Born August 3rd

Two of my favorite novelists have birthdays today: Baroness Phyllis Dorothy James (b. 1920, d.2014) and Leon Marcus Uris (b. 1924, d. 2003).

Although I like her detective novels very much, my favorite P. D. James novel as of now is Children of Men, a dystopian novel about a world where no children are born. I suggest that those who are prone to look askance at large families and pro-life ideals read James’ rather chilling picture of a future with no children at all. Read my review here. The movie version of Children of Men skews the themes and the plot of the book to make it more about refugees and anti-refugee sentiments than about fertility and the tragedy of a world without human reproduction.

Leon Uris is sometimes described as a “Zionist” and one obituary in the British newspaper The Guardian referred to him as a racist for his portrayal of Arabs in his admittedly pro-Jewish novels. I think this is an unfair accusation, but if you are Palestinian, or sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, you might not enjoy Uris’ novels as much as I do. Exodus, Mila 18, and QB VIII are all great stories with lots of historical information about Israel and the experience of modern Jews in Europe during and after World War II.
My thoughts about Uris and James and their books on this date in 2004.

Uris’ most famous book,Exodus, was made into a move with Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint in the lead roles. Reviews of the movie are mixed (I’ve never seen it), however, composer Ernest Gold won the Academy Award for Best Original Score of the movie Exodus at the 1960 Oscars. I recommend both the movie music and the book.

Pat Boone wrote the following lyrics for the Exodus main theme:

“The Exodus Song”

This land is mine, God gave this land to me
This brave and ancient land to me
And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plain
Then I see a land where children can run free

So take my hand and walk this land with me
And walk this lovely land with me
Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

To make this land our home
If I must fight, I’ll fight to make this land our own
Until I die, this land is mine

Also born on this date:
Mary Calhoun, picture book author of Hot-Air Henry and other books about Henry the Adventurous Cat. I like the story of Henry getting trapped in a hot air balloon and going for a wild ride.
Ms. Calhoun also wrote Cross Country Cat, High-Wire Henry, Henry the Sailor Cat, and Henry the Christmas Cat—all about Henry, a cat of many adventures. And she is the author of the Katie John series of books about a girl growing up in a midwestern family in the 1960’s. The books in order are Katie John, Depend on Katie John, Honestly Katie John!, and Katie John and Heathcliff. Be aware that Katie John grows over the course of the four books from tomboy and president of the “Boy-Hater’s Club” to a fan of Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and a boy admirer. The books were published over fifty years ago, however, and the boy-hating and the romantic elements in the final book are quite innocent and unobjectionable. And Katie John is a lovable and irrepressible character throughout the series.
I have High-Wire Henry and the first three Katie John books in my library, available for check out.

Holling C. Holling, b. 1900

August 2nd is the birthdate of author Holling Clancy Holling, who wrote several books that are wildly popular among homeschooling moms and their children:

Paddle-to-the-Sea. A native American boy carves a small canoe and sends it off on a journey from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean. It takes four years, an many mishaps and adventures, for the canoe with its tiny carved paddler to reach the ocean. And there’s something fascinating about tracing the journey through the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, and the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean at last. Paddle was a Caldecott Honor book in 1942.

Tree in the Trail. A cottonwood tree grows near the Santa Fe Trail somewhere in Kansas, and as it grows events and travelers make history from the time of the native Americans and the buffalo hunts to the time of the American settlement of Kansas in the early 1850’s.

Seabird. Similar to Paddle in some ways, in this story an ivory scrimshaw gull carved by a young sailor travels the world on a whaling vessel, clipper ship, steam ship and finally on an airplane.

Minn of the Mississippi. A three-legged snapping turtle swims south from the source of the Mississippi to the Mississippi delta, and readers find out all about the geography of the river and the life cycle of the snapping turtle.

These four books I have in my library, available for check out. These others by Holling, I don’t have, but I would like to own them. If you happen to have an extra copy of any of these, please send it my way.

Pagoo. Explore the ecosystem of the tide pool with Pagoo, the hermit crab.

Book of Cowboys. Lots of information about cowboys and cattle drives, folded into a simple story.

Book of Indians. A review from my blog-friend, Amy at Hope Is the Word.

Rocky Billy: The Story of the Bounding Career of a Rocky Mountain Goat. Doesn’t this one sound interesting–just from the title?

Mr. Holling wasn’t always known as Holling Clancy Holling. He was born Holling Allison Clancy, and his he only changed his name to the “pen name” that he is know by today as a result of a signature misapprehension. He wrote his first name, Holling, in fancy letters underneath his printed name “Holling Clancy” on his paintings, and people assumed his name was Holling Clancy Holling. So he had it legally changed. Oh, and his wife, Lucille, also an artist, helped with the books and their illustrations.

Saturday Review of Books: August 23, 2014

“‘Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?’ Mo had said when, on Meggie’s last birthday, they were looking at all her dear old books again. ‘As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells . . . and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower. . . both strange and familiar.'” ~Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

Today, August 23rd, is Z-baby’s birthday. She’s the one holding up the copy of my book, Picture Book Preschool, in the sidebar picture. I don’t know if she’s finding any of her books “fatter” this birthday, but I do find myself richer for having been her mother for thirteen years now. Happy Birthday, Z-baby!

SatReviewbuttonWelcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read. That’s how my own TBR list has become completely unmanageable and the reason I can’t join any reading challenges. I have my own personal challenge that never ends.

Saturday Review of Books: August 13, 2011

“Once a man commits himself to murder, he will soon find himself stealing. The next step will be alcoholism, disrespect for the Sabbath and from there on it will lead to rude behaviour. As soon as you set the first steps on the path to destruction you will never know where you will end. Lots of people owe their downfall to a murder they once committed and weren’t too pleased with at the time.” ~Alfred Hitchcock

Ok, so this week’s quote has nothing to with reading or books, but it does come from a man who was a reader. Or at least he took his movies from books. How many books with their authors can you name that Hitchcock turned into film? How many of them have you read? Leave your answers in the comments, and enjoy today’s edition of the Saturday Review.

This fascinating excursion into Hitchcockian booklore is courtesy of the fact that Mr. Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899. Happy Birthday, Hitch!

SatReviewbuttonIf you’re not familiar with and linking to and perusing the Saturday Review of Books here at Semicolon, you’re missing out. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can just write your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read. That’s how my own TBR list has become completely unmanageable and the reason I can’t join any reading challenges. I have my own personal challenge that never ends.

Poetry Friday: John Betjeman

John Betjeman, Poet Laureate of England from 1972 to his death in 1984, was born on this date in 1906. He was a poet born out of his time, in a way; his poetry sounds more like that of Thomas Hardy or even one of his favorite poets, William Cowper, than it does the poets of the twentieth century, T.S. Eliot and his ilk. (“A precocious writer of verse, at the age of 10 Betjeman presented the manuscript of ‘The Best Poems of John Betjeman’ to his favourite teacher at Highgate, ‘the American master’, Mr T S Eliot.”) Betjeman studied at Oxford with C.S. Lewis, and according to this article, JB (as he was called) rather blamed Lewis for Betjeman’s failure to receive a degree from that institution.

JB, in addition to writing poetry, was a journalist, an editor, a broadcaster, and a film critic. He also campaigned tirelessly for the preservation of the architectural heritage of Britain, making appearances on radio and television to promote this cause. His poetry has a great sense of place and setting, probably due to his love for architecture and for history.

Here are the first two stanzas of his poem, Verses Turned . . .:

Across the wet November night
The church is bright with candlelight
And waiting Evensong.
A single bell with plaintive strokes
Pleads louder than the stirring oaks
The leafless lanes along.

It calls the choirboys from their tea
And villagers, the two or three,
Damp down the kitchen fire,
Let out the cat, and up the lane
Go paddling through the gentle rain
Of misty Oxfordshire.

Go here to read the rest of this quiet ecclesiastical poem about the church’s endurance.

Links to more Betjeman poems:
Myfanwy
Trebetherick
Back From Australia
Inexpensive Progress
Middlesex
Felixstowe, or The Last of Her Order.
A Subaltern’s Love Song
Youth and Age on Beaulieu River
Diary of a Church Mouse

Delightful poet. Very British and somewhat “churchy.” But not too serious or full of himself. I like his poetry very much. It’s unfortunate that he and Lewis couldn’t get along; they may be laughing about their erstwhile feud in heaven now.

In her Poetry Friday round-up post, Book Aunt remembers poet Karla Kuskin, who died last week leaving a legacy of playful poetry.

Semicolon Author Celebration: Tasha Tudor

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I’ve written about author Tasha Tudor here at Semicolon before. I even invited her and Madeleine L’Engle to tea, before the deaths of both authors made that impossible. Her books, and particularly her illustrations, are old friends here in our home. So, I was trying to explain to myself what it is exactly that is so endearing and captivating about Tasha Tudor’s stories and illustrations.

First, there’s the obvious fact that, whether or not it’s possible or even truly desirable, all of us long sometimes for an agrarian past, a more wholesome, less complicated, time period and culture when families enjoyed simple pleasures like baking bread or playing dolls or rolling hoops in the garden. And Tasha Tudor’s books evoke such a lost time and place.

Second, if you read about Tasha Tudor’s life, you see that she tried to live the life that her books idealized. Yes, she was divorced (twice), a single parent, and she was born and grew up in Boston, about as far from a simple New England farmhouse as you can get. But it didn’t matter because she chose as an adult to live on a farm and garden and raise animals and wear nineteenth century farm family clothing and cook in the fireplace. She actually lived out, however imperfectly, the life that many people dream of and never even try to achieve.

Third, her books and illustrations are deceptively simple. You look at them, like you look at a Norman Rockwell painting, and you think, “That’s a cute picture of some kids swimming in the creek or a family of dolls or a garden in the summer.” But the illustrations draw you back again and again to look at the details, to note the vine curled around the edge, or the little dog in the corner, or the ruffle on the girl’s dress, and you realize that’s there’s more and still more to explore and study and enjoy. Tasha Tudor’s illustrations for classics such as The Wind in the Willows or The Secret Garden are especially intriguing as they look so right and appropriate for the classic time period of the book in question and yet give new insight into old familiar stories.

Three reason to love the work of Tasha Tudor, author, illustrator, and gardener. I’m sure there are many more. If you’ve written about Ms. Tudor in a past post or today on her birthday, please share a link with us as we celebrate her life and work here on her birthday. Just leave your name or the name of your blog and a link to the post celebrating Tasha Tudor in the Mr. Linky below.

She would have been 93 years old today.

1. Janet
2. Tasha Tudor Day at Story Book Woods
3. Rose Cottage Tasha Tudor Tea
4. Poopsie Celebrating Tasha Tudor
5. Heidi\’s Birthday Celebration
6. Junie Moon
7. Marilyn on Tasha Tudor\’s Iced Tea
8. MarmeeCraft
9. At the Pink Gate
10. Cay\’s Author Fiesta
11. Creekside Cottage
12. Deb\’s Tasha Tudor Day
13. Miss Mari-Nanci: Thank You Tasha
14. ~Vicki: Tea and Blackberry Tarts
15. Christina in MA
16. Judy: Simply Thrift
17. Lynn: A Mother\’s Journal
18. Lady Laurie
19. Laurie\’s Celebratory Tea
20. Karen: Thankful for Tasha
21. Jamie: In the Garden
22. Brenda: Tasha Tudor Day
23. Island Sparrow
24. Karla\’s Cottage
25. Terri: How to Celebrate
26. Margaret\’s Earthly Paradiseo
27. Gillian\’s Memories of Tasha Tudor
28. Spinneretta Remembering Tasha
29. Noel
30. Jenny
31. Cathy Santarsiero
32. Thistle Dew
33. Jill: A Tribute to Tasha
34. Carmon at Buried Treasure
35. Betzie
36. Carrie – Oak Rise Cottage
37. Happy Birthday Tasha! by Barb
38. Mary at St. Athanasius Academy
39. Gumbo Lily Remembering Tasha Tudor
40. Gumbo Lily Part II
41. Sue at Country Pleasures
42. Plumwater Cottage
43. Emily: Christmas with Tasha Tudor
44. Faith Girl

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

Semicolon Author Celebration: Betsy Byars

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Betsy Byars was born August 7, 1938 in Charlotte, North Carolina. That would make her seventy years old today. According to her website and according to Wikipedia, she now lives in Seneca, South Carolina with her husband Ed Byars. Both Ms. Byars and her husband are licensed pilots, and they live on an airstrip and over an airplane hangar. I assume they also own an airplane.

Ms. Byars has written over sixty books, the first one published in 1962. In 1971, she won the Newbery Medal for her book, The Summer of the Swans, about a fourteen year girl, Sara, and her handicapped younger brother, Charlie, and a very long summer day. She’s also won a National Book Award, and an Edgar Award, and the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association.

Here’s a picture, borrowed from her website:

The letters stand for Sailplane Crew Union Member.

If you have something to share about Betsy Byars or about one or more of her many books, please leave a link to the post at your blog. Or leave a comment.

To This Great Stage of Fools: Born August 28th

I wrote about these picture book authors a couple of years ago, all of whom deserve your attention and that of your children:

Roger Antoine Duvoisin, b. 1904.
Phyllis Krasilovsky, b. 1926.
Allen Say, b. 1937.
Tasha Tudor, b. 1915

Also on this date, Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828.

Tasha Tudor and Family website.

My favorite Tasha Tudor books:

Actually, I rather like them all. Ms. Tudor is 92 years old this year, still living in her own home in rural Vermont.

Read here for an article on Tasha Tudor that originally appeared in Practical Homeschooling, Mary Pride’s magazine.

Whenever I get one of those questionnaires and they ask what is your profession, I always put down housewife. It’s an admirable profession, why apologize for it? You aren’t stupid because you’re a housewife. When you’re stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare.” from The Private World of Tasha Tudor.

To This Great Stage of Fools: Born August 27th

Ann Rinaldi, b. 1934. Ms. Rinaldi may be my two teenage daughters’ favorite historical novelist. You can find many titles by Ann Rinaldi, mostly based on American historical figures, in these two lists:

Historical Fiction for Young Ladies, Part 1.

Historical Fiction for Young Ladies, Part 2.

Also born on this date:

Lyndon Baines Johnson, b. 1908.

Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhui), b. 1910.

I can hardly think of two more unlike people to share a birthday, can you?