Monday Morning Freewrite

I have decided to not feel guilty for not planning a big agenda for the summer. For more summers than I care to count, we have always had something. For a couple of summers it was me teaching on storytelling. Last summer it was that huge reunion that took more time than I even realized. It was also finishing up with Renovare. I also taught at TAC all last summer. So to not have any agenda at all other than the shower for Madina (that got canceled due to her C Section) seems so weird for me, but I am managing to get so much done around the house. I have gotten through so many cupboards and drawers. Right now, it is working on the kitchen. Today I think I will tackle underneath the sink. This seems so mundane, but I sure like being able to have the time to make my home neat and clean. I usually have reserved August for that in the past, but July seems to be fairly clear. So I am "striking while the iron is hot." 

I am going to contact Lori and see if she wants to meet in Hillsb…

55. Mr. Harrison's Confessions

I read Cranford a few days ago. Then I watched the mini-series by the BBC. There was so much in that excellent series that was not in Cranford. I assumed it was the brilliance of Heidi Thomas (Call the Midwife) who wrote the script for the series. I watched the Special Features for the mini-series, and the creator said that the script was created based on three books by Gaskell. So I went searching, and my old friend, Librivox, had an excellent narration of one of the books (novella really). This is the whole storyline in the mini-series about Dr. Harrison and Sophie. It was delightful and made me laugh out loud a few times! I love Gaskell! By the way, the narrator for this Librivox recording is excellent. Now I am off to listening to the other novella they incorporated into the series. I love summer reading!

54. My Dog Tulip

Alsatian in Great Britain is what American's call a German Shepherd. I grew up with two German Shepherds: Duke and Babe. Ackerley writes beautifully, but I got a bit tired of him trying to find a male dog to mate with his dog. I am not sure I would have put it on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List though. It was painless to read, and the author is quite clever. It made me curious to know more about the author. He was a prisoner of war in World War I, and I would like to explore more of his life than his dog's!

52. The Complete Persepolis

This includes #46 on the books I have read this year and the sequels. WOW! I think everyone should read this. He or she would get a better perspective on what happened in Iran and to its people. I have a better perspective because I have many Iranian friends. What a journey this woman has been on. Highly recommend it. Tonight, my husband and I (he read these long ago) will watch the animated version of the book. I am looking forward to it.

53. Skellig by David Almond

This truly is a beautiful book. It is under "Children's Literature" (Ages 8-12) in the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die, but it really is one for all ages. The really preferred the audiobook over reading it. It does start very slowly, and you wonder why it is on the list. I am glad I put the book down until the audiobook became available though. It was lovely to read it that way. 
I also have to admit I LOVED all the references to William Blake in the story and to Mina being homeschooled and the commentary on traditional school. I am intrigued by it, and I might read the sequel about Mina. 
This book reminded me of a time when I was quite young, and my brother had to have surgery, but I was left in the dark and left at a friend's house. I remember screaming as my mother drove away. I stayed there more than one night, and I did not understand what was happening to me. Where was my lovely, peaceful family (because the family that they left me at was very chaotic and the…

51. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee

I saw this movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton once and remember being so disturbed by it. Reading the words of the play is no less disturbing. This is the anatomy of a very troubled marriage. It is dark and chilling. But it is no doubt what happens in marriages all over the world. I am grateful mine is not one of them, and my heart breaks for people like George and Martha (and Honey and Nick, for that matter). I guess you could see this as a cautionary tale. It was VERY hard to get through, especially after such a sweet book like Cranford that I finished yesterday!

50. Cranford by Gaskell

I really think I like Gaskell as much as Austen. This book doesn't necessarily have a plot, but it is so engaging with wonderful characters in a small English village. This narration was also perfect!

Freewrite Fifteen on a Wednesday Morning

I am happy this morning. 

After two weeks of being cooped up inside with terrible grass allergies, my hubby took the whole family to the beach over the 4th of July, and it was great to walk on the beach without grass pollen. We walked together every morning, and then George would go out with the boys (not boys anymore but they will always be my "boys" even though they are 24 and 27 now) for about an hour in the mid-morning, and I would stay in the room and stretch and read! Later in the day we would do something together as a family. Usually walking on the beach again. So I got a LOT of walking in! (Back totally CLICKED back in after Emiko's massage making it go out on the right hip. I was looking at whale boats with the binos, and I rotated my upper body while sitting in the chair and heard a loud CLICK! YAY!)

I read so many books over the holiday. It was great, and if you want to know what books I read, just look at the slew of book reviews that I did yesterday! It was s…

49. The Phantom Tollbooth

Why had I never read this before? I never read it to my kids, but one of my kids said he read it on his own as an adult. I just looked it up, and it is part of the 8th Grade Readers for Sonlight Curriculum, and we were already on to other things by then. I loved it. It is so clever and classic and loved it! It is like a more modern Alice in Wonderland only Alice is called Milo in this story.

37. The Three Golden Keys by Peter Sis

I loved learning the old stories of Prague. I dream of going there some day soon!

From James Mustich:
In this book’s fairy-tale narrative, a young man’s hot-air balloon is blown off course and lands him in an ancient town, which he recognizes as Prague, the city of his youth. He makes his way to his old home, but the house is dark, the door secured with three rusty padlocks. A black cat appears to lead him through silent streets in search of the keys that will unlock the gate to his lost childhood. Sís’s images, crowded with detail and decoration, create an exhilarating cityscape that spreads like a map over the large pages. They are washed with colors both muted and luscious, colors that coat the illustrations with the mystic, tentative, tantalizing affections of remembrance. One falls into his marvelous memory palace like a thought tumbling into sleep—and dreams. Disguised as a children’s book in format and style, The Three Golden Keys will nourish the imagination of any reader. It is…

40-44: Eloise, Eloise in Paris, In Moscow, at Christmastime

The audio version is wonderfully narrated by Bernadette Peters and includes all four books above. What a hoot! You really need to "read" these books with Bernadette. Her singing in a six year old's voice is hilarious. I loved it!
But I went to the beach and there was no BOOK to go with the CD (as the above book cover indicates). So I listened to it and imagined the illustrations and then I went back to the library and got all four books to feast on the illustrations by Hilary Knight (there is an HBO documentary on him that I want to watch next time Xfinity has a free HBO week). I loved this and can totally see why it is on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list. She is acting out because she is a neglected child. That is a layer overlooked. 

39. Sparkle and Spin

I liked this one. It is part of the 1000 Books list, and it is playful and the history of the Rands probably is the reason why it is on the list.
From: James Mustich:  The corporate identities that designer Paul Rand created for IBM, Westinghouse, ABC, and Steve Jobs’s NeXT made him one of the most acclaimed and influential designers of the twentieth century. Between 1956 and 1970, he also used his gift for simple, colorful, and bold graphic brilliance to illustrate—“realize” is probably a better word—children’s books written by his wife, Ann. Sparkle and Spin celebrates the genius of words and their capacity to express all manner of meaning, and the two-dimensional displays of cutouts, collages, and spare representational forms that Rand deploys across the pages convey an attentiveness that few picture books can match.  .

38. The Rainbabies

I am not exactly sure why this book would be included in the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die. It was nice, but it wasn't anything remarkable. This is what the author of 1000 Books, James Mustich, says:

A picture book is often a shared family treasure, and few contemporary illustrated stories have been more shareable—or more treasurable—than this magical volume, in which a childless couple discovers twelve tiny babies in the raindrops of a spring moonshower. They nurture and protect them with love, luck, and courage. Strange dangers rear their heads, but the man and woman remain steadfast in their devotion to their accidental infants. Laura Krauss Melmed has told her beautiful story so well—in the imagery, rhythms, and resonance of a true fairy tale—that one turns the pages both awed and overjoyed. Jim LaMarche’s paintings are perfectly matched to the tenor of the tale. The Rainbabies is the kind of book that stays in a family across the generations.

46. Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock

Really sort of corny, but it was on my 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List, and people in high school used to always say I was the doppelganger of the actress (Pamela Sue Martin) who portrayed her in the 1970 TV show. So I had to read at least one! I also didn't particularly care for Laura Linney's narration.

45. Persepolis - Childhood

Wow! This is so effective in having an child's perspective of what happened in Iran during the revolution. I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading the sequel when I pick it up from the library!

48. The Year of Magical Thinking

I had never heard of this woman; but apparently she and her husband were very important writers. She and her husband wrote novels and screenplays and lived quite a life. This is her memoir of the year after her husband died. It was poignant, but I am not sure that it would hit the general public like it would a literary type. I did like it though, and it did make me contemplate loss as I just had 10 deaths between the end of May and end of June. It made me appreciate my marriage (they had a good one) and cherishing the time I have with my loved ones. I am looking forward to watching the documentary on her life when I take advantage of the next Free month of Netflix.

47. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This is a beautiful book. I had NEVER read it before, and I did not know that the quote that inspired the name of this blog comes from THIS book! 

"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well." (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) 

I knew it was by the author, but I assumed it was in his non-fiction.

Another favorite quote is said by the fox to the little prince when he is saying good-bye:

"Here is my secret. It's quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." 

Here is a review from library thing with several of the quotes that I thought were good:

(By Kirankinny and found here:

Wow, a true classic and masterpiece. Small book, easy language and fast read, but the ideas and messages are large, complex and hard to sink. Expected to be small children's book. But turned out to be a non-pretentious, genuine philosophy of life itself. I wanted to …

36. Harold and the Purple Crayon

35. The Mouse and His Child

This is a sweet book. It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I was hooked. It is definitely a "hero goes on a journey" type of book. The mouse and his child go on an epic journey outside of their "comfort zone" and learn lessons along the way.