Monday, May 30, 2011

Books Matter

Books educate, elevate, entertain, rescue, distract, divert, and ...what did I leave out? Books mean many things to many different kinds of people in a variety of stages of their lives. For the past month I’ve been away from my desk (weddings, graduations, trips, power outages, technical problems) but never far from books. Even if I decide to go all high tech, I’ll keep close at hand books with paper pages, a legal pad, and a pencil that still writes, even if it’s lost its point. A flock of messenger pigeons might not be a bad idea, either.

Summer begins officially four weeks from tomorrow, but the minute school is out, it feels like summer. One sure sign is the number of cars circling the parking lot at our library. If you’re one of those loading up for quiet times (you hope) ahead, here’s something to make you look twice. A square cat.

SQUARE CAT by Elisabeth Schoonmaker, Aladdin, 2011

How do you fit in when you are a square cat living in a round world? That’s Eula’s problem.

Of course, she wants to be round like her friends, Patsy and Maude.

Have you considered what it would be like if you wanted to chase a mouse into a hole or wear circle skirts, or how you’d get up if you tipped over? Well, have you? Being a square cat is definitely not the cat’s meow.

Luckily, Patsy and Maude, who are blue and yellow cats, want to help. (Note: Eula might be orange, but I’d call her terra cotta. Oh, well.)

Patsy and Maude decorate Eula with round things, hoop earrings and rouge spots on her cheeks. They hold their mouths in O’s and dance in circles, eating doughnuts. Even the sprinkles look round on these vividly illustrated pages.

It almost works–until Eula tips over.

Well, maybe it would be easier for Patsy and Maude to become square cats instead of changing Eula into a round cat.

They all tip over.

These three cats learn there are advantages to being who you are. Other cats will learn from them. If you are round or square, why would you want to be any other cat?

This is Elizabeth Schoonmaker’s first picture book for young children. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University at Albany, and her work has been exhibited in Chicago and New York.

Maybe author/illustrator Schoonmaker was inspired by her daughters to teach colors, shapes, and self esteem in this romp of a book. Or maybe it was her cat, Stanleigh, who is neither round nor square, just gray.

I hope you like this book. It is destined to be the one your toddler will clamor for at least 1,365 times. This summer.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

After the Tornado

On April 27 a deadly swath of tornadoes changed lives forever across our entire region.

What about the children?

In times of tragedy like these, the plight of children weighs especially heavy on everyone. In this morning’s paper I saw the picture of an NFL player holding the child of a friend as he stood in the midst of rubble, a former neighborhood, one he had come home to help.

A hug seems small. It is huge.

We all want to help. Everyone can. We can’t all be first responders. But we can respond as we find needs that our own resources can meet.

DeEtte Currie, a teacher and mother of two young girls shared this
link for “Boxes of Hope.” This is a person to person, child to child, expression of love and caring. Organizers are working toward a deadline of May 16, so I urge you to read through this timely site now and decide whether it’s the fit you’ve been seeking for your own need to help.

Hillview School Library