pondering the land of lost things with a poem by robert phillips

 

MY VALHALLA
by Robert Phillips

Forget the Museum of Natural History,
The Metropolitan or The Smithsonian.
The collection I want to wander in
I call The Valhalla of Lost Things.

The Venus de Milo’s arms are here,
she’s grown quite attached to them.
I circle Leonardo’s sixteen-foot-tall
equestrian statue, never cast, browse

all five-hundred-thousand volumes
of The Alexandrian Library, handle
artifacts of Atlantis. Here are all
the ballades and rondeaux of Villon,

the finished score of The Unfinished
Symphony, I read all of Edwin Drood
and Answered Prayers. I’ll screen ten
missing reels of Von Stroheim’s Greed,

hear the famous gap in Nixon’s tapes.
There are lost things here so lost,
no one knows they were lost — manuscripts
by the unknown Kafka, far greater

than Kafka’s, his best friend obeyed,
shredded every sheet. The cure for cancer
is here: The inventor didn’t recognize,
the potion went unpatented . . .

In my museum no guard shushes me
for talking, there are no closing times,
it’s always free. Here I can see
what no one living has seen, I satisfy

that within me which is not whole.
Here I am curator not of what is,
but of what should have been,
and what should be.

~ from What Have You Lost?, poems selected by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow Books, 1999)

 

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chihiro iwasaki’s charming and lively watercolors

 

Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974) is one of the most celebrated Japanese artists/illustrators in the world. She’s as popular and beloved in her home country as Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, or Garth Williams is in America.

 

 

She’s known for her soft, delicate, flowing watercolors of children and flowers, centering around the theme of “peace and happiness for children.” Her artistic style is a distinctive blend of Western watercolor strokes and traditional Eastern painting techniques. She sometimes incorporated Japanese calligraphy in her work.

 

 

 

 

 

I only discovered Iwasaki’s work recently; her pictures called out to me just when I needed them most. They’re certainly a welcome balm for difficult times. I love the gentleness and innocence, the rich beauty and wistfulness in her paintings, and how brilliantly she captures the emotions and posturings of babies, toddlers, and grade school kids.

 

 

 

 

She published about 40 books and made over 8000 drawings in her lifetime. She was a Hans Christian Andersen fan, and illustrated several of his tales which were published in English.

 

 

 

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another surprise book giveaway!

Never a dull moment around here.

Right after I announced last week’s NPM surprise book giveaway (There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth by B.J. Lee and David Opie), we were inundated with HARD STARES.

Ahem, ahem.

Firmly but ever so politely, the resident Paddingtons declared:

WE WILL NOT BE OUTDONE.

If Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear were doing a giveaway, so would they.

And so, 70-something Paddingtons are giving away a brand new copy of Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air  by Margarita Engle, our current Young People’s Poet Laureate:

In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s.

Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.

Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.

Just released in February 2019, Soaring Earth has received **starred reviews** from Horn Book, School Library Journal and Shelf Awareness. Margarita is a master of the verse memoir and this is a beautifully crafted, powerful book!

For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, April 24, 2019. You may also enter by sending an email with MARGARITA in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!!


Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[review + giveaway] The Night The Forest Came to Town by Charles Ghigna and Annie Wilkinson

 

Harken to the wonder, let the magic begin.

Sometimes Mother Nature weaves her wizardry in mysterious ways. It’s amazing what can happen overnight.

In The Night the Forest Came to Town, Charles Ghigna and Annie Wilkinson invite us to see for ourselves, as nature reclaims, renews and restores.

It was silent in the city
when the cracks began to form
in the evening late one summer
when the concrete was still warm.

While it’s business as usual for the adults (who are distracted and buried in their cell phones) the kids definitely know something is up. From “distant hills outside of town,” a wondrous wind blows in “a sudden rush of green,” a swirl of energy that spreads seeds everywhere.

At the same time, animals slowly emerge from deep in the forest. Squirrels, rabbits, owls, chipmunks and beavers roam together under a moonlit sky, instinctually drawn to what is happening in town.

Under cover of darkness, flocks of birds disseminate seeds for rooftop gardens, and with the welcome nourishment of steady rain, green saplings take root along the streets, shoots of grass border the sidewalks, and a vacant parking lot becomes fertile ground for seedlings.

The animals are busy too. A beaver builds a dam in the city square fountain, turning it into a pond for tadpoles and fish. At daybreak, early risers watch as an eagle builds a nest atop a park statue. They soon hear the first cry of a hungry baby bird. Miraculous!

With the full morning sun, “the sky turned azure blue,/and everywhere the children played the city grew . . . and grew.” The once dull gray city of concrete and steel has now been transformed into a bright, colorful haven of plants, trees, flowers, window boxes, and pure joy.

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2019 ALA Youth Media Awards Winners!

 

Exciting morning watching the ALA Youth Media Awards live webcast from Seattle! It’s fun to root for your favorite children’s and YA books published in 2018, and there are usually a couple of surprises to keep things interesting.

First off, there were several welcome additions to the annual announcements. For years, I wondered why the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Literature Awards were not included. We’d hear about the Coretta Scott King and Pura Belpré winners, but not about the Asian Pacific American winners.

Well, from now on, not only will the APALA Literature Award winners be highlighted, but also awards from the American Indian Library Association (AILA) and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). All in an effort “to bring awareness about and encourage the creation of more books that depict diverse cultures, or by authors of color.” About time, I say. Hooray!

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