THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN by Sarah McCoy

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from Page 91:  “Her father had proven to them all when a beating heart stopped, there was no black or white, only blood-red.”

John Brown, the white abolitionist who led the raid on the federal armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), is the father of one of the main characters in this book.  John Brown was hung on December 2, 1859, as the raid was a failure and his actions and beliefs were a threat to the pro-slavery South.  This book is an historic novel based on the Brown family and one of his many children, Sarah Brown, a talented artist.

Two tales intertwine, one chapter at a time.  One is set in the 1850-1860s.  The next chapter is set in the current day.  The chapters see-saw between these two periods, between two women, set over 150 years apart.

John Brown harbors runaway slaves in their Plattsburg, New York home as the slaves are heading towards Canada.  Sarah has had a devastating diagnosis that leaves her unable to have children.  In those days, that probably also meant that she would never marry.  She wanted to have a life with meaning despite this huge disappointment.  Sarah Brown was an artist and, at an early age, she discovered her father hiding slaves from plantations in their home.  Her father knew she could draw.  In order to communicate to ones who could not read or who could not decipher directions, Sarah was able to use her talent to serve the Underground Railroad, first through the help of her father.  With the hanging death of her father in 1859, Sarah took her heart’s desire to aid the runaway slaves and the Underground Railroad as her own.  By drawing and painting maps, Sarah Brown helped the slaves to understand where the safe stations were on the UGRR and how to get there.

Eden and Jack move into a house once used by the Underground Railroad.  As the history of the house gradually becomes evident, the lives of Eden and Sarah become interwoven like warp and woof by commonalities, i.e., children (inability to conceive/not having any), desire to be a part of something larger than themselves, loss, disappointments, and love.

Sarah McCoy has done extensive research of the slave code quilts and the use of these on the UGRR, the Underground Railroad itself, the methods of hiding runaway slaves as they made their way north to Canada, the maps used to guide these slaves (drawn within a painting, even on the heads of dolls).  It is a well-crafted novel, filled with history (although the author admits in the Prologue that she took a writers’ privilege to change some things in order to fit her story).

All in all, it was a good story, well worth the reading.  And a satisfying read!

Author: 

Sarah McCoy was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, the daughter of an Army officer from Oklahoma and a Puerto Rican elementary school teacher.  She moved often as military families do, but they were stationed in Virginia for fourteen years so Sarah calls Virginia home, and Puerto Rico, where her grandparents and extended family live, her home-home.

She “is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel,” featured in the anthology Grand Central; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico.

“Sarah’s work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso.”

Sarah lives with her husband, an Army physician in El Paso, Texas.  Her online presence can be found at http://sarahmccoy.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2770941.Sarah_McCoy

 

Book Information:

ISBN-13: 9780385348904

Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group (a subsidiary of Random House)

Publication Date: 05/05/2015

Pages: 320

Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d

 

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THE NONSENSE SHOW by Eric Carle

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Since I just reviewed an Eric Carle book, I thought I would follow it with his latest.  THE NONSENSE SHOW is totally crazy and wacky!  It exudes nonsense and imaginative voice.  The book jacket labels the work “nonsense and surrealism,” sparking “creativity and imagination.”

I looked up the definition of “surrealism” and found that it means “to feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur.”  Then I looked up non sequitur to make sure I understood what I was about to say in this review: non sequitur means an inference or a conclusion that does not follow from the premises; a statement containing an illogical conclusion.

OH, MY!  I thought I was looking at and reading an Eric Carle book, not a big-words-for-us-little-kids book!  But by those definitions, this colorful, wacky book does just all of those things.  Objects are placed backwards, upside-down, all turned around.  Words say things that are not; they come at the reader with silliness and unpredictability.

A bird is swimming in an aquarium while just across the double page is a fish in a bird cage.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A woman with a tennis racquet gets ready to hit the ball.

She says,

“‘What a funny-looking ball,’

Thought the tennis ace

And wound up

With applesauce

In her face.”   (the ball was an apple)

Every double page is full of silly characters–people or animals acting in reverse of what we would imagine.  Silly things are said that just don’t make much, if any, sense at all.  It is just plain CRAZY!!

Eric Carle’s wonderful art is at its usual best–colorful, bright, bold, and wonderful.

Reading Level:  3 – 7 Years

Author/Illustrator:

Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929.  In 1935, his parents returned to their home of Germany where Mr. Carle was educated.  He attended a prestigious art school in Stuttgart, Germany, Akademie der bilenden Künste.  He dreamed of returning to America and, in 1952, he did.  He worked for the promotion department of The New York Times and then became the art director of an advertising agency.

Bill Martin, Jr. saw an ad done by Eric Carle and called to see if he would illustrate a children’s book he had written.  This collaboration is known to the world today as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”  His world changed.  He began writing and illustrating his own children’s books.

“Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter.  He divides his time between the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina.”  **

He and his wife, Bobbi, dreamed of and built The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.  They “were interested in developing enthusiasts for the art of picture books and in encouraging the habit of museum going in our younger visitors. Children’s picture book art is the introduction to art for young people, and we wanted to show the highest examples of that art to demonstrate the beauty, the seriousness and the fun of it. We wanted to create a museum that exhibits the work of national and international picture book artists.”  **  PLUS…his museum site has activities and games, resources, and so much more.

You can also find him at his own website and blog here – http://www.eric-carle.com/home.html

If you love to read Eric Carle’s books with your children and want activities to go along with them, I suggest doing a search for “activities Eric Carle” (or a few other similar words).  There is a plethora of creative activities to go with each of his books amassed on the internet for your perusal and use.

Book Information: 

ISBN-13: 9780399176876
Publisher:  Penguin Young Readers Group 
Publication date: 10/13/2015
Pages: 40
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 12.30(h) x 0.50(d)

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**  information from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

COME RAIN OR COME SHINE by Jan Karon

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A Mitford Novel

A great read!!  This is the thirteenth, and supposedly final, episode in the Mitford Series.  And, if so, what a great way to end this series…Dooley and Lace get married.  We have followed Dooley from his rough boyhood into the adopting arms of Father Tim and Cynthia.  Dooley brought youth and vigor, a troubled family history, as well as his troubled family into the story centered around Mitford.  He grew and matured, went to college to become a veterinarian (and did just that), has been around Lace for years as we watched their relationship develop, tumble, and then grow.

Father Tim is now a retired Episcopal priest in this small town in North Carolina.  We have seen him as he cared for his flock in Mitford, then followed him to other areas where a church was in need of a pastor for a period, and then on vacation to Ireland (well, not all vacation as he was led to some “sheep” needing prayer and love, some needing to be called to life with the Lord).

Cynthia is a children’s book author and illustrator whom Father Tim married many books ago.  He shares this town with her as they both minister to the flock.  Many other characters intertwine their ways into the lives of this family and become one very large delightful family that the reader (me) has delighted in and followed for thirteen novels.  I have loved them all and felt like I was part of this Mitford bunch.

The setting for this particular novel is the wedding of Dooley and Lace.  Preparation for a wedding, the relationships that revolve around it, and the actual wedding involve people that we know from Jan’s previous novels who step in and out and back in again.  There are even new people who grab heart strings as they come in and relate to those we have “known.”  Oh, there are some fun and crazy pieces that fill in a few empty spots in the Kavanagh puzzle.

God’s Truth is woven into the chapters through prayer, through sharing the Gospel, through lessons taught…some hard, all strong.  The Word of God in Jan’s books is a central point, standing tall and clear.  She has been consistent on this message throughout the series.  Every reader can glean a lot or a little of all that God wants to teach us.  This author has NOT been ashamed of the Gospel, that is for sure.  Amen to Jan for staying with God’s path.

Closure in some ways and new beginnings in others is what this thirteenth book is all about.  The way Jan Karon writes, allowing the reader to feel a part of this community also allows one to feel good about letting the world of these characters go on in the recesses of our minds without having to know an exact outcome for any exact situation!

My husband and I have read this whole series aloud to one another either as we drove along an open road or as we sat in the quiet of our living room.  It has been a fun way to enjoy all of these books, plus share this delightful community together.

The title comes from a song “Come Rain or Come Shine” (Harold Arlen composed the music and Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics). The song was written for the musical St. Louis Woman, published in 1946.  It has been song by stars such as Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, B. B. King/Eric Clapton, Billie Holiday, and many, many more.  The first stanza is:

I’m gonna love you like nobody’s loved you
Come rain or come shine
High as a mountain and deep as a river
Come rain or come shine

I think my Mama used to sing or hum this song!

Author

In 1937, Janice Meredith Wilson was born, and was raised on a farm near Lenoir, North Carolina. Jan knew at a very early age that she wanted to be a writer. She wrote her first novel when she was 10 years old, winning a short-story contest that same year.

At 18, Jan began working for an advertising agency in Charlotte, N.C. as a receptionist.  Jan went on to have a highly successful career in the field, winning awards for ad agencies from Charlotte to San Francisco.

At 50, she left her career in advertising and moved to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, to pursue her dream of writing. “After struggling—and failing—to get a novel underway, Jan awoke one night with a mental image of an Episcopal priest walking down a village street. She grew curious and started writing about a character she named Father Tim Kavanagh. Soon, Jan was publishing weekly installments about Father Tim in her local newspaper, The Blowing Rocket, which saw its circulation double as a result. ‘The installment plan certainly worked for Mr. Dickens’, says Jan. The installments became Jan’s first Mitford novel, At Home in Mitford.” Many awards have been given to her many books.

Besides the Mitford Novels site, you can also find Jan @ https://www.facebook.com/JanKaronand https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/40552.Jan_Karon

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* from http://www.mitfordbooks.com/

 

linking up with:  Teach Mentor Texts, Unleashing Readers, The Book Date, Literacy Musing Mondays, What to Read WednesdayKid Lit Blog Hop, Booknificent Thursdays, The Book NookLiterary Friday, Semicolon Saturday, Reading List/Cozy Reading SpotBook Review Blog Hop

THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by Eric Carle !45th Anniversary!

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For forty-five years now, this delightful, colorful, teaching book has been available to us!  Young and old!  Mr. Carle artfully created the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.  We watch an egg become a caterpillar, eating its way through a variety of foods each day of the week until it is time to build its cocoon.  The pages are only a partial piece of paper in the beginning with a hole punched in them.  As the book progresses, the pages increase in size along with the caterpillar, still with a hole punched in each page.   The finale is the transformation of this cute and well-know caterpillar into a gorgeous butterfly.

The colors are bright; the pictures are bold.  The art is very Mr. Carle.  He has a most certain style and we celebrate 45 years of just this one book…one book of over seventy that Eric Carle has illustrated, authoring many himself.   Collage is his favorite method for creating the characters and the backgrounds in all of his books.

This book, originally published in 1969, has been translated into more than 62 languages now and has sold over 41 million copies.  It comes in every type of book.  There are puppets, caterpillar toys.  There is a book with a handle and the caterpillar.  My, oh my!  Choose the way you want this fun book!

Reading Level:  3 – 5 Years

Author/Illustrator:

Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929.  In 1935, his parents returned to their home of Germany where Mr. Carle was educated.  He attended a prestigious art school in Stuttgart, Germany, Akademie der bilenden Künste.  He dreamed of returning to America and, in 1952, he did.  He worked for the promotion department of The New York Times and then became the art director of an advertising agency.

Bill Martin, Jr. saw an ad done by Eric Carle and called to see if he would illustrate a children’s book he had written.  This collaboration is known to the world today as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”  His world changed.  He began writing and illustrating his own children’s books.

Awards:

  •  American Institute of Graphic Arts Award in 1970
  •  Selection du Grand Prix des Treize in France in 1972
  •  Nakamori Reader’s Prize in Japan in 1975
  •  The New York Times one of  “Ten Best Picture Books of the Year” in 1969
  •  National Education Association’s #1 of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children”
  •  and many more

“Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter.  He divides his time between the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina.”  **

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He and his wife, Bobbi, dreamed of and built The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.  They “were interested in developing enthusiasts for the art of picture books and in encouraging the habit of museum going in our younger visitors. Children’s picture book art is the introduction to art for young people, and we wanted to show the highest examples of that art to demonstrate the beauty, the seriousness and the fun of it. We wanted to create a museum that exhibits the work of national and international picture book artists.”  **  PLUS…his museum site has activities and games, resources, and so much more.

You can also find him at his own website and blog here – http://www.eric-carle.com/home.html

If you love to read Eric Carle’s books with your children and want activities to go along with them, I suggest doing a search for “activities Eric Carle” (or a few other similar words).  There is a plethora of creative activities to go with each of his books amassed on the internet for your perusal and use.

Book Information:

ISBN-13: 9780399208539

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Publication date: 10/28/1981

Pages: 32

Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 11.90(h) x 0.50(d)

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**  information from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

 

linking up with:  Teach Mentor Texts, Unleashing Readers, The Book Date, Literacy Musing Mondays, What to Read WednesdayKid Lit Blog Hop, Booknificent Thursdays, The Book NookLiterary Friday, Semicolon Saturday, Reading List/Cozy Reading SpotBook Review Blog Hop

MY PEN by Christopher Myers

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An artist…Christopher Myers draws his way through a book and into the creative part of each one of us as we read and ponder each page.  His pen creates the adventures, so it seems.  The detail is incredible, literally drawing you right into the scene and into the adventure itself.

Christopher Myers begins by sharing how small one may feel compared to the rich and famous.  But, then, he remembers…“I have a pen.”

“My pen makes giants of old men who have seen better days.  Then my pen puts these giants in the warm, sweet hands of the smallest girl.” 

One gift, one adventure turns into another, and another.

He illustrates what he sees…nature, wars, technology.  He draws feelings such as love.  He draws who he thinks he is each day.  He draws “stories in the margins of the page,….”

He reminds us that we each have stories.  These stories can be told in our own personal ways, but we should tell them.  I am reminded of a saying that “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.”**  I think Mr. Myers is saying something along those veins.

Mr. Myers draws and he writes.  Others may teach.  Some may nurse.  Some invent things.  Others create new technology.  Everyone has at least one gift.  Don’t think you’re anything less than what and who God created you to be.  You are a gift in yourself.  Share with others who and what you are.

Reading Level:  3 – 5 Years

I have to add that I believe Mr. Myers is drawing and writing for all ages…ALL AGES, young and old.

Author/Illustrator:

Christopher Myers was born in Queens, NY.  His father is the acclaimed author, Walter Dean Myers.

“Christopher Myers credits his appreciation of the importance of images to observing the objects and photographs his parents would bring home from auctions and flea markets: “little histories;” “other people’s memories that get left behind.”  His own family images have had quite an impact, as well – as in a black-and-white photograph of his grandfather with a telling smile on his face. ‘He was a storyteller.  His thick, dark, calloused hands told stories.  My father tells stories.  I tell stories.  I’m fascinated with work, what work is, who does work, how much our identities are wrapped up in what we do with our hands.  Shoeshine boy, ditchdigger, painter.  My grandfather laughed at my father’s hands because they were too soft.  Still I think he was proud of the fact that my father didn’t have to work with his back. This is progress.’”

“Myers has made his career working with his hands in yet another way, creating his own images in collage, photos, woodcuts, and other artistic media.  A graduate of Brown University, he has participated in the exclusive Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Studio Program.  Myers began his children’s book career doing research to help his father, and went on to illustrate the elder Myers’ “Shadow of the Red Moon.”  In 1998, the two collaborated on “Harlem,” which was named a Caldecott Honor Book as well as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book.  Myers’ solo effort, “Black Cat,” was also a Coretta Scott King Honor Book.”

“In addition to his fine art and illustrative work, Christopher Myers is a clothing designer. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York.” ***

His drawings are black and white, pen and ink.  Outstanding.  Detail is truly amazing.

 

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Book Information:

ISBN-13:9781423103714
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: 03/10/2015
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 10.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.50(d)

Cover Drawing: From #MyPen/Pinterest —  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/465559680204426600/

**  Quote:  Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1901-1991), a Malian writer and ethnologist, is credited for saying before UNESCO in 1960:  “En Afrique, quand un vieillard meurt, c’est une bibliothèque qui brûle.” (“In Africa, when an old man dies, it’s a library burning.”)  The saying means that African oral history is especially valuable and suffers a great loss with the death of each elder. “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground” is a popular form of the saying that has also been used by American genealogists and historians.

***  bio from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/contributor/christopher-myers

 

linking up with:  Teach Mentor Texts, Unleashing Readers, The Book Date, Literacy Musing Mondays, What to Read WednesdayKid Lit Blog Hop, Booknificent Thursdays, The Book NookLiterary Friday, Semicolon Saturday, Reading List/Cozy Reading SpotBook Review Blog Hop