they also decorated the pages with beautiful illustrations and ornate lettering. They also used a lot of gold ink to reflect the light. These are called illuminated manuscripts. This is what they looked like.

from The Rohan Master -- a Book of Hours

from The Rohan Master — a Book of Hours

And that’s what this little picture book is all about.

The story is loosely based on a real letter that the author found – a letter written in the twelfth century by a Benedictine monk, Peter the Venerable, to another monastery asking if he could borrow a book because his copy had been eaten by a bear!

In Ms Beebe’s version of the tale, Hugo the monk has lost his book to a bear and must borrow one from another monastery. He must walk to the other monastery and borrow the book, then copy the whole thing before Lent is over, and return the book to its rightful owners. On his journey, he must be wary of the book eating bear!

IMG_0788This book is about books, but it’s also about friendship. When Brother Hugo returns home he is faced with the unbelievable task of copying a whole book in a short amount of time. But he has many friends at the monastery and as Brother Aelred tells him, “Friends meet every misfortune joyfully and help to bear each other’s burdens.” So, one brother gives Hugo a fluffy sheepskin, another helps him turn that sheepskin into parchment sheets, another helps him draw lines on the sheets. Goose feathers are gathered for pens and ink is made from various elements. All through the process of creating his book, Hugo has to listen to the sounds of the bear outside his window! Aaaaakkkkk! How did he manage to keep a steady hand?! And what about returning the original copy to the other monastery with the bear in hot pursuit?!!! Aaaaaakkkkkk! what a tale of suspense! I will not give the ending away – You’ll have to check this one out and see for yourself.

And please do! Because it is a fabulous book! Mr Schindler illustrated the story much like the monks illustrated their books. Stunning! At the end of the book there is a glossary and historical notes. And both Ms Beebe and Mr Schindler give us a little history behind their part in this project. It is a perfect pairing and a perfect end result. This tome will have a special place on my bookshelf!

Ms Beebe has a great website with all kinds of resources for this book – and a great book trailer! Check it out HERE.

Here’s a quick history lesson about illuminated manuscripts –

Maybe you will now be inspired to try your own hand with this art form!!

Happy calligraphy!!
your library friend
Rhythm
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My Pet Book

 

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We had a pretty relaxing visit at the library this week. Lots of kids and lots of books. Lots of hands rubbing and petting. Lots of little soft voices. Even Electra, the Dogzilla, was lulled into dream land. We heard about Lego adventures and Dora adventures and Fancy Nancy and poison ivy!! Yikes! We read about Kipper and a butterfly. That Kipper is pretty cute, I must say. We saw that crazy Pigeon get upset about a chocolate chip cookie! For Heaven’s sake!!

But the book that caught my ear and had me sit up and take notice was one about a pet book. Yes, a pet book!

IMG_0782My Pet Book
by Bob Staake
published by Random House in 2014
a brand new book!!

It begins ……
Most pets, you know, are cats and dogs.
Go out and take a look.
But there’s a boy in Smartytown
Whose pet is ….. a little book.

Just imagine that! A book as a pet!! How clever is that! Clever of the boy to think of it! And clever of Mr Staake to write about it!! It is a very clever story. It’s full of rhyme and rhythm and shapes and color! I don’t notice the color part so much, but the kids sure did! “Look! All the people are different colors! And they’re squares and circles!”  Much laughter throughout this book.

IMG_0784The boy in the book didn’t want a pet that needed to be fed and walked or one that shed hair and fleas. He wanted an easy care pet so his parents took him shopping at a book store. Oh! There were sooooo many to choose from! He decided on a bright red hardcover, put a leash on it and walked it home. Throughout the book that we were reading you see the boy enjoying HIS book – surrounded by all sorts of folks with their pets doing all the things that his pet didn’t do. My reading kids liked studying these illustrations and making note of all the activity.

IMG_0783Now one of the reasons that the boy thought that a book would be a good pet was because it wouldn’t ever run away. But lo and behold! The Red Book got lost!! What a calamity! Oh, man! All the emotion! Mr Staake is an absolute genius! Who could imagine that a square and a rectangle could produce such emotion! Quite an adventure ensues as the boy and his maid search for the dear lost book. But all comes well in the end.

This is a fabulous little book. Well, it’s actually kind of a big picture book. But fabulous either way. The kids LOVED it! And it brought about a great discussion about pets. Those kids all had quite an assortment of pets, but no one ever thought about a pet book! We have LOTS of books at my house, and I have some very favorites, but I never thought of any of them as a pet. I will now be looking at all those books a little differently, I think.

Jackie at My Little Bookcase, has a great post about playing with books! Check out her list of 10 fun ways to play with books and help kids connect with reading. Awesome!!

Now watch as Mr Staake creates a character on his computer!!

Enjoy your pets, be they dog or book!
And come back again for another look
At a dog with a book in a reading nook!
Your library friend
Rhythm
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Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Our Princesses came to visit recently, from far, far away. It’s always fun when they are here because they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE books! They go through our bookshelves like wildfire! They also love our chickens. Odd, I know. But it is what it is. They don’t have real, live chickens where they live. At least I’ve never heard tale of such a thing. So, when they are here at the 7 Acre Wood, they want to feed the chickens and play with the chickens and read all the chicken books.

They also like jokes. They are always knock, knock, knocking. I came up with the perfect book for my chicken loving comediennes –

IMG_0679Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
This is a collection of 14 picture book artists’ answers to that age-old question.
Contributors include:
Jon Agee
Tedd Arnold
Harry Bliss
David Catrow
Marla Frazee
Mary GrandPre
Lynn Munsinger
Jerry Pinkney
Vladimir Radunsky
Chris Raschka
Judy Schachner
David Shannon
Chris Sheban
Mo Willems
This book was published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2006

IMG_0684Each two page spread is given over to each artist to answer the big question in their own unique way. This page above is from Tedd Arnold, of Fly Guy fame, who says — “To show the possum that it could be done.”

IMG_0683This page belongs to Marla Frazee, of Boot & Shoe fame,  and shows one side of the road experiencing a terrible storm while the other side is Paradise. Her answer – “duh.”

Most of these were hilariously funny. Some were cute. Some had to be explained to me and the Princesses. Like the chicken who was not just free range, but de-ranged. Or the Sphinx who says “You tell me.” All the “answers” are thought provoking and make use of some outstanding artwork. Some talented individuals came together for this book.

At the end of the book is a spread titled – “Why did the artist cross the road?” Here we have little bits about each of the artists and a listing of some of the books they have illustrated.

The Princesses read this book over and over. They found something new every time. Their laughter made for a fun time for me!

Clicking on the names of the artists above will take you to their websites or some other link with more info about them. Please check them ALL out!

Now for a little science behind the famous joke –

Now go enjoy your weekend – Have a picnic, eat some chicken, read a good book, tell a few jokes and be careful crossing the road!

Your wondering friend
Rhythm
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Friends

img219A friend is a feeling of forever in the heart
Henri Nouwen

I have been blessed with a life filled with friendship. I make friends wherever I go. Mostly human friends. I have some very special friends at school and at the library. I have some very special friends who come to visit me at the 7 Acre Wood. This past week was a busy one filled with friends. My Princesses came to town! And boy, did we have some fun! Books and the river and games and hikes and snuggle time. True friends of my heart. We also had some good time with friends at the library. Books and friends – the best combination.

At the library, surrounded by Friends, we read a fun little book called — Friends!

IMG_0673Friends
written and illustrated by Helme Heine
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
(an imprint of Simon and Schuster)
in 1982

This is the story of three friends — Charlie Rooster, Johnny Mouse, and Fat Percy. They always said, “Good friends always stick together.” And that’s just what they did! First thing in the morning, they ALL went together to the barn to wake the other animals up. Then they ALL three went for their morning bicycle ride. Yes, that’s right — a bicycle ride! Up and down the roughest paths and steepest cliffs. My reader Friends thought that looked like a lot of fun. I’ve never been on a bike before so I wouldn’t know.

The three Friends had lots of fun playing together during the day. They played hide and seek. (My favorite game!!!) They found an old boat and played at being pirates. They went fishing and picked cherries. They shared the cherries and Charlie Rooster got the cherry stones. (But what are cherry stones?! I think they are the seeds!)

IMG_0677When they got back home in the evening, they decided to spend the night together, because “Good friends always stick together!” But they found that each ones house was not suited for the other friends. So they went to their own houses and there they all dreamed about each other – “the way true friends do.”

This was such a cute, happy story! The illustrations are pure JOY! My reading Friends loved this one. They laughed at the silly antics of the Friends. And we talked about what it means to be a good friend. Everyone had special Friends that they liked doing things with. I suggest you check this book out. It will make you smile!

If you happen to know some German, you might want to visit Mr. Heine’s website HERE. It looks rather fun, but I can’t make head nor tail of it.

Now to put a little Rhythm into your day — I give you Lyle Lovett and Randy Newman singing You’ve Got a Friend — enjoy!

You’ve Got a Friend in me for sure!
Rhythm

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A Finder’s Magic

I was given a most fabulous gift this week. My favorite reading teacher, Mrs. Brandt, brought me a surprise from her recent vacation trip. A book. A most wondrous book. A book that she had a hard time finding, but one that she knew I would treasure. A book that she saw and then didn’t see and had to go on a hunt for. A book called A Finder’s Magic. And it happened to be magical that she found it!

IMG_0466A Finder’s Magic
by Philippa Pearce
illustrated by Helen Craig
published by Candlewick Press in 2008

It begins –
There was a boy who went to bed in despair. All night he dreamed his despair, and he woke to desperation. Then he slept again and dreamed, this time a short, strange dream. He dreamed of a garden gate and someone waiting there.

What a way to begin a tale! A boy in despair! What does this portend?

This tale has a fascinating back story. The author, Ms Pearce, who is the author of many award-winning children’s books, wrote this particular story for her grandsons, Nat and Will. (The name of the boy in the book is Tillawn, an anagram of Nat and Will.) Ms Pearce wrote the story specifically to be illustrated by Nat and Will’s other grandmother, Ms Craig. Ms Craig is an acclaimed illustrator of many children’s books. Can you imagine having TWO such grandmothers?! Well, Ms Pearce died about the time that Ms Craig began work on the illustrations for her story. So she never got to see the end result! I think that she would have liked it very much.

So, for the story — It’s the story of a boy who has lost his dog. A dog that he loves very, very, very much. That’s why he is in despair. The dog, Bess, is his best friend in the world. The love that the boy feels for Bess pours out of every page of this book. One day on their daily walk Bess somehow manages to come out of her collar and races ahead where she disappears in Gammer’s Meadow. Till, the boy, could not find her anywhere. Despair. Oh, I could feel his tears.
A strange man appears at Till’s gate and tells Till that he is a Finder and will find Bess. What follows is a fantabulous tale of magic and witches and mysterious goings-on. A detective fairy tale! I was on pins and needles through the whole book! But there is a most glorious ending that finds Till and his “Best in the Whole Wide World Dog” reunited in true bliss!

IMG_0471I am filled with Bliss that Mrs B found this magical book for me! And now here’s a second part to the story – We already had another Philippa Pearce book on our home bookshelf!

IMG_0468The Squirrel Wife
by Philippa Pearce
illustrated by Wayne Anderson
published by Candlewick Press in 2007

This is a lovely, lovely fairy tale about two brothers who are swineherds living at the edge of a deep, dark forest. The forest is inhabited by “the green people”, fairy people who can only be seen by moonlight and who are greatly feared by everyone outside of the forest. But one evening during a storm, the good brother, Jack, heard a voice in the woods crying for help. He could not resist the cry and ventured into the forest where he found a little green man in great distress. Jack helped him back to his family who were so grateful that they rewarded Jack with a magical ring that would bring to Jack a magical wife.

IMG_0469This is a great fairy tale about bravery and doing the right thing. About the rewards of good deeds. About judging and misjudging people without truly knowing who they really are. It’s a picture book with a lot of words. But it’s well worth the read. And the illustrations are beautiful. The story has given me a whole new perspective on all these squirrels that run around the 7 Acre Wood. I am seeing them in a new light.

Both of these books are fairy tales, but not retellings of old tales. They are new tales from the inventive mind of Ms Pearce that take you back to an old time. I think she must have had an old soul.

Find out about the Phillipa Pearce Memorial Lecture HERE.

I’ll sign off with a commercial break –

Take care of the ones that you love –
And NEVER give up on them!
Your friend
Rhythm
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Dogs in the Bed

I have a lot of choices for bedtime comfort at my house. There are dog beds in every room. The living room, the kitchen, by the computer desk, and TWO beds in the actual bedroom.

But the BEST place to sleep is in the human bed. Yes, my people allow dogs on the bed. At least me. I’m the first dog to ever be allowed on the bed at this house. And I am surely appreciative of this privilege.

IMG_0450At the library this week we read a fine little book about dogs in bed –

IMG_0296DOGS on the BED
by Elizabeth Bluemle
illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
published by Candlewick Press in 2008

I would like to present this book as an entry in the Small Fry Safari Readers Challenge put together by The Bookshelf Gargoyle. This book fits category #2 – A book with a piece of furniture in the title. You can find out more about this challenge and see all the entries by visiting Bruce the Gargoyle HERE.

Now back to the book! This is a “rollicking, rhyming romp!” My readers had a fun time reading this one. Hilarious laughter all around! Mom and the two kids are headed to bed for a night time storybook. And all the dogs want to come, too. (I can relate to that!)

There are dogs on the bed
Like logs on the bed
Bed hogs on the bed —-
These dogs, these dogs!

IMG_0309 IMG_0300 IMG_0302 IMG_0305These folks have a LOT of dogs! All shapes and sizes. And they are all squirmy, wormy all over the bed. Then Dad comes in to join the story time and he shoos all the dogs off the bed! (Echoes of my Dad person!) The dogs are quite unhappy and make sad faces and cry and howl and go on the prowl. They all want to go out, so Mom lets them out. Then they want right back in. The family is now sleeping – all in the bed and the dogs pile on. Pushing and shoving and shedding and drooling – the family ends up on the floor! It’s COLD on the floor and the family decides that dogs are pretty good at warming things up – so the kids go off to their beds with some of the dogs and Mom and Dad bring some with them back to bed. And EVERYONE gets a good night’s sleep!

Where do your dogs like to sleep? The Dogzilla pup has to sleep in her crate. She would much prefer the bed with me and the humans. Walker likes to be on his own bed with his sleeping buddy. Sometimes he likes being in his crate. And sometimes in the middle of the night he sneaks up on the bed with us. That makes things rather cozy.

The NY Times had an interesting article about pets in bed with their humans. You can read it HERE.

Barkpost has a nice little article with 11 of the greatest dog beds in history. You can check it out HERE.

dog bedNow THIS looks like a fine bed!!

dogs on the bedI wish you a good night’s sleep!
Rhythm
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Pigs to the Rescue

I think that my life has gone to the pigs. I got involved in my buddy, Bacon’s “Blast From the Past, Show and Tell” event this weekend. If you’ve never met Bacon, he is a very fine pig fellow who posts some very funny stuff. You can visit him at the Hotel Thompson HERE if you’d like. And then this week at the library, my reading buddies picked out this book -

IMG_0358Pigs to the Rescue
by John Himmelman
published Henry Holt and Co. in 2010

Now right off from the cover you can tell that these pigs are going to be nothing but trouble. You can tell a lot by a book’s cover. This cover tells you the whole story without even opening up the pages! And that’s why my boys picked this one. They knew that this one was going to be a crazy romp! And they were right!!

Farmer Greenstalk and his family have the darndest luck. The tractor breaks down, the water hose springs a leak, a kite gets stuck in a tree, the rooster can’t crow. But never fear! The pigs are here!!! To the rescue!! They are very enthusiastic helpers, but as you might imagine they only make matters worse. What’s a family to do?! Well, you’ll have to check this one out to find out! We read this book TWICE, it was so funny!

Mr Himmelman has written like a million books. Lots of silly ones like this pig book. There’s Chickens to the Rescue and Cows to the Rescue and Duck to the Rescue!!! He has also written a whole bunch of nature books. He has a great website that I would advise you to visit. Just click HERE. You can find out all about ALL of his books and watch some cool videos and all kinds of stuff. Go THERE now!

And here’s a story about a pig who really did come to the rescue! Lulu the pig saved her Mom when Mom had a heart attack! Check it out HERE!

And MORE pigs to the rescue! HERE are some pigs who eat up poisonous acorns to save ponies!

I think pigs are pretty awesome! What do you think? Do you know any pigs?

I wish you a very lucky day!
Your library friend
Rhythm
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“A Blast From the Past”

My pig buddy, Bacon, is doing a special post on his blog today – Show and Tell. He asked all his friends to do a post about our favorite toys from our childhood. The Mom Person and I have been going down memory lane this weekend looking at pictures of my puppyhood. I was kind of a toy crazy pup, but I had a couple of favorites that I’m going to Show you and Tell you about.

This was my pony. It was one of my very first toys that was waiting for me when I arrived in Texas. I carried it with me everywhere. And I still have it today! 11 years later!

IMG_0352In the 11 years that Pony has been in my care, he has lost his brains along with his voice, and he just recently lost an arm to the Dogzilla pup. But he is still quite cuddly. I let him play with Dogzilla now and again. She likes him a lot, but is not quite so careful about him. I have to supervise their playtimes.

My other favorite toy in my younger days was an Orbee Ball from Planet Dog. My Mom Person had some tough dogs living with her – dogs who could chew through anything. She read a write up about Orbee balls that said someone had mowed over one with their lawnmower and didn’t even nick it! She decided that we needed Orbee Balls at the 7 Acre Wood! And that story about them proved to be true! They are tough as can be! My original Orbee is no where to be found these days. I think that it is probably somewhere out in those woods. But we have a couple of replacements that are just as fine. One even glows in the dark!

IMG_0349If you have pets or kids who are hard on their toys, you might want to try an Orbee. You can find them at Planet Dog HERE.

So there you have it! My Show and Tell, Blast from the Past, Favorite toys. Now you might want to visit Bacon over at his blog,Piglove! You might find some other fun toys from the past that might take you down memory lane!

Have fun remembering!
your friend and her Pony

Rhythm
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Wolves

wolfSomewhere way back on my genetic tree I am related to wolves. Those wild, misunderstood, much maligned (big word!) canines. Canis Lupis. Wolves. Some people say that dogs, Canis lupis familiaris, still have the brain and instincts of wolves. I don’t know about that. I’m a dog, not a wolf, and I’m quite proud and happy with that fact. I have no desire to hunt small critters. I don’t want to sleep outside in the cold. I’m quite happy working for and taking care of my humans and letting them provide me with all that I need. They do a good job of that. I like having a relationship with these humans. I find them fascinating creatures. Endlessly entertaining. For me, life is all about that relationship. For me,  life is good.

At the library this week, we read a book about wolves.

IMG_0249Wolves
by Emily Gravett
published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2006
the book was originally published in Great Britain in 2005 by Macmillan Children’s Books
This is a fiction book, but it has some good facts about wolves.

This was an interesting twist on a book about wolves. It begins with a rabbit. A rabbit who goes to the library and checks out a book about wolves. The reader gets to read the book with the rabbit. Pretty clever. Our reading kids thought it was pretty funny. We see a fat, cute bunny with scary, gnarly wolves looking over his shoulder! But we learned a lot about wolves. Wolves live in packs and can live just about anywhere. At the Arctic circle where it’s frighteningly cold, on the edges of towns, and in the forests. They have really sharp claws! Yikes! My Mom Person keeps my claws nice and trim so I don’t go around scratching folks. Those wolf claws are a nightmare! Wolves have bushy tails and dense fur with fleas and ticks. Ewwww. I have dense fur to keep me from getting waterlogged and cold when I’m swimming. And occasionally my fur has harbored a flea or two. Wolves have BIG teeth! Much bigger than dogs. And very powerful jaws. That’s for crunching critters in the wild.

IMG_0248And the big question for our little cute rabbit is — What do wolves eat? Ahhhh, yes. What do they eat? I wouldn’t eat a rabbit. Not one with fur on it. But would a wolf? You’ll have to read the book and see. I will tell you that a collected GASP! came from my reading buddies.

This was a pretty cute book. All my readers liked it and we even read it a second time just to study the pictures a little more.

Wolves was Ms Gravett’s 1st published book and it got it’s start as a school project. In 2005 Wolves was the recipient of the Kate Greenaway Medal and the Nestle Children’s Book Prize.

Ms Gravett is a fascinating young lady – you can find out more about her HERE and HERE.

A rather nice interview with Ms Gravett can be found at Kids’ Book Review HERE.

You can find out more about wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center HERE.

the Barkpost has an article with a list of differences between dogs and wolves. Interesting.
Psychology Today
has an interesting article about differences as well.

And here is a fascinating video about how wolves affect the world around them -

I wish you a howling good weekend!
Your wolf cousin
Rhythm
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