Showing posts from July, 2018

Time For Bed, Miyuki

There is the old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover," but I fell in love with Time for Bed, Miyuki as soon as I saw Seng Soun Ratanavah's cover art. Her glorious illustration made me pick up this book to look at it and I was not disappointed. 

"With a rain of gold on silver hills, the sun offers its last light before leaving for the night. The nightingale prepares her nest. Ants gather their provisions. And the toad jumps into a bucket. As the sun slowly hides to watch the moon rise, the bell tower sounds the rest of the hour. But where is Miyuki?" Roxanne Marie Galliez beautifully begins this tale. The words are poetic and one is as drawn to the text as much as the illustrations. They each enhance the other in the most magical and childlike of ways.

Miyuki, like most children (including my own), have very little time for bed. Instead, she is drawn into the natural world around her. When her grandfather informs her that it's time for bed, she …

Summer Reading

"Boy Reading By A Stream" by Jeffrey Larson

Summer provided a wealth of hours for solitary wandering and reading. During the summer months, my mother would take me to the library where I would, inevitably, check out far more books than I would ever be able to read before the next visit. It didn't matter. I would come home with my arms full of books and the excitement of discovering them for the first time. The summer was for series books, of which I could never get enough. I devoured my way through the Hardy Boys series, Encyclopedia Brown, Narnia, The Boxcar Children, Ramona, Enid Blyton's many series, Edward Eager's Tales of Magic, the Oz series, Anne of Green Gables, and the Little House books. Summer meant having the time to spend immersed in these glorious worlds that were often so different from my own. These books were pure escape and I delighted in their magic and their mystery.  The magic wood of Enid Blyton became the woods that I spent so much of my ti…

Abraham, Isaac & Rachel Held Evans' Inspired

As a young boy, sitting among other children in Sunday School, as the teacher told a story using cloth biblical figures on a felt board, I can still remember as this older woman unfolded the tale of Abraham and Isaac. While other kids squirmed or whispered among themselves, I sat there with mouth agape, horrified at what I was hearing. Did these other children just hear what she said: God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son? One minute I am being told that God loves us and the very next that He could just as well ask a father to kill his own son for no other reason than He asked him to. Now I began to feel anxious and uncertain. How were these two images the same God? I waited patiently until her story was done and when she asked if anyone had any questions, my hand shot up. Poor woman, when I asked her all of this, it became obvious she was not expecting a real, theological question nor did she seemed adequately prepared to answer other than, "But Abraham didn't have to sacr…

The Art Of Noticing: Nature & Wolf Hollow

"Lovenatureyou" by Shinya Okayama
"Our old barn taught me one of the most important lessons I was ever to learn," Annabelle says in Wolf Hollow, "that the extraordinary can live in the simplest of things. Each season meant a world refashioned inside its stalls and storerooms. Pockets of warmth in winter, the milk cows and draft horses like furnaces, their heat banked by straw bedding and new manure. In spring, swallows fledged from muddy nests wedged in crannies overhead, and kittens fresh and soft and staggered between hooves and attacked the tails of tackle hanging from stable pegs. Come summer, yellow jackets nested in the straw, old oats sprouted through the floorboards, Houdini hens laid eggs in odd places where they might yield chicks, and dusty sunlight striped the air like bridges to somewhere else."

While I am reading Wolf Hollow, I am also reading The Yearling aloud with my younger son. After having just read that passage and the words were stil…

Childhood Memories & Entering Wolf Hollow

"Forbidden Fruit" by George A. Reid
Reading is a spiritual act that requires my attention and a quiet center so that my focus is on the text I'm reading. As a child, I would squirrel off to some solitary hideaway with only the company of whatever book I happened to be reading at the time. This was something that was far easier to accomplish as a child than it is as a parent with children who are constantly seeking my attention, especially it seems when I am reading or writing or on the phone. When I was a boy, I also did not have to balance work, homeschooling, and all of the chores and duties required of me each day. Now I have to craft time out of my day to make the space needed to read. Some days I can find more time than others, but I always end my day with a book, whether it's a novel or poetry. 
In the slowness of Sunday, with a cup of coffee, I found a quiet spot in the house and sat down with my copy of Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. Before I even opened the book …

Beginning Brother Cadfael: A Love For Gardening & A Morbid Taste For Bones

Amidst the quiet of the little gray house on the corner, everyone is immersed in their books. No one is on technology. There are no sounds: no television, or Youtube, or Netflix, or Spotify playlists. All of us are in some space of our own, in another world of our own. My wife, on my recommendation, is in Guernsey with their Literary and Potatoe Peel Society, my older son is in the midst of his college required (Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma), and my younger son is entranced with the Blue Ridge Mountains and Willa of the Wood.  After making myself a cup of chamomile tea, as it was late and I already struggle with insomnia, I settled myself down on the sofa, next to a soft light, and, found myself caught up in the Medieval monastery and mystery of Brother Cadfael. This is my first time reading Ellis Peters' chronicles of the Welsh Benedictine monk living in the Abbey of Saint Peter and Paul in Shrewsbury during the early 12th-century.

In between calling on stores…

Book Girl & The Beloved Dozen

"Girl Reading in an Interior" by Carl Holsoe
In a chapter entitled "The Beloved Dozen: The Novels That Taught Me How To Live" from Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson, she created a list of the dozen works of fiction that she described as the "core to her heart," books that shaped the idea of who she was, "of what is possible, of what should be fought for, delighted, created afresh. These are the books that broadened my world, drove my discovery, shaped my idea of myself." Clarkson, a self-described list maker, got me to pondering what dozen books have formed who I am, what I believe, given me a broader perspective, and invited me to ask better questions. This is a list that I mulled over, wrote, rewrote, rewrote again, pondered some more, and revised umpteen different times as I thought about a book that had been deeply meaningful for me that I had forgotten. I take my list making very, very seriously. So, here is a dozen of the novels that have formed …