Mother’s Day – All Bets Are In

I have learned it’s better to ask for something on Mother’s Day. You know, increase the odds of my satisfaction by giving them a fighting chance!

The first wager: coffee in bed.  Okay so I woke up three hours before anyone else (wrote an outline for a picture book manuscript) and put a fresh pot on, but the first one up brought me a cuppa! “Thanks Sweetie!”

The second wager: no cooking for me – all day! Bagels with cream cheese for breakfast, pizza-bagels for lunch. Didn’t mention nutrition – left room for artistic interpretation. “Delicious!”

The third wager: “How about some help with yardwork?” Okay….so the stakes were kind of high. There is something to be said for providing specifics, like today.

Two out of three. A fixed-game you say? More like handicap betting. Not even-money, but in my book – a WIN!

PPBF: The Hero of Little Street

Author/Illustrator: Gregory Rogers
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, 2012
Genre: fiction, story without words
Themes: dogs, painting, time travel, London, Delft/Netherlands, history
Age Level: 4-8
Opening: hmmm…Click on the picture to flip through some pages
Synopsis: A runaway romp through one painting and another as a boy seeks cover from bullies in an art museum. From Kirkus Review: Rogers’ Boy (from The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard, 2004, and A Midsummer Knight, 2007) returns for another wordless metafictive adventure, this one centering on Dutch painting.
Reminds me of my last stay in Amsterdam, though it was a cold January and I was 6 months pregnant. This is the first I have read from Rogers, but I will keep my eyes peeled for his other titles.
Resource/Activity: The art of Rembrandt : kids art supply catalog:
For more posts on Perfect Picture Books and resources visit Susanna Hill’s blog every Friday

W.I.X. : It’s All Greek to Me

I recently used this phrase in a picture book draft on Day 5 of NaPiBoWriWee. The number five inspired my foray into non-fiction:  a picture book exploring the Pentagon, (from the Greek pentagōnon). The word is a metonym, used like Washington is when the U.S. government is implied, or Hollywood for the film industry (also used to diss cookie-cutter happy endings).

Back to the Greek (which metonym stems from): a somewhat Ionic (or Corinthian) reply when something incomprehensible had been uttered instead of the more Doric “Huh?” or “Wha?” So who said it first? I’ll put my money on a Latin-speaking Roman on his high horse saying, “Graecum est; non legitur” (“it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read”).

On my first search attempt I found this GREAT site: Omniglot: the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages. Where you can find translations from Arabic to Yiddish. It seems most cultures hear some other language when spoken as gibberish, but I need to award a gold-star-sticker to the silliest sounding translation from the Cebuano-speaking people of the Philippines, referring to Chinese: Ching chong ching chang ching! (Got that one from Wikipedia!)

Yep! They’re here. It’s Miller time!

The Miller moth: adult stage army cutworms. Wing span of 1.5 to 2 inches. Every spring they ‘pass’ through Fort Collins, Colorado on their way to higher elevations and their nectar-laden feeding grounds. But as we have so nicely populated the area and planted such lovely gardens, they feel inclined to stay a while.

Our first spring here, ’99, was a good one – for them, not us! What an introduction to a famed and collective dread! If you are not in the know, in Colorado or a neighboring state, you might think I am a bit unfair. They don’t lay eggs til late summer, really just passing thru, sipping up the sweet nectar of a range of plants (mostly broad leaf and grasses), so no competition for me personally (not like moths that get into the pantry or woolens.)

So what is it I have against them you ask? How about the sheer number, in a good year, and I think this is the ‘best’ since ’99, that shoot out from the crevices when you open your door in the morning, take your mail out of the box or move a potted plant – 20-30 at a time, no problem. Better yet, when you pull one from your jeans pocket because you didn’t shake them out well enough from the warm-from-the-sunshine clothing you’ve hung out on the wash line (after leaving their brown dust marks). Best for last though – when they hit you in the face before you can get a window open as you defenselessly drive your car. Yechhh! Don’t believe me? Click here for a news report/video: Miller moths blamed for fiery crash

Oh, did I forget to tell you about their incontinence? The marks left on your walls, windows and draperies if indeed you managed to let some in the house? Ah, but to some dogs they provide a protein-packed treat, so there is that. But now the temperatures have dropped slightly, and it’s raining (finally), and they can’t move on. Just too cold for flying.

The only way we can deal with the lucky ones who come in from the cold is to creep up slowly and suck ’em up with the vacuum cleaner. As my daughter says, “It’s an art.”

PPBF: Pictures from Our Vacation

Pictures from Our Vacation
Author/Illustrator: Lynne Rae Perkins
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2007
Age Level: 5-8
Genre: fiction, 32 pgs
Themes/topics: Vacation, family reunions, photography
Opening and synopsis: Just before we got into the car to go on our vacation, our mother said, “Oh, I almost forgot!” From her bag she pulled out a little camera for me, and one for my brother.

Given a camera that takes and prints tiny pictures a young girl records a vacation that gets off to a slow start, but winds up being a family reunion filled with good memories.

I wish I had read this before some of the family road trips we took!

See Susanna Hill Leonard’s blog for the Perfect Picture Books List of reviews.

W.I.X.: In Other Words

While researching for WIX, I found an amazing though (too) small book: In Other Words, Christopher J. Moore, a Levinger Press Book, Walker & Company. It is indeed ‘A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World’.

In the section on Western European languages I stepped into rire jaune, literally translated from the French as “to laugh yellowy”, meaning to “give a laugh that betrays your true feelings”. The author states that yellow is not seen as a positive color by some cultures, but in France it does not represent a ‘coward’, as in English, but a ‘traitor’.

Then I remembered my Dutch friend’s reaction to a poor joke of mine: “hahaaaa…..I’m laughing like a ‘farmer with a toothache”: lachen als een boer die kiespijn heeft. I asked her to explain: “it is sour grapes….I did not really want to laugh, the joke is bittersweet…Does that make sense?” We might laugh out of the wrong side of the mouth, but my question now is whether those grapes are also yellowy!