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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A House is a House for Me

Most people and critters have some kind of house that protects them from the elements and may provide comfort or storage area or a place to raise young ones.

IMG_4976I live in a people house. A house that was built for humans. But My People have made room for me and Walker inside their house. When I was a pup, I had a different house inside the people house. I slept in a crate that was just for me. It was a safe, cozy little house. It was a place where my gorilla waited for me and my warm blanket. It was a place that I could go to be alone if I wanted. Walker still sleeps in his own crate. He likes it there a lot.

Most dogs that I know have these same living arrangements, but I hear of dogs who sleep outside in a dog house. The kids I visit at school always want to know about my living and sleeping arrangements. When they see the Mom Person without me, they worry about where I am and whether I’m inside or outside.

Houses are an interesting concept for me. I like my house a lot, but I sometimes wonder about other houses and how they came to be. We have just built a new house for our chickens and a lot of planning went into this building. The goats and Buddy, the pony share a house. I always wonder where the raccoons and skunks and foxes live that I smell in the woods.

I have a book that addresses this issue —

IMG_4970A House is a House for Me
written by Mary Ann Hoberman
illustrated by Betty Fraser
published by Viking in 1978

Theme — housing, animal dwellings, nature, environment

Suitable for 3 and up

It begins —

“A hill is a house for an ant, an ant.
A hive is a house for a bee.
A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse
And a house is a house for me!”

This is a fun, fun book told in sing-song rhyme about houses. Houses of all kinds. From the ant and the bee to farm animals and a dog in a dog house. From fish in the sea to a snail in its shell to a duchess in her castle. Then on to a garage for a car and a pod for a pea!! What can you think of that has a house? That’s the big question! And one that this book begs you to ponder! It’s a book full of wonder! A book that encourages you to wonder about the world around you that is OUR home.

IMG_4975The illustrations are fabulous. Each page is chock full of details to wander through as you wonder. This is a book that will have you meandering through it time and time again.

This is a book to spur the imagination. What kind of house could your kids build at home themselves – one just for them? I know at our house there have been houses made from giant boxes, tents made from sheets, and forts made from tree branches.

IMG_4973Take your kids on a walk through the yard or the woods. What kind of houses can they find? Birds’ nests? Spider webs? Holes in the ground? A shell that might house a snail? or a nut? An endlessness of possibilities!!

Enchanted Learning has a great site with all kinds of classroom activities about dwellings of all kinds. Lots of fun stuff can also be found on Pinterest

To encourage kids to think about the world we live in and how to take care of it, visit the USDA website and find out about Woodsy Owl.

For more fabulous picture books and accompanying resources visit Susanna Hill and her list of Perfect Picture Books!

Now because it’s Library Lovers Month, I would like to direct you to a library program in India called APNE Library that is spreading the joy of reading across the Himalayas. You can find out all about it HERE.

And here is a video of a group from APNE Library performing A House is a House for Me

What kind of house do you live in?
Your library friend
Rhythm
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February is Library Lovers’ Month

Sunday was Groundhog Day. I hear that Mr Phil saw his shadow. There were no shadows here. It was a wet, cold, dreary day. I slept most of the day.

IMG_4910I hear that it was also Super Bowl Sunday. I’m not really sure what that means. I did get a Super Bowl full of my favorite kibble and green beans and pumpkin for dinner! That makes me a winner!

IMG_4914All of this means that February is upon us. And February happens to be the month for Lovers of Libraries. And that means me!

“Library Lovers’ Month is a month-long celebration of school, public, and private libraries of all types. This is a time for everyone, especially library support groups, to recognize the value of libraries and to work to assure that the Nation’s libraries will continue to serve.”

Our libraries are in danger these days. There are all kinds of cutbacks in funding. Some are closing their doors. A very sad thing. Our public library has had to cut back on workers and hours that they can be open. Another very sad thing. Libraries are important to communities. Libraries are places to learn something new or to escape into new worlds. They are sanctuaries from the hubbub of the outside world. Like minded people can congregate at libraries. They are the only places that you can go and spend all day out of the cold or heat without having to spend any money! And Oh! The Places You Can Go in a library!! It boggles the mind!

I have pulled some books off of my personal library shelves that are about libraries. There are soooooooo many books about libraries and librarians! All kinds of critters visit libraries. Dogs, of course, and cats. But there are books about Library mice and lions and dragons and bats and ghosts and foxes and even gingerbread men! The library has a place for everyone! Well, I’m going to share some of my books with you.

IMG_4911img491Library Lil is by Suzanne Williams and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. I love Steven Kellogg! My copy was published by Scholastic in 1998 by arrangement with Dial Books for Young Readers.
Lil was a girl who LOVED books. When she was little she read all the time. In bed, in the tub, while playing soccer. She was always carrying around stacks of books so her arms got really strong. When she grew up, she became a librarian. She had to convince the townfolks that books were better than TV. And she managed to convince a gang of motorcycle hoodlums that books were a good thing too! A Librarian Extraordinare!!

img492The Brave Bookmobile was written by Grover Page, Jr. and illustrated by Joe Reisner. It was published by E.C. Seale & Co. in 1966. This is a little book that shows how important the Bookmobile is to a community. Hill County is blanketed with snow, but there are folks out there that need books! The Brave Bookmobile must trudge through and make her rounds. Becky has a report due and needs to do some research. Richard and his mom need to do some research too. Old Ben, who is blind, needs some audio books. And everyone in town likes to come congregate at the Bookmobile. Even Mr. Brown, the dog! The Brave Bookmobile manages to make all the rounds and leave everyone happy.

img490Quiet! There’s a Canary in the Library was written and illustrated by Don Freeman. It was published by The Trumpet Club in 1969. Every Saturday morning Cary went to the library. One Saturday she sat down with a book about a zoo and began to imagine what it would be like if there was a day at the library for all the animals to come. In her imagination, mayhem insues, but the day is saved by a canary! It’s a pretty funny story!

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Curious George Visits the Library was “illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Martha Weston.” This book was published in Great Britain by Walker Books in 2008. More mayhem in the library! It seems to follow Curious George wherever he goes. This mayhem involves George’s desire for more and more books to take home, and a library cart.

img488There’s a Cricket in the Library is the most interesting one of this bunch. It was written and illustrated by fifth-grade students of McKee Elementary School in Oakdale, Pennsylvania. It was published by Willowisp Press in 1991. A cricket is causing mayhem in the library. He’s chirping like crazy and hopping on chairs and eating the books! So the kids all say “SHHH!” So the cricket says “Good-bye!”

And then there is the best book of all! – IMG_1501

Reading With Rhythm!!

I’ll be going to visit the library this week. Like I do every week. Maybe you can find some time to visit your library this month. And when you do, maybe you can stay awhile and help out. Shelve some books, or do some paper work, or read to some kids. Something to help out those librarians.

You might like to check out the website for Library Lovers’ Month. They have some great ideas for things to do this month.

And HERE is another site that has all kinds of suggestions for ways to help your library.

Wishing you JOY at a library near you!
Your library friend
Rhythm
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The Land of Snow and Ice

We are iced in this weekend. No school on Friday. All the roads are ice. The 7 Acre Wood is a regular ice rink. It’s white and beautiful and when I run across it the Mom Person says I sound like a horse clopping along. Buddy the pony left us some yummy popsicles! We don’t get this white stuff very often. It’s fun when it comes – for me and Walker anyway, the Mom Person does not like it at all!

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It all brings to mind a lovely book we have called Hannah’s Bookmobile Christmas. We got this book some time ago because the Mom Person has a thing for bookmobiles. She would like to have her own bookmobile and I could help her with it! But the thing that I love most about this book is that it is illustrated by one of my very favoritest illustrators – Ms Gabi Swiatkowska. Incredible artwork! The book is written by Sally Derby. It was published in 2001 by Henry Holt and Co.

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This is a story of a young girl Hannah and her Aunt Mary who drives a bookmobile named Blue Bird. It’s Christmas Eve. “Snowflakes like dandelion fluff floated in the air. Christmas carols rang through the streets, and the sleigh bells on Blue Bird’s door chimed merrily as people went in and out.” All day they made stops for people to come in and visit and check out books. Lots of people gave them Christmas goodies and warm cheer. And all the time, Mary worried about the snow. At the end of the day she would have to return Hannah to her home on the top of a very steep hill. The tension mounts as the day slips away and the snow gets heavier. But Mary and Hannah visit everyone on their route. Then comes the trek up Hannah’s hill. It’s nail biting time as Blue Bird slips and slides. Finally they reach Hannah’s lane but it is too treacherous to go any further, so the two librarians decide to stay the night right there in Blue Bird. They were safe and cozy and snuggled up with their hot cocoa and Christmas stories to read.

There is a brief history of bookmobiles at the end of the book. This is a great read for a snowy, icy day!

historic-bookmobile-No-2I hope you’re warm and snuggled wherever you are
Rhythm

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Picture Book Month

November is Picture Book Month – a “literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book.” I believe that picture books should be celebrated every day of every month. But it’s nice to have a whole month devoted to talk and sharing of the magic that is a picture book.

I am a library dog and I spend a great deal of my time enjoying picture books with young people. That’s my job. I love my job. I get to hear kids learn new words and new concepts. I get to see their joy and excitement as they travel into new worlds. Picture books are teachers and magic carpet rides. The illustrations in picture books provide visions to spark their imaginations.

To find out more about Picture Book Month visit the website HERE.

For an essay from Tomie dePaola about the importance of picture books visit HERE.

Now I invite you to go out and enjoy some picture books!

Make it a habit!

Your Library Dog Friend
Rhythm

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East Texas Book Fest

We had a big, big, busy weekend! Whew! The life of a working dog! We went on a bit of a road trip to Tyler, Texas, about 3 hours from our home in Glen Rose. Because —- we were participating in

The East Texas Book Fest!!

img436This was our first experience with a book festival. And it was an experience for sure! There were 65 authors there sharing their books and their writing journeys. There were library people and storytellers and newspaper people and photographers and kids!! — Lots of kids! and one other dog! Elvis. A gentlemanly Golden Retriever who also visits libraries.

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I painted our table cover! The illustrator of my book, Paul Howell, joined us for the day. He drew lots of pictures while sitting at our table.

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I got to help out at storytelling time. They had the best pillows. It was just like being at school.

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We provided some coloring pages for the kids, and another author provided tiaras! That’s my buddy Makenna with the big smile! She shared her tiara.

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But then we met Mamma Nellie who gave me my own tiara! Mamma Nellie’s daughter, Annette Bridges wrote a pretty funny book called The Gospel According to Mamma. Those two together are a pretty crazy pair! You can find out more about Ms Bridges and her books at her website here.

We got to meet lots of authors with some very interesting stories. Writers are really nice folks! And they like to talk a lot!

We met some newspaper folks, too. Ms Vanessa Pearson was quite interested in Paul’s story and wrote an article that was in the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Sunday!

We sold quite a few of my books. And the Mom Person purchased several books from other folks. Lots of books changing hands. One book that the Mom Person particularly fell in love with is put out by the Stephen F. Austin University Press. The book is a visual interpretation of a Wallace Stevens poem called Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. It is “imaged” by Corinne Jones and is a stunning book. A simple “culmination of sensation.”

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You might notice some of my drool on the cover. It’s that luscious! The SFA Press table had some really fine books that the Mom Person was drooling over. I had to pull her away from there!

We also met Elvis, as I mentioned. At the end of the day we were two tired pups!!

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For your listening pleasure — Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

All in all, it was a very fine day! I hope you had a fine weekend as well!
Happy trails to you all!
Rhythm

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National Library Card Sign-up Month

As I mentioned in a previous post, September is National Library Card Sign-up Month. To honor this tradition, Walker and I signed up and received our very own library cards from the Somervell County Library in Glen Rose, Tx.

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It was an exciting event! Our library ladies are some pretty special folks. I’ve told you all about them and about our library in another post that you can check out if you so desire by going here.

To promote Library Card Sign-up, the Pinal County Library in Arizona has created some really cool graphics about the benefits of Libraries.

pcld-library-card-benefits-series-discover-new-worlds-8To see more of these unique advertising tools you can visit the Pinal County Library blog here.

For more things to do to promote Library Cards visit the American Library Association website here.

Here is a little movie called The Lord of the Libraries by Chris Martin. – enjoy!

I LOVE Libraries! They are magical places full of adventure and also quiet places of comtemplation.

IMG_3179Now, go hug a librarian and get yourself a library card!
Rhythm

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Summertime and the Reading is Easy

Walker and I spend a lot of time at our local library. We go to read with kids (or whoever!) once a week. During the school year we go in the evening – because during the day we all have to be at school!

But during the summer we go in the morning. I like that better. This week we started our new summer hours and had a really nice turnout! The newspaper lady even came and took pictures. We made the front page of the Glen Rose Reporter! Ms Amanda is a nice lady who has put us in her paper a number of times. We appreciate her!

This week for our 1st summer morning, Ellie came to visit. Ellie will soon be turning 2 and she mostly likes to walk us around and show us all the books. Ethan came as well and Ethan is a READER! He just finished kindergarten and will be moving on up to 1st grade! He chose several books to read with us.

IMG_2349I Feel a Foot is an odd little book by Maranke Rinck, illustrated by Martijn van der Linden. It was published by Lemniscaat in 2008. Ms Rinck and Mr van der Linden are Dutch and this book was originally in Dutch. When I tried to find something about them, everything is in Dutch. I don’t read Dutch but I will give you a link to Ms Rinck’s website here in case you do! And Mr van der Linden’s website is here.

This is a nighttime story so all the pages are black. And the characters are all bright colors. They are really eye catching against the black background — even for me!  The story is a mystery that must be solved! It begins with 5 friends asleep in a hammock. Turtle, Bat, Octopus, Bird and Goat. Ethan thought it was very strange for an octopus to be in a hammock in a tree! Suddenly they hear a noise and in the pitch black night, they go to investigate.

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On each of  the following pages one part of the noise maker is encountered and revealed, but each animal has a different idea as to what it is. Turtle first feels a foot! A great big foot. And he thinks it must be a great big turtle. Ethan knew what it was from the beginning, but those animals sure didn’t! The story makes for quite a guessing game! I thought this book was great fun!

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Next we read The Red Lemon by Bob Staake. This book was published by Dragonfly Books in 2006. Another quirky book. Bold, geometric illustrations. Lots of circles. Rhyming verse. Farmer McPhee grows lemons. He LOVES lemons! “Bright yellow lemons for miles and miles! Bright yellow lemons give farmers big smiles!”

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But one day, he spies up in a tree — a RED lemon! It can’t be! He is struck by the horror of a world with red lemons! So – he throws the offending red lemon over the sea where it lands on an island. Then 200 years pass and Farmer McPhee’s lemon orchard has become nothing but weeds. Over on the island the red lemon seeds have sprouted and red lemon trees are everywhere! And the red lemons are loved by everyone. People come from all over the world to eat the sweet fruit of the red lemons. The End. A story about evolution. About not judging a book by its cover, so to speak. You never know what might be on the inside. About the benefits of thinking “outside the box”, about being creative. As this book is creative! Ethan and I both loved this book. It made me drool on Ethan’s knee.

And I’ll leave you with a little trip through Europe with a lemon!

Going Traveling

I’ve been in a traveling mood. We do some traveling most every day. Going to the Big City. But I know all those routes and I’m ready for some adventure.

We have a couple of books in our home library that are about animals on adventures. I’ve been pawing through these books and daydreaming. Wondering why my Mom Person isn’t more adventurous.

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buns travels

Buns Travels Across America is about a rabbit who travels to a whole bunch of fun places all across America. A rabbit! The book was done by David Love and his rabbit, Cottonpaw. It was published by Cotton Tale Press in 1992. It’s got some great pictures of Buns the rabbit at the Statue of Liberty and Niagra Falls and the Grand Canyon and the Alamo and the beach! Even in Hollywood! (I’ve been to Hollywood!  – in Glen Rose, Tx) —IMG_2253  But I haven’t been to the REAL Hollywood! That Buns is one lucky rabbit! And this is a pretty good book. Besides all the nice pictures of a cute rabbit, each picture is accompanied by a little history lesson. A fun way to learn some good stuff! And Buns has a website the you might want to visit here to learn more about him and his travels.

joe and sallyJoe and Sally : A Long Way From Home is a book about penguins who travel all over the world! But these aren’t real penguins. They’re like great big toy penguins. Now isn’t that funny! This book is the creation of Willy Puchner. It was published by Penguin Books (where else?!) in 1993.

Mr Puchner found Joe and Sally in a craft shop in Vienna. For 3 years they traveled together all over the world. Joe and Sally sometimes traveled in a box with lots of padding. They sometimes traveled by car or in a backpack. They always had 2 people to carry them around. This is a really comical book because Joe and Sally really look like 2 tourists admiring the sights. Joe even has a camera around his neck! A word of warning though, there are a couple of pages of rather risque photos from their visit to Paris, so I don’t think the book is appropriate for kids. There are pictures of the penguins at various beaches around the world. They visit Thailand and Egypt, where they are pictured with the pyramids and the Sphinx. They visit London, and Paris, and New York, Italy and Germany, but not Hollywood. It is a fun travelogue and I can imagine that the people who helped Joe and Sally enjoy their travels had a very good time with it all.

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So, Walker and I are wondering where we would like to go on our travels. To foreign lands? Or somewhere closer to home? Big City or hiking in some woods? Or lounging on the beach? Maybe you could tell us of anything interesting where you live?

And maybe we’ll go to the library and find more books that fill the imagination.

And here is a really cool traveling music video from Josh Ritter

Lots of Hands On Love in West!

This was my day today —

This morning we visited the West Elementary School in West, Tx. The 1st half of the morning I was in the library. About 50 kids at a time came in and listened to an audio CD of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was kind of hard for me to follow with no pictures. And with hands massaging my whole body while the CD was kind of droning on, I confess that I went right to sleep!

For the 2nd half of the morning we moved to the music room and got to listen to recorder music and singing. Those kids were really pretty good! Didn’t hurt my ears one bit! And if my singing was not on the blink, I would have been singing along!

It was a good day for all!! Hope yours was too!

This is not the West music group, but this is pretty much what I listened to —

Yankee Doodle on recorder