Monday, November 22, 2010


by Mary Oliver

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,

what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again

in a new way
on the earth!
That's what it said
as it dropped,

smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches

and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing

under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,

and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment

my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars

and the soft rain --
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.

Monday, November 15, 2010

DEAD END (Monday Poem)

by Karma Wilson

If you ever come to a dead-end road,
you'll take it, if you're smart.
For just past every end that's dead
is a fresh, alive new start.

Monday, November 8, 2010

SOY WHAT? (Monday Poem)

by Karma Wilson

My aunt is a strict vegetarian.
She refuses to eat any meat.
No burgers, baloney, or bratwurst.
No barbecue ribs for a treat.
She hopes I grow up to be like her.
But I fear that her wish won't come true.
I'm telling you now that I'd rather eat cow
than that goo that my aunt calls tofu.
Ew . . .

Monday, November 1, 2010

Autumn Stories for a Season of Abundant Thanks (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Harvest tales can offer new opportunities to consider the abundance in our lives, and ways we can share our gratitude. Not only at this season, but especially now, allow these delightful books to lure you into appreciation.

Thank You For Me

by Marion Dane Bauer

illustrated by Kristina Stephenson

Simon & Schuster, $14.99, Ages 2-5

Rhythmic text matches with light-infused, energetic watercolors in a curling, bouncing, twirling book for the youngest of children. Award winning author Bauer begins with a lilting examination of body parts and what they can do, using the language of movement and sound to engage the senses. We feel the splash of rain puddles, see the love on mama’s face, hear a rush of wind followed by thunder, “boom-a-room, room-a-boom.” Even the smells of Grandpa’s bread and roses, and the singing, smiling, and especially tasting of “long licks of chocolate ice cream” are there, bringing the body together into one skin.

Bauer uses her characteristic nimble phrasing to advance from awareness to thanks, launching readers into an authentic appreciation for the same body parts. All the while, Stephenson’s images in bright, vigorous colors stretch and leap across double pages of white to dance beside the lyrical lines, in this engaging picture book.

Too Many Turkeys

by Linda White

illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Holiday House, $16.95, Ages 4-8

Farmers Fred and Belle adopt a lost young turkey named Buford, who contributes significantly to the fertility of Belle’s vigorous vegetables, bountiful berries, and flourishing flowers. Other gardeners ask for Belle’s secret, but she simply smiles and talks about “smidges of this and that.” It’s after Belle leaves for her “annual birdhouse convention” that the trouble begins.

White’s detailed watercolor artwork in luxuriant colors uses framed and unframed paintings to shape the story’s lively action. As an assortment of turkeys arrive to sample Belle’s gardens, one can observe how White’s design provides a strong undercurrent to the captivating alliterative language of the story. A harassed Fred tries multiple solutions to rid the farm of the winged invaders, but each time he thinks Belle’s gardens are safe, the gobblers return in greater numbers.

Exhausted, Fred makes a deal with the “gawking neighbors” to help him clean up the turkey mess. When Belle returns, she’s concerned about whether her secret has been discovered, noting the neighbors’ new turkeys. Fred, who is relieved to hear her compliments for the care he gave in her absence, doesn’t explain. But an observant reader will note a hidden complication that surfaces only at the end.

The Brothers’ Promise

by Frances Harber

illustrated by Thor Wickstrom

Albert Whitman, $6.99, Ages 5-9

Based on a biblical era legend from the Talmud, a book of Jewish teachings, this retelling is set in early twentieth century Eastern Europe and reads like a folk tale. Two brothers, Josef and Yankel, promise their dying father, Chayim, “to divide the land in half, to work together, and to always take care of each other. Because when a brother helps a brother, the angels in heaven weep tears of joy.”

Using the rich, heavy colors and textures of oils on board, Wickstrom’s paintings undergird this tantalizing tale with contrasting dark and light, mixing curving lines with angles to demonstrate the differences between the two brothers. The short more rotund, light-hearted Yankel, is married, plays the fiddle, and delights in his dancing children.

The taller more angular Josef lives in a simple home, alone, and studies the holy books of wisdom. The brothers continue to be friends, and because of their work together the farm flourishes.

When a drought changes their fortunes, each thinks of his own abundance and is concerned his brother may be in need. In the dark of night they each take a full wheelbarrow of food to the other’s barn or cellar. However, in the morning each discovers that his food supply has not diminished. This trip is repeated two more times, until the brothers discover each other. Remembering their father’s final words, the last page shows the brothers in loving embrace as the now overcast sky erupts in a joyful downpour to heal the parched earth.

RAIN SONG (Monday Poem)

by Andrew Fusek Peters

Rockabye raindrops
Fall from the sky;
They tapdance on tiles
A wild lullaby.

They gush through the gutters.
On smooth windowpanes,
They scribble and scrabble,
Then gargle down drains

To spatter and scatter
In silvery streams
With a cradle of wind
And rockabye dreams.