Mourning

Tuesday we said goodbye to relatives after a wonderful four day weekend. A short time after the airport drops, I made my last pilgrimage to The Yellow Book Road.

A sad, sad sight. But there's still gold inside.

I wanted to cry both times.

The goodbyes to the relatives will last until we can all gather again. The goodbye to The Yellow Book Road is forever. There are so many memories around that very special book store.

The store started small atop a doctor’s office. I held my toddler’s hand as we climbed the outside steps and first discovered this book lovers’ dream.

Years later, when a parent couldn’t remember how to spell my last name (few can) on a gift certificate for classroom books, a staff member assured her, “That’s okay, we know how to spell it.” Earned me serious parent points.

Ann and David have been very supportive of readers of all ages including parents learning how to read to active toddlers, teachers and schools, and local authors.

Cochon by vfdbsn, courtesy of Wikimedia

Cochon by vfdbsn, courtesy of Wikimedia

When I returned to writing, Ann answered questions. I learned that pigs can sell, but poultry not so much. In my search for the best way to communicate “polar bear” without using the word “bear” or resorting to “the large arctic mammal who hunts seals on ice floes”, Ann suggested “polar cousin.” (The Grizzly’s Christmas explains why I couldn’t use the word “bear”.)

Miranda Marks' first illustration for The Grizzly's Christmas.

Miranda Marks’ first illustration for The Grizzly’s Christmas.

Tuesday was my last chance to see them and look through the books. As you might imagine, they were using a fraction of their shelves. As you might not imagine, there were still plenty of wonderful books to discover. I believe that reflects their ability to choose the worthwhile from an overwhelming range of available titles.

Wednesday the doors closed. Now San Diego has no children’s bookstore.

Tuesday’s goodbyes leave an ache too deep for chocolate. Where to turn for consolation?

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road.

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road.

 

 

I’m looking for my copy of The Relatives Came so I can reread the lines about all the breathing together in the house and missing family until next year.

While I might be too old for a teddy bear, I’m not too old to find comfort in bear books. So right here, right now you can read about two of my last purchases at the Best Little Bookstore in California.

Old Bear & His CubOld Bear and His Cub was written and illustrated by Oliver Dunrea (wish I could do both) and published by Philomel Books in 2010. I’d read this book once before but didn’t buy it because I was sort of being a purist about bears, and male bears are actually a danger to cubs.

Then I saw The Bear, a film from the late 80’s that stars Bart. (Netflix lists the three human actors, but I couldn’t find them in the credits at the end of the film–just Bart and the cub.)

When a cub’s mother is killed in a rock slide, the cub searches for protection. The old male doesn’t volunteer, but the cub persists and the bear finally allows the cub to tag along. The movie showed some natural bear behaviors that I had read about but hadn’t seen–including how a cub elicits help.

I tried Old Bear and His Cub again. Once I’d lost my previous bias, I found an endearing story about the reciprocity of caring. It’s a book you might want to check out for Father’s Day. I know who my copy is going to once I can loosen my grip.

Sister Bear: A Norse Tale was adapted by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Linda Graves, and Sister Bearpublished by Marshall Cavendish in 2011. One of the old beliefs about bears, found in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, was bears are very close to humans and perhaps humans really are inside those fur coats.

Halva finds a cub and raises her as Sister Bear. After Sister Bear grows, Halva and her bear set off to show Sister’s talents to the King of Norway. Along the way, they encounter trolls with breath strong enough to fell an ox.

And life goes on. Relatives from the other side of the family will be arriving starting this week. I have the rest of my stack of books to read and stories to write.

A visit to my favorite trees in Balboa Park

A visit to my favorite trees in Balboa Park

Closing Comments: Reviewing My Stack of Books from The Yellow Book Road

Closing comments. No, not from me . . .

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road.

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road.

The last post ended with a stack of books purchased from The Yellow Book Road, the wonderful bookstore closing the end of May.

 

Early Picture Books:

Bear on Own                                                                         The first to catch my eye was Bear On His Own, from the “Let’s Go to the Zoo” Smithsonian Institution series and the Trudy Corporation in 2000. Jessie Cohen took the photos of the spectacled bear cub’s day ending with a sweet mama and cub snuggle.

Hey, we need some board books—you know the ones babies chew.

Itsy Bitsy Spider and Baa Baa, Black Sheep! are board books by Annie Kubler, published by Child’s Play International in 2004. Both have illustrations that include simple sign language for some of the words in the songs. Wonderful introduction for teaching babies signing (. . . and singing).BB songs and signs

Also perfect to slip into the pillow quilt for the baby shower.Fletch Q:pillow

So far so good. Next I found The Book of ZZZs, written and photographed by Arlene Alda (stands to reason Alan Alda’s wife is a wonderfully talented woman) and published by Tundra Books in 2005.

Book of ZZZsThis book with it’s photos of sleeping animals including the young human variety will make you think “Awww!” even if you manage not to say it. The text and photos compliment each other and should enchant young children at nap or bedtime.

 

 

A Picture Book for Older Kids:

Then I looked up and saw Bird, a picture book with three award stickers—New Voices Award Honor, Ezra Jack Keats Award, and a Coretta Scott King Award. I had to look. Bird
This picture book, written by Zetta Elliot, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, and published by Lee & Low Books in 2008, is for more mature children.

The heart-breaking and heart-healing story is told by a young boy who mourns the loss of his older brother to drugs and the death of his granddad. Supported by the love of his family and his granddad’s friend, he’s learning to live with what he’s powerless to change and how to claim the power of his own “somethin’.”

The three awards are well-deserved.

You can see that it wasn’t my fault I already had five books I hadn’t intended to buy.

Middle Grade Books by Linda Sue Park:

At that point, I wisely decided to make a bee line for Linda Sue Park’s Keeping Score, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2008. We’d recently had a short Twitter conversation about baseball. I’d also learned helpful things from her presentation at a SCBWI conference. So I wanted that book.

Maggie, the protagonist, is a huge Brooklyn Dodgers fan who learns the notations for box scores and can’t help but root for Willie Mays (Giants, if you’re not a baseball person). Her brother plays baseball, but Maggie doesn’t have that opportunity.

Hey, I was a huge LA Dodgers fan who loved Willie Mays. My ambition in life was to be a short stop. And I learned to keep score for my brother’s Little League team since girls couldn’t play.

Immediate buy-in.Keeping Score and

The book continually deepens and connects to broader issues. The fireman who taught Maggie to score is drafted and sent to fight in the Korean War. Maggie tries to sort out the relationships between faith, prayers, friendships, and baseball.

My husband, who always greets the opening of baseball season with, “Our long national nightmare is over,” is reading it now.

Okay, so five books I hadn’t intended to get and one that I had. Did I mention that right next to Keeping Score stood a slim book with the intriguing title SeeSaw Girl, also by Linda Sue Park and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 1999?

Jade, a seventeenth-century Korean girl, lives the wealthy, proper, and cloistered life of a nobleman’s daughter. But she wants to see the mountains for herself. How? She also longs to see her cousin. How? And how can she live a happy life without bringing dishonor on her family?

Okay, so six books I hadn’t intended to get and one that I had. I looked for another title that would help balance the score a little bit.

One Last Picture Book:

Incredible Painting ofThe Incredible Painting of Felix Closseau, written and illustrated by Jon Agee and published by Harper Collins, Toronto in 1988, is a hoot. Love the art, the story, the jokes, and the twist at the end. If you like the Hogswart paintings, find this book.

Final score, six unplanned purchases to two planned one. Eight winners total.

Without an actual bookstore, an actual children’s bookstore to peruse, I wouldn’t have found six of these must-haves.

So I’m going back to The Yellow Book Road in Liberty Station, San Diego, before it closes at the end of the month. In the next post, I’ll let you know what I found . . . if you don’t beat me to them.

Also next post, a cautionary tale for indie writers.

The other side which has the pocket to hold the folded quilt and make a pillow. The satiny fabric, which I added for the sense of touch, convinced me to stick to cotton the next time.

The other side which has the pocket to hold the folded quilt and make a pillow. The satiny fabric, which I added for the sense of touch, convinced me to stick to cotton the next time.

The quilt I finished on Tuesday. This side has high contrast designs for infant perception.

The quilt I finished on Tuesday. This side has high contrast designs for infant perception.

To Read and To Visit

Two Books to Read

StuckStuck, written by Oliver Jeffers and published by Penguin Young Readers Group in 2011, is a great example of ridiculousness that works.

When you were a kid and got something stuck in a tree, what was the first thing you did? You threw something at it, right?

Floyd just does what any kid (and most adults?) would do. When his kite gets stuck in a tree, he throws something else. Did that always work for you? Doesn’t for Floyd either. But does he give up?

Lucky for readers, no, he doesn’t. And we get to laugh. Jeffers also wrote The Day the Crayons Quit, another hilarious story.

Sarah Tomp spoke at a recent SCBWI meeting. Great presentation on a day I wasn’t Best Everyplanning on spending any money. Then she read the first page in her new YA novel, My Best Everything, published by Little, Brown, and Company in 2015.

I rushed out of the lecture hall after her talk and bought Tomp’s book in hardcover!

Lulu’s plan to escape her small town is torpedoed when her father reveals they don’t have the money she needs for college.

Like Floyd, Lulu doesn’t give up, but she finds danger, love, and consequences in the pursuit of her dream.

The book is written first person in Lulu’s voice and is addressed to the boy she falls in love with—the boy who, because of his love for Lulu, is pulled back into the life where he had been stuck. Moonshine is involved.

The book left me with a haunting bittersweet ache. One line that really struck me reads:

A tree grows in Liberty Station. Do you know what kind it is?

A tree grows in Liberty Station. Do you know what kind it is?

“Easy makes a good sell for meant-to-be.” Good words to remember in times of temptation.

Two Places to Visit in San Diego (one involving future reading)

San Diego, which has been dubbed by some as “America’s finest city,” is just about to be a little less fine. We are losing our last children’s bookstore as another independent folds. The Yellow Book Road has been in my family’s life since my son was a toddler.

When I went to Liberty Station this week, the “Store closing” signs broke my heart. Even though I got some really wonderful books at great prices, I’d rather pay more and have them stay. The owners, Ann and David, and their staff members have become friends over the years. I will truly miss them and their treasure chest of a store.

A sad, sad sight. But there's still gold inside.

A sad, sad sight. But there’s still gold inside.

When I went two days ago, I thought everything might be too picked-over. Even though the inventory is obviously shrinking, they still have many wonderful titles. I will definitely get in a couple more visits before the end of the month. If you live in the San Diego area, go before The Yellow Book Road is only a memory.

Overcast, moisture in the air (even if very little made it to the ground). This is what last Friday and Saturday were like--my favorite kinds of days.

Overcast, moisture in the air (even if very little made it to the ground). This is what last Friday and Saturday were like–my favorite kinds of days.

A week ago, it was overcast with the prediction of spotty rain. It was a beautiful day to take a walk in the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. (Did I ever tell you Seattle is my dream city?) A winding trail crosses bridges and leads down into recently opened parts of the garden.

The walk in the Japanese Friendship Garden.

The walk in the Japanese Friendship Garden.

 

 

My husband and I were able to enter the new Inamori Pavilion. I felt a peaceful calm as soon as we walked inside to view the exhibit of Ichiyo Yamamoto’s ceramics. They are amazingly detailed. For those of us who were taught to simply dip our pots into buckets of glaze, the exhibit is jaw-dropping. Yamamoto uses platinum in his intricate and delicate designs. The exhibit will be there until July 5th.

A small bowl by Ichiyo Yamamoto.

A small bowl by Ichiyo Yamamoto.

How the weather turned on Sunday. It is beautiful ,but I want my May Gray back!

How the weather turned on Sunday. It is beautiful ,but I want my May Gray back!

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road. Will tell you about them next time!

The books I bought at the Yellow Book Road. Will tell you about them next time!