Friday, May 18, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: I Dreamed I Was A Ballerina

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have a mother who loves the arts. Everything from paintings to sculpture to music. We saw shows on and off Broadway, attended the Children's Orchestra series of the NY Philharmonic, and took a trip into Manhattan for the premier of the movie Pete's Dragon. I suppose that at some point the movie would have made it to NJ, but why wait, right?
So, when  I had my daughter it should have been no surprise that this book was a gift from my mother to my daughter. It's a wonderful continuation of something she started with me and my sister and will hopefully continue with for one more generation. And so, on that note, I present this week's Perfect Picture Book:

Title: I Dreamed I Was A Ballerina
Written by: Anna Pavlova
Illustrated with art by: Edgar Degas

Publisher: Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2001
Suitable for: Ages 3 and up
Themes/Topics: Dancing, Dreams, Ballet, Art
Opening: From the book: Vivid are my earliest recollections, which take me back to the time when I was living in a little apartment with my mother in the city.
Brief Synopsis: This beautiful story tells of the night when ballerina, Anna Pavlova, saw her first ballet and vowed to become a ballerina and dance the part of Beauty in Sleeping Beauty one day on that very same stage. The entire book uses paintings and sketches by Degas to illustrate the story and it's just beautiful.
Links to resources: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; What's better than a trip to the museum to see the art in real life? New York City Ballet; same is true here.
Why I chose this book: Aside from the beautiful paintings, I love hearing from Anna Pavlova as the poor child of a single mother and how she was so inspired by seeing Sleeping Beauty that it determined her future. Her dreams came true through hard work and dedication, which serves as a model for any child with a dream.

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest; Clearing the Cobwebs From My Brain

This wasn't our car, but it's pretty close!
There are so many firsts in life and as firsts, they would seem to be easy to remember, but that's not what I'm feeling as I write this. When it comes to my kids, that's easier. I remember the first time my daughter slept through the night and how scared I was that something had happened. I remember the first time I told my husband I was pregnant. I remember the first time my two older children had their first conversation. All of those firsts come to mind pretty quickly, but my own firsts, I had to think about these a bit.

First Movie: Star Wars, Episode IV (at the time, the whole concept made no sense so I always thought of it as Star Wars I, but don't tell George Lucas)
First Song/Band: I loved Simon and Garfunkle. Growing up in the 70s and listening to my parents music on the 8 track tape player while driving in the wood paneled station wagon, I think it was just meant to be. Still love those guys!
First Book: This may seem a bit off the wall, but I loved the book Go Ask Alice. Dark and scary, I know but following her journey, I really felt for her and her loss and sadness as a teenager. I read it over and over again until the pages were tattered. I even picked up a copy several years ago that I am holding on to for my daughter once she's old enough for it. That day seems to be approaching faster and faster.
First Love: Brad.

For some more great First Loves posts, see Alex J. Cavanaugh's site.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Perfect Picture Books: My Sparkly Red Hat

Whoa! I've missed PPB Fridays for the past two weeks and am so happy to get back into it! Between then end of the A to Z, spring vacation, and my regular writing job which involves writing, cooking, and photographing I just couldn't squeeze it in. I'm thrilled I completed the A to Z; it was an amazing experience but am happy for a bit of normalcy.
And, if I may be so bold as to add a little something here to us PPB bloggers: On "E" day in the A to Z, Peggy Eddleman entitled her post: E is for Enabling Email. She gave step by step instructions (only for Blogger, I think) for enabling the blog owner to respond to a comment via email rather than as a reply in the comment thread. I LOVE this. Personally, as a blogger I find it a faster way to respond to commenters on this site and as a commenter on blogs, I like the email response because then I know the blogger has taken the time to read my comment. I'd encourage us all to read her post- it's really simple and very helpful. That's if for public service announcements today. :)
And so, without any further hesitation, here is my book for this week: My Sparkly Red Hat.

Title: My Sparkly Red Hat
Written and Illustrated by: David Sim
Publisher: Piggy Toes Press, 2005
Suitable for: Ages 3 and up
Themes/Topics: colors, animals, sharing
Opening: "I've lost my hat," said Matt. "You can have my glittery blue hat," said Elly
Brief Synopsis: Matt has lost his hat. All of his friends offer him their hats, but none of them are quite right.
Links to resources: I actually had to do a project with my son's kindergarten class two years ago which involved reading a story and then making a craft. I read this story and we all made our own sparkly red hats. It was really fun and perfect for five year olds.
Why I chose this book: In truth, I've been looking at this book, walking away, coming back, walking away again, and finally decided to include it here. It's simplicity and sparkly colorful hats are what have kept my own kids coming back to it constantly, and that makes it perfect!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Reflecting On The A to Z

It was a blog hop on steroids and I loved every minute of it. I'm both proud of myself for completing the challenge, at times it was more challenging than cooking dinner with 3 kids running around, and impressed I was able to come up with something for every letter of the alphabet. The challenge made for great writing  practice.
I found some great blogs, but also felt I missed out on finding many more that I know are there. It was more difficult to read than write, and I'm not really sure how to fix that. That little counter button that came out the third week helped a lot but I wish it had been available earlier in the challenge.
My favorite post was Peggy Eddleman's E is for Enabling Email.
One of my unexpected favorite sites is Civil War Horror
Another new favorite is Wine N Chat, this site is totally me.
I really LOVED Alex J. Cavanaugh's theme of giving back- very noble, we should all do that more.
My best personal experience was on Rach Writes, where Rachael Harrie gave flash fiction writing prompts for each day of the challenge, all based on a photo. It gave me an opportunity to practice writing flash fiction, which I discovered I love, and I was able to squeeze in two posts. Great experience.

Random observations:
 Being able to plan ahead helped a lot, which left fewer days of writing for that day, on that day.
Reading seemed to die down after the first week. Was it too much to keep up with or even try to hit 2000 blogs?
There seemed to be a general act of reciprocity- visiting back those who had been visited. As my Google Reader list is now quite long, I did leave comments, but only followed the blogs that I thought I'd want to continue to visit after the challenge was over.
I did notice some regular readers and so very much appreciate them!
My followers doubled from about 30+ to 60+ YAY and thank you to all!

I'm definitely in for next year and now after a week's respite, am looking forward to hitting those many, many blogs I missed in April.