Wednesday, March 31, 2021

REMEMBERING BEVERLY CLEARY (1916-2021)


The summer I was eight years old, I discovered “chapter books” in the library, falling in love with Henry Huggins (1950), Ellen Tebbits (1951) and Henry and Beezus (1952) by Beverly Cleary. She was my favorite author. Beverly Cleary went on to write many more books and became a favorite author of my children and grandchildren. I was saddened to learn of her passing last week at the age of 104. As one headline said, she was the last of her generation.

I was lucky to meet Beverly Cleary several times. We shared the same publisher–Morrow Junior Books–and took part in dinners and receptions that accompanied national conferences such as ALA and IRA. At one of these dinners my editor assigned me to host Beverly and her husband, which I found to be an uphill battle, as both were quite reserved. I met Beverly Cleary another time when she came to Los Angeles to speak at the SCBWI summer conference. It was the only time my husband Art came to the conference. As a family, we had been reading her books aloud in the evening, chapter by chapter. He too was a Beverly Cleary fan and wanted to hear her in person. His favorite book was The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965).

Beverly Cleary’s stories were inspired by her own childhood in Oregon in the 1930s, but the themes of school, friendship and family are universal. I believe that they are just as meaningful to children today as they were in my generation. Beverly Cleary is no longer with us, but she will live on in her books.

Monday, March 29, 2021

CSLA BLOG: Celebrating Children's Book Illustrators


I was delighted to discover that the CSLA Blog this month is featuring the image from my book A Panda's World that I donated for use on products in the Library Advocacy Store. Many thanks to the California School Library Foundation and to Dr. Lesley Farmer, Professor of Library Media at California State University Long Beach, for her lovely description of my work. I am just one of many children's book authors and illustrators who have participated in this project.

I encourage you to visit the Library Advocacy Store and treat yourself to a cup, bag, pillow and more, or buy gifts for your friends and family. Every purchase supports California libraries!


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Butterfly Craft with Yarn and Pipe Cleaners


With thanks to the Craft Train, here is an easy way to make decorative butterflies with yarn, craft sticks and pipe cleaners. https://www.thecrafttrain.com/woven-craft-stick-butterflies/

Learn about raising real butterflies in my book Butterflies in Room 6: See How They Grow



 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY! A Visit to Ireland

Newgrange Passage Tomb, circa 3200 BC

HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!

I've only been to Ireland once, and that was in October 2004. It was, indeed, an Emerald Isle. Here is a repost of my report of that visit from my travel blog, The Intrepid Tourist.

Rossnaree
Day 1.  We arrived in Dublin, picked up our rental car and drove north to our bed and breakfast, Rossnaree, a beautiful historic private house, chosen by us because it was near the World Heritage prehistoric sites of Newgrange and Knowth, which feature megalithic passage tombs dating to 3200 BC as well as standing stones (similar in concept to Stonehenge) and stones with elaborate concentric engraved designs.  Both Newgrange and Knowth were visible on the other side of the Boyne River from our bedroom window.  The sites can be seen only on tours, so we went to the visitor center, got our tickets for Newgrange, visited the museum, and took the tour.  By afternoon, jet lag had caught up with us and we returned to Rosnaree for a nap.

Day 2.  The next morning we woke up to a light rain, which soon cleared to patchy sun.  We booked a tour of Knowth for 11:45 and then picked up picnic food for lunch.  After the tour, it began to rain again, so we ate our lunch in the car in the parking lot at remains of Mellifont Abbey, the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland, founded in 1142.  When the rain let up and we walked around a bit before taking back roads to Monasterboice to see the high crosses and round tower.


Proleek Dolmen
 We then drove north to Dundalk to see the Proleek Dolmen (circa 3000 B.C.), located on the grounds of the Ballymascanlon House Hotel golf course.  Following signs along the cart path, we walked about a quarter mile to the fifth green, to see an immense stone balanced on top of two triangular stones.  We tossed several pebbles onto the top for good luck.  According to legend, a wish is granted if your pebble stays on top and doesn't roll down.  For dinner that night we stopped at the Gallery Forge restaurant, where we ordered a brace of quail.



Celtic Cross, Monasterboic

Day 3.  After breakfast we drove south through Dublin to Enniskerry in County Wicklow where we visited Powerscourt Estate and walked around the formal gardens.  (It was reminiscent of visiting the Huntington gardens in Pasadena.)  We looked briefly in the Avoca shop on the main floor of the house and bought an excellent scone.  We then drove past the waterfall and along a back road to Glendalough where we took a tour through the abbey ruins. (It dates back to the 6th century!)  We then walked around the upper lake.  After tea in the hotel we drove back to Dublin via Sallygap, a narrow road across the high heath.  We saw a few sheep, almost no cars, and evidence of peat cutting.  All in all, it was a desolate place.  We arrived in Dublin, checked into our hotel, and went to the local pub to watch the Ireland/France soccer match.

Day 4.  While Art was at his meetings I went to the National Museum to see the real finds from Newgrange and Knowth–the visitor center at the site only had reproductions–and a huge collection of Celtic gold jewelry. In the evening, we took a chartered bus to Dublin Castle for a reception.

Georgian House, facing St. Stephen's Green, Dublin
Day 5.  After lunch we set out for a walking tour of Dublin.  We went past St. Stephen’s Green to the Natural History Museum; Powerscourt Shopping Center (mostly eating places, antiques and clothes); to Avoca (bought two teapots and tea towels); through Temple Bar (cobblestone streets and pubs); to Liffey Bridge to Christ Church Cathedral (site of the first performance of Handel’s Messiah); to Dublinia Medieval Heritage Center; to Jurys Inn Hotel for coffee; to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Evensong service; and finally, to dinner at La Mere Zou on St. Stephen’s Green for mussels and cherry beer for Art and parsnip soup and lamb for me.
Trinity College, Dublin

 Day 6.  On our last day we visited an exhibit of the Book of Kells at Trinity College. It was the perfect ending to a short, but full visit to Ireland.

(update June 2012)
Summer Solstice
Here's a recent note from an Irish friend about observing the summer solstice in Ireland.

The Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is on June 20th at 23:09 UT/GMT this year. In Ancient Ireland many of Megalithic Monuments were aligned to the rising or setting sun on key solar points in the year. In the Boyne Valley we have the famous Winter Solstice alignment at Newgrange. Townleyhall a small passage tomb located just north of Newgrange is aligned with the rising sun at the Summer Solstice http://www.knowth.com/townleyhall-summer-solstice.htm
At Carrowkeel in the west of Ireland, Cairn G is aligned with the setting sun at the Summer Solstice http://www.newgrange.com/carrowkeel-solstice-08.htm  

(update August 1, 2012)
Lughnasadh
My Irish friend recently wrote to me about another festival, Lughnasadh.
Lughnasadh (pronounced Lou-na-sa) the Celtic Festival falls at the beginning of August, midway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox http://www.newgrange.com/lughnasadh.htm
In Celtic mythology the god Lugh established the Lughnasadh festival as a funeral feast and games commemorating his foster-mother Tailtiu. She died on August 1st of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Brega for farming. The first Teltown Games (√Āenach Tailteann) were held where Tailtiu was buried.

(update October 31, 2012)
The Origins of Halloween
My Irish friend Michael Fox sent me this Halloween message:
Failte,
As millions of children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween tonight, many will not be aware of its ancient Celtic roots in the Samhain festival. In Celtic Ireland about 2000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter) http://www.newgrange.com/samhain.htm
Back 5000 years ago in Stone Age Ireland at this time of year there were sunrise alignments at Loughcrew http://www.knowth.com/loughcrew-cairn-l.htm and the Hill of Tara http://www.knowth.com/tara-samhain.htm
Best Wishes from the Boyne Valley,
Michael Fox

http://www.facebook.com/DayToursDublin

(update from Michael Fox, Feb 3, 2013)
Celebration of Imbolc
Failte,

Imbolc has been celebrated since ancient times, it's a Cross Quarter Day,
midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, this year it
falls on the February 3rd. The ancient Celts celebrated The Goddess Brigid
at Imbolc which in Christian times became St. Brigid's Day. At the Mound of
the Hostages on the Hill of Tara the rising sun at Imbolc and Samhain
illuminates the chamber. With the ongoing conservation works at the Mound of
the Hostages, there won't be any access to the entrance this Imbolc

Best Imbolc Wishes,
Michael Fox 


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Butterfly Bookmark Project


Soon it will be butterfly season! To grow your own butterflies, you can order caterpillars from Insect Lore or other companies on the internet. 

To learn about raising butterflies, you can read my book BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6.

With thanks to Insect Lore, you can get the link HERE to download directions for making your own folded paper butterfly to use as a bookmark or for decoration.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

PLANT A BUTTERFLY GARDEN


You can attract butterflies to your yard by planting flowers. You can buy packets of seeds at your local garden store. Then find a sunny spot and follow the directions on the seed packet for planting. In a few months, when the flowers bloom, you will find butterflies visiting your garden and sipping nectar from the flowers.

Learn about raising painted lady butterflies in my book Butterflies in Room 6: See How They Grow.