Library Trips and Picks #2

Our large, downtown library branch offers great book selection and cooling AC during summer trips to the library.
Our large, downtown branch offers a great book selection and cooling AC during summer trips to the library.

We headed downtown to the main branch for our next summer library trip.  This large, 1960’s building always puts me in another place and time. Visit me on Facebook for a quick video introduction to these titles.

The Composer is deadThe Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket:  Want to get kids interested in classical music?  I have three words for you:  GET THIS BOOK.  It comes with a CD with Snicket himself narrating the story alongside an amazing musical score by American composer Nathaniel Stookey.  On a recent long trip, we listened to it three times!

Edgar and Allan PoeThe Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe, Book Three by Gordon McAlpine:  My son picked up this cleverly titled book.  Alas, it is Book Three of a trilogy.  Since he hadn’t read the first two and getting them would require some doing, he didn’t read it all.  Book series are huge right now, but I’m not a big fan.  I find reading one book a big commitment, much less reading multiple titles to find out the ending.  Plus, libraries are notorious for having missing or checked out copies.

Pearl and WagnerPearl and Wagner One Funny Day by Kate McMullan:  Pearl is a bunny and Wagner is a mouse…and they are best friends.  This is a really cute, easy reader series (each book is a complete story).  It features very short chapters that help the young reader feel good about finishing a “big” book.

Guardians of the GalaxyGuardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers by Marvel Comics:  My daughter picked this book up.  “The art is great.  The story is great.  The characters are great,”  she said. (As you can tell, she’s a bit of a Marvel fan.)

Zita the Space GirlThe Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke:  Graphic novels (novels in which comic book art is used to tell the story) are huge right now.  Kids at my library pluck these titles off the shelves the minute I put them there it seems. The format is a little frenetic for my distracted brain, but “Zita” is calmer, less busy.  It too is a series, but the stories are stand alone.  My son and I give this space girl a big thumbs up.

fox be nimble (2)Fox Be Nimble by James Marshall:  I’m a huge Marshall fan.  The humor and delightful, if not dorky illustrations make his books fun for all ages.  To read about one of my favorite Marshall titles, go to I Dig This Pig.

The Emperor and the drummer boy (2)The Emperor and the Drummer Boy by Ruth Robbins:  The artwork of Nicolas Sidjakov drew me to this book.  He won the Caldecott Award (the highest award for illustrators) for Baboushka and the Three Kings in 1960.  But I like these drawings better. Check out his stylized ocean waves.*

The Lion the Witch and the WardrobeThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Special Read-Aloud Edition by C.S. Lewis:  All Harper Collins Publishers did with this read-aloud version of Lewis’ classic tale is enlarge the original type and expand the pages to picture book size.  But those details were enough to make this beautiful story appealing to my youngest daughter with Down syndrome.  We are currently reading it aloud together. What a gift.

*interior page of The Emperor and the Drummer Boydrummer boy


A Beastly Tale With a Lovely Message

My teenage daughter and I donned our best dresses and grabbed our evening bags for a night at the theater recently.  We attended Beauty and the Beast, a Broadway-style musical of the Disney movie.  The orchestra, the costumes, and the singing and dancing brought this fairy tale to life.  And it got me thinking…Beauty and the Beast may be a “tale as old as time” but it offers wisdom for today.

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival's live stage production of Beauty and the Beast is thrilling theater goers of all ages this summer, including my daughter and me.
This summer, The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s live stage production of Beauty and the Beast thrills theater goers of all ages, including my daughter and me.

Post Format:

Top Five Things…a modern girl can learn from this old tale:

1. Read Books:  Whether you watch Disney’s “Beauty” or read the original French fairy tale, Belle, the heroine, loves reading and libraries.  “There must be more than this provincial life,’ sings Belle as she walks through town with her head in a book.  And that’s what reading does, it expands your world.

2. Honor Your Father and Mother:  It’s the fifth commandment, and it’s great to see it surface in a fairy tale.  Both Disney’s Belle and Beauty as she is called in the French version, are devoted to the father.  Indeed in the French tale, Beauty is one of three daughters and the only one willing to take his place at the Beast’s castle.  Family is the foundation of society and loyalty keeps that foundation strong for generations.

I grew up reading the Beauty and the Beast in this old but wonderful Open Court Basic Reader, "A Trip Through Wonderland."
I grew up reading Beauty and the Beast in this old but wonderful Open Court Basic Reader, A Trip Around the World.

3. Love at First Sight isn’t Realistic:  Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty…these are fairy tales I love.  But you have to wonder about an entire relationship based on one thrilling meeting.   Beauty and Beast’s courtship, on the other hand, develops over time. Belle is repulsed by Beast in the beginning.  Beast isn’t head over heels in love at first either in Disney’s version.  Belle’s stubbornness irritates him and he’s not keen on changing his coarse ways to impress her.  But during months spent together, they learn to compromise and to find comfort in each other.  In the French tale, Beauty considers Beast her “best friend.”  When such a pair finally come together, chances are they’ll live “happily ever after.”

4. Value Goodness over Appearances:  Gaston, the handsome suitor that aims to have Belle at any cost is not part of the original French tale.  But I like this Disney addition.  For one thing, he provides humor and drama.  For another, his empty bravado and self-love is such a foil to Beast.   When Belle pleads to visit her father later in the story, Beast allows it.  Even though she promises to return, he knows she might not and the spell keeping him in animal form will never be broken.  But he puts her needs above his own.  There’s a mate any girl would be blessed to have.

5. Keep Your Promises:  We know Belle does return, the spell is broken and Beast is returned to human form.  Belle marries the good-hearted prince and becomes royalty herself…all because she kept her word.

BONUS BIT:  To see a slide show of our theater outing, click on this image:

Have tickets, will travel
Have tickets, will travel !

QUESTION:  What’s your favorite fairy tale and why?