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Happy Birthday, Monsieur Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne, b. 1533.

Advice for bloggers from Montaigne:
Don’t discuss yourself, for you are bound to lose; if you belittle yourself, you are believed; if you praise yourself, you are disbelieved.

When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.

It is more of a job to interpret the interpretations than to interpret the things, and there are more books about books than about any other subject: we do nothing but write glosses about each other.

It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.

There were never in the world two opinions alike, any more than two hairs or two grains. Their most universal quality is diversity.

He who has not a good memory should never take upon himself the trade of lying.

I speak the truth, not my fill of it, but as much as I dare speak; and I dare to do so a little more as I grow old.

Happy Birthday, HWL

“The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

American Authors of the 19th Century - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, b. 1807.

It Is Not Always May:
“Maiden, that read’st this simple rhyme,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay ;
Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime,
For O ! it is not always May !”

Paul Revere’s Ride:
“In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.”

Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie:
“Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way-side,
Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!”

Travels by the Fireside:
“Let others traverse sea and land,
And toil through various climes,
I turn the world round with my hand
Reading these poets’ rhymes.”

The Children’s Hour:
“Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.”
*Why is it that the Children’s Hour lasts all evening at my house?

Excelsior:
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star,
Excelsior!

The Wreck of the Hesperus:
He wrapped her warm in his seaman’s coat
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
And bound her to the mast.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere:
“So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!”

What The Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist:
“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
and things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art; to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”

A little inspiration from from Mr. Longfellow.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Grimm

Wilhelm Carl Grimm, b. 1786. While he and his brother Jacob were in law school, they began to collect folk tales. They collected, after many years, over 200 folk tales, including such famous ones as Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, The Bremen Town Musicians, and Rumpelstiltskin. Both Wilhelm and Jacob were librarians. Here’s a Canadian website with stuff for children: games, coloring pages, animated stories, etc.

True story: I once worked in the reference section of a library in West Texas. We often answered reference questions over the phone. One day a caller asked me, “How do you spell Hansel?” “H-A-N-S-E-L,” I replied. The patron thanked me and hung up. About an hour later, I heard one of the other reference librarians spelling into the phone, “G-R-E-T-E-L.”

Here’s a list of some of the most famous of Grimm’s fairy tales, along with a short list of books and other media based on each tale. Do you like to read fairy tale revision novels?

Cinderella, or Aschenputtel
The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson.
Bound by Donna Jo Napoli.
Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.
Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley. Brown Bear Daughter’s review.
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry.
A picture book series of Cinderella stories from around the world by Shirley Climo, including The Egyptian Cinderella, The Persian Cinderella, The Korean Cinderella, The Irish Cinderlad, etc.

The Fisherman and His Wife
The Fisherman and His Wife by Rachel Isadora. (picture book)
The Fisherman and His Wife by Margot Zemach. (picture book)

The Valiant Little Tailor
Mickey Mouse appeared in a Disney cartoon, Brave Little Tailor, based on this tale.

The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Elves and the Shoemaker by Paul Galdone. (picture book)
The Elves and the Shoemaker by Bernadette Watts. (picture book)
The Elves and the Shoemaker by Jim Lamarche. (picture book)

The Goose Girl
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.
Thorn by Intisar Khanani.
The Goose Girl by Harold MacGrath.

Snow White and the Dwarves
Black as Night by Regina Doman.
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.
The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson.
Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen.
1937 Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The 2011 TV series Once Upon A Time features Snow White, Prince Charming, and the Evil Queen as the main characters.

Snow White and Rose Red
The Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman.

Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman, Beautiful picture book version of the traditional tale.

Rapunzel
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli.
Letters from Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes.
Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass.
Rapunzel Let Down by Regina Doman.

Hansel and Gretel
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin.
The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli.

The Bremen Town Musicians

Rumpelstiltskin
Straw into Gold by Gary D. Schmidt.
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde.
A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce.
Rumpelstiltskn’s Daughter by Diane Stanley.
The Witch’s Boy by Michael Gruber.
Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli.
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book cover here to go to Amazon and buy something, I receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens

Born on this date in 1812, Mr. Dickens has been delighting readers for over 150 years.

Dickens Novels I’ve Read: David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Pickwick Papers, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend

Dickens Novels I Have Yet to Enjoy: Hard Times, Dombey and Son, Bleak House, The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Little Dorrit, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Favorite Dickens Hero: Pip, Great Expectations

Favorite Dickens Villain(ess): Madame Defarge, Tale of Two Cities

Favorite Tragic Scene: Mr. Peggotty searching for Little Em’ly (Is that a scene or an episode?)

Favorite Comic Character: Mr. Micawber, David Copperfield

Favorite Comic Scene: Miss Betsy Trotwood chasing the donkeys out of her yard, David Copperfield

Strangest Dickens Christmas Story We’ve Read: “The Poor Relation’s Story”, an odd little Christmas story.

Favorite Movie based on a Dickens novel: Oliver! (the musical)

Best Dickens Novel I’ve Read: A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield is a close second.

Dickens-related posts at Semicolon:

LOST Reading Project: Our Mutual Friend by Charles DIckens.

Scrooge Goes to Church

Dickens Pro and Con on his Birthday.

Quotes and Links

Scrooge Goes to Church

Born February 7th

Charles Dickens by Jane Smiley

A Little More Dickens

Advanced Reading Survey: Nicholas Nickleby.

A Dickens Quiz

Other Dickens-related links:
Mere Comments on Dickens’ Christianity.

A Dickens Filmography at Internet Film Database.

George Orwell: Essay on Charles DIckens.

Edgar Allan Poe Meets Charles Dickens.

An entire blog devoted to Mr. Dickens and his work: Dickensblog by Gina Dalfonzo.

And I have a new Dickens quiz for all you Dickens lovers.

Can you match the first with the book from which it is taken?

1. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

2. “My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name being Philip, my infant tongue could make nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.”

3. “Although I am an old man, night is generally my time for walking.”

4. “Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.”

5. “Marley was dead: to begin with.”

6. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

7. “In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.”

8. “An ancient English Cathedral Town?”

Anyone who leaves answers in the comments will receive a visit from yours truly to your blog, a thank you for participating, and a link in a future post.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book cover here to go to Amazon and buy something, I receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.

Days I’m Planning to Celebrate or Observe in February

All of February: Letter-Writing Month. The challenge is to “mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.” I want to do this with my girls. Such an encouragement to the people who receive a REAL letter or card in the mail.

February 2: Candlemas. We’re not Catholic, but it would be fun to light some candles and talk about how Jesus is the Light of the World. Like Mother, Like Daughter on Candlemas.

February 2: Groundhog Day. Check the weather. Watch the movie.

February 7: Charles Dickens’ Birthday. I will start reading Bleak House.

February 12: Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

February 12: Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes or maybe beignets!

February 13: Betsy-Bee’s Birthday. My next-to-the-youngest baby will be 14 years old. How will we celebrate? Not sure. I know she wants to go to Fuddrucker’s.

February 13: Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For the past several years I have taken a blogging break during Lent. This year I’m thinking about “giving up” something different for Lent: sedentariness and prayerlessness. I think that for the forty days of Lent I will go for a daily walk and spend my walking time in prayer. How’s that for a lenten discipline? I’ll let you know how it goes. Observing Lent.

February 14: International Book Giving Day It’s also the day for announcing the winners of the Cybils Awards.

February 14: St. Valentine’s Day. Well, here are 100 suggestions for celebrating Valentine’s Day. I think we’ll listen to some love songs, watch a movie, make a few valentines for friends and strangers who need a little love.
I’m also planning to fill a large jar with Valentine candy, probably M and M’s, at the beginning of the month. Everyone in the family can have two guesses as to how many candies are in the jar. On Valentine’s Day we’ll open it and count. The one who guesses closest wins a prize–not the candy. We’ll share that!

February 18: President’s Day. Work on my Presidential Reading Project. Start reading either my Andrew Jackson book or my Harry Truman book. Hang out our U.S. flag for the day. President’s Day for Kids.

February 22: George Washington’s Birthday. We will read this poem, and maybe I’ll make something with cherries in it.

February 23: Purim begins at sundown. Purim takes place on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar. I would like to have a family Purim party and read the book of Esther together.

February 27: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s birthday. Read some Longfellow: maybe The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere or The Village Blacksmith or The Children’s Hour or The Wreck of the Hesperus or other poems by Longfellow. Post lines from Longfellow on Twitter and Facebook.

Love Twelve Miles Long by Glenda Armand

How long is a mother’s love for her son? Twelve miles long. Frederick’s mama must walk twelve long miles to visit her son who lives in slavery in the master’s Big House while his mother toils far way in the fields. Mama measures her journey in twelve miles of forgetting, remembering, listening, looking up, praying, singing, smiling, dancing, giving thanks, hoping, dreaming, and loving. And she tells Frederick the story of her twelve miles so that he will know who he is and how much she loves him.

Love Twelve Miles Long is illustrated with the beautiful paintings of artist Colin Bootman. In fact, here’s a link to a couple of desktop background illustrations from Love Twelve Miles Long. The story is based on stories from the 1820’s childhood of abolitionist, escaped slave, writer and public speaker Frederick Douglass. In his autobiography Douglass wrote that his mother taught him that he was not “only a child but somebody’s child.”

The love and encouragement of a parent, mother or father, can give a child confidence to rise above difficult circumstances and become more than his background would indicate that he can achieve. I can picture a mother and child reading this book together and using that reading as an expression of love and support.

Four brave employees from LEE & LOW BOOKS set out to see what it is like to walk twelve miles through the streets of New York City from Zuccotti Park to Frederick Douglass Circle in Harlem to the New York Public Library:

Mama had told him that there were things he could not count or measure: there were too many stars, the ocean was too wide, and the mountains of corn were too high. But there was one thing he could measure. Frederick knew with all his heart that his mama’s love was twelve miles long.

Unit studies and curriculum uses for Love Twelve Miles Long: Biography, Black History Month, Frederick Douglass, Family Traditions, Heroism, Mothers, Christian Heritage, Slavery, United States History.

100 Valentine Celebration Ideas at Semicolon.

Happy 200th Birthday to the Inimitable Boz

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens!

Born on this date in 1812, Mr. Dickens has been delighting readers for over 150 years.

Dickens Novels I’ve Read: David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Pickwick Papers, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend

DIckens Novels I Have Yet to Enjoy: Hard Times, Dombey and Son, Bleak House, The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Little Dorrit, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Favorite Dickens Hero: Pip, Great Expectations

Favorite Dickens Villain(ess): Madame Defarge, Tale of Two Cities

Favorite Tragic Scene: Mr. Peggotty searching for Littel Em’ly (Is that a scene or an episode?)

Favorite Comic Character: Mr. Micawber, David Copperfield

Favorite Comic Scene: Miss Betsy Trotter chasing the donkeys out of her yard, David Copperfield

Strangest Dickens Christmas Story We’ve Read: “The Poor Relation’s Story”

Best Dickens Novel I’ve Read: A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield is a close second.

Dickens-related posts at Semicolon:

LOST Reading Project: Our Mutual Friend by Charles DIckens.

Scrooge Goes to Church

Dickens Pro and Con on his Birthday.

Quotes and Links

Born February 7th

Charles Dickens by Jane Smiley

A Little More Dickens

Other DIckens-related links:
Mere Comments on Dickens’ Christianity.

A DIckens Filmography at Internet Film Database.

George Orwell: Essay on Charles DIckens.

Edgar Allan Poe Meets Charles Dickens.

An entire blog devoted to Mr. Dickens and his work: DIckensblog by Gina Dalfonzo.

And finally, here’s a re-post of my own Dickens Quiz. Can you match the quotation with the Dickens novel that it comes from?

1. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

2. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

3. “I would rather, I declare, have been a pig-faced lady, than be exposed to such a life as this!”

4. “It’s over and can’t be helped, and that’s one consolation as they always says in Turkey, ven they cuts the wrong man’s head off.”

5. “If the law supposes that,’ said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass–a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience–by experience.”

6. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

7. “We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.”

8. “It is a sensation not experienced by many mortals,” said he, “to be looking into a churchyard on a wild windy night, and to feel that I no more hold a place among the living than these dead do, and even to know that I lie buried somewhere else, as they lie buried here. Nothing uses me to it. A spirit that was once a man could hardly feel stranger or lonelier, going unrecognized among mankind, than I feel.”

(HINT: these come from the eight Dickens novels that I have read. Which is from which?)

Many Happy Returns: February 27th

The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

American Authors of the 19th Century - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, b. 1807 (only five years after Victor Hugo).

It Is Not Always May:
“Maiden, that read’st this simple rhyme,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay ;
Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime,
For O ! it is not always May !”

Paul Revere’s Ride:
“In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.”

Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie:
“Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way-side,
Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!”

Travels by the Fireside:
“Let others traverse sea and land,
And toil through various climes,
I turn the world round with my hand
Reading these poets’ rhymes.”

The Children’s Hour:
“Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.”
*Why is it that the Children’s Hour lasts all evening at my house?

Excelsior:
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star,
Excelsior!

The Wreck of the Hesperus:
He wrapped her warm in his seaman’s coat
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
And bound her to the mast.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere:
“So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!”

What The Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist:
“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
and things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art; to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”

A little inspiration from from Mr. Longfellow on his 203rd birthday.

Don’t forget to send me yor list of 10 favorite classic poems for the survey in April, National Poetry Month. More details here.

Many Happy Returns: February 16th

Henry Adams, b. 1838. He was the grandson of one president and the great-grandson of another. Numbered among his many friends were Lincoln’s private secretary John Hay, Henry Cabot Lodge, Theodore Roosevelt, geologist Clarence King, Senators Lucius Lamar and James Cameron, artist John La Farge, and writer Edith Wharton. His most famous work was an autobiography written in third person, The Education of Henry Adams. (online here) He also wrote and published many books about his extensive travels and about history.

The difference is slight, to the influence of an author, whether he is read by five hundred readers, or by five hundred thousand; if he can select the five hundred, he reaches the five hundred thousand.

LeVar Burton, b. 1957. Star and executive producer of the PBS series Reading Rainbow. We used to watch a lot of Reading Rainbow, and I still have quite a few episodes on videotape. Mr. Burton also starred as Geordie in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and he got his start as Kunta Kinte in the mini-series Roots, based on the book by the same name. How many of you read Roots when it was a best-seller, about thirty years ago? I remember it as a good story, and it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976. However, in 1978 Mr. Haley was sued for plagiarizing several passages in his book from a book called The African by Harold Courlander. Haley admitted that he did copy Courlander’s work “unintentionally,” and the suit was settled out of court for $650,000.
It was still a good story, and Mr. Burton started a fine career with it. Thanks to Roots and its success as a TV-miniseries, we have Reading Rainbow, a good deal if you ask me.
“But you don’t have to take my word for it.”
Reading Rainbow Official website.
On January 29, 2007, LeVar Burton announced that he had made his last episode of Reading Rainbowand that he was retiring, citing a difference in vision with the new owners of the show. “Their vision was not in alignment with what I stand for,” he said.

Many Happy Returns: February 13th

Eleanor Farjeon, b. 1881. Click on her name to read a little more about her life and her poetry.

Grant Wood, b. 1892. American artist born near Anamosa, Iowa.

Georges Simenon,, b. 1903. He was a Belgian-born author of detective fiction. Many of his books feature the Parisian detective, Inspector Maigret. Has anyone read these books? I think I tried one a long time ago, and it seemed that it lost something in the translation. But maybe not.

IMG_0201
Betsy-Bee, b. 1999. She’s a joy and a wonder, Miss Fashion, full of life, our Funny Little Gypsy Girl.