Through the Woods to Grandmother’s Dinner…

Mural, Dance of the Books, Panel 3, Helena Clare Pittman, The Grahamville Library. www.helenaclarepittman.com

Everyone’s up early this morning. To grandmother’s house they go to share a Thanksgiving Day feast. A cheerful collection of characters, each with a story to tell. (Just ask.) Goldilocks and Baby Bear appear to be buddies, with Mama and Papa Bear, in stride on the outside. This is one of their vegan days and Granny’s menu provides plenty of sweet desserts. Little Red helps her out with those. (She brings the wine, too, in most versions of her tale.)

Curious George adds fun, ready to search for solutions “outside the box” to problems that might arise. King Babar, dressed in modern royal, is a fitting leader for the harvest celebration parade.

[...]

A Night to Remember . . . Again and Again

She climbs from her window
As the Shadows grow long
And runs into the wood
Where no children dare roam

wee sister strange illustration

“Wee Sister Strange” by Holly Grant, illus. K.G. Campbell, Random/Schwartz & Wade, ISBN 978-0-553-50879-6

I like your story already. Out in the woods, on your own, you, the protagonist, Wee Sister Strange, have flouted a cardinal rule for kids: Don’t venture into the dark, the forest prime evil, where wildness presides. [...]

It’s Sunrise…Look Who’s Up!

“Dance of the Books,” Panel I, Helena Clare Pittman, The Grahamsville Library, Grahamsville, N.Y. www.helenaclarepittman.com

At the Grahamsville Library, as the light of the early morning sun fills the sky, Strega Nona, Harry and Harold, Alice and Willie and their buddies emerge from between the pages of the books that hold their stories. With his purple crayon, Harold sketches big fluffy clouds—his specialty—and Willie wakes the late night partiers with his whistles.

Rise and shine, my famous companions, the sun is up and so must you be to begin your storied days.[...]

Ban on Grandparents . . . Didn’t They Get the Memo?

Illustration credit: Jackie Ferrentino for Nautilus, “What good is Grandma?”

Post Dedication: To all of us and any of us who answer to the following: Grandmothers, Grans, Grannies, Grandfathers, Grampas, Opas, Nanas, Nonnos, Abuelas, Abuelitas, Avós, Farmors, Großmutters, Grootmoeders, Grandmères, and the other millions of parents-once-removed from around the world whose names or titles I can’t track, or reproduce in print on my key board.[...]

WILD THINGS . . . A Rumpus in a Teapot

Dance of the Books, Panel 7, by Helena Clare Pittman, Grahamville Library, Grahamville, NY.
www.helenaclarepittman.com

“But I don’t want to do a story!”

Storytelling in the last thing Mathew, my 7-year-old grandson, and I do before lights out when he stays over.

“You’re good at starting off,” I say.

He squints. “Ok. I’ll do the starting, but you’ll do the finishing.”

I nod in agreement to this familiar clause in our contract: if he begins, [...]

LOL . . . A Personal Perspective

On the first page of George’s Marvelous Medicine, author Roald Dahl introduces us to George’s Grandma, as loony an old lady as ever existed. She lectures George that he should be growing down, not up.

“Before it’s too late!” she rants. Her recipe? Eat insects, all manner of small crawly creatures.

From Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvelous Medicine illustrated by Quentin Blake, Penguin Group, 1981.

I chose the book to read to my six-year-old grandson, Matthew. The title sounded interesting.[...]

Rediscovering Neverland

Believing Begins with Books

Dance of the Books, Panel 4, by Helena Clare Pittman, Grahamville Library, Grahamville, NY. www.helenaclarepittman.com

Long ago in the war-plagued world of 1944, my family moved up and down the East coast according to my Dad’s assignments as a Navy Supply Officer for troops over seas. Ripped from my classroom in my hometown, I fumbled my way through the year; annoyed each new teacher who had to acclimate the new student, endured exile from the kids on the block, and teetered on the brink of academic failure in first grade.[...]

A Child, A Grasshopper, and Rachel Carson

Click to listen to post podcast.

In Support of the Sense of Wonder

Child at Insect Zoo by David Lee, 1977/ Smithsonian Archives

I read Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s book about the dangers of the uses of chemicals in 1962, the year it was published. Carson opened her narrative with an ominous fable. A village had gone quiet. The inhabitants, even young children, died from no discernible cause. The birds had stopped singing and vegetation withered. [...]

Fortresses, Fences, and Walls

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When Family and Friends Become the “Others”

The five of us settled into a large cab for the 25-minute ride from the hotel to Aunt Gloria’s house. My son, my two grandchildren, and I were visiting relatives in Cali, Colombia with my daughter-in-law, a native of the city. With the success of security measures for city dwellers reported by our Cali in-laws, the summer of 2009 seemed right for the moment of reunion that had been on hold since my son and my Latina daughter-in-law married nine years ago. [...]

Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson

CNN.com

Listen to podcast while you read:

The images of the helicopter departure of Michelle and Barack Obama from the White House on January 20 felt awkward, certainly theatrical, if not slightly surreal. Don’t get me wrong, everyone played his or her part and the exit went off without a hitch. What kept nagging at me was, where were the girls, Sasha and Malia? Or, perhaps more accurately, how can our first family of the last eight years depart—even symbolically—without the children and to me, as important, without their grandmother, Mrs. Robinson [...]