A Dickens of a Time: Life Punches and Three Books

The best of times and the worst of times—joy and sorrow—a time of souls joining, souls going, and souls coming—life goes on.

Chuppah for Brad and Jessica's wedding. I assembled the messages written on the leaves by family and friends. It will now be made into a quilt.

Chuppah for Brad and Jessica’s wedding. I assembled the messages written on the leaves by family and friends. It will now be made into a quilt.

I miss you, Mary.

I miss you, Mary.

Books have always helped me navigate life—to find solace, direction, joy, strength, empathy. Can books really do all that?

 

Fletcher's Foot

 

 

When my son’s birthdays involved one digit numbers, he always wanted pirate parties—always. I still buy him pirate socks and pick up pirate books.

This year my son asked for a "cake" for his tortoise. I think my son wants to see if I'll take the bait.

This year my son asked for a “cake” for his tortoise.  I think my son wants to see if I’ll take the bait.

Mem Fox’s Tough Boris, illustrated by Kathryn Brown and published by Houghton Mifflin in 1994, is a textbook (without the boring) example of the picture book ballet. Deceivingly simple text and illustrations that tell half the story dance a pas de deux. (Writers and illustrators, take note.)

This is the kind of book that can convince people they can sit down and write a picture book in a couple of hours—tops. Those people probably also believe a dancer can learn to move gracefully en pointe in the same amount of time. It looks effortless, right?

Tough BorisTough Boris will delight you and your child and touch your hearts. I’ve already used more words to tell you about the book than you’ll find in the story. And I didn’t even mention what a lesson in rhythm the book is for me. (Writers, take note. Just listening to Mem Fox read Hattie and the Fox helped me go back to two of my picture book manuscripts and give them needed punch.)

Dad SaysWhen a Dad Says “I Love You” was written by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell, and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2013.

Do you read Pickles on the comics page? If so, you are probably giving Earl an A for effort as he tries to say the “I love you” words to his adult daughter.

The dads in this picture book have lots of ways to say “I love you”.

Yaqui DelgadoYaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina and published in 2013, is a young adult book that should make Candlewick Press proud they chose to publish it.

If I said it’s a story about bullying, that would be true. But this diverse book is so much more. For much of the book, Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui Delgado is or why she wants to kick Piddy’s ass. We, the readers, don’t know either.

I’m trying to decide how much to say—not even sure if I should tell you what the book is not. This much is probably okay: The book is not the typical story of taming or beating the bully. Piddy has to look at the way she changes as she tries to deal with the problem of Yaqui Delgado.

Meg Medina’s distinctive voice transcends her specific character to give us a universal every girl. We all have to find how we can stay the person we choose to be while confronting situations or people who beat that person down.

Rabindra Sarkar builds these and takes them down at the end of each day. Different stacks every day. We saw his work at Seaport Village when we were there for a birthday celebration.

Rabindra Sarkar builds these and takes them down at the end of each day. Different stacks every day. We saw his work at Seaport Village when we were there for a birthday celebration.

Which picture books do you know that add up to more than words and pictures of just those words?

First Rocky has to eat her greens.

First Rocky has to eat her greens.

And which books help you deal with life’s challenges? As life goes on . . .

Then she gets dessert.

Then she gets dessert.

A Day (metaphorically speaking) Late and a Bookstack Short*

Books I purchased at the 2014 SCBWI conference.

Books I purchased at the 2014 SCBWI conference.

Well, here it is on the eve of the 2015 SCBWI conference and I didn’t yet write about the books I bought last year at the 2014 SCBWI conference.

I read the books. I liked the books. But I didn’t get around to writing about them.

Instead I wrote a poem about all the feelings cycling through me during the conference.

To make it up to you, I’ll write about them soon and put a photo of naked ladies at the bottom of this short post.

I reread some of last year’s books. I liked them the second time through. But . . .

Oops, ran out of time.

Theme for the Conference was Sparkle and Shine. San Diego chapter went as a cloud of fireflies ala Eric Carle.

Theme for the Conference was Sparkle and Shine. San Diego chapter went as a cloud of fireflies ala Eric Carle.

Books I purchased this year at the SCBWI Conference

Books I purchased this year at the SCBWI Conference

 

In the aftermath of the 2015 SCBWI conference, I have this year’s stack of books  in addition to last year’s books!

Fletcher's FootAnd most wondrous, better even than a stack of new books and the cause of great joy . . .

 

In the tradition of last year’s conference, I wrote a poem about the most important event of the decade—a grandchild.

Here’s the poem, which you are welcome to copy and use. Please credit me. You also have permission to adapt it; but, again, please credit it as an adaptation.

To Our Grandchild
by Cindy Schuricht

I gaze at your face
As you sleep against my heart.
Expressions float across your features
Like clouds drifting
Across the sky.

Eyes squeeze
And threaten rain,
A twitch, a smile,
The weather shifts.
The storm passes without a tear.

With the flare of your nostrils,
A soft breeze flutters.
I am your hill,
And you . . .
You are an ever-changing panorama.

Seven Days Later (now eleven)

An unexpected envelope appeared in our mail box last week.

An unexpected envelope appeared in our mail box last week.

Back to the books—I’ll read some of them a third time (they’re worth it), and I’ll get to this year’s books in a more timely manner . . . honest. To make it up to you, I’ll put a photo of a surprise at the bottom of this post.

Now for a couple of books that relate to the littlest people in our lives.

 

10 Fingers

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, and published by HMH Books for Young People in 2010, is a treasure. At this year’s conference, Lin Oliver mentioned a toddler she always reads it to. And after I heard Mem Fox speak, I dashed over to the bookstore and bought it. It’s a deceptively simple rhyming book that tightens my throat whenever I try to read it aloud. I’m told it is a certain two-week old’s favorite book.

Sleepytime Me

 

Sleepytime Me, written by Edith Hope Fine, illustrated by Christopher Denise, and published by Random House in 2014, is a book with calming rhymes that help a young child settle down to sleep. I’m certain it will also become a favorite.

These two books are illustrated in very different styles and I love both of them.

As promised . . . naked ladies. They visit every August long after the leaves have died back.

As promised . . . naked ladies. They visit every August long after the leaves have died back.

 

 

 

 

What was in the envelope!!!

The surprise in the envelope!!!

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Flame-Protect-Cindy-Schuricht/dp/0989658023/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421705373&sr=1-2Order here.

*Anybody remember the old Bob Newhart show where Bob and his wife run an inn? The neighbors are three brothers. Every time they visit, the oldest brother says, “Hi, I’m Larry. This is my brother Daryl and this is my other brother Daryl.”

I’ve always wondered if it was one of the longest joke set-ups ever. In one episode, one of the Daryls is** seduced by disco and runs away to the big city. Larry and the second Daryl look for the first Daryl saying, “We’re a day late and a Daryl short.”

**I considered writing “one of the Daryls’s seduced,” but changed my mind.