Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Keith Patterson

Sometimes I come across a picture book with such sincerity and charm, it's like a comforting cup of hot tea, spring tulips or listening to a favorite song you haven't heard in a long time. Keith Patterson is an author/ illustrator whose books have these qualities and more. His Maybelle titles in collaboration with Bees Knees Books will gain wider distribution. But I wanted to introduce him here and find out what he's been working on lately.

Keith, tell us a little about yourself.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a suburb of Albany, New York, in upstate New York.

How has your childhood influenced your work?
My parents read to me a lot, so I was probably introduced to art
children's books. From as far back as I can remember,
I always liked to just sit
and draw, and my family and my teachers,
and other kids at school were very

Where do you find inspiration for your books?
I get most of my ideas from watching my 3 year old. She is very
imaginative and happy and enthusiastic. Also, we go to the library
several times
a week, so I am reading children's books on a daily
basis. Just seeing different
illustrations every day is very

I know Alaska is the setting for a couple of your books.
What do you love about Alaska?
Alaska is just an awesome place. If you drive down from
Anchorage to
Homer, there is one particular spot on the road,
where you come to the top of a
hill, and get your first view of the
mountains. There is no way to describe what
it is like, but the
closest comparison would be the Himalayas.

How did you develop your skill and style as an artist?
Growing up, I drew cartoons for the school newspaper, and took
art classes
in school. After high school, I went to SUNY Albany,
and that's where I had my
first real art teachers. They tried to
break all the bad habits I had learned
from drawing with a felt tip
marker, etc. I am still trying to get better at
drawing.I think one's
basic style of drawing is probably formed early on,

What is your process? I mean do your write the story
first, or the illustrations, or both together?
Sometimes, I start by drawing random illustrations, but that's not
best way to do it. Now, I'm trying to get the story more set
first, to avoid
having to rewrite things.

Are there any children's authors/ illustrators that you
My all time favorite children's book author/illustrator is Maurice
Sendak. Where the Wild Things are was a big influence on me as a
child. I loved
the detail, and the endless cross hatching and pen
scratches, and the colors. It
still has the same effect on me. I have
recently discovered Charlotte Voake, who
does great pen and ink
and water color illustrations. I have always loved
Richard Scarry.
Beatrix Potter, Virginia Lee Burton, Wanda Gag are also

Can you tell us a little about what you're currently
working on?
I just finished a book called the Story of Hobo, about a dog that
found in a coal bin, and somehow he ended up in my
family, and we named him Hobo
because of the coal dust. My
dad was a mailman at the time, and he used to bring
Hobo to
work with him, and Hobo learned to hitchhike by mail truck.
I'm also
trying to finish a book I started about ten years ago
about a dog named Lilli
that stayed with me temporarily. That
one is based on a real dog, but it's set
in the time of the Vikings.
I'm also starting one about my daughter as a
princess, with
realistic paintings.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors and illustrators?
I just try to keep at it.

Thank you Keith for sharing some background and these
wonderful illustrations!

Elmo and DeNiro

Sweet February twenty-Nine!-
This is our grace-year, as I live
Quick, now! this foolish heart of mine;
Seize thy prerogative!

Every four years we get an extra day. An extra day to return phone calls, emails, pay the bills, run household errands, dig in the garden, tickle our kids, or schedule a date with our spouses. I often feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy repeatedly pulls away the football and, WHAM! he's flat on his back. Still, I know it's my prerogative. Nothing ventured- nothing gained. And I wouldn't change life as it is with its simple joys and messiness.

As I write this my kids are playing in the mud outside, and on further inspection they're using half a bottle of dish soap to wash rotting pumpkins in the yard. That leaves me just enough time to post my favorite visit with Elmo.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chicken Chaser

It's been a week since the Cybils winners were announced and I have yet to write about the fiction picture book winner, The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington and illustrated by Shelley Jackson. What a suberb read aloud this book is! Children will love the sound effects, "Pruck! Pruck!" - which must be chicken for What's she up to this time?"PAH-QUAWKKKKK! And they will love the cadence, rhyme and repetition of words (as much as I love to read it)

Corn, I think, bright, shiny knuckles of yellow corn. Eggs! Eggs! Eggs! Goldy-brown eggs all warm, warm, warm.

I frog-jump after Miss hen. Brown legs kicking. Arms flapping and pigtails sailing. Miss Hen goes flying, beak clacking, yellow legs scooting, quick-quick-quick and -gone!

Molasses-easy, I crouch down low. Molasses slow, I pull the grass aside.

Not only is the story a great read aloud, the illustrations are an amazing mix of paint and mixed media collage. You'll have to check out this book because to explain the elements of illustration and layout design will not do justice to this fine work of art. Although I'm a huge fan of Mo Willems, Knuffle Bunny Too, in the final days of the Cybils my vote went to the Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County. For a couple of super reviews, here is one at Chicken Spaghetti and another at A Fuse #8 Production.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Will You Carry Me?

Will You Carry Me? by Heleen van Rossum and illustrated by Peter van Harmelen, was published in the Netherlands in 2004 with the first American edition published by Kane/Miller in 2005.

On first read I thought it was clever. How many times a day do we hear those words, Mommy will you carry me? The story is about, most simply, a little boy and his mother leaving the park to walk home, or rather, jump, swim, fly, and run home!

Peter van Harmelen's palette reminds me of fruity sorbet. He writes about his illustrations,
I love drawing pictures - on paper with watercolor, pen and ink - with the main character in action, while many little funny animals and puppets react and interact amongst themselves, thus inhabiting a world of their own. It's a brand new place to be and children love to visit it.

Well, every night this book is picked out from the stack of library books and set on my lap to read. Why? Little Kids love repetition, repetition, repetition. Think about how many times they ask the same question in the car. Sometimes it's 10 times and I answer it 10 times! Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin and Eric Carle is a classic example.

Mommy looks at Thomas and smiles.
"Well, if you're too tired to walk or jump or swim,
maybe we should try...
(the suspense is killing me, ok turn the page)

All the cues are there for children to guess which activity Thomas and Mommy will do next. For example, the birds, butterflies and fairies are waiting and ready for mom to announce the next sport, flying. Mommy will try anything to keep from carrying Thomas all the way home. I especially like how they fly past the shops and library.... until they get to their flat that overlooks the city. And the mommy is ultra hip (and fit) with her headband, curly locks, orange baggy pants, green belly tank and backpack. I recommend this book, but be prepared- to read it over and over.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Post on Mommy Blogs

This is a late night post which happens when I drink coffee after 4:00 pm or have money anxiety.

I've strayed from reading my usual kid lit bloggers tonight and ventured into mommy blogs.

Ask Moxie.org is a parenting advice blog and I plan to search the archives to find out how to manage the place between military general and pushover mom with my two and a half-year-old. What I need is a bullhorn that I can use from my bedroom at 6:00 am when I hear chairs being pushed around. Then I could say, Away From the Counter, Away From the Counter. Really monotone, so I wouldn't actually be yelling. I don't like to start the day yelling before coffee.

And then there's Her Bad Mother. This blog reminds me just how prudish I really am.

Here's a popular blog, coolmompicks. Oh I can get lost in this blog full of cool kids stuff and more to desire, but not late at night with money anxiety. So tomorrow I'll settle back into my comfortable spot on the web reading and talking about picture books, alas without the bullhorn.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Good Day

Mix a pancake,

Stir a pancake,

Pop it in the pan;

Fry the pancake,

Toss the pancake-

Catch it if you can.

~Christina G. Rosseti

Mmmmm Early Sunday morning and the warm cozy smell of pancakes and maple syrup is wafting upstairs..... it's a good day. And a 3 day week-end!

It's A Good Day by Kevin Henkes is full of sweet, simple, colorful, flowing art which sometimes looks like woodcut prints. It's Kevin Henkes art at its best. With simple text, it starts with 4 animals having a bad day. A squirrel has lost his nut, a fox her mother.... "But then...," the squirrel finds a bigger nut and the fox finds his mother. To end it all, a little girl finds a perfect feather. She tucks it behind her ear and runs to her house, "Mama! What a good day."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thinking Mother Pickle

Todays post is a mish mash of streaming thoughts and a few resources. First is the literary magazine for "thinking mothers" titled, Brain Child. I've given up on some parenting magazines because I don't need to flip through all those advertisements to find a useful article that isn't about the horrors of accidental choking or some neurological chemical found in teddy bear stuffing. Two mainstream parenting magizines I do enjoy however, are Kiwi and Wondertime with Wondertime being the most commercial and Brain Child the least.

For information on the go, I like the format of podcast pickle. Downloading to my phone is new territory for me, but I plan to experiment this weekend and get those Just One More Book podcasts ready for listening to on a trail hike or long car ride. I'll let you know how that works out. And maybe you have some tips for me.

Here is an controversial post for us bloggers. Now keep in mind it is not specific to kid's lit and from the UK, but it does bring up issues to mull over, for a minute.

Book Bloggers: The Saviour of Small Publishers? The End of Decent Criticism? Or Unpaid Cheerleaders?

And lastly, I watched Michael Moore's, Sicko, last night. Despite what you make think of his politics or movie-making, he really brings to light the holes in the American health-care system.
So, I've been thinking too much this morning and it's time for a nice hot shower, fresh air and music!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Implications of One Plus One

I've always loved this romantic poem by Marge Piercy.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Implications of One Plus One

Sometimes we collide, tectonic plates merging,

continents shoving, crumpling down into the molten
veins of fire deep in the earth and raising
tons of rock into jagged crests of Sierra.

Sometimes your hands drift on me, milkweed's
airy silk, wingtip's feathery caresses,
our lips grazing, a drift of desires gathering
like fog over warm water, thickening to rain.

Sometimes we go to it heartily, digging,
burrowing, grunting, tossing up covers
like loose earth, nosing into the other's
flesh with hot nozzles and wallowing there.

Sometimes we are kids making out, silly
in the quilt, tickling the xylophone spine,
blowing wet jokes, loud as a whole
slumber party bouncing till the bed breaks.

I go round and round you sometimes, scouting,
blundering, seeking a way in, the high boxwood
maze I penetrate running lungs bursting
toward the fountain of green fire at the heart.

Sometimes you open wide as cathedral doors
and yank me inside. Sometimes you slither
into me like a snake into its burrow.
Sometimes you march in with a brass band.

Ten years of fitting our bodies together
and still they sing wild songs in new keys.
It is more and less than love: timing,
chemistry, magic and will and luck.

One plus one equal one, unknowable except
in the moment, not convertible into words,
not explicable or philosophically interesting.
But it is. And it is. And it is. Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nature Education and Stuff

GreenPrinterOnline links to The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. It seems appropriate to follow Kim's post, Beards and Birds Not Bombs, with this clip. You can watch Annie Leonard's full presentation on the story of stuff site. And following are a few useful titles on environmental education.
Sharing Nature with Children by Joseph Bharat Cornell
Into the Field: A Guide to Locally Focused Teaching by Clare Walker Leslie
Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education by David Sobel
Nature in a Nutshell for Kids: Over 100 Activities You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less by Jean potter
Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World (The Bioneers Series) by David W. Orr, Michael K. Stone, Zenobia Barlow, and Fritjof Capra

Beards and Birds Not Bombs!

These are exciting times. Beards, long hair and bee hives are back in style. Did you see Miss floral beehive/Amy Winehouse's performance on the Grammy awards show? It's nice to have a truly unique talent win and hopefully end a long run of typical banal pop- star stuff we've endured over the past few years.

Today we voted in Virginia. When I tucked the babies in bed last night , I could hear Barack Obama talking on our answering machine...how strange! I'm not going to go political....we'll keep this blog about children's books, authors and illustrators. Speaking of illustrators, things are starting to stir in the art world with small underground homespun illustrators becoming overnight superstars via internet exposure and a good printer. Lots of really great pop/sign art is getting eaten up. I bought this one yesterday, "knock"...get it? So cute!!! Here are a couple more fun illustrations I found online to go with the times:

My book of choice today is "Across America I Love You", written by Christine Loomis and illustrated by Kate Kiesler. From the craggy coasts of the Pacific to the forests of New England, Christine Loomis has America's landscape covered. Her lyrical poem of America is perfect for a mother to sing her child to sleep. Here's an excerpt: "In the forests of northern California branches of giant sequoias reach up to rock the moon and cradle the Western sky, reach up to embrace a universe of possibilities. My arms reach too, ready to rock and cradle you, to embrace the universe of possibilities in you."

Kate Keisler's paintings in this picture book are filled with the natural beauty across America as well as the wonder of the miracle of life.

Monday, February 11, 2008

All the Places to Love

"Often and often afterwards, the beloved Aunt would ask me why I had never told anyone how I was being treated. Children tell little more than animals, for what comes to them they accept as eternally established."
-Rudyard Kipling

My first response to the above quote was that it alluded to abusive behavior but I think it is also deeper then that.
Kipling's words are powerful and wise. I think about the world I want my girls to know. I want their appreciation of nature "eternally established." So much joy in life is experienced in nature and from our interactions with it (including all the bugs and animals of course.)

All the Places to Love by Patricia Maclachlan with paintings by Mike Wimmer is a terrific example a child's connection to nature and family. Here is a
synopsis by Chinaberry: All the places to love are the ones surrounding young Eli. On the day he is born, his grandmother holds him up to the window so that what he hears first is the wind, and what he sees first are the valleys, river and hilltop where blueberries grow, as his grandfather carves his name in the rafter of the barn, next to those of his grandparents and his parents. He will be lovingly shown the beauty and simple pleasure in his world, and will grow up knowing that no matter where life takes him, he will always think this is the best place because those who showed it to him, love him and these places more than anything else.
This is truly another wonderful picture book to have in your child's collection. BTW Patricia Maclachlan is also the co-author of,
Once I Ate a Pie--13 Dogs Tell All. You can check out a review over at Charlotte's Library.

A parenting book I've enjoyed is Trees Make the Best Mobiles by Jessica Teich and Brandel France de Bravo. In a time of over scheduling and perhaps controlling our children's lives, their advice is warranted. "Infants, toddlers and teenagers share an important requirement: that parents be available but respectful, too. They want to know you are there, but not everywhere. Respect their need for secrets, for hiding places, for trust."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Pat the Bunny or Not

Now they've gone too far. I'm mostly OK with children's book characters animated on PBS Kids or Nick Jr. There are Curious George, Max and Ruby, and Charlie and Lola to name a few. But a DVD of Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt? Aren't we losing the integrity of a classic Touch and Feel concept book?

Genius Entertainment has produced a Baby Einstein style version of Pat the Bunny set for release March 4th. I just have to throw up my arms and gripe here. I'm partly guilty I suppose by setting my baby in the saucer in front of a Baby Einstein video so I could take a shower, but Pat the Bunny? I'm starting to rethink the playpen filled with soft toys. They're pitching the DVD as "interactive play ideas for children 6-36 months. . . .Now you can make the most important playdate of all- the one with you!" How much creative, fun, interactive play does a one-year-old want? Aren't silly faces, goofy sounds, cuddling and Pat the Bunny THE BOOK enough?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cats and Peas........

All this talk about cats and peas reminds me of a book I found at the thrift store called "The Underground Cats" by Susan Bennett. 1974 was a great year and I would have loved this book as a 4 year old when it came out...just as my 4 year old does now! So even though it is old and no longer in print by Macmillan Publishing, Amazon still has some used copies available.

The illustrations are tissue paper collage and have strangely almost come full circle with today's modern colors of olive green, orange, brown and charcoal. (Through the entire book!) Even though you will still know this is a product of the 70's.

A wild and fun fairy tale which starts off simple: "a woman with a lazy daughter and a stepdaughter whom she made work from morning till night." The stepdaughter has to gather wild greens and one day comes across a great, fat cauliflower and pulls it. The earth opens up to a hole with a ladder which leads down to the underground cats. She helps them with their chores and shares a meal of macaroni, roast hen and PEAS! The mamma cat thanks her with a silk dress, slippers, gold rings and a star on her forehead, then sends her home.

After hearing this, the stepmother sends her own daughter to visit the cats but she makes nothing but trouble for everyone and the cats are unhappy. The mother cat dresses her in rags and sends her home. As she climbs out of the hole, roots wrap around her fingers and sour pudding drops down and covers her face! She arrives home "looking uglier than a witch."

And not long afterward, the good stepsister married a handsome young man.

Evie, Ivie, Over

Bluebells, cockleshells,
Evie, ivie, over,
Mother's in the kitchen
Doing a bit of stitching,
Baby's in the cradle
Playing with a rattle,
A rickety stick, a walking stick,
One, two, three.

These Nursery rhymes are from Here Comes Mother Goose edited by Iona Opie and illustrated by Rosemary Wells. This book is well worth having in your collection. Did you know there was a Mother Goose Society? I did not know that. The hedgehog is for the cute effect.

Down in the valley where the green grass grows,
There's a pretty maiden she grows like a rose;
She grows, she grows, she grows so sweet,
She sings for her true love across the street.
Tommy, Tommy will you marry me?
Yes, love, yes, love, at half past three.
Ice cakes, spice cakes, all for tea,
We'll have our wedding at half past three.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


If I was a cat, I would look like this today- watch out kiddies! I could use a massage or roller coaster ride but since I'll have neither today I potted a large red geranium on the front porch and bought a good bottle of red wine for dinner. Speaking of dinner and cats I'm reminded of another favorite, Pizza Kittens by Charlotte Voake

"OH NO! NOT PEAS!" said Joe, Lucy and Bert. "We really don't like PEAS!"

"That's it!" said Dad. "Tomorrow we will all eat together. You will eat your food, and you will try to be helpful."

If you're not familiar with this story, Mom Cat is tired of picky little eaters fussing and making a big mess at dinnertime. The kittens leave the table to watch TV while Dad announces he will prepare dinner tomorrow. Dad's dinner starts off pretty well and then little Bert, falls off his chair taking the entire meal with him leaving soggy peas everywhere. The next night it's pizza. "Absolutely PERFECT!"

Our copy of Pizza Kittens is coming apart it has been read so many times. And now that I've resolved what to have for dinner, I wonder if Dad will notice the geranium? Happy New Year!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Marjolein Varekamp

I have a soft spot for European illustrations, kind of like UK or Australian accents. When I saw Marjolein Varekamp's pictures of pig and mouse wearing wellies, fixing a red airplane, and dreaming of bats and chocolates, I contacted her hoping she would be interested in working on a project together. Lucky for Bees Knees Books she was! Marjolein tells us a bit about herself, her books and her art. BTW that's Harold the little mouse with the glasses.
Marjolein you live in the Netherlands. Tell us a little about your childhood there.
I had a long, quiet, cushioned and pleasant childhood. Being the late arrival of the family (I have a brother and a sister), meant that I was pampered a lot, but also that I had to play on my own for most of the time. I loved playing with my cuddly toys, drawing, doing handicraft with mysister, collecting wildflowers and going to my ballet lessons. I have spent most of my childhood living in the country. My parents taught me to respect and love nature. To admire all things beautiful and to maybe create some more.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
My inspiration comes mainly from observation: animals (real or toy ones), the garden, interior design magazines, everyday life, art (e.g. Rembrandt, Cézanne, William Morris).
You went to art school in London. How has that influenced your work?
At art school in Holland I had studied painting, etching and drawing. In the end my work was nearly abstract. My Graphic Design Studies in London made me return to my roots and real passion: creating and illustrating children’s books. Also: leaving home, being a mature student, married and all, made me realize it was time to grow up, leave school and have children. (We have two.)
You have previously published children's books and worked on concept books for children. Please tell us about that creative process.
Usually it starts off with a simple idea: an imaginative picture of an animal character in a setting. What would be nice, funny and interesting for children to happen? The story develops as a series of pictures. Words are added. Than a few spreads are made for real and put into a dummy to visit publishers.
What would you say is the most fulfilling part about being a children's author/illustrator?
As a creator of children’s books you can step back into childhood. Imagine a world you would like to be in. And during the making of it you really are. Whenever a book is actually published, you see this world from the outside. And if children (and adults) like it, it surely feels wonderful.
Are there any children's authors/ illustrators that you admire?
As a child I was (and still am) a great fan of the Golden Books and Winnie-the-Pooh. I also admire John Burningham, Tony Ross, Ron Briggs, Jan Piénkowski, Max Velthuijs, Quentin Blake, Gitte Spee and many more.
What tips/advice would you give to aspiring authors and illustrators?
Realize this seemingly gentle and loving profession can be very very tough. Don’t be shy and hold on to your own style. Where can we go to read more about you and your art?
You can visit my website at www.marjoleinvarekamp.com
Look for more from this talented author/illustrator and a special collaboration with Bees Knees Books coming late Summer.

A New Classic

Today I found a new classic picture book for little ones. A magical book with a red fabric book cover, called "the little red fish" by Taeeun Yoo. It's the story of a little boy who goes to a library in the middle of the forest with his grandfather, the librarian. Je Je (the little boy) brings his pet fish with him. He falls asleep in the library and when he wakes up, the fish is missing! As you follow the fish through the story it sweeps you into a world of fantasy and imagination. The illustrations are amazing. You must check out Taeeun Yoo's website for more... like this polar bear paw. Here is also a feature on Taeeun.
    Speaking of fish...look who I just caught fishing!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Happy Hocky Family

I remember the first book my oldest daughter sat and listened to without trying to grab at the pages. It was The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country! by Lane Smith. Here is a review. Why this book after numerous animal and belly button toddler books? Partly it was my need to move on from hat, ball, and dog object identification books, but she was also developing an understanding of pictures as representations. Babies behave as if realistic color photographs are real objects. They rub, hit, and try to grasp and investigate the depicted objects. Somewhere around 19 months, they cease their attempts to manually explore pictures and instead, they point to the pictures. This suggests they have developed a concept of pictures.

Taking it a step further, many of the pictures in the Hocky Family Moves to the Country are familiar to a toddler. There is a Family, mom, dad, brother, sister, baby and dog. There is a Farm, a farmer, cows, squirrels, birds a rabbit and skunk. There are seasons, fall leaves and snow, and food. Although there are vocabulary and references in the story a toddler would not understand, these make it a humorous read for adults.

Lane Smith's Hocky Family is less celebrated then books, like The Stinky Cheese Man or his other collaborations with Jon Scieszka. (I saw a recent interview with Jon Scieszka over at Jen Robinson's Book Page and here's a good one at 7-imps. ) But it suits my taste. Smith's other Hocky Family book, which was actually the first Hocky book, is titled, The Happy Hocky Family. *************Try them. You and your toddler will love them.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


"Boogers are made from dirt, so they're dirty. Even if you line them up neatly like this, they're still dirty."

One of the most annoying toddler behaviors for any parent is booger-eating. Is it enough to say, stop picking you'll get a stomach ache? No, but now I have a secret weapon in Genichiro Yagyu's, The Holes in Your Nose.

Originally published in Japan in 1981 with the first American edition by Kane/Miller in 1994, this title is one of a series called, My Body Science. Other titles in the series by different Japanese authors include, All About Scabs, Contemplating Your Belly Button, The Gas We Pass, Everyone Poops, Breasts, and The Soles of Your Feet. I wish they would come out with a boxed set of this series and maybe add a new one about teeth or something.

This book will make adults smile and probably gross toddlers out. With large drawings, arrows, and diagrams showing mucus, nose hairs, and bloody noses, this book is much more effective then my nagging statements to stop picking! We know that the impressions and feelings inspired by books during childhood remain in the child's conscious mind even after growing up. They are a medium that possess immeasurable potential. Picture books teach moral lessons, show emotions, imaginative situations and factual information. Now if I can just get her to stop picking that scab.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Good Days Bad Days

My hands are much softer since I've been blogging and not doing as much housework. I go undetected as long as I hide the piles of laundry and keep coming up with excuses not to host playdates. Only kidding... about the playdates.

Work is not always required . . . there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.
-George Macdonald

Lessons learned when your car needs a new part and you're stranded at home for three days. This is one of the few times I've been able to stay home without being sick as a dog. Rent a car? No thank you I can wait. Friends are usually willing to pick your kids up from preschool, and I'll do the grocery shopping late in the evening- alone. I read Poetry Friday posts over at Karen Edmisten's Blog, made the phone calls I've been putting off, thought about organizing the garage. Notice I said thought about it because I've been practicing sacred idleness.

A year before my second, Bean was born, I found Catherine Anholt's Good Days Bad Days at a children's consignment shop.
The cherished simplicity of family life is so accurately pictured in this book. The text, "In our family we have good days and bad days happy days sad days work days play days.... Every day's a different day, but the best day follows yesterday. Today!" allows for much imaginative discussion about the pictures: little girls touching snails, refusing to leave the park, splashing out the bathwater or going to the library.

You may be familiar with Catherine Anholt's illustrations from Sophie and the New Baby or the Chimp and Zee books. Many books by the picture book team of Catherine and Laurence Anholt are for very young children. Speaking of which I have a baby shower tomorrow and no gift. An online gift certificate and handmade card will be just fine.