Tuesday, June 11, 2019

7 Days of Books I Loved -- the compilation

This post has all 7 "Books I Loved" days in a single link:

Day 1

I was challenged to spend 7 days posting covers of books that I loved. It was such a pleasure looking back on the authors and artists who made me love reading. Writing 7 posts about the books quickly expanded into multiple examples and categories. Here on the blog, I've expanded the posts. All 7 are here individually. There is also a compilation post with all 7 days text and photos in a single link. Enjoy!

One of the first books I remember reading and re-reading long after I'd moved past this reading level. I enjoyed the humor and the illustrations so much. And of course, all the dogs.

Day 2
Little Golden Book

Day 2 of books I loved. I was obsessed with this book (and yes, these are pics of my childhood copy). Re-reading it now, I realize it's an appreciation of all the "silent labor" that many people do -- caregivers, single parents, folks who are juggling chronic conditions. During the story Lassie rescues so many kids and animals. It might not be visible to those who drive by, but Lassie handles a lot in her day

Day 3
Complete and Unabridged
Day 3 of books I loved. Anna Sewell only wrote one book in her lifetime, but it's the classic "Black Beauty." My childhood copy is the unabridged edition and includes the War Horse and Barn Fire chapters often omitted for kids adaptations. I was lucky to have already taken riding lessons by the time I read Black Beauty. Sewell's understanding of horses, and how much education she weaves into her tale of hardship, kindness, compassion and the bittersweet ending of being back home but missing absent friends makes this book a masterpiece. I've included books from my library related to bios on Anna Sewell and on horses in kids lit.

Endpaper illustration.

The Barn Fire chapter Illustration..

The War Horse chapter. Long before the War Horse book that became the Spielberg film. I could never see the film... even with my 2 fav brit actors in it!!! .. because reading this chapter from Black Beauty was enough War Horse experience for my lifetime.

Books about Anna Sewell... author of "Black Beauty"

Book collector magazine.
 Article inside discusses many beloved Children's books that feature horses.

Below are photos from "The Annotated Black Beauty" referenced above:
 This book is a detailed education in Victorian era horsemanship.

For a more kid-friendly annotated edition, I highly recommend this Dorling Kindersley version:

Day 4
Day 4 of books I loved. Adaptations. These 2 books introduced me to the idea that books were adapted for young readers, and if I liked the story, I could look for the unabridged edition in the main section of the library. These books also made me realize books were written by real people, who had lives I could learn more about. 

Albert Payson Terhune (1972-1942) was a journalist, novelist, and prolific magazine short story writer. He probably never imagined his story about his collie chum "Lad" would secure them both fame and fandom for over 100 years. Even today, "Lad" fans visit the grounds of Terhune's pastoral home "Sunnybank" -- it's now a 9 acre public park on the shores of Pompton Lake in New Jersey. Readers can see the graves there of many of Terhune's canine companions. "Lad" also introduced me to the idea that there were dog shows. All of my collies, even the rescue ones, were exhibited at shows, matches, obedience trials, and public education events, sharing the beauty and character of the breed Terhune loved.

Previous post with more info on these books, 
 also this post with more on Terhune, illustrators who contributed to his books, and Sunnybank today, with photos of the park, local library, and Terhune collection at the historical society museum:

In 1997, Scholastic released adapted chapters from Lad:A Dog as individual books in its "Hello Reader" series. These were suggested for "level 4" readers in grades 2 and 3. The text was by Margo Lundell with illustrations by Don Bolognese. 

Each book had a page at the end that revealed there was a real Lad and Sunnybank.
Walter Farley (1915-1989) was only 18 years old when he wrote the book that would launch his career: "The Black Stallion." He followed it with a long series of sequels. The 1979 film adaptation of "The Black Stallion" features a 20 minute island sequence.. just a boy and a horse with minimal dialogue.. that is epic visual storytelling (not to mention the rousing film score).

Previous post here on the blog about "The Black Stallion" has more about the film, and info on the real-life Arabian stallion who played the title role https://stuartngbooks.blogspot.com/search?q=black+stallion
Walter Farley bio from his official website (run by his son Tim)

Day 5

Day 5 of books I loved. Scholastic Book Flyers and Fairs. What a thrilling day it was in grade school when the teacher handed out the flyers and we could see all the wonderful possibilities. My recollection is that I could only pick a few titles -- perhaps my adult life is a reaction formation to my more limited access to books I could keep as a kid. Anyway, it's obvious I still have lots of my childhood library, so it's not like I was deprived  I just loved seeing all the books in the flyer.. and in later years at the school book fair. Photos here are titles I fondly remember from that era.

This "Arrow Book Club" flyer photo is one I found online that most resembles the Scholastic Flyers I recall.

The format is similar to the Scholastic Book Club flyers I remember... and the titles here are of the right era.
Some Scholastic favorites --
"How to Care for Your Monster" written and illustrated by Norman Birdwell
Boy did I love this book!!! I only realized recently it's by the same author-illustrator of the "Clifford the Big Red Dog" series.
"Champ - Gallant Collie" by Patricia Lauber. Illustrations by Leonard Shortall
If you're a collie fan and aren't familiar with this title, you're in for a treat. It's a terrific adventure story for young readers with a good lesson about building character and self-reliance. I gave this book it's own "Closer Look" post on the blog. The Closer Look includes several of interior illustrations, as well as a synopsis, and some biographical info on the author and artist. Here's the link: http://stuartngbooks.blogspot.com/2019/06/champ-gallant-collie-by-patricia-lauber.html
"A Pony for the Winter" by Helen Kay. Illustrations by Ingrid Fetz.
One of the first stories I recall reading about a proactive young heroine who works hard to get what she's dreaming about. So many of the books those days were about boys and animals. 
"Midnight - Champion Bucking Horse" written and illustrated by Sam Savitt.
Sam Savitt (1917 - 2000) was a renowned equestrian artist and prolific author-illustrator, especially of books for young people. This was one of many of his books I adored. His children run his website: http://www.samsavitt.com/
"Follow My Leader" by James B. Garfield
Perhaps the first story I read about a service animal and that special bond. Also traumatized a generation of young readers with its lesson about the dangers of playing with fireworks.
"Afraid to Ride" written and illustrated by C. W. Anderson
C.W. Anderson was another famed equestrian artist who also produced many books for young readers. His "Billy and Blaze" series was also a favorite of mine. There's a photo of Anderson and a bit more about him in this post on the blog: https://stuartngbooks.blogspot.com/2011/12/gift-of-inspiration-cw-anderson.html
"Clifford the Big Red Dog" a series of early readers written and illustrated by Norman Birdwell.
Who wouldn't want to read about a playful giant puppy pal owned by a young GIRL.

"The Story of Helen Keller" by Lorena Hickok
One of the few biographies about accomplished women that were available to young readers at this time. I loved this story as much for the inspiring tale of teacher Annie Sullivan as the transformation of Helen.
"Little House on the Prairie" series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The charming illustrations of Garth Williams only enhanced the fairy tale feeling of this series of books. I read and loved all of them. Re-reading them as an adult, and seeing the sacrifices and folly of the parents from that perspective, is an interesting experience. Wilder's daughter Rose became a journalist, and some credit her with the success of her mother's books. http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/rose-wilder-lane-secret-behind-little-house-books/

Day 6
Day 6 of books I loved. Marguerite. Madeline. Marie. These three women shaped the future of my life from early encounters with books in my beloved grade school and local library. Starting with "Misty of Chincoteague," the horse stories of Marguerite Henry marked my transition from chapter books to hardcover novels. Granted, the appealing illustrations by Wesley Dennis added lots of visual interest to Henry's wonderful writing. 

I read all the "Misty" stories. They were part of the group of books based on real-life people and places that made me want to learn more. I have many books about the real-life Misty, and the ponies of Assateague Island, in my library.
Below is a wonderful book about Misty.
This website for the Misty of Chincoteague Foundation has oodles of info on Misty, Marguerite and illustrator Wesley Dennis: http://www.mistyofchincoteague.org/

The first real novel I remember reading is the classic "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engele. 
I was intimidated by this book. It felt very grown-up, both in the lack of illustrations and heft of a book with smaller font on the pages. Not to mention the adventurous (for me) subject matter: a young girl on a sci-fi rescue mission. I felt like I was reading a classic book that had been read and loved by generations. Imagine my surprise years later when I learned it was first published only a few years before I read it.

This book has lingered with me, and I'm not alone. I attended a lecture by screenwriter Linda Wolverton years ago. She talked about the impact this book had on her --- and her experience of meeting the author and trying to adapt this challenging, very internal-narrative story. I never got to meet L'Engle but, thanks to Stuart, I do have a signed copy of her definitive work 
 The endpapers of this edition have a handy family tree of the L'Engele characters.
 L'Engle often used this inscription for signed books.

My first encounter with Madame Marie Curie must have come when I was venturing outside the kids section in my local main library, searching for unabridged editions of books I loved. At some point, I saw the striking cover of "Madame Curie" -- the consummate biography of this epic pioneer scientist. (I highly recommend this book. It's written with great beauty and sensitivity by her accomplished daughter Eve.) 
As a young reader, I felt it was a big book beyond me at that point. Still, something about it told me we'd meet again. It wasn't until my 40s that I finally read the book. It started me on a quest to learn more about the Curies and that amazing era of science.

Eve Curie was the Renaissance woman of the Curie family. She was a diplomat, adventurer, classical musician, model, and accomplished author. Her prose in this book is stunning -- and since she spoke fluent English I attribute it to her and not the translation. She lived to see her parents re-interred in the Pantheon. 

This is a portrait of Eve Curie by Philippe Pottier, circa 1937
 Eve Curie on the cover of Time, Feb 1940
 Eve the author and diplomat, 1960s
 Baby Eve in her mother Marie's lap, with her sister Irene.
Eve passed away in 2007 at the age of 102! Her will left money to the Musee Curie, which helped this gem of Paris undergo a much deserved, respectful renovation in the past few years. The rooms of the museum include Marie Curie's last office and adjacent laboratory. The grounds have a garden she enjoyed and was famously photographed enjoying a view of from the steps outside her lab. In an instagram-ready moment, a reproduction of this famous black and white photograph is placed where it was taken, ready for visitors to share with a selfie. There are a number of modern touches to this very accessible, family friendly institution. Still, it retains its aura of scholarly purpose and love of discovery that the Curie family personified. (photo below from the Musee Curie Facebook page)
Here are two of my blog posts that my document my visits to this extraordinary museum .

HERE IS LINK FOR DAY 7 IN CASE IT DOESN'T APPEAR NEXT  http://stuartngbooks.blogspot.com/2019/06/7-days-of-books-i-have-loved-day-7.html

Day 7

Day 7 of books I loved. Recent Reads I Recommend. I have a steady supply of books I've started. There's a shelf by my door so I can grab one on my way to any appointment. Waiting rooms are ideal reading opportunities. My "in progress" books are all great reads. I enjoy the variety of options, even though it takes me a long time to finish any single choice. Here are just a few recent reads (most finished, some in progress) that I highly recommend. 

I'm also going to be expanding some of these titles as individual blog posts. These "Closer Look" posts will have more photos and background on the authors and artists. First in this series is a favorite from the Scholastic Books post, "Champ - Gallant Collie." http://stuartngbooks.blogspot.com/2019/06/champ-gallant-collie-by-patricia-lauber.html

Meanwhile, perhaps you'll find your own book to start from this collection of book covers and commentary:

"I Am Malala"
If you're feeling Messed Up about the state of things today -- read a book about the change that's coming. Malala in her own words is a breathtaking story. Her ordeal and triumph makes for an empowering case study. We are just beginning to see the possibilities for educated young women as global influencers. Malala is having a serious impact from a world-wide platform. Her book is also an excellent primer on the conflicts and history of a part of the world that our sound bite news cycle rarely has time to cover in depth. I picked this book up because after following her story in the headlines, who wouldn't want to know more about this brave, smart soul.

"Dinosaurs in the Attic"
There are greats finds to be had at museum bookshops. This title's a reprint from ages ago. Such a fun introduction to the "explorer age" of natural history museums, not to mention the skullduggery of late 1800s dinosaur hunters!

"All the Light We Cannot See"
This novel won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. It took the author 10 years to write. It gives me hope. (about finishing long projects, not prizes A brilliant read with punchy short chapters and poetic prose. It brings WW II France to life. And it's set at one of my all time favorite museums in Paris.

"Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science -- and the World"
Growing up, I felt that there was nothing to read about women pioneers in science and the arts. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough then -- I was pretty busy with all those animal stories. Still, it's encouraging now to see tons of titles covering these hidden her-stories. This book has short chapters on each gal hero. It's a great book to grab when you need something you can pick up and put down. You know you'll learn a lot in short bursts.

"Lab Girl"
Ever wonder how books about science and women scientists are making their way into the hands and minds of young people? This was recommended summer reading for a public high school student's AP language class. This author writes about her field with authority. She also spins charming and insightful tales about her adventures in the lab and academia.

"Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?"
Only Roz Chast could be so painfully honest and sidesplittingly funny about the darkest of subjects. Loss of loved ones is brutal. Chast makes us come to grips with the truth -- we cannot avoid it. The awkward conversations. The logistics. The STUFF. Chast tackles it all. Another find thanks to The Book Frog. I bought so many copies there that I gave as gifts. Better to read it before you need it.

"The Perfect Horse"
New York Times best selling author Elizabeth Letts follows her triumphant "The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman the Horse that Inspired a Nation" with another horse story proving truth is stranger than fiction. She's done an admirable job here gathering all the research about this horse-centric chapter of WW II. It's a history lesson and and a compelling read.

"The Perfect Score Project"
A must-read if you have a kid about to start the college application process, or you know someone in or approaching that category. Author is a Mom who took the SAT 7 times. She has a website with current info on all the craziness of college testing, but this book is still an essential guide to getting through it. Perfect Score Project website: https://perfectscoreproject.com/
Many of the great reads I'm referencing in my "7 Days" summaries were discoveries for me thanks to indie bookstore The Book Frog. I came to rely on their display of recommended reading. This South Bay treasure is sadly closed now, but hopefully will be back. It was run by real readers and book lovers. A missed and not forgotten community resource.

"Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"
This book is a travel guide to the culture of quiet people. Americans tend to reward type-A go-getters who are on over-drive 24/7. This book helps explain that Quiet people aren't underachieving, just mis-understood. Spending time with this book reminded me of lessons learned from travelling out of the county. It's an eye-opening look at our American/over-achiever culture from a different perspective. To other cultures, we can be overwhelmingly loud, friendly, pre-occupied with our jobs vs. our interests/passions, and always in such a hurry -- for what?? This book challenges us to not impose a hard-driving "if this is Tuesday, it must be Paris" daily grind agenda on everyone, but to spend some time appreciating the value of living at a different pace, with different priorities.

"Radium Girls"
Titcombs Bookshop https://www.titcombsbookshop.com/ , an east-coast indie bookstore I follow, was hosting a signing event with this author, so I was able to order a signed paperback of this book. Shop indie to support community stores and jobs... and shop indies on the internet to get cool signed books!

The image below shows this book was an Emma Watson "Our Shared Shelf" Book Club Choice.  
"Radium Girls" is an example of quality books about women pioneers in science and industry now available. Seeing titles like this making the rounds of book clubs and awards is beyond encouraging. This story documents the price these young workers paid, and the precedent they established. It reads like a true crime novel. As the plight of the girls advances, we learn how new science discoveries enthralled the public. Then turned into unexpected cautionary tales. Here's a link with list of awards for this book and more details on it https://www.juniorlibraryguild.com/book/landing/detailedview?itemcode=9781492649359J

"Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood"
Oliver Sacks. If you haven't read him, you must! He makes the most complex science so accessible. His writing is heartfelt and human. This is just one terrific tile by him.

"Trinity -- A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb"
An actual graphic novel!!! This is a fantastic story of complex science history, literally laid out in easy to understand words and pictures. So much harder to do than author-artist Jonathan Fetter-Vorm makes it look here.

"H is for Hawk"
Another recommendation from The Book Frog. Part memoir about loss. Part natural history/field science adventure. This book has been on "just started" status with me for too long. And the cover is amazing!

"Me Talk Pretty One Day"
If you have ever tried to learn a foreign language, you will laugh even harder at the title chapter in this collection of humor essays.

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