Tuesday, May 24, 2011


We've just enjoyed a long weekend here in Canada and besides celebrating Queen Victoria, this weekend is also the unofficial "start planting" weekend. I know, it may seem a bit late to some southern friends, but it is the first weekend we can trust (usually) that the frost is out of the ground for good.

To celebrate the planting and blossoming season, here is a bouquet of covers.

by Peggy Collins (Apple Sauce Press, 2009)

by Linda Glaser, cut paper illustrations by Susan Swan
(Millbrook Press, 2002)

Can't you just feel the mud between your toes on this next one?
by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
(Sandpiper, 2001)

by Maxine Trottier, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
(Groundwood Books, 2011)

(Red Wagon Books, 2003)

Here's to more sunny days in the garden. Let us know how your gardens grow.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones, We’ll Miss You

Diana Wynne Jones began her writing career as a playwright in the 1960s, but quickly moved on to be a fantasy fiction author. Since 1970, she wrote over forty books for children and young adults. Her website at http://www.leemac.freeserve.co.uk lists most of them, while Goodreads touts “81 Distinct Works” for Diana Wynne Jones. (Translations of her books are included on this list, as well as short story collections and anthologies to which she contributed.) According to her author page at HarperCollins, “her books have earned a wide array of honors—including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors—and appeared on countless best-of-the-year lists.”

Diana Wynne Jones died on March 26, 2011, after a battle with lung cancer. In trying to find fitting words to describe her wonderful wit, her sense of story, and her keen ability to make the fantastic into something real, I found no better words to use than her own:

Where is the road to Babylon?
Right beside your door.
Can I walk that way whenever I want?
No, three times and no more.
If you mark the road and measure it right
You can get there by candle-light.
--The Babylon Secret
Deep Secret
"I am a believer in free will. If my dog chooses to hate the
whole human race except myself, it must be free to do so."
-- Castle in the Air

"Being a child of Earth means more than you think."
-- The Master of the Hunt

"They may say money is the root of all evil,
but it always strikes me as the root of
most other things as well."
-- Wilkins' Tooth
"She knew there was a rule about not running in the
corridors, but she was not sure it applied to
people without bodies."-- The Time of the Ghost

"In addition, Master Twinkle seems convinced
that someone is denying him a pair of stripey trousers."
-- House of Many Ways

"Is it a new thought then, to say: keep on, there's always hope?
I thought that was a very old saying."
"Yes, but you're the first person I've met who's
still saying it when he's dead. That has to be new."
-- Crown of Dalemark

Come with me, come with me.
The Blackbird asks you, 'Follow me.'
No one will know, no one will know,
Wherever you go, I shall go.
Come with me. Morning spreads,
Clouds are high in milk effects,
The moon looks like a white thumbnail,
Larks are singing up the dale. The sun is up, so follow me. I'd like us to go secretly
Along for road, across the hill
Where water runs and woods are still.
-- Dagner's song, Cart and Cwidder

Thanks to the Crestomanci Castle website for supplying these quotes, and more.

More information on the life and works of Diana Wynne Jones may be found at:

The Official Diana Wynne Jones website: http://www.leemac.freeserve.co.uk/index.htm

The Many Worlds of Diana Wynne Jones: http://www.dianawynnejones.com/dwjflash.htm

The art at the top of the page is found at www.DianaWynneJones.com.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thumbody's Thumbelina

Sylvia Long (Chronicle, 2011)

I remember our family copy of Thumbelina, a photographed board book with dolls positioned in little dioramas on every page, greatly abridged. Alas, that was my introduction to Thumbelina. Until I saw Sylvia Long's version (left) I hadn't realized what a wealth of imagery the Hans Christian Andersen tale provides. How beautiful and entrancing some of these images can be in the hands of a skilled illustrator!

Andersen's story was first published in Denmark (naturally) in 1835, with the original Danish title, Tommelise. Below is an 1837 edition of Eventyr, fortalte for Børn, in which Tommelise appeared:

Here's a slightly more recent version:

Tommelise (Tiden, 1967)

And there are hundreds of other covers, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've gathered a few of each below, with brief commentary.

Interesting backdrop for this easy reader:




But then there's this. The cover says this book is meant for "Creative Character Building." I suppose that's true if the character you hope to build is lonely and sullen:

Graphically interesting version below, but a silhouette doesn't really bring out that Thumbelina charm, does it?

What is she staring at?

Another early reader version:

In French, pouce means "thumb," so this is the little female thumb girl, La Poucette:


Interesting, but not particularly pretty:

Too cute. No, really. This is sickeningly cute:

Poucette sophisticate:

Um. Wow, a comic book. So true to the original tale [sarcasm]:

The thought that this (below) may become some child's introduction to Thumbelina gives me a sick headache:

Do you remember what image graced the cover of your childhood Thumbelina?

P.S. Sorry about the silly title for this post~CB

Monday, May 2, 2011

Simply Irresistible: The Children's Book Shop, Brookline, Mass.

Dateline: Brookline, Massachusetts. This is your bookshop field reporter, once again reporting on what's on display at real live bookshops around the world, with photos of questionable quality!

A recent visit to the cozy, but well stocked The Children's Book Shop near the city of Boston proved a charming way to spend time, with plenty of great covers on the shelves to catch our eyes. Special thanks to Sheryl D. for showing us around!

The Children's Book Shop's wide selection of children's and young adult books offered up oodles of great images, including the following:

What variety! What a great shop. Thanks again, Sheryl!