Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stepping Into The Holidays

photo copyright M. B. Goffstein

One more Goffstein moment, from the website.
And so, we push off, 
and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving
filled with turkey, stuffing and a 
sweet canoe.

Blessings to all, and to all a good feast.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where are Wes and Sofia and Alfonso? Or: What Children Already Know About Art That Adults Might Want To Not Forget

"That's why the Vogels are so unique. 
Why do you have to explain art? 
You have to just look at the art very hard. 
You don't have to process that 
information through your brain. 
You can just take it to your heart, straight. 
And that's what the Vogels do."


If you would like to visit some fine art today, 
take a look at the work of M. B. Goffstein
Doesn't get any finer. 

Thank you, Brooke Goffstein. Thank you, Joan, for knowing.

When I, for one, read the novels on M. B. Goffstein's website, I wonder if Wes Anderson or Sofia Coppola or Alfonso Cuaron have called her yet. Can you see? 

Photo courtesy of 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Everything about you / My life, is both / Make-believe and real

That Little Something

 Illustration | Peter Sis


Of the light in my room:

Its mood swings,

Dark-morning glooms,

Summer ecstasies.

Spider on the wall,

Lamp burning late,

Shoes left by the bed,

I'm your humble scribe.

Dust balls, simple souls

Conferring in the corner.

The pearl earring she lost,

Still to be found.

Silence of falling snow,

Night vanishing without trace,

Only to return.

I'm your humble scribe.

-Charles Simic

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Random Gifts

Odd bits from the "holidays" table...
posting these as a small thank-you gift 
for someone who means quite a bit. 

Thank you. 
Your good words mean the world. 
They are a gift beyond compare. 

Marianne Moore via Paul Pincus: Be Still My Heart

George Plimpton (of course) and Marianne Moore. 
Pure Poetry.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sis IX

Peter Sis. 
More from the Czech Center Exhibit.

There's Fun in Store: A Humdinger of a Humbug...Holiday HoHos at Hicklebee's

To remind you that we will soon be visiting a gifted illustrator...the marvelous Alexandra's a little bit that I created for an NCCBA event several years ago. Many thanks to Valerie Lewis and Monica Holmes of Hicklebee's for asking me to help with those delightful Otter Dinners (I was the flower girl for several years, and snuck in a few scribbles on the side). 

(Is snuck a word yet? Here.)

Year 'round, there is no better place than Hicklebee's to see authors and illustrators. During the signings, these marvelous creatures sit near the wonderful little window-nook (as does our curly-topped author, above). 

Full disclosure: having been, at one time, a Hicklebee-for-real (I worked there for a few years in the early nineties, while the T.K. were very small), I can promise that this is a most marvelous place to find books for children. Just look who's coming on the eleventh of December. God Bless us, every one! Here's a view of more store events. 

Yes, it's going to be a humdinger of a humbuggably happy holiday at Hicklebee's. See you there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Over the River and Through The Woods, II

over at the other blog, we're focused on thanksgiving...
thought we'd give you a tiny bite, here

(more on the book, soon: it's one of our 
all-time favorites in the universe)

A Time to Give Thanks

Our newest edition to the series of photographs from the Czech Center exhibition.

The radio, the camera, the cassette, and the photos look familiar in so many ways: although we were on the other side of the Wall, my family was stationed in West Germany in the 1970's. 

One of the reasons it is so terribly important to me that people acknowledge this moment in history is simple: as a child, I could not fathom why people were shot for trying to cross over to "our" side of the Wall. Nor could I make sense of the fact that there were soldiers stationed on the other side of the border--a border that my father also stood at--with clear orders to do this. 

It seemed beyond reason that something this barbaric could exist in the modern age, in a world that was supposed to be civilized. 

I'd often think about what it would be like to live on the other side. There was solace in the fact that my father, and those who served with him, was there to maintain the safety and freedom to which we were (and are still) so accustomed. 

There was even greater solace in the fact that sometimes...just and women and children crossed over safely. And that someone was there to care for the lucky few who made it to the other side.

This is history which must not be forgotten. 

How fortunate we are. How many things we have to be thankful for. How much we must remember.

Thinking about Apple Pie

Here's what our kitchen looks like right now, as we enthusiastically prep for the holidays.

[Okay, not really. It's just another shot we styled for the magazine (see the design blog). Thought it might be fun to see. More pie soon.]

For Art and Books and Color, Thank You Joan

This season, I am thankful for Joan Vigliotta.

Why? Because, several years ago, she created a small book group that would focus on illustration in children's literature, a mutual love of each of the members. (And, mostly of course, I am thankful because she is a magnificent human being and treasured friend.)

When our book group meets, Joan offers unto us exquisite tours of heavenly work. Many times, we focus on one illustrator. Other times, we switch course a bit. Every single meeting, thanks to Joan, is rife with untold riches. We have studied the work of Edward Ardizzone, the de Brunhoffs, Anno, Peter Sis, Trina Schart Hyman, M. B. Goffstein, the Dillons...the list goes on and on, and is too wonderful to be able to recount in it's true magnificence. 

[Joan and I became good friends, in large part, through a shared love of the works of - among others - Arthur Rackham and Hilary Knight, M. F. K. Fisher and Maira least, that's my version of the story. Joanie has a better memory than almost anybody, and may remember more...]

So thank you, Joan, for your wonderful vision. Again. And for the priceless moments we have all spent with your magnificent trove of books and pictures and magicthings, surrounded by a wealth of art and love.

For this, I have great gratitude. Many blessings on this holiday, and always.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pure Sis: From the Exhibit for the Czech Centers

We've posted several of these pieces from the Czech Center exhibit. Each piece, when you click on the photo, can be examined in detail. It's incredibly rewarding to look at all of the exquisite work that has gone into the art, and examine the artifacts of the era that they represent. To see all the pieces posted thus far, click "Czech Center" label below.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Paper Dolls with a French Accent

don't you love these? 
(although there is a bit of head-shaking wonder, 
with the bouquet and gun combo; daughters of the aristocracy?)

these, from the delicious grenouille plus

The New Yorker: Best. Cover. Ever.

Faster than a Speeding Bullet: Get thee to the Bookstore, NOW

Well, Nathan Bransford has just implored us all to go buy books for the best possible reason. Here.

(As though I needed a reason to buy books.)

Therefore, now, I say unto you: give books for Christmas, and Hanukkah, and what are you doing New Year's Eve? Hanging out in a bookstore, I hope, and buying books. 

Since we are all on a budget these days (understatement alert), remember: there are scads and scads of books on sale (as in: "such a bargain, on sale!"). So, go get 'em. They're waiting for you. Easy to wrap. Easy to send. Sets your mind at ease: shopping for holidays, DONE. Check.

Then curl up with hot tea and biscuits (and chocolate? from Anni, perhaps? Hey, you can splurge a bit: look at all the cash you just saved!) and read (yep) a good book. Or twenty.

Above, Grant Morrison + Frank Quitely: 

Peter Sis: Photos & Art, The Prague Spring

Peter Sis on the Prague Spring, here.

Here is an excerpt:

I drew and drew. The more repressive the outside world became, the more freedom I found in drawing, in creating a world for myself. I decorated the whole house we were living in from top to bottom, the light switches, the door of the fridge, the chairs. I drew at school, through all my classes, even math and physics (so don’t ask me about electricity, or how to count). My art highschool was a wonderful time of my life. Life was relatively freer than it had been, with the advent of the Beatles, the summer of love, and The Prague Spring. What wonderful synergy. Then the soviet tanks rolled in to Prague, and everything crashed down. It is hard to see what is happening as it happens in history. You go with the flow, and only see things clearly many years later.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Certainly One of the Most Brilliant Men on the Planet

Holy Signing, Batman!
will be in SF at the Minna Gallery
111 Minna Street (414) 974-1719, 
on the 13th of November @six p.m. 
He'll be hanging out with his

Tune in next week, same time, same channel, 
and see if my batmobile was parked out front.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


isn't this marvelous? 
every editor/author/illustrator/publisher/child 
should have one, don't you think?

for more from isaac tobin, click here...

Via Nifty Little Best Kidlit Blogs List from

Neat Stuff From
Guest Top Ten List 
by Laurel Snyder
"Laurel Snyder is the author of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, and Inside the Slidy Diner, as well as a poet, blogger and mom. She lives online at"

Top 10 Children's Literature (Kidlit) Blogs
Big A, little a
Recent Posts from this Blog:
Poetry Friday!
Poetry Friday: Halloween Edition
Weekend Reviews on a Monday

Bookshelves of Doom
Recent Posts from this Blog:
The Big Read IV: The Lottery and Other Stories -- Shirley Jackson "My Life with R. H. Macy"
Jack Black as Lemuel Gulliver?
Reginald Hill at Shelf Awareness.

Brooklyn Arden
Recent Posts from this Blog:
"He Attempts to Love His Neighbours," by Alden Nowlan
Full Circle
An Exhortation: 72 Hours

Grow Wings
Recent Posts from this Blog:
Artifacts, fossils, predators, corpses, lovers
The Gypsy Crown -- a book review
Thank you, America

Interactive Reader
Recent Posts from this Blog:
Blog the Vote
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Sherman Alexie on Colbert

Jen Robinson's Book Page
Recent Posts from this Blog:
Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception: Maggie Stiefvater
A Missed Opportunity?
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: Election Day Edition

Jezebel's Fine Lines
Recent Posts from this Blog
The Long Winter: Cold Comfort; Or, In Which I Don't Even Try To Fight The Metaphor
Hangin' Out With Cici: Time Outs
Remember Me: After Birth, After Life

Read Roger
Recent Posts from this Blog
When the Joke's On You
Come See Lolly!
Come See the Stupids Have a Ball!

School Library Journal's Fuse #8
Recent Posts from this Blog
Fusenews: Embarrassing Photo Edition
Bookfest 2008
Video Sunday: Politics and Poker (50 points for anyone who gets the reference)

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Recent Posts from this Blog
Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Paul Rogers
Poetry Friday: I’ve got a feeling…

Peter Sis: Exhibit V

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wilfred Owen. Collected Poems.

very happy this arrived today

Friday, November 7, 2008

Look What the Mailman Brought

good stuff
I love books that plop in the mail basket like 
well-mannered gifts in kraftpaper wrappers 
with gracious hand-written addresses; 
you forgot you ordered them and 
then you open them and 
the smell of a perhaps familiar library bursts forth 
and there are stamps on the inside, and dates from 1964, 
and the paper is exquisite and the 
type has depth (you can feel it 
when you run your hand slowly over it) 
and a homey inkiness. Yep. I love it. 

Thank you, person who sent me Wilfred Owen. I am forever grateful.


More wonderments from the exhibition: soon, we'll be posting where and when you might be able to catch all of this "Wall" goodness.

Never Cry Woof: DELICIOUS!

Today, we're giving you a little peek 
at Sadie Mae vonPeet's (see wet nose, above)
 favorite book, written by the brilliant 
and charged with the most delightful, rollicking romp 
through "wooterville" 
(as the TK used to call dogs and their domains) you'll ever see.

 It's absolutely a book that's 
ahead of it's time; 
the visuals are scintillating 
and draw any reader in...
a wonderful roller-coaster of a ride 
through a (fabulous) dogs life.

Jane is a photographer with great foresight. 
Her incredible vitality and vibrant, delicious vision  
shines through in all of her work, 
giving it the elusive element that takes illustration
a step beyond, into ART. 

Jane's got it...her words have it...
her photos fairly dance off of the page with it. 
It's a most delightful experience to encounter any of her books.
And that's the Woof.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Sranda v marnici"

This exhibit, which is constructed around "The Wall," 
was put together by Peter Sis's Czech publisher,
 Joachim Dvorak, at Labyrint Publishing. Dvorak publishes 
utterly spectacular (and often quite daring) books. 

For further information on Labyrint, 
and Dvorak (above), 
here's a's mostly in Czech: 
absolutely worth looking at, 
the visuals are stunning. 

This exhibit will travel to Czech Centers all over the world next year; we'll have more information on that as the week progresses, along with the rest of the photos from the work in the exhibition. Each picture can be viewed in detail: click on the photo at the top of the post, and take a look. 

The work that Sis (below) has created is a landmark achievement for many reasons. "The Wall" resonates with a truth that must be remembered.

The background is fascinating, and not to be forgotten. There's an incredibly insightful transcript, here, from Radio Praha. 

I hope you have time to read the whole thing--it's not too long--but I'm also going to include an excerpt, below.

It is important to remember this difficult past: we can pay tribute to the democracy which we celebrate today by acknowledging that it is our great good fortune to live here, at this time, in this place. Others have not been, and are not now, as lucky. 

Peter Sis, from the interview on Radio Praha:
“It is hard because I get angry now thinking about things I didn’t angry about back then, because when I was a child or when I was a young man, you take for granted some things that are so stupid and so ridiculous. You just know that’s the rule and you just follow the rules....
“And then I somehow got hold of the memoirs of my friend Mejla Hlavsa, who played with the [underground rock group] Plastic People of the Universe, and I had tears in my eyes because really the book is about him being a working class guy who just wanted to play rock music and wanted to grow long hair.
“And by all these circumstances and the rules, when he didn’t fit into the system, he became a political hero and they tortured him to the point that he died at age 50, so all these things make me angry now but they didn’t make me angry at the time.
“It’s sometimes a surprise to people of my generation who say – oh it wasn’t such a big deal and we had great fun and don’t you remember you were in love with this girl when you were 19, but it sort of reminds me of the stories of the Czech writer Arnošt Lustig who was in Auschwitz at the age of 16-17 and he fell in love then too. It’s a wonderful thing to fall in love but it’s not the right thing to be in Auschwitz. So when Czechs say – didn’t we have fun too? I always say yes, but it was ‘sranda v marnici’, which translates as something like ‘fun in the morgue’.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I've mentioned Reading the World several times 
(including here and here), and it is just 
THE most wonderful conference...
there will be quite a bit more about it, 
soon, in these here pages, but for now: 
I send you to the registration 
Like a bunny
Because RTW at USF is not to be missed.

And Rosemary Wells will be there. 
So how about that?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"The Wall," by Peter Sis: From an Exhibition for The Czech Centers

"Peter Sís draws us into the world that shaped him - Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. Behind the Iron Curtain were many people who wanted to be free. And as Peter grows up, he becomes one of them.

He tells his story in pictures and memories, from a happy childhood to adolescence, when news from the West slowly filters into the country. Peter and his friends hear about blue jeans, Coca-Cola, beat poetry, rock’n’roll… and the Beatles! We feel the pull of the free world’s forbidden fruits and sense the excitement as barriers are lifted. It’s the Prague Spring of 1968, and life is sweet. Then we watch in horror as the Soviets reassert totalitarian control, and we understand Peter’s wish to be free.

In remarkable drawings and diaries, Peter Sís has brought memory and history together to take us on this extraordinary journey behind the Iron Curtain." 

courtesy of
Peter Sis

For a closer look at the art, above, click on the photo. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mena Trott: Why Blog?

Mena Trott spoke at the Start Conference this summer
It was a delightful education to be in the audience 
and hear what she had to say:
here is a woman who's clear vision and inspiring drive
are accompanied by a 
delightful sense of both humor and history
She is the co-founder and President of Six Apart
creator of Movable Type and TypePad

Why Blog? 
At TED, Mena makes a good case for it.
 Click here.

Barbara and Katherine and Megan and Joan

Thinking of the brilliant Barbara Cooney today, and the wealth of beauty she brought to our world. Above, a bit of crow for Halloween, via Brookeshelf and Vintage Kids' Books My Kids Love..both, fabulous blogs.  

[Here, I must say that my heart skipped a beat, just now, when I saw that Vintage Kids' has just posted Joan Walsh Anglund's yummy Nibble Nibble Little Mousekin, the book that brought me to voracious readership...why? Because I did not win it in the West Point Elementary School Library Contest of 1966. Once I realized that reading more (the lucky girl who won it did so by reading the most books in first grade) could bring me my very own personal hardback library, I was toast. Is this the reason that, nowadays, you can scarcely move through our house without bumping into a book stack or well-stuffed shelf? It makes me wonder.]

Thinking of Barbara Cooney always brings me back to Miss Rumphius, one of the greatest picture books in the galaxy. That, in turn, brings forth the happy thought of the ethereal, wondrous, and utterly charming illustrator Katherine Tillotson, whom I am quite sure might be the real Miss Rumphius. She does so much to make our world a more beautiful place to live. You'll find Katherine's gorgeous art in this sweetly-paced, lovingly illustrated guide to getting by in low-light (we'll fall back tomorrow, remember? Yep, it's that time of year again): it's all about

When the Library Lights Go Out, written by Megan McDonald (the one and only, she of Judy Moody fame!). Happily, this perfect author/illustrator pair have another yummericious book on the way: it's due to arrive next summer, June 23rd, to be exact. Put it on your calendar, in red.  There's a sneak peek which can be found on Simon and Schuster Canada. For those of you who are summer solstice fans (it's practically my favorite day of the year), remember that Katherine and Megan's new book will be arriving at the time of long light-filled days.

Well, this gives us something to look forward to...since we must now roll back the clocks and watch the dusk creep up an hour's nice to know that summer will bring us this glorious new work from two of our favorite people! It may not quite be "...Picture Day Today,"...but, it will be, soon enough. 

We'll close with a smile that we love, guaranteed to light up any room, from our very own Miss Rumphius...Katherine Tillotson. Happy November to You! Keep heading toward the light.