Sunday, August 31, 2008

Want to floss the definition of T.K. by you...

T.K., from here on out (as far out as I can see, anyhow), in these blogs (art.books.children and victoriathornedesign), is Thorne Kids. Because, about a hundred times a week, I think in the language they have brought home, which is not always the language of the American Heritage Dictionary (which I adore). And writing "as my kids say..." seems infinitely boring to me, so I can only imagine what delirium it would inspire in you, dear reader. 

So, T.K. says...that'll be it.

Example? Our redhead wrote, recently, from somewhere on a train in Europa: "So peace and love everyone, feel free to call me anytime, I'll floss my amazing travels on you a bit."

Here, there are several things going on:
  • I was very happy (nay, thrilled) to hear from him.
  • I was hoping everyone didn't actually call him, at least not for more than 3.5 minuten, because of our prospective at&t bill.
  • I was amused by the peace and love part, harkening back to backpacking-through-Europe dreams of the 60's. 
  • I'd never heard floss used this way, and--unless it's a typo on the train--it seems quite marvelous to me. And apropos.
There you have it. Whatever it is. 

Peace and love, everyone, feel free to call me on this. As long as you are in the continental United States.

Friday, August 29, 2008

In Love with The Book Thief

"She walked over and did it again, this time much slower, with her hand facing forward, allowing the dough of her palm to feel the small hurdle of each book. It felt like magic, like beauty, as bright lines of light shown down from a chandelier. Several times, she almost pulled a title from its place but didn't dare disturb them. They were too perfect."

This is from Markus Zusak's beautiful BookThief
I'm about halfway through it, and it is a wonderment. Thank you, Alexandra, for recommending.
The photo is from the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar. 
Marvelous Marionettes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back To School and My Backyard

Okay, so....we are back to full-time school this week: high school, at a great place. But it is amazing to me, after having three other children go through high school, that it is not something I have mastered, this "going back to school week" (or first several weeks). Therefore, proffered above is a shot of the backyard of the house we lived in, in Haleiwa. This is my happy place, the place that that I "go to" when I need to think of something calming.

When I was three years old that salt water must've really gotten into my system.

In the spirit of sharing, as we weather this back-to-school moment, I thought it would be nice to give this happy place to you, also. You can use it whenever you like. Just close your eyes, wiggle your toes, think of a warm Hawaiian breeze and wait. Pretty soon, you might just hear the waves rushing up to meet you.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Paintbox Summer

Realizing that it is surely of another age, and has lots of bit and pieces of stuff that aren't probably politically correct, 50 years on (it was my mother's book, passed down to me)...can I still enthuse about "Paintbox Summer," by Betty Cavanna? It made me want to live in Provincetown and paint. It made me happy. Just looking at the old cover still makes me happy. But, when I read the synopsis on alibris, I just know that "gay peasant decorations" clearly reflects the praise of another age.

I thought of this after listing "A Girl Can Dream" in the last post. Another oldie brought to you by Ms. Cavanna. It's another book from my mom's once-upon-a-time library that makes me--yes, again, just plain happy--simply by sitting on my slightly-crowded (!) bookshelf.

Above, from earlier this summer, at the Met: 
a grasshopper which was once, perhaps, 
a gay peasant decoration. 

Merlin Mann and Our Big Blog Dream

art.books.children just decided what it wants to be when it grows up...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Politics: Peter Sis, On What To Wear...

In a quandry about what to wear to the convention 
(surely, you are going...)?

(via crookedhouse 
& the New York Times)
by Peter Sis. 

Love it.

The perfect accessory, yes?

His New Fixie

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Father Fox's Pennyrhymes: An a.b.c. Classic

It has been quieter than usual, of late, in the Thorne household. 

This evening, I can't help thinking of a time that doesn't seem that far away and yet seems like another world ago. One of the favorite, favorite books to read before bed--gosh, more than 15 years ago--was Father Fox's Pennyrhymes, written by Clyde Watson and illustrated by her sister, Wendy Watson. It seems to be a great classic to me. The poems within are sweet and soothing and have a nice bit of slightly tart humor in them...the illustrations fit perfectly. 

And it is a tart, sweet joy to open the book and well remember being a weary young mom sitting on the edge of a bed with three little children who are tired and sleepy and ready for just one more page. The book is perfect for this. Not too short, not too long. Just right. Just like this:

Miss Quiss!
Look at this! 
A pocketful of 
You may have some 
If you wish, 
But every stick will
Cost a kiss.

Goodnight, Thorne kids everywhere. 
There's a pocketful of licorice waiting for you at home. 


The other day I wrote that someone was a poetpaterna. It sounded like the right word; in the latin dictionary, and the amercun dictionary, and so on, it didn't turn up but it sort of jibed with what I was trying to say.

So, here is the definition of poetpaterna, if it's up to me: click here or here or here or here or here.

Cheers, Mr. Glass. I thinks you are up there with Mr. Eliot, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Anderson and probably a few others. Keep writing, please, taking pictures, please, and being a maker of companies, or whatever you want, please.

Friday, August 22, 2008

where do the greens go?

a bit of a dilemma...terrific info about the Greens...does it go on artbookchildren or the design blog?

this is not a problem of earthshaking proportions, both places?

Meet the Greens, whom I met courtesy of TED. Good stuff. Also, meet Edward Burtynsky.

Check it out. 

Not only will your kids love you for will mother nature.

ReadRoger, Maurice, and Iona in one sitting. LORDY. How Yummy.

Look at this delightful tidbit from the Horn Book archives...Roger Sutton (yes, dear reader: the actual real-live Read Roger, most venerated blogger|sage of all things published for chittlens and such), interviewing Maurice Sendak (yes, living legend)...and, oh my lord, they go over the most charming/fascinating range of include Iona Opie, and her work with Maurice on 

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Sorry, but reading is not dying." Posted by Hudson, August 16th on Paper Cuts

Hiphiphooray for Hudson, who submitted the above quote in the comments section of the NYT's bookblog, Paper Cuts (which is worth spending more than a few minutes on, if you haven't already).

The whole enchilada is good skimming ("The Art of Reading"), but my cheer goes out to Hudson's clear words:
Reading has taken an oral swerve in contemporary culture that the literary set hasn't quite found the answer to, from books-on-tape, to YouTube, to open mic. All of which, I am happy to say, fits within the larger context of the solitary reader and the text, whether on screen or printed page. And, no, the ink does not smear.
Go Hudson! Thanks for putting it out there. Couldn't have said it better myself, 'tho I've tried to, numerous times, in this here little blog.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Blown away by picasso at the moma...": It's how you frame it, right?

"Our ideas can enslave or liberate us.
The shift from medievalism to the modern age was
a change in ideology, not just in theory...

...the transition from one intellectual age to another can be
traumatic and protracted. Some people never do make
the transition and remain resident in the old worldview,
their ideological comfort zone.
Those who see the future and ride ahead to meet it are often
thought of as mad or heretical, or worse.
The modern worldview is dominated still
by the ideology that came to replace medievalism:
the ideology of rationalism,
objectivity and of propositional knowledge.
These ideas frame our attitudes and theories every bit as much
as myth and superstition underpinned
the painstaking calculations of the medieval astronomers.
Just as their ideology created the framework for their questions,
so does ours."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hollister Hovey, Babar, and The Morgan. Delectable.

Three cheers for Hollister Hovey's delicious blog! And today, the ever-intriguing Ms. Hovey gives us the low-down on a personal pilgrimage, in the near future, to The Morgan Library to see none other than Babar.

From the Morgan website: "On view are original illustrations and manuscript material from The Story of Babar the Little Elephant (1931), the first book by Jean de Brunhoff, and Babar's Cousin: That Rascal Arthur (1946), the first book written and illustrated entirely by Laurent de Brunhoff, Jean's son."

The Morgan has recently acquired the Babar collection: included will be Jean de Brunhoff's notes on color for his illustrations...draft text and illustrations...watercolor studies and (be still, my heart!) "the publishing dummy with the original handwritten text and many of the original ink and watercolor illustrations." OH! 

This insane yumminess will be on display at The Morgan from September 19th to January the 4th. What a tasty dish! Thank you, Hollister, for serving it forth...there is always some delectable tidbit in her blog, I promise. Just click here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I heart Iona Opie

As anyone who reads this blog for more that 5 seconds knows, I'm pretty fixated on a certain number of authors and illustrators. Most of them, in one way or another, have had a truly significant impact on my life.

Okay, they've changed my life. 

Whether it was reading them and finding some truth of life that glimmered from the page like a small (or large) lodestar, or happening upon their illustrations and feeling as though, again, some truth shown forth (these are the artists whose work never grows old for me, is always fresh and thrilling, soothing and illuminating)...well, there's a bunch of these folks. 

In, I haven't gotten to all of them, nearly, yet (perhaps at the end of this post I will put a little list of 10 to come). But I feel compelled to share their richness with you, and my goal for this late summer session [addendum of 11.08: we'll have to make that sometime over the 2009 session!] will be to introduce several, and give you a few reasons I think you might love them as much as I do.

Iona Opie will be first, mostly because I honestly cherish her "glass hill" comment in Jonathan Cott's exquisite "Pipers at the Gates of Dawn." She is, herself, a lodestar: a pioneer--with her late husband, Peter--in recognizing the vast import that children's rhymes, poetry, games, toys and books have had on the world, and in being the ur-collectors of this magnificent oeuvre (which they have since donated to the Bodleian Library at Oxford). All this might seem a bit esoteric to someone who's just looking for a good kid's book. But it is good to know, and, should you pick up (perhaps more for yourself than for your child) your very own (you really should have one) copy of "I Saw Esau," with it's magical (and sometimes rather naughty) illustrations by the great Maurice Sendak...well, I think you will like to know a bit more about this marvelous human being.

So, in the next few weeks, in art.books.children, we'll be seeing a bit more about Iona and Peter Opie and: 

9.    Arthur Rackham
8.    Hilary Knight
7.     William Steig
6.     Erik Blegvad
5.     Helen Oxenbury
4.    Laurent and Jean de Brunhoff
3.    Maurice Sendak
2.    Lizbeth Zwerger
1.     Maira Kalman

It's just the tip of the iceberg, surely, but everyone on the list above has created life-changing works, and plenty of 'em. And, although I profess to be no extreme-scholar here, I'd love to focus on a few things they've done that put them in the created-this-very-moment "a.b.c hall of fame."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Case in Point: Finding the Front Door

I've loved design since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. How many six-year-olds want to renovate and refurbish a Victorian house in the wilds of Connecticut and open it as a bed and breakfast? I even had the "uniforms" (well, they were more like costumes, and must've owed something to "Mary Poppins" and the marching suffragettes...) all planned out. 

Even then, I knew this was not quite normal, this house obsession. I don't think I breathed a word of the bed and breakfast scheme to my parents. But everytime we drove past a certain dilapitated Victorian house on the way to see my (fabulous and very stylish) grandparents in Norwalk, I was quite sure I would make it happen someday. That Victorian would be mine, oh yes.

Well, there is no old Victorian in my life, and my tastes--although they haven't really changed that much--don't tend toward bustles and furbelows anymore. If there was a bed and breakfast that I could call my own, it would be some sweet cottage near the sea, no costumes allowed, only flip-flops and khaki shorts.

Victorian or no, I have loved houses all my life, loved them to distraction, really, and lived in 26 of them, total. Some as an Army daughter, some as a Navy wife, some as a mom settled in Silicon Valley. 

Helping people make homes brings me great happiness. It is the house as vessel of the souls within that fascinates me, not the house as window-dressing or the house as perfectly-picked-up-paradigm. A receptacle of life, a good home is, and what could be much more important than that, other than life itself?

The reason I throw this into the book blog today is just to say thank you. Sometimes a dream can start to disappear, and walking away seems to make sense. I was pretty sure--several months ago--that I was over design and it was time to move on. It was a bittersweet feeling. 

But I am with Maria, a.k.a. Julie Andrews, who tells the von Trapp children, "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." Case in point: a window I myself closed a few months ago seemed only to be the predecessor of a lovely door that landed in Palo Alto two short weeks ago. Glad it was there. Glad someone removed it carefully from it's first abode, propped it up against the right wall, and glad someone made sure it opens. 

I love doors and windows, kitchen tables with family all around, books and children, design, houses, odd little cottages...and dreams that are worth holding onto. 

Photo was taken during our trip last summer in Weimar.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bob Dylan and Jonathan Cott and Peter Sis and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Let's just start the Insight Hall of Fame, shall we? I'll nominate these masters. They're connected, too, in marvelous ways. Brilliants often are, aren't they? In ways you might least expect, which makes it all the more delightful to find out how...

To the left, a photo taken while wandering toward the Met earlier this summer. It was quiet and sweetly prosiac, that little part of the path in Central Park that meanders past this spot. It was elegiac yet beautiful. Just the thought of it, and the green and gray and black of the picture, puts me at peace...the same peace that was to be found by that lovely still bit of water on that lovely still day.

So, I remarkable is it that these four have crossed paths, sometimes often? And do I dare begin to try to map the territory? Perhaps...

Jonathan Cott and Bob Dylan and Peter Sis and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis...maybe, if I click my ruby slippers...Toto?  (And, somewhere, not far from here, John Lennon rightly joins them.)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis to Peter Sis: "If you have a dream..."

Peter Sis, on the legendary brilliance of a great editor. There's more of this conversation to come, but--for now--this reminds us that true vision brings dreams to reality, greatness to light.

THE WALL has been included on the 2008-2009 Illinois Read for a Lifetime Master List

The magnificent Peter Sis tells us a bit about his father's bestselling book, "The Counting of the Noodles in the Spring Soup," remembers Chinese cooking in Czechoslovakia during the communist regime, and shows us some of his earliest illustrations. Wonderful stuff. 

Congrats, also, on the newest award, above, that "The Wall" has garnered. Few books emerge clearly destined to be classics. "The Wall" has done so, and the reception that it has received, worldwide, only serves to highlight this fact. Well done, Mr. Sis. And much appreciated.

"Read for a Lifetime is the first statewide reading program to target high school students. The primary goal of the program is to promote the enjoyment of reading, by encouraging students to read both classic and contemporary literature, and rewarding them for their effort."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Seriously, Please. Authors of Children's Books are Serious Authors.

"As soon as someone tells a story about a character...narrative seems to want to bend itself around that character, wants to merge with that character, to take on his or her way of thinking or speaking...

There is  technical connection, for instance between 'Make Way for Ducklings' and James's novel 'What Maisie Knew.' "

This is fascinating stuff from "How Fiction Works," by James quoted, today, in 'Paper Cuts' by Steve Coates.

Only thing is, I am wondering exactly what is meant by "a more serious writer." Yes, of course, Henry James was terribly serious. But I worry about the myopia of, perhaps, automatically thinking (which, I admit, may be taken out of context since we have only seen a bit of the book quoted) that grown-up book writers (a.k.a. authors) are "more serious" than children's book writers (a.k.a. authors). 

What could be more serious than communicating, well, with children? Wasn't Robert McCloskey a master of this? Certainly, more people have been seriously influenced by "Make Way for Ducklings" than "What Maisie Knew." 

Well, lots more people have finished the former, surely? And how serious is it that most of those many children and adults who were able to finish "...Ducklings" were able to "inhabit Mr. Mallard's confusion" (which sounds a lot, to me, like empathizing with Mr. Mallard).

To empathize, to learn to empathize, to inhabit the confused feelings of another...these are serious things, yes? This is part of teaching critical thinking, isn't it? Mr. McCloskey has helped teach these things to how many millions of people?

Teaching children: I think this is serious stuff. And I think "Make Way for Ducklings" has had a long enough career at the top of the charts to indicate that it's done of good job of it. 

Cheers to Mr. McCloskey and Mr. James for being straight-up (as my kids say) serious masters of their art. And cheers to Mr. Woods and Mr. Coates for at least bringing children's literature to the table for any part of the discussion, no matter where it leads. For too long now, I think, it has not quite been welcome enough: it is time to rectify this. Good children's literature changes lives. That is serious stuff

Truly great children's literature is 
truly great literature. 

Does great literature, in any form, need to be quantified?

Photo by Julia Cameron

Free books. Good stuff. Start.

ebook...sites of interest...

so noted from "dignified styles" on very cool site we had to check out after hearing Marc Hedlund, the co-founder & ceo of wesabe, speak at the Start Conference in San Francisco yesterday.

Really good stuff: free books, good words, wesabe, START. 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Blogs of Note: Nifty U.K. Children's Book Blog!

How much fun is this? 
go and take a peek!

Also, note her great article on 
"age banding." Not a good practice. 
We are in strong agreement.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Will Frank Rose, Jordan Weisman and Trent Reznor be teaching Narrative 101, 2022?

"The narrative is shaped--and ultimately owned--by the audience in ways that other forms of storytelling cannot match. No longer passive consumers, the players live out the story."

From Frank Rose, in Wired-16.01, who goes on to say, "Eight years ago, this kind of entertainment didn't exist; now dozens of such games are launched 
every year
...attracting millions of followers on every continent."

I suppose millions of readers "on every continent" might be a nice constituency for any author or illustrator. 

Cross-pollination possibilities abound herewith. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Alexandra Boiger (a.k.a. Alexandra the Great)

The funny thing about blogging is that...well, it's funny. You think maybe what you have to post is important, you wonder if anyone on earth ever reads any of your posts (aren't 2 million other people posting at this very second?), you kind of wonder why you are posting, then you wonder what all this navel gazing is about.

Well, that's what happens to me. But, here's the thing: if I go on with this little blog--which is certainly a meandering blogglet now, but does have a higher purpose, which I hope to buckle down and start to work toward a little more diligently once I shake the wander-dust off my flip-flops and vacationitis off my brain...if I do go on with this, there are a few things I hope to accomplish (see above, higher purpose). One of them is to tell the world that there walk, amongst us, illustrators and authors who exhibit great genius, really truly true genius: "put their stuff in the Met (see below)" genius. 

Take, for instance, Alexandra Boiger
who's lovely illustrations for 
just came out, and are being glowingly reviewed. 
Emily Jenkins--the ravishingly wise author
 of said book--and Alexandra have teamed up to create 
How lucky, for all of us! 

Having been fortunate enough to be in a good handful of illustrator's studios in the last 20 years, I must tell you that Alexandra's is the only one I cried in (okay, I've cried once before, as you'll see if you comb through these posts, but not in someone's studio, wordlessly--I could not find the terms to tell Alexandra how beautiful her painting was--and fumbling blindly for kleenex, so I didn't mess up the watercolor I was crying over...and yes, dear reader, I came to my senses and scooted backwards and did not harm the painting).

Alexandra's work, in person, is as marvelous 
and magical--not to mention as delightful and charming--as she is. 
Her painting--she employs both oil and watercolor--her draftsmanship 
(in her hands, pencils are tools of divinity) well as her work on film 
(our Ms. Boiger has a fascinating background)...
again, it's all just too marvelous for words. So:

Wait 'til you see what other goodies are in store from Alexandra the Great. 
It just gets better.

I'm also adding many, many thanks to our own wildly talented Miss-Rumphius-Herself (a.k.a., Katherine Tillotson) for the heads-up on the PW review of "The Little Bit Scary People."

Katherine has a delightful habit of sending the best of the internet into our email boxes. She, also, is magical. Just take a look at her art, and you'll see for yourself.

Photo, above: another miraculous Met hand, as mentioned below...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hilary Knight and Kay Thompson: "I AM Eloise"

For a bit of fun, check out this wikipedia entry for Kay Thompson, and please please please note the fabuuuulous illustration by Hilary Knight for Vanity Fair.

Above, the nifty munch place @ the Met mentioned in previous post...while we were on the subject of Eloise...

Hats off, always, to Hilary...the master. 

Looks like our magnificent 
on November 13...oh, to be in the Big Apple on that day! 
If you are--in the big A.--don't miss it: 
Hilary Knight is a treasure and a wonder...
an American Legend, methinks. Cheers!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Handily, again...

The first hand I fell in love with at the Met. In Asian Art, nicely situated near the yummy balcony where you can sit and have a delish bite of lunch and watch the passersby and marvel at the glorious Met architecture. Eloise would love it (for 5.5 minutes, and then she'd be off and running...).

Musing: Taschen Books...a show of hands, please...

(A) If I were a book, truth be told, I suppose I'd really want to be a Taschen book. How does Taschen do it? The books are so beautiful, and so perfectly designed, and often quite reasonable. I'm so smitten with Taschen books that I may very well have to add a stronger subfloor (how's about a warmboard radiant heated one, whilst we are at it?) to my living room to help support the groaning bookshelves. But it's worth it. Auch, no big surprise here, Taschen hails from Germany...somehow, an awful lot of what we love in this household seems to have something of Deutschland in it's origin. 

(B) I found, as I wandered through the Met last month, that I was completely taken with hands. Hands in painting, Hands in the Asian Art wings, Hands above, Hands everywhere. They say so much about soul, somehow, don't they? Let's see a show of Hands for all who agree. An artist who is able to render a hand with great beauty is gifted beyond measure. 

(C) If I don't get off the computer and finish unpacking (my least favorite thing to do, as I would naturally rather be on the road going somewhere with dust on my shoes and a few pennies in my pocket), it isn't going to be pretty. So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye! (And here, of course, we have another show of beautiful hands courtesy of the von Trapp children.)

Hip Writer Mama: Vivian Lee Mahoney

In addition to the (amazing, to me) fact that Vivian Lee was my mother's maiden name, I am in awe of the encyclopedic scope of Vivian Lee Mahoney's astonishing blog/blogroll. I plan to put aside the better part of several days, in the near future, to check out--in detail--this uber-cool and very hip writermama.

More Good Stuff, courtesy of Vivian Lee. Again, what's not to love?

Great Lit for $3.99

From John Green...with whom I could not agree more, when he notes that, "there is real value in owning a book." He seems thrilled that "An Abundance of Katherines" will be available for $3.99, and for good, especially, point # 3
Gotta love it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Spargel for Edward Gorey, Harvard '50

A bit of ghostly asparagus (from Germany, last summer...therefore, Spargel long gone) for Edward Gorey. Because. I think he might've liked the idea, the impermanence of it, the colorless tremulous sproutiness of it. And boy, is it good (when fresh) with a little butter or in a bit of heavenly soup. 

My favorite Gorey story is one I heard in a knitting class (I have taken approx. 3.5 knitting classes in my life, and none of them stuck). It was in Santa Cruz, of all places, and we were sitting there quietly making dolls (okay, I quit the knitting class and took the dollmaking class suited me better. But it did start off in a knitting way...). Anyway, somehow, as we were sewing our little doll bodies we must've been talking about children's books and one of the other moms volunteered that she had grown up in the very same town in which Edward Gorey lived, and I almost fell off my chair in rapture, to think that I was sitting in the same room as her. Whatever. Well, she thought it was funny that I was so amazed and then she told the story I love...

which basically was: when our wonderous Mr. Gorey passed onto to the next stage of ultimate Goreyness, he left note in his will that his house was to be opened up and whatever any of the town's people wanted they should just wander in and take. Or something like that. 

Have I made this up? Def. not. Have I remembered it correctly? Perhaps not. 

Do I love it anyway, the thought of the bemused folk coming to 8 Strawberry Lane, Yarmouthport, Massachusetts...wandering through Edward's seminally Gorey house and quietly, curiously, one by one, carting away his things? Yes. No question. I love the thought of it, of his generousity, of his quirky open-mindedness, of his gifts.

Well, I've just linked this to the Edward Gorey House, so when I return from buying milk and eggs I will have to have a look myself and see if there's any bit o' truth in it...anywhere.

For now, may I suggest "The Haunted Tea Cosy," and a sweet biscuit or two for dessert?