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Jan Brett::The Easter Egg Tour 2010

Ask Steady Eddie, and he’ll tell you that (my) reading has taken him a lot of places he never imagined dreamed he’d go.  Like Prince Edward Island, Canada.  Or DeSmet, S.D.  Or any of the other several obscure places we’ve sought out due to my reading.  Last night, it took us to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Hastings Bookstore  for Jan Brett’s Spring Tour promoting her new book, The Easter Egg.  I first read about the tour in an issue of Family Fun magazine (which was actually promoting her handpainted egg giveaway).  When I saw on her website that she was going to be only a couple of hours from our home, I immediately begin plotting to go.  Nevermind the fact that it was on the eve of one of our busiest weekends of the enter year.  Steady Eddie, being the loving man that he is, agreed to my harebrained scheme. 

When we pulled into the parking lot, we saw the big bus.  That was exciting! 

Of course, I had to pose for a picture with it!  It is beautiful!  🙂

When we entered the store, we saw Jan Brett set up at her table.  There was a long, long line snaking away from the table toward the back of the store.  We simply found what we thought was the end of the line and got in it.  It turns out that this was only a small portion of the line, and the kind ladies at the back of this portion of the line instructed us to go get a ticket.  Ah, a ticket. 

Do you see that tiny little number in the bottom, right-hand corner?  234.  That’s right–we held ticket number 234.  🙂  After conversing with the manager, we decided it might be best to leave, get a bite for supper, and come back.  So we did.

The poor McAlister’s Deli located in the parking lot of the shopping center we were in boasted that Kids Eat FREE on Tuesday and Thursday nights!  I’ll bet they never dreamed how many kids would make their way from Hastings to their besieged restaurant last night.  😉

After enjoying our supper, we returned to Hastings at about 7:00 to resume our place in line.  Steady Eddie and I took turns taking the girls around the store to shop.  They had $5 from their nana to spend, and those bills were burning the proverbial holes in their pockets.  In some of our meanderings about the store, we ran into Hedgie!

Seven p.m. was the time the book signing was supposed to end, but we were still at the very end of a long, long line, and we had been assured that Jan Brett would stay to the very end.

She did.  A little bit before 9:00, we made it to the front of the line.  When we got almost to the table, I noticed this sweet illustration on an easel.  I learned that Jan Brett had demonstrated her drawing skills when the book signing began–at 5:00, before we arrived.  I hated that we missed it, but I was glad to snap this picture.

It turns out that those tickets were for the number of books you had for her to sign–two books per ticket.  I had already purchased The Easter Egg and On Noah’s Ark, but we also brought along our Christmas Treasury and a paperback for her to sign.  The nice folks in front of us had an extra ticket, so Steady Eddie even got in on the action!  🙂 

Jan Brett was very kind and engaging, despite the fact that we were ticket holder number 234.  She had already completed one book signing in Knoxville earlier in the day, but she and her handwriting were just as crisp and beautiful as if they had just begun!

She spent a little bit of time talking with my girls.  They showed her their coloring pages of Berlioz the Bear and some of her other characters. 

Despite the fact that we didn’t get home until midnight last night, I am very glad we went.  It was exciting to meet this real-life, extraordinarily talented, and very famous author and illustrator.  I hope my girls remember this, but if they don’t, we have the books (and the pictures)!

We still haven’t even had a chance to read either of the new books (and truthfully, I bought On Noah’s Ark in board book format for baby brother), but I’m looking forward to sharing them with the girls.

I’m glad we got to take part in Jan Brett’s 2010 Spring Tour!

After all, reading can take you places you’ve never dreamed you’ll go!  🙂

_________________________________

Please excuse this hastily written post, but I wanted to share these pictures and our little adventure before I go on semi-bloggy break for the next couple of weeks.  I’ll still be posting some TOS HomeschoolCrew reviews and Read Aloud Thursday will go on as usual, and I might have a few other pre-scheduled post.  Other than that (!!!), things should be quiet here.  My quilting post I promised earlier in the week will have to wait until after Easter.  By then, I will be posting at my new, self-hosted addressThat blog will go live April 5.

And now, I’m off to prepare for our next adventure!  🙂

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Read Aloud Thursday

It seems like things have gotten a little off track here at the House of Hope in the past week.  I always strive to finish (or mostly finish) Lulu’s kindergarten lessons before lunchtime, but this week it seems that we’ve usually only started the formal stuff (phonics, math) after lunch.  I’m trying to realize that this is a season in my life–one in which I move incredibly slowly and sometimes painfully (I have back issues which have been greatly aggravated by this pregnancy).  This really puts a crimp in my plans sometimes.  Plus, I’m trying to be a more relaxed homeschooler–to realize that no, we can’t do it all in one day, and that’s okay.  Anyway, what this has meant is that we have been doing a fair amount of reading in the mornings on the couch.  While our read-alouds times in the morning usually do have some direction (i.e. either a FIAR book or go-along or something that goes with our human body study), we’ve also been doing a good amount of “free reading.”  We’ve picked up quite a few winners!

Rabbit Inn was almost returned to the library before we had a chance to read it, but I’m so glad I held it out for one more day!  Patience Brewster’s gentle little story is about a rabbit couple who are innkeepers.  When the Mrs., Pandora Lapinandro, learns that some important visitors are coming to Rabbit Inn, she begins to see her beloved home through new eyes:  it’s in disrepair!  It’s in disarray!  Quick, Bob, let’s clean this place up!  The job is too big for just the two bunnies, though, so Bob Lapinandro calls upon the residents at the inn to help them.  They willingly help, two-by-two.  By the time the visitors arrive, everything is in order, and Pandora can relax.  Three things are great about this book: first, it is (unexpectedly, I might add) perfect for the place our family is right now.  (I’ll let you figure that one out!  😉  )  Second, the words and illustrations are so very detailed.  Much of the story rhymes, and all of the animals have funny names.  Third, the fact that the animals all come in pairs made it easy to turn this book into a little mini-math review. (No, I don’t turn everything into a lesson, but some books make it easy, right?)   🙂  This book surprised me, and I’m glad we read it.  You can find out more about the author and illustrator, Patience Brewster, by visiting her website.

I’m putting in this next one not because I think anyone out there might miss Jan Brett, but because I’m still hoping to attend one of her book signings.  Although we enjoy her books at Christmas time, I don’t often check her out at other times during the year (although we did have a books for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day that she illustrated).  Unlike these holiday books, Berlioz the Bear is illustrated in the way we’ve all come to recognize as her style:  with sidebars and “extra” illustrations to alert us, the readers, to what is going on elsewhere in the story.  The story of Berlioz is a good one, one that really engages young listeners.  Poor Berlioz is a double bass player who is trying to get to the village square for the gala ball his orchestra is scheduled to play in.  He has a problem, though:  his double bass is making a funny, buzzing noise.  Once all the other musicians arrive and they all board the bandwagon, though, his one problem quickly morphs into two problems:  a wagon wheel gets stuck in a hole soon after they begin their journey, and the mule pulling the wagon characteristically sits down in the road and refuses to budge.  Lots of well-dressed animals come to their rescue, but it’s Berlioz’s first problem that finally solves his second.  This one is fun both to read and look at!  I found this page of illustrated notes about the story that makes me like Jan Brett even more.  If you haven’t checked out her website, you really should.  It’s positively brimming over with good stuff:  coloring pages, contests, lesson plans, etc.

I have more books to share, but my girls are up from rest time.  Duty calls!  🙂

What is your family enjoying this week?  Please provide a link to a blog post or simply leave a comment.  Oh, and spread the word!  I’ve recently begun participating in What My Child Is Reading at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns (when I can remember to link up, that is, since it’s a Saturday event).  I like to get Read Aloud Thursday out there as much as possible–the more the merrier, I say!

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Have a terrific Read Aloud Thursday!

Colorful

I just wanted to post a quick follow-up to my St. Patrick’s Day post in which I declared that we would be making this cake or these cupcakes today.    I opted for the cake after I read lots of comments following the cupcake recipe with phrases like “this took a lot of time” or “time consuming,” etc.  Ours was something of an ill-fated project from the beginning:  I spilled a little bit of the batter after I added the water to the cake mix, so I guessed at how much water to put back in.  Then, I realized that we only possessed two eggs, not three, as the recipe demanded.  Last, Louise managed to drop an entire bottle (the bottle too, not just the contents) into the bowl of batter she was tinting.

All things considered, I think it turned out pretty well.  The girls agree. 

Happy Spring!

Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham

I picked up Leaving Gee’s Bend at the library because I knew Irene Latham to be an Alabama author.  She had visited some local schools in the past, and while I didn’t attend any of those visits, she was definitely on my radar.  Add to this the fact that a good friend of mine is an avid quilter who has taught me a thing or two about quilting, so I already knew a little bit about Gee’s Bend and its heritage.  I was primed for a story I could recognize and/or identify with. 

What I didn’t expect was a story that blew me away!  It’s the story of Ludelphia Bennett, the ten year old daughter of an African American sharecropping family in the Black Belt of Alabama during the Great Depression.  Shortly after the story opens, Ludelphia’s pregnant mother gives birth to a baby girl with Ludelphia and a neighbor, sixteen year old Etta Mae, in attendance.  There are two problems, however:  Mama is sick, not just pregnant; and Etta Mae, whom Ludelphia has always admired and relied on,  has been accused of witchcraft.  With Mama apparently growing worse, Ludelphia takes matters into her own hands and decides to leave Gee’s Bend for Camden, the nearest town with a doctor.  She has to find a way across the river and find the doctor, all the while avoiding the likes of a certain sharecropping boss’s cruel wife.  This is high adventure with a heart.

The best part about this story, though, is Ludelphia herself.  Ludelphia’s voice in the story is simply beautiful:

I squeezed the water from the cloth pieces and spread them out on the sunny patch of pine straw to dry.  I held the needle between my finger and thumb, gentle enough so as not to draw blood.  Such a tiny little thing.  But just the touch of it made me feel better.  Like right between my fingers I was holding a piece of home. (89)

You see, Ludelphia has a bad eye, and so her Mama taught her how to quilt instead of insisting that she do field work.  Quilting is Ludelphia’s solace and figures heavily into the plot of the story.  In the end, Ludelphia learns some things about herself and home.  She doesn’t exactly save the day in the way she expects, but the story has a very satisyfing ending.  Irene Latham is not only a master at using dialect very unobtrusively, she also has a talent for figurative language.  Again, Ludelphia’s voice is unforgettable.  

This is just a beautiful story.  This book most definitely gets a Highly Recommended from me!  I’m pretty sure it will make my Best of 2010 list.  Although it is classified as juvenile fiction, anyone who enjoys a good story with a winsome protagonist would like this one.  You can read another short excerpt from the novel here, or you can learn more about the author by visiting her website.  She even has a blog!  I’m not making any promises, but there’s a good chance that I’ll have a chance to interview Irene Latham for Hope Is the Word!

It turns out that my girls and I have been enjoying some picture books about quilting lately, too.   I hope to have another quilting and books post up later this week!  Stay tuned!

Carnival of Homeschooling

This week’s Carnival of Homeschooling has been published at Beverly’s Homeschool Blog.  Check out this wonderful carnival if you’re in the middle of your homeschooling journey, just beginning, or just considering it.  To learn how to submit an entry for a future edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling, visit Why Homeschool.

In the Spotlight

Regular readers here at Hope Is the Word know I love a good interview. Now I feel all official–Carrie has interviewed ME. You can read the interview at her picture book blog, Reading My Library. Check it out!

Reading My Library

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

 

It’s usually challenging for me to write a monthly Kids’ Picks post, mainly because I’m the main book picker here at the House of Hope.  Oh, my girls have plenty of opportunity to choose books for our read-alouds times or for their own perusal, but ultimately, I control what comes into the house.  I do let them pick a couple of books each time we go to the library, but I limit it to two or three each because if I didn’t, we’d end checking out the entire Arthur or Franklin collection.  😉  Please don’t revoke my Kids’ Picks button!  🙂

This month, though, I have a genuine Kids’ Pick, and one that reaches back a couple of years, at that.  Louise requested We’re Going on a Bear Hunt last week.  This is one of those books that my girls loved, loved, loved when they were younger.  However, as they’ve gotten older (after all, they’re very mature 5 and 4 year olds now! 😉 ), I regret to say that I’ve let quite a few of these classics fall by the wayside.  In fact, we have one whole long shelf of boardbooks that were once beloved favorites but that we never look at now.  We own We’re Going on a Bearhunt in paperback, and after Louise repeatedly requested that we read it, it took a little searching on our full-to-overflowing shelves, but we found it.  There are several lessons in this for me:

  • Just because my children are capable of and willing to listen to long chapter books doesn’t mean we need to abandon picture books (even “babyish” ones). 
  • Children love repetition and familiar stories, even after we are sick of them.
  • I shouldn’t get so wrapped up in my latest library finds that I neglect my own home library.  I’m very guilty of this.
  • Louise is my little songbird:  she is forever making up songs and rhymes.  I really need to indulge and encourage this, especially through the books we read. 

I actually can’t believe I haven’t included this particular story on my Best Picture Books list before now.  (I’ll attribute it to the fact that I really have neglected our home library.)  This is such a great toddler and preschool picture book–it’s very repetitive and just begs to be acted out.  It is my go-to rhyme when we keep the nursery at church and the natives begin to get restless.  Helen Oxenbury‘s illustrations are very expressive; my girls have always been concerned about the rather dejected-looking bear at the end of the story.  In short, this is one that’s too good to be missed.  You can visit the author’s website here.  I even found a video of him performing We’re Going on a Bearhunt.  Enjoy!

As if all of this is not enough, I have photographic evidence that this book is indeed a genuine Kids’ Pick here at the House of Hope.  The photographs here were snapped back about two years ago, and they are of Louise with her favorite book.  Seeing these pictures makes me almost teary-eyed, but it also gives me another reason to look forward to the new addition to our family who will be here faster than we can get ready for him!

For more Kids’ Picks, visit 5 Minutes for Books!