Hugs

I still remember now, after 30 years, my mother’s smell when she would hug me, after a day spent without her. I am sure that her hugs used to calm me and heal my broken heart, knees or bruses.

I am fortunate enough to be able to hug my daughter whenever I want. And I can only hope that when she will grow, she will still let me hug her whenever I want.

When I’m not feeling well she would come to me and hug me, to give me energy.

“Mama, say when you feel energetic again, I gave you all my energy”.

And we also have a special family hug, it is called “love sandwich”. Me and her father are the bread and she is the filling. Somehow she just knows that this is what a good hug offers: energy, warm, love.

I found out a few years ago that one could have a job as a hugger. You go to the hugger, who can be a total stranger to you, take all the good energy from his hugs and then you go back to your daily life. I guess that the pandemic make it impossible for a lot of hugs to happen. And it is so sad, to lose so many hugs!

Today we celebrate International Day of Hugs! So, stop whatever you are doing right now and give a big hug to someone! And if it is not physical possible, send a virtual hug to someone you love.

Big hug!

Of THEE I SING

12 years ago, in this exact same day, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44 President of the USA.

Since then, he did a lot for the american people and the world. He opened paths that had to be opened, even if now some are still desperately trying to close some of them.

He lead a nation, he educated people that wanted to be educated, he was the voice for the many who weren’t heard before. He was a commander and a force. The number one on the planet.

But, I guess, in the evening, he would still be the housband and the father. He would still had to listen to how the days of his girls went. Or the dramas at school; the gossips about a nice boy, or maybe two…

At the time I was amazed by some of his achievements as the greatest leader of the world. As I still am of his latest projects. But I am more amazed that he took the time and effort to make public some of the letters he wrote to his daughters.

He put them together in a book called “Of THEE I SING”, illustrated by Loren Long.

The love and pride he feels for his daughters is everywhere in the book. The care and encouragement he give them, not trying to impose, just guide.

For a man, even if he is the most powerful on the planet, to show so much devotion and love for his daughters, is certainly a sign of true courrage.

I hope the history will be able soon to put other great name along his. And for me to be able to read another beautiful sign of devotion as this book is.

World Day of the Snowman

Today, 18th of January, we celebrate something so ephemere and yet so beautiful, a snowman.

The first World Day of the Snowman was celebrated on 2011. Why 18? Because the snowman represent the 8 and the stick that is his arm, the 1. And January because it is cold enough in most of the planet to build a snowman.

We were lucky enough to build a little snowman this winter, so today we celebrated all the snowmen in the world by reading a delightful book.

“Snow friends” by Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton is a delicate, gentle book for young readers, 2-3 years or more. The illustrations are beautiful and bright and the glittering snowball adds a little glamour to the book.

Snow friends by M Christina Butler

This is a story about snowman, friendship, team work, emphaty, working hard to achieve your goal. All of these so necessary for the little preschoolers learning their ways into the world. Where the power of two or three is greater than the power of one. Where to give someone a hand in need is so much better than to just do nothing. Where they have to adapt to so much so soon. And, in order to be winners, they have to form alliances and real friendships.

It is also a book about beauty. The beauty of the white, frosty winter landscape. Of the stars and moon, on a winter night. Of the sunset. The feeling one could have after a day of hard work, when even if tired and exausted, can admire the result of his work.

But enough said. I leave you to enjoy a few of the books illustrations.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

I didn’t knew exactly what the Twelve Days of Christmas are until a few years ago, when my daughter listened to a LionGuard version of the song. She asks me why there are twelve days of Christmas and not only one, so I did my research and found out the story behind them.

They start in the first day of Christmas ( December 25th), as the song begins, and they end on January the 6th, that is called The Epiphany. A religious celebration in the Western Christianity, the day the 3 kings visit baby Jesus. In the Orthodox religion January 6th is called the Baptism of Jesus, that was performed by John the Baptiser in the Jordan river. It is one of the most important religious celebrations of the Orthodox year and it is said to be a very cold day of the winter. After this day we can take out all Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree, sign that the Christmas is really over.

The song, that it is said to be originated in France, somewhere between 1500-1800, was first mentioned in a book in 1780s, as a memory game for children. The first child sang the first verse, the second child had to repeat the first verse and to add the second one and so on until the twelve verse. The child who would forget one or more verses would lose and be out of the game.

And because my daughter learned all the twelve verses of the LionGuard version, I though she has to at least listen to the original song too. Because, if not for other reasons, a partridge in a pear tree is more likely to be received than a rhino in a baobab tree. And legal, I believe…

So I bought her a very, very beautiful illustrated book, by Gennady Spirin, a russian painter and children’s book illustrator, bestknown for his depiction of the Nutcracker, The Velveteen rabbit or Little Red Riding Hood. He has a very unique way of painting and illustrating, using watercolors and colored pencil.

The book, called The Twelve Days of Christmas, was published in 2009 by Marshall Cavendish Corporation. The illustrations are so beautiful, is like looking at a paiting on each of the book’s page. The details, fine lines and colors are so lively and so gorgeous that it was a feast for the eye and soul to read this book.

We are still working on learning the verses, hope we will master them until the last day of Christmas.

Enjoy!

The twelve days of Christmas, Gennady Spirin

Welcome, 2021!

Yesterday we said goodbye to 2020, the only pandemic year in my life so far. And I really hope it was the last.

Today we welcome 2021, another unique year: it will be the only year in my life formed by two consecutive numbers, 20 and 21. The last year with the same characteristics was 1920 and the next will be 2122. As for 2122, I have no clue what will bring for the humankind. Or if humans will still live on this planet.

As for 1920, well, 1920 was the year in wich the League of Nations was created. And was also the year all the American women gained their right to vote. And what we know as mass-media was established in America, where two radio stations begun broadcasting.

In medicine, it was the year Band-aids appeared and the Spanish Flu pandemic ended.

In literature, is the year James Joyce mets Ezra Pound, the writter who was said to be a fascist. Fascist or not, his influence was so big with so many writters of that time, maybe this could be the only fact to remember him for.

In children literature, 1920 was the year when “Gilda of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, the creator of the Wizard of Oz, was published. Is the last Oz book that Baum had written and published.

It is also the year the firs Doctor Dolittle book appeared, based on the character Hugh Lofting invented and wrote about it between 1914-1918, while being in the trenches fighting for the British army. After being injured on the front, Lofting moved in the U.S. and start working on publishinf a book based on the Doctor Dolittle character, the famous doctor who could speak to the animals.

In 1920 was born Christopher Robert Milne, the main character in A.A. Milne’s book, “Winnie the Pooh”.

Winnie the Pooh is one’s of my daughter favourite character, we had read all of Milne’s books, minus “ Now we are six”, that we are saving for when… she will be six, of course! Meaning this special new year, 2021!

Until we will finish reading it, I leave you with a few of Winnie the Pooh special words about life, friends, love and of course, honey!

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever!”

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day!”

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart”

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes”

“When life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles”

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love”

“A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside”

“Could be worse. Not sure know, but it could be”

“A hug is always the right size”

“ Isn’t funny how a bear likes honey?”

Winnie the Pooh books from our collection

Farewell 2020!

I have 2020 reasons to talk about the year it’s about to end. I will not do it, of course, because I will not be able to end all of them by the time 2021 settles in.

2020 was a year of many encouters. With big scary things, real or just made up by our fears; with joys and happiness; with tears and worries. A beautiful large plate of emotions. Felted for ourselves or the people we love the most in this life.

It was a year like no other, at least for me. A year I learned that all I have can be wiped out in a second, without a warning or time to prepair. In which I learned that my liberties can all be taken away by a higher force, that I can’t fight without having to pay a big price.

Or that I cannot take my daughter for a walk in park anymore. Nor to see her friends or relatives. A year I had to stay away from all the people I was meeting. To keep my distance. Keeping the distance is the first step to isolating the hearts and the good emotions. And keeping them all closed and ready in case something bad happens. Survival mode.

But I will not do any of these in 2021! My heart has to be open to the people I love, always. The fear has to go away now, in the last hours of 2020. All I need to keep is my courrage, to be able to face all that 2021 will bring along.

I hope it will bring a new chapter to be written and read. In which we would all have the power to choose the path or our actions.

I hope your new year will be a better one. And, as this year is prepairing to leave us, I want to thank you all! All of you that had stopped for a brief moment in time to visit littlehumans.blog

And I also wish that 2021 will repair all that this terrific year had broken. And that the end of 2021 will find you in a better place.

Happy new year everyone!

Room for a little one

When I was verry little, my mother used to recite to me a beautiful poem, composed by George Cosbuc, one of Romania’s well known poets. It was called “ In the Christmas evening”. And the verses I loved the most and I used to repeat a lot around Christmas time were something like that:

“The bed is made. But who wants to sleep

When mother tells in her sweet voice about Jesus Christ?

How he was born in the poor cold stables

And the Ox blows upon him to warm him.”

And that image, of a little boy being born in poverty and cold, always made me very sad.

When my own daughter asked me about Jesus and how he was born in Christmas day I told her everything I knew about it.

This year I wanted to put a book and an image to the story. And I wanted it to be a story and not a religious book. So I found this book, “Room for a little one”, by Martin Wadell.

We first encounter Martin Wadell’s sweet writting in “Can’t you sleep little bear?”.

Then we red “Owl babies”, another favourite from my daughter’s early childhood.

“Room for a little one” is a sweet picture book for young children about the night when Jesus came to world. With his mother Maria and his father Joseph by his side. And all the animals in the stable also.

The illustrations are very gentle and looks as they are photos of actual animals.

And the kindness and love you feel on every page is so warming that, after 40 years, the image of the Little boy being born in the cold stables, didn’t make me sad anymore. I was glad that he had the Kind Ox by him side, and the dog, stray cat and the little mouse too. And his parents, of course.

And the most warming of all was my daughter reaction to the book: she said to me “Mama, look!There is always room for a little one, mama!”

So, we wish you a Merry Christmas and to always try to find room for a little one in your heart!

Room for a little one, Martin Wadell

Christmas picture books

This Christmas we will read some books, make some gingerbread cookies, sing caroles and enjoy time with our family.

Some of these books had became part of our home, we have them for some years now and we still like to read them in the winter.

Christmas picture books
Christmas picture books
Christmas picture books

Goodreads Choice Awards 2020 – Picture books category

Two days ago Goodreads announced the winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2020. For whose of you who don’t know this, Goodreads is the world’s largest site for book readers and reccomendations. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of it by now, until 5 or 6 years ago I didn’t knew either.

In the “Picture book” category the winner was Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, author who also won the Nonfiction category this year. The illustration is signed by Ashley Lukashevsky. The book is said to introduce young readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concepts of power, just society and antiracism. I didn’t bought the book, nor read it. But not because I think racism is not a very toxic poison of our modern society. It is a very toxic one, along with etnic and territorial discrimination, emigration status or disregard of everyone who is not “like us” or within our “class”.

I find the times we live in, most alarmant the life our kids live in, very racist and mean and disrespectful. And, it is in our power, as parents, educators, leaders of all sorts to try and change that. Little by little, action by action and more important, reaction by reaction. If we are with our kids and someone does something innapropriate or disrespectful or mean, we should say or do something. Or at least take our kids aside or later, at home, and explain them what was wrong and how to protect themselves in the future or not tolerate that sort of behaviour. And most important, not imitate it. Because a bully is not born a bully and an aggressor is not born one either. They became like that by repeat exposure to those behaviors.

But let’s get back to our awards…

What I found very interesting among this category nominees was the number of public figures and celebrities who had wrote picture books that were published this year: the Dalai Lama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dan Brown, Jimmy Kimmel, Kristen Bell, Guns N’Roses. Guns N’Roses guys? Comme on! I really should buy this book because I don’t know if I would ever be able to get to one of their concerts. And also to have a book to present my daughter along with all the Rock and Roll music they wrote over the years. I will also like to read “Grandma’s Garden” by Hillary Rodham Clinton to my daughter, as sort of generational bond between the girls in my family and their gardens: my grandma’s, my mother’s garden and perhaps, someday, my daughter’s garden. Well, she has one already, but is a small indoor one and I don’t think it’s count for a real one…

And, of course, the Dalai Lama book, “The seed of compasion”, it would be an honour to read the teaching of his Holiness.

Until these books will arrived, I bought and read the “Wild symphony” by Dan Brown, with illustration by Susan Batori, the book that came last in the top, with the fewest number of votes. Since The Da Vinci Code was so famous years ago, it was only natural that Dan Brown’s first book for children would be very soon noticed and well promoted. I found the version that was translated in Romanian, our native tongue, so I cannot speak about the quality of the original text. That is all in lyrics, written and recorded on a tape called Synthanimals in 1989 by Brown himself. The book comes along with an app that you can install and listen to the “music” of each animal. The music from the book, that you can hear on the app wildsymphony.com , was interpretated by Zagreb Festival Orchestra.

The author himself was introduced at an early age to the beauty of music, both his parents being musicians and teachers. And he says that a story can have it’s own music and if you close your eyes you can hear it. And the book and all the animals in it are a sort of a code to help us make the connection between the two arts: words and music. And that maybe, at the end of the book, the kids will be able to hear and noticed the “music” of each animal. And also, every animal in the book has a “secret” wisdom to tell the kids and they try to get them to always look at the things from a different perspective. Because, even in the darkest, scariest place there is a beauty to be found.

In my opinion is a gentile book, with lyrics well written. The illustrations are very nice and the design, made in a Disney’s Lion King type, was realised on Photoshop.

The book leaves you with a sense of joy and brightness after you turn the last page. And the music segments are also remarkable and is a very original idea to actualy “hear” a book in the same time you read it’s words.

I really don’t know why it got so few votes, to me it seems a very good choice to read with the kids, age 3+ ( in my opinion).

If you have read other nominated books, I would be very happy to hear your opion on them.

Wild Symphony, illustrations by Susan Batori
Wild Symphony, illustrations by Susan Batori

Povestea Sfantului Nicolae de Quentin Greban – recenzie de carte

Povestea scrisa si ilustrata in 2015 de Quentin Greban a aparut anul acesta si la editura Nomina. Pentru noi s-a vrut o continuare a lecturilor delicate, dupa intalnirea cu Mama, gargarita Suzette sau Oscar, micul urs ce dorea sa devina pompier. Ma asteptam la o istorioara la fel de delicata si frumos ilustrata, cu un batranel simpatic ce aduce daruri copiilor in dimineata zilei de 6 decembrie. Pentru ca, in ignoranta si putina mea stiinta despre Mos Nicolae sau legendele ce au tot circulat, el asta face: aduce dulciuri copiilor cuminti si nuieluse celor mai putin cuminti.

Insa lucrurile nu au stat chiar asa.

Voi incepe cu inceputul: am vazut aceasta carte chiar pe pagina de Facebook a autorului. Si am aflat, citind declaratiile sale, ca el recomanda cartea pentru 3+ citita de un adult, 5+ pentru copiii care o citesc singuri. Mie imi este putin teama sa o citesc unui copil de 6 ani, deja trecut prin experienta basmelor si povestilor clasice cu iz traumatizant: Capra cu trei iezi, Pinnochio, Alba ca Zapada, Craiasa Zapezii, Hansel si Gretel, Ratusca cea urata, Harap Alb, Scufita Rosie. La piesa de teatru pentru copii pe care a vizionat-o cand era la grupa mica, avea 2 ani si 8 luni atunci, au aparut pe scena actori imbracati in doctori care il “operau” pe lup in vederea extragerii bunicii si nepoticii inghitite in actul anterior.

Despre Mos Nicolae am aflat abia de curand ca este in fapt un sfant, ocrotitor al celor sarmani, femeilor nemaritate si al copiilor. Ca exista legende potrivit carora ar fi salvat oameni de la moarte, tinere fete de la o viata promiscua, datorita faptului ca nu aveau zestrea care sa le asigure un maritis onorabil. Si ca, in timpul unei foamete cumplite, ar fi reinviat 3 frati ce fusesera pusi in saramura de catre un macelar ticalos. Acesti frati sunt si eroii povestii lui Greban. Rataciti prin padure, similar pataniei lui Hansel si Gretel, ajung la casa acestui macelar nemilos care, dupa ce le da sa manance, ii trimite in pod sa “doarma”. Iar mai apoi ii inchide intr-un butoi. Peste putin timp insa Sfantul Nicolae trece pe acolo, ii gaseste pe copiii inchisi in butoi si ii readuce la viata cu o rugaciune. Legenda a fost mai nemiloasa, copiii ar fi stat trei ani inchisi in acel butoi.

In afara de aspectul neprietenos al macelarului, firesc de altfel sa fie asa avand in vedere gravitatea faptelor savarsite de dumnealui, si de sorturile murdare pe care le poarta, pe care copiii le pot ovedea bine merci oricand, in orice hipermarket sau hala pentru produse din carne, nu gasesc nimic eminamente traumatizant povestii lui Greban. Asadar de ce clasificarea eu in categoria povestilor de “groaza”?

Copiii nostri dragi sunt expusi inca de la gradinita la traditionalele povesti si basme. Ii lasam sa se uite la tot felul de desene animate cu supereroi violenti si agresivi si la filme cu actiune violenta, agresiva si cu multe, tare multe batai.

Le vorbim urat, ii certam, uneori ii agresam verbal sau fizic. Uneori folosim cuvinte urate in preajma lor sau la adresa lor si ajung astfel si in vocabularul lor. Barfim si criticam in prezenta lor persoane care nu se afla acolo pentru a se apara. Si toate astea sunt deja intrate intr-un normal contemporan, fara ca nimeni sa poata face o schimbare majora a acestor cutume.

Ei, dar iata ca apare o carte sau o alta opera de arta, eventual a unui autor deja controversat, care prezinta lumea intr-o maniera deloc minunata, cu roz si unicorni! Nu este bine deloc, traumatizam copiii! Sa returnam cartea, sa primim banii inapoi pe ea, este o “mizerie”!

Consider ca lumea are multe culori si ca in niciun caz, cu atat mai mult acum, in contextul actualei pandemii, nu ne putem permite sa ne crestem copiii intr-un glob perfect din sticla. Frumosul si uratul fac parte din viata, au facut mereu si vor face parte si din viata lor. Copilul meu nu este acum, 2-3 ani mai tarziu, traumatizat de balena uriasa ce l-a inghitit pe Pinnochio si nici de lupul care le-a mancat pe Scufita Rosie si pe bunicuta ei. E infricosata de musculite si furnici si alte insecte mici. De care eu musai trebuie sa o protejez, toata viata! Asta este intelegerea noastra actuala.

Asadar, abia astept sa ii prezint cartea, sa vedem si reactia unui copil la auzul acestei Povesti a Sfantului Nicolae. Imi va spune desigur ca dupa ce i-a trezit pe copii le-a dat si dulciuri.

Ilustratii de Quentin Greban
Ilustratii de Quentin Greban