Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunny Sunday stuff

I banned screens for a few hours today and this was what I found on the floor (after not a little moaning.)

...and on the couch.

And this series, which I'm pretty sure I mentioned before is a huge hit around here. My nine year old is on book five and his older brother is rereading all of them. I must admit, the covers do not have me running for the camera but the silence when they settle down with any of the (huge) books has got my attention. 

I mentioned this last week and must do so again as I cannot remember when I have been so sorry to finish a book. Really, really wonderful.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Picasso's Trousers by Nicholas Allan

We got this from the library this morning. I was looking for The Noisy Paintbox and there it was. My four year old loved it and was more than happy to pose for the pictures. He's finished in pre-school now so my mornings to myself are over, for now. Still, it was nice reading this one together.

Picasso will not take "No!" for an answer. Below is his response when he is told that you cannot only use blue in a painting.

And where he was told that he should not paint a face from both a front and side perspective, (am I saying that the right way? Sorry if not. Like I said, I am at home with a four year old so time alone at the computer is limited!)

he shows them this.

He goes to the south of France, loves the sunshine and also the broken bike parts he finds.

And against all advice, makes them into art too. A cow!

The books concludes with the story that when Picasso decided he wanted trousers with horizontal stripes, he had to get them made himself. Everyone else thought they were a terrible idea. Here he is on the right wearing them. And on the left, under the flap are his underpants and socks, Also with horizontal stripes!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Teachers presents and Turkish towels

I got these mugs and biscuits in Tesco, and the labels in Bookstation. The ribbons came off the Turkish towels.

Just a small token, and everyone likes tea and biscuits right?

And these are the towels. They were €12.00 in the Zara sale.They're huge and the colours are so lovely. I've never used Turkish towels before, but I like the idea. We'll see this Summer if they work out!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Burt Dow Deep Water Man by Robert McCloskey

This is a real summertime read, especially if you are by the sea. Its one of those picture books that was published in the sixties that has quite a lot of text. Good text! Theres no doubt that kids must have had (or were assumed to have) longer attention spans back then. Its rare to get a picture book now that's over thirty two pages and even rarer to get one with more than two lines of text per page. I think this is also though, with all our helicopter parenting that there is an urge to move kid on from pictures to chapter books and novels. Which leaves picture books with the reputation that they are for toddlers only. So not true.

Anyway, enough rambling on. I'm no expert, but I do know that this book, Burt Dow Deep-Water Man is good for adventure lovers age three to ten and worth a look for any child who is interested in art. The paintings - I'm pretty sure the illustrations were painted, are so wonderful. If so many of them weren't spread over two pages they would all already be framed on my kids walls.

Here he is with his beloved boat the Tidely-Idely

 which he takes out one one sunny morning. Everyone knows the sounds of the Tidely-Idely.

He hadn't expect to meet a whale!(Look at the paint splashes on that tail - so beautiful.)

And this is where he ends up - in the whales tummy.

But Burt Dow is very resourceful and Whales, as we know from many childrens books, are very kind. They figure it out.  Sixty three pages of Summery wonderfulness. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell

This book was recommended to me by my friend Olivia, who said when she read it, she became completely absorbed in its world. I started it and agreed. Its wonderful. This world is the Japanese island of Dejima in 1799. Dutch exporters are allowed occupy it but can venture no further into Japan without special permission. Jacob is employed as a clerk and it is through his eyes we are seeing his fellow dutchmen, the Japanese merchants and in particular a young Japanese midwife. Highly, highly recommended.

This past week has been so full of sad new for all of us here in Ireland, so it has been nice to escape it for pockets here and there. I'm very lucky that I could do so and my thoughts go out to the parents who will never be able to.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Parent Trap by Erich Kastner

I got this from the library for my nine year old self. Thats when I read and loved Emil and the Detectives and well, look at the cover. Who could resist it?

I finished it today with a sigh. Its so good. I loved the Hayley Mills movie and liked the Lindsay Lohan one but neither of them could touch the book. Published in Germany in 1949, these original twins are called Lottie and Luise and live in Munich and Vienna. Their first meeting is at a summer camp in central Germany. The descriptions of their daily lives are so evocative - what they eat - stuffed pancakes, veal schnitzel, goulash and what they do - shopping for and cooking beef and pasta soup, attending the opera - its all wonderful. I LOVED it.

I don't know if my boys will too, but I hope so. My best bet is the nine year old who liked the All of a Kind Family. This edition is published by Pushkin Children's Books and its beautiful. The illustrations are by Walter Trier, a contemporary of Kastners. Look at this one..

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Vintage Ladybird - The Elves and the Shoemaker

Look familiar? I LOVED this one. I had Rumpelstiltskin too but he freaked me out a bit, being so mean. But I never tired of those little elves.

I've been searching for this edition of The Elves and the Shoemaker for years. It seemed so puzzling, that vintage style and actual vintage kids books were so, so popular, and yet Ladybird didn't reissue this series. They had it on postcards and there were images available online to see, but the book was impossible (for me) to find. Well, 2015 is Ladybirds 150th birthday and finally, here it is. Other "Well Loved Tales" available are RumpelstiltskinRapunzel, and Cinderella. Anyone who was read to in the seventies will know and I'm sure, love them. These editions are like those from the sixties - they're hardcover, with a coloured jacket. Underneath, they're like this..

And inside, they are exactly like you remember..

Monday, 15 June 2015

Nutella, ice cream and raspberry wafers

 Nutella, vanilla ice cream and raspberry wafers. Yum.
Doesn't that hand look huge? Like Tina Feys on the cover of Bossypants!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

This is Ireland, This is Greece

Appropriately enough, we read This is Ireland on a dull, drizzly day and This is Greece on a lovely, sunny one. I  had long wanted to one of this Sasek series, and was delighted to see the Ireland one in our library, so got it out to have a look. I know these books are trendy at the moment, because of their vintagey illustrations and I'm all for that. But I did wonder if they were just going to be books I'd place in strategic positions in my kids bedroom, for when some interiors magazine decide to to a spread on my house. (I know, they usually pick clean houses. But let me dream.)

Anyhoo, the verdict is in. I like these books, and my kids do too. But they are definitely for the older picture book set. Seven and up, ideally. My youngest is four and he was bored within seconds, but the older boy did enjoy them. And they really are a charming snapshot of cities in the sixties. For obvious reasons, I loved This is Ireland. Theres humour...
 A Dublin flower girl.

And charm..
Sweet Irish girls.

And for me, some nostalgia. I used to get one of these buses home from school sometimes. The 6A.

And these boats were used on the island where we used to holiday. My brothers and I would sit on the sand and watch them take cargo from a trawler which couldn't reach the beach. So, before going up to the only shop on the island, we would know what chocolate would be on the shelves. We'd have to run if we wanted to get a Mars bar before they sold out.

And this is Bunratty castle, where I went to on quite a few school tours.

This is Greece mainly concentrates on Athens, so much that This is Athens might have been a better title. Its lovely too, and for anyone interested in Greek Mythology, a nice background text. 

There's plenty of charm here too..
At the street side the friendly, hard-working Greeks will - feed you.

the "omphalos." (Aren't the hats great?)

and Pelicans in shops. It happened, apparently.

Yes, I would recommend these books. They are beautiful for starters, and funny. And a real window into the past. This is Paris was the first one written - I'd say thats a pretty good place to start.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

my Summer reads!

When we go on holidays, we bring an eight man tent. And air mattresses and sleeping bags and beach towels and clothes and swimming togs and a barbecue and a gas stove. Because we need to fit all this in our car, space is pretty tight. Therefore every book packed has to pay its fare by being really, really good.

 So, for the past few weeks I've been doing my research and searching for the perfect holiday reads. There they are above.

The one I'm looking forward to most is In Tearing Haste - letters between Deborah Devonshire (nee Mitford) and Patrick Leigh Fermor. I'll probably follow that with Homicide, because I loved The Wire. Then it'll be time for Euphoria, which is supposed to be quite like and as good as, States of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I think I'm going to have to read Lucky Jim before I leave because sadly, the print in this edition is so tiny, it gives me a headache. If you're getting it, get the one with the David Lodge introduction.

The good news is that this means I need to keep searching - I think four books will be just about right. Anyone got any suggestions?

Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Sea Thing Child by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Patrick Benson

I nearly didn't put this one in my pile in the library the other day. I know its a bit of a classic, I had heard of it. And we love, love, love Owl Babies, also illustrated by Patrick Benson, but I just wasn't keen on the title. Then when I got home my nine year old said he had read a bit of it already, as there was an excerpt in his English text book. That didn't really sell it to me either (although he was glad to see it), I  have searched through those stories too often, looking for "what made Tom sad when he first arrived at the orphanage?" or "were the bullies punished for their actions?" I really didn't think the school books publishers had great taste in kids literature.

Once again, I was wrong. The The Sea Thing Child is amazing. Its quite a long read aloud, so my four year old certainly didn't sit for all of it, but his brothers were transfixed. As was I. Its funny and a bit sad and uplifting and the most beautifully written story I have read aloud in a long time. I suppose its about bravery really. Anyway, The Sea Thing Child - its definitely worth checking out. You'll read it over and over again.
"Do you make a break in the circle when you want to come out or do you just step over it?" said the Crab. 
"I have to make a break in the circle of course," said the sea-thing child, "but that's much less bother than moving stones and much easier to close up again."
"Yes," said the crab. "That's very sensible. It's a fine day. Perhaps we might take a walk among the rocks?"

Monday, 1 June 2015

Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson

This is a great one.  We got Hilda and the Black Hound from the library last week and it got two thumbs up from my nine year old. I didn't look at it until today myself, and couldn't stop taking photos. Each page was better than the last.

As the title suggest, this is about a little girl called Hilda,

and a black hound.

 Also starring are the little Nisse folk, 

and Hildas Mum.

I love this - who hasn't nicked the end of a french stick?

Recommended for ages seven or eight and up, there are a few Hilda books in this series. I hope our library has a few more of them.
(my pictures above are details - this is what a full double page looks like.)