the saturday books…3…

Either my time at the bookstore wasn’t well-spent, or I’m just too familiar with most of the books that I saw. I’m afraid the selection of new books that caught my attention, well, they were few and far between. Or I just can’t remember. I did spend a good bit of time going through the Australiana section, trying to remember the name of a particular classic that my friends tell me “everyone should read”. Of course, I didn’t think of it until I was at the store, and I lost all my phone numbers recently. So, instead of being able to consult anyone, I just gave the bookstore workers some really limited description. So, I’ll try that another day.

The first book that caught my eyes was The Little Shadows, by Marina Endicott. Of course, it was the beautiful cover that attracted me, so I picked it up and took a look. It’s the tale of Aurora, Clover, and Bella Avery, who have recently lost their father. Unable to support them otherwise, their mother takes them on the vaudeville circuit with her. So, it’s a coming-of-age tale of young girls in the age of vaudeville, and during a time of war. The book won some literary awards, and all the reviews I’ve read say that it’s excellent. I hope that they’re right, as I’d really like to read it.

And then, I came across The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Now, I’ve heard some wonderful things about the movie, so I’m really excited that it’ll finally be at our local theater, tomorrow. So, when I heard it was a book, I tried to get it on Kindle, and was annoyed that it doesn’t come in Kindle format. But what I didn’t know was that this book won the American Caldecott Medal for it’s beautiful illustrations, which explains why you can’t get it in an e-book. When I flipped open the book, I found it loaded with pictures, and fascinated as I was, I had to force myself to put it down. Because it’s a sizable book, and I don’t need the extra weight in my luggage, when I head home. I can get it when I’m back in the U.S.

If you haven’t seen the film (directed by Martin Scorsese), which is supposed to be one of the best ever filmed in 3D (they say that Scorsese knows how to use it properly), then I can only tell you the little that I know. Hugo Cabret is an orphan, living in a train station, whose life intersects with a young girl and an old man in a toy booth. Hugo’s life is surrounded by secrets, but he has to risk losing his secrecy, in order to discover the message that his father has left for him. It’s a mystery, and I can’t wait to see it on film AND read the book.

Now, to make up for not having a bunch of books to tell you about from the bookstore, I have another angle to go with this. Because I look after children, I get to watch a lot of Playschool, when Sadie isn’t at kindy (they say that instead of kindergarten, here in AUS). It’s a really awesome show, by the way, with actors telling stories and introducing children to all sorts of educational subjects. Many songs are sung, and the actors really throw themselves into it. Whether the actors are pretending to be animals, dancing and singing, or telling stories with costume or stuffed animals, I find it quite wonderful, and wonder if I can get the series on DVD, to take home for my children, someday.

Yes, I know we had Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, in the U.S., but I honestly don’t remember much about Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Someone will have to remind me. I remember his sweaters, the sound of his voice, and the train.

During the half hour show, they always read a story, at some point, and some of them are wonderful. Two of my recent favorites are Bears on Chairs, which is written by Shirley Parenteau and illustrated by David Walker, and It’s Time to Sleep, You Crazy Sheep!, which is written by Alison Ritchie and illustrated by Cornelia Haas. I really don’t sit down and watch it with them, but if I’m folding laundry or cuddling a fussy baby, I can’t help but watch.

Bears on Chairs is nothing short of delightful. It’s a simple little story, involving some adorable teddy bears that are trying their best to make sure that all the little bears and Big Brown Bear can fit on the chairs. It’s a wonderful story to help a child learn about sharing, making room for others, and not pushing. My Bubby is just learning that she can’t always have a lap to herself, nor can she always sit in a chair by herself. And climbing up behind someone and trying to shove them out (which, of course, she can’t do), well, that’s just not acceptable.

It’s Time to Sleep, You Crazy Sheep! is a hilariously drawn story about a little girl that is trying to go to sleep, so she begins to count sheep. Well, she tries to count them, but her sheep are very uncooperative. They go skating, skiing, jumping on trampolines, swimming, and eventually end up getting on a plane to go to Mexico (at least, I’m guessing that’s where they’re headed). During the whole adventure, the little girl begs her sheep to behave and hold still so that she can count them, but they never do. I also noticed that this book must come from a UK publisher, as the sheep play a game of football, instead of soccer. This one will definitely be read and worn out by my own children, once I find myself a copy.

One thing about Playschool, though, is that not all of the episodes are recent. I think it actually started in the late 60’s, but I don’t think they show episodes quite that old. From how the actors dress, I’m guessing we watch episodes from the last 10-15 years. Either way, some of the books they read on the show may be out of print, as the two I just talked about were only available used, on Amazon. Nothing wrong with a used book, though, but I’m just pointing it out.

Well, I know this was a good bit shorter than my usual Saturday book post, but I’m sure the quality of what I want to read is still pretty good. But just think of all the books I’ll be able to talk about, when I get home and go visit Barnes & Noble! Can you believe it’s less than two months away?!

2 thoughts on “the saturday books…3…

  1. Thank you for your nice comments on my book, Bears on Chairs. I wasn’t aware that it had yet appeared on Playschool and am pleased to hear that it has. You must have been watching a very new program. (The book should be available through Walker Books in Australia). As a fun incidental, a Japanese translation of Bears on Chairs was rated 9th best picture book of 2011 in Japan. A follow-up book, Bears in Beds will be published this coming August in the U.S. (and in July in Japan). David Walker has again illustrated with his adorable bears.

    Warmest wishes,
    Shirley Parenteau

    • So sorry, I lose track of the new and old episodes. But you wrote a truly lovely book, and Mr. Walker’s illustrations are wonderful, as well! I will keep my eyes open for Bears in Beds. Thanks for coming by, and keep up the wonderful writing!

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