The world needs who you were made to be

By Joanna Gaines

illustrated by Julianna Swaney

Tommy Nelson books, 2020

A few years back, my dearest friend told me the story of a celebrity who went to a very faimous designer/stilist/life changing type of person. And she told the specialist that she wants a change and she have to reinvent herself. And the guy asked her how she wants to be, the new reinvented her. And she said that would like to be like X public person and a little bit like that person and so on… The answer was: How about being who you really are? And I often asks myself if I am who I really am or I just try to please the others or to be who someone else needs me to be. Because we live among people and how they see us and their opinion about us matter, we like it or not.

I think that we prepair our kids to be not who they really are and we keep on doing that since they are very little. We compare them with other kids; our parents compare them with us at their age; we ask them what they want to be when they grow up and we also offer the “right” answers. And by doing so, we limit their options with our subjectivity and our own limitations. So maybe the best thing we can do is let them be who they natural feel to be. And trust them that they know best what they want to be or how they want to live.

The book is written in sort verses that rhyme and are easy to remeber and repeat. It is recommended for ages 4-8, but depending on the child history of reading, it’s appropiate for children smaller than 4 yo.

Joanna Gaines is a famous designer who, together with her husband and their 5 kids, had a famous TV show that she end it due to the excesive exposure of the family.

The message she wants to send to all the children of the world is that it is ok to be different, to want different things and to get where we want to go on different paths. Because it is human nature to be diverse, to have unique qualities and abilities. Maybe some kids like to work in team and maybe some are more productive working alone. Maybe some are very serious when completing a task and other like to tell a joke or sing or make a special sound ( my daughter does that) when they are focusing on a job.

And as long as we prepare ourselves the best we can, the journey we take is the same for each and everyone of us. And the sky, as we take the journey, is filled with all our beautiful differences! And it is a picture worth making and seing, because we have just one live and we must live it the best we can. As who we were meant to be.

Sweet child o’ mine GUNS N’ ROSES

Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

Jimmy Patterson Books, 2020

It rains for days now. It is not a November rain, but it got me thinking of Guns n’ Roses. For me, living in a ex-comunist country, the ‘90 were full of discoveries from the “free” world. Guns n’ Roses was one of them and somehow represented a break from the old and a chance for new beggings.

The book is based upon the lyrics of the song Sweet child o’ mine, wrote by Axl Rose in 1987 for his girlfriend of that time, Erin Everly. In the book the main characters are a little girl and her mother, who journey through life and music. The duo was inspired by Maya and Natalie Rose, daughter and niece of band’s manager Fernando Lebeis. The girls both grew up touring with the band, so the connection between them was always very strong.

The sweet and magic illustration belongs to Jennifer Zivoin and it carries us away, in a special place of joy and laugher. For me it was a very emotional moment to open the book and start reading the lyrics to my daugther. And to listen to the song and tell her all about that time when I was such a big fan of GnR. She liked the illustrations in the book and the song also. Because she likes to sing very much (she sings most of the time) ans she wants to be a rock&roll singer. And a pilot, engineer or mother… She cannot decide yet, but it is still time for that. For the moment we just enjoyed the book that gave us the feeling of traveling and freedom and carefree. In a time when all of this was impossible and everyone had to stop for a while, in order to protect and heal.

It takes a village

by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Illustrated by Marla Frazee

For the last 6 years, since my daughter was born, I asked myself often if the truth behind this saying is still actual. And if so, where was this village when I need it to help me raise my beautiful girl? Now I think that in fact I was strong enough to not need the whole village. But still it would had been great for her to grow surrounded by lots of family and people who loved her.

When I saw this picture book, already knowing the work of illustrator Marla Frazee, I though I would give it a try.

Marla Frazee, for whose who aren’t familiar with her work, is the person behind “The boss baby” character. And the illustrator of “The seven silly eaters”, a great book in rhyme that my daughter loves very much.

“It takes a village” has also beautiful, vivid illustrations. The message in the book is simple, as it should be, considering it is a picture book for young readers ( above 4 years of age I would say). That a child can bring a village together; that children need good exemples in their life, need to be surrounded by champions. A child, any child has to learn that in order to achieve greatness you have to put a lot of work first. And dedication. That all our children needs a playground ; to grow, to explore the world, to thrive. And it is our duty, of each person from “the village” to make the effort to build it. Can we do that for our children?

Sincerely, Emerson

A girl, her letter and the helpers all around us

By Emerson Weber, Illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett

Harper Collins Publishers, 2020

My daughter loves books! And she loves sharing them and their stories with her friends. Today she went to the kindergarten with a really special book, so her teacher will read it to all of her collegues. And so, I thought I could share this book with you today.

“Sincerely, Emerson” is a book about a girl, her letter and the people who have been helping us in the last pandemic year. This is the kind of message I felt the need to deliver to all those people helping me and my family, from the moment the lockdown came upon us last spring. The couriers, the trash collectors, the people working in the supermarkets, the ones in the front line. All of them were and still are my heroes. They all felt the same fears and worries as I felt: the fear they will get infected, sick, maybe die. That their loved ones will get sick or die. That you have no idea where or how the invisible little “enemy” will hit. Who says that the pandemy didn’t affected him at all, in my opinion, has a problem! We were all affected by it and we still are. And my guess is that the big side effects are yet to come.

But these guys, these superheroes, they had to do their jobs, every single day, as best as they could. It wasn’t an option for them to stay at home safe, feeling scared or worried. Or to work from home. They had to go there and do what was expected of them. Because they had children to feed and bills to pay. To have a roof over their head at night. So, in my mind they are the real heros of this pandemic year. And we all should thank them. Not pressure them to arrive sooner or demand explanations for little details going wrong.

So, dear all, a big Thank you from me and my family!

And now back to our book. Emerson Weber is a 11 years old girl who lives in South Dakota. She loves writting letters and decorate them and the envelopes she puts them on. Because she thinks that writting and receiving letters is more personal than sending text or online messages. The joy and emotion you feel when you touch the letter that someone wrote especially for you is so much more than reading a text on a screen.

Emerson became famous last year, after sending a Thank you letter to her postman, Doug. She was writing letters to her friends as a way to remain connected during the quarantine. And one day she saw Doug, her postman, picking up her letters and she realised that he was the one making that connection possible. So she wrote him a Thank you letter. Doug shared the letter with his superviser Sarah, who put it in a newsletter to all the postal workers in the U.S. Next week, Emerson received two big boxes of letters from postal workers all over America. They were happy that someone had “seen” them; validated their work and their importance in the community. And so, Emerson story became viral. She received more than 1000 letters and responded to them. She appeared in television shows and news all over the world! She even received a letter from her idol, Taylor Swift! And a small gift she sent to her.

And so, the real story of the girl who loved to write letters became a book. That has beautiful, beautiful illustrations and a powerful message: saying Thank you doesn’t cost a thing and only brings joy and happiness.

And we all should say Thank you more often, especially to those helping us.

I imagine that the story transformed in a children book will become a blockbuster movie sometime soon. If not, we will always have the book to remember us the most important words: thank you!

The way to start a day by Bird Baylor, illustrated by Peter Parnall

This Caldecott honor book is a tribute to the sun in the most vivid paintings. Is a celebration of the dawn, as each nation and culture from the cavemen to our day nations had honour it. You must face east as soon as the sun comes, early in the morning. It’s only you and the sun and the song you feel in your heart and you start singing it.

Some people bring gifts to the sun, others have festive celebrations for it. Some brings a new child in the first light of the morning for the sun to meet and know the child, protect him for the rest of his life. From Peru to China and from Congo to India, all the nations knows that they have to give something to the sun. The cavemen gave it, the egyptians and the ancient chinese also.

Your song, your offering will be one more in the world, will add magic to the brightness of the sun. The big yellow star will know you are there and will receive your greatings.

A new colour will appear in the sky and you will watch it and start your day.

This beautiful book, with it’s brilliant illustrations first appeared in 1977! But, after more than 40 years is still actual and still stunning. And it remind me to look east when I wake up, to honour the sun. Without it’s warm and light my life as I know it wouldn’t be possible.

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 first pandemic year in our life. 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 1920.

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

In literature, was the year James Joyce met Ezra Pound, the writter who was said to be a fascist. Fascist or not, his influence was so big in 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 have red 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

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, have 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, doesn’t make me sad anymore. I was glad that he had the Kind Ox by him side, the dog, the stray cat and the little mouse too. And his parents, Joseph and Maria, 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