The queen is gone, long live the queen!

O veste trista, pe care in ciuda varstei inaintate, nu o asteptam. Credeam ca va trai o vesnicie, sau macar ani buni de acum incolo. Sa poata si fiica mea sa ii viziteze Palatul, isi doreste tare mult asta. Mai ales ca si indragitii ei Peppa Pig si Paddington au vizita-o pe “rigina”, cum o numea cand era mai micuta.

Regina Elisabeth II a fost, poate, ultimul monarh de clasa al Europei. Exemplu de distinctie si discretie, de feminitate care stia insa sa aiba si mana de fier atunci cand era nevoie. Cumva ma bucur ca acum isi va servi ceaiul langa printul ei consort, fara de care trebuie sa ii fi fost tare greu! Dupa ce traiesti aproape o viata cu cineva, vietile se impletesc si nu mai sunt vietile a doi oameni. Devin doi oameni care traiesc aceeasi viata.

Farewell Majesty and keep smiling down on us from your heaven!

Roscata-ca-Arama si cei sapte soricari

de Nina Cassian, ilustratii de Andrei Tache, editura Frontiera, 2021

“… E usor a scrie versuri

Cand nimic nu ai a spune…”

Vedem asta peste tot; este de ajuns sa deschidem un manual sau un auxiliar pentru invatamant primar si gasim nenumarate astfel de exemple. Ce nu este deloc usor este sa scrii versuri pentru copii care chiar sa le spuna ceva. Ceva care ramane, zi dupa zi; care le provoaca mintea si inima sa isi imagineze, sa viseze si sa se emotioneze. De aceea nu a fost si nu va fi deloc usor pentru cineva sa egaleze maiestria cu care a scris Nina Cassian. O femeie atat de talentata si de pasionata de viata, incat nu ai cum sa nu simti asta in fiecare vers.

Poeziile ei sunt preferatele noastre; le citim cu nesat, asteptam mereu sa vedem ce se va intampla cu personajele si radem mult, foarte mult!

“Roscata-ca-Arama si cei sapte soricari” nu a fost o exceptie. Am ras si am urmarit povestea catelusilor, intrebandu-ne mereu ce o fi patit Trigon de ne tine autoarea in suspans atatea capitole! Cu siguranta ne-au scapat multe intelesuri ascunse, la fel cum s-a intamplat si la prima lectura a cartii “Povestea a doi pui de tigru, numiti Ninigra si Alegru”. Caci istoria spune ca numitul Alegru ar fi fost in fapt un cu totul alt personaj cu dificultati de vorbire…

Revenind la Roscata, am descoperit cu multa placere ilustratii cu care nu eram obisnuiti. Linii simple, clare, desenate de un fauritor. Nu il cunosc pe Andrei Tache si din pacate nici opera lui nu o cunosteam pana acum. Promit sa repar asta. Deocamdata ne-am bucurat tare ca am “dibuit” ce culoare are sugiucul.

Apreciez ca editura Frontiera face toate aceste eforturi de a nu lasa garda jos. Garda calitatii si a valorii literare. Mereu, neobosit, ii expune pe cei mici si pe cei mari la lucrari de exceptie. Intr-o incercare de a compensa ce sistemul nu poate face.

De la “Sistemul nervos, sistemul bucuros” pana la “Dejunul unei frunze”, carte premiata national si international. Lucru valabil si cu toate aparitiile de exceptie ale editurii din 2021. Pe care mi le imaginez ajunse in toate casele si in toate clasele. Pentru a fi citite impreuna. Pentru a avea copiii nostri acces mai usor si la astfel de capodopere. Poate asa vom avea norocul sa cunoastem un nou Eminescu sau o varianta moderna a limbii “sparga”.

Macar astazi, de Ziua Internationala a cititului impreuna, vreau sa imi imaginez ca asa va si fi. Si ca vom trai cu totii fericiti pana la … sfarsit!

The rocket book by Peter Newell

We continue the serie of events related to Hallowen with a tricky business: launching a rocket in the basement of a 21 floors building! In 1912’s New York, after the janitor’s son lits up a rocket that goes up ‘til it reaches the top flat.

It is not SF, nor a dream of mine; it is not even a TV commercial or animation. It is the “ Rocket book” by Peter Newell, one of the fathers of children illustrated books.

I believe that in every aspect of life we need to look up to the pioneers and the ones that took things at the highest level.

In the world of children illustrated books, Peter Newell is one of them. He illustrated Mark Twain and Lewis Caroll, to name two of the famous writers he worked with. What I loved the most about this book is the attention he paid to details, the expresivity of his characters and the ability to create a scene without overloading the illustrations. And the use of objects and words that are now lost from our homes and vocabulary.

It is a book to have and to read, at any age, I would say.

My 7 yo daughter had an interesting reaction to the book. She asked me why all the people in the book were so amazed and had eyes so big. And then she wondered what it would happen if we lit rocket in our building’s garage 🙂

I didn’t respond the obvious, that we would fly from there as soon as the rocket in the book did…

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.

Martisoare

Martisoarele suntem noi, cand le zambim celor dragi. Cand ii incurajam sa mearga mai departe, desi povara si frigul zapezii le ingreuneaza umerii. Cand le spunem o vorba buna si aducem din nou soarele pe cerul lor.
Martisoarele sunt puiii nostri minunati si inocenti, primavara vietii noastre. De care e musai sa avem grija, sa poata creste drept si frumos.
O primavara insorita, plina de oameni si aventuri care sa bucure inima si sufletul!

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 the park anymore. Nor to see her friends or relatives. A year I had to stay away from all the people I knew. To keep my distance. Keeping the distance is the first step in isolating our 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, 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

Baby first library: board books for children 0-3 years and more

Baby board books

As a first time parent, all around you is new, happing very fast and overwhelming. You grow as parent at the same pace as your baby grows, but you are the one responsable for him, so the pressure is really big. And you try to go with your instincts, but sometimes it is not enough. Adding the society induced guilt or the feeling you constant have that you are doing it all wrong, it’s not an easy job. The grandmas who did it their way and “look, you are fine!” don’t help much either. Or the others mums who put pressure or begin every unasked advice with “But listen, why don’t you do….?”

So, after a little sobbing, you put yourself together and start looking for solutions. And you read all it interest you and take online courses and watch youtube presentations and reviews and all the “best of the best” tops you can find.

But lots of them are a little too official or too impersonal. The lady presenting the magic diapers doesn’t have a single child. Or the parenting guru with 3 children raised by nannies or grandmas, is she the best to tell you, a fulltime mama, what is the best approch to everything? Maybe yes or maybe not.

When all of this is not helping either, you look for a more tailored solution. A experienced story from someone who actually lived it before you; or a product tried by a person you know or at least had the same journey you had. And if this won’t help, at least you have a someone to point your dissapointment at.

I will begin this series of tailored experiences with the begging: baby first books. I read to my daughter everything, since she was in my womb. They, I researched a lot and start making list and wishlist and top best books of all time. And now, at almost 6yo, she has hundreds of books, from ones of the best authors and illustrators of all times. Some are in English and some in Romanian, our mother tongue language. We still have 90% of them, because she likes to read them from time to time.

All the experts say that at first, a baby sees the world around him in black and white. At first only shadows and contours, then he is able to see the entire object or person in front of him. So, natural and adapted to their development, the first books that we should introduce to them, are in the same chromatic and form: black and white, with clear and simple contours of object, people and animals. And then we can move to sensorial books, with lift the flap options, for the little hands to explore and discover. Books with sound (but attention, not too loud or scary sound, you risk traumatizing your child!). Books with rimes and repetitive words and sounds.

Board books are a great choice because they are sturdy and the child can chew on them without the risk of choking or shallowing paper or cardboard. And the endurance factor is a key one, since they are not so easily to break or bent.

Our selection of board baby books is not the largest one, but it can be a starting point for your baby first library.

I will start with (who else could I start with?) … the one and only Eric Carle!

Eric Carle was born in 1929 in Syracuse, New York, and for the last 45 years has written and illustrated tens of books for young children. He is best known for one’s of his first books, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. It is a beautiful book about nature, transformation, friendship, counting, learning numbers and also fruits and food.

Eric Carle The very hungry caterpillar

The first renewed book he ever illustrated was “Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?” with lyrics by Bill Martin jr.

From his work we also have “The Grounchy Ladybug”, a book that teaches young children about kindness and giving and the power of friendship. Also it teaches them time and different animals.

Eric Carle The Grounchy Ladybug

Another great book that he wrote is called “Dream Snow”. Is about an old man who loves his animals very much. And in the evening before Christmas he prepares a gift for every one of them and goes out and puts ornament in the only tree he has and leaves the presents for the 5 animals under the tree.

Eric Carle The Dream Snow

“Papa, please get the moon for me” is a gentle book about a father’s love for his daughter. Who will do anything for her, even bring her the big old moon. And there are many more other great titles by Eric Carle to choose from for you to read with your baby.

The next remarcable author to choose from as a first reading to your baby it could be David A. Carter. He has a lot of funny pop-up books, “Yellow square” is the most famous. In the same tehnique is the seasons series that contains “Spring”, “Summer”, “Autumn” and “ Winter”. His books are very attractive for the young readers. And are also very interactive, quality that makes them a favourite in any little child library.

B is for Box The Happy Little Yellow Box A Pop -up book by David A. Carter

I will mention then the book by P.D.Eastman “Go, dog, go!”. I had it on the wishlist for so long, that when time came to actually buy it for my daughter, she was a little too big for it. But she can read it all by herself, so it was a win after all. And, at one page we can also see the little bird from “Are you my mother?”, another lovely book by P.D. Eastman that we still read at almost 6 yo.

P.D. Eastman Go, dog, go!

Christie Matheson has another beautiful board books series about action and effect, seasons, nature, the changes in nature as the times passes. Is the “Tap the magic tree” book and the “Touch the brightest star” we have by this author. At every page the child is encouraged to do something ( clap his hands, blow, touch an element) and on the nect page he can see the change, the effect of his action.

Christie Matheson Tap the magic tree

I think that the next author, Maurice Sendak, needs no introduction. Renewed author and prize winner, his book “Where the wild things are” is an all time bestselling book for children. “Chicken soup with rice” is a lovely calendar book in rimes for smaller babies, each month is depicted in simple and yet expressive rimes, that the little readers will love to hear over and over again. And, of course, he will learn that the chicken soup with rice is a must in every month of the year.

Maurice Sendak Chicken soup with rice

Ladybird publishing house has a lot of wonderful titles for children of all ages. We have a Ladybug with Peppa pig, that was one’s of my daughter favorite’s character for years.

At last I want to talk about Usborne publishing. Their collection of books is the most impressive: activity books, baby books, sensorial books, books with sound or wind toys, puzzle books, art books. For ages between 0 to young adult, so you have a very wide range to choose from. Which can be overwhelming, I know, for a first time parent. I bought the first book with sound from Usborne when I was pregnant with my daughter. It had 4 sturdy cardbord pages, each with a different sound from an animal or object ( monkey, duck, car, sheep). My daughter was terrified by all the noise, but loved the images. I took out the batteries and she “read” the book daily for an year or so. But she had a more bigger problem with loud sounds at that age, so I wouldn’t blame Usborne for her being scare of the sounds. Then, at 2-3 yo, she asks us to put the batteries back on so she can listen to the sounds. She also received a very nice sensory book from Usborne, but now, if she were a baby again, I wouldn’t invest much in sensory books. You can offer your baby a lot of sensory stimulation from getting in contact with different materials and textures: wool, felt, fur, wood, grass, moss, beads, rice, flour, etc. Which I totaly recommend, since I saw children age 1-3 with a lot sensory issues.

Here, my daughter is helping me presenting “Night time” a peep-inside book from Usborne.

Night time A peep-inside Usborne book

We also have in our board books collection two books for older kids. One is “The night before Christmas”, by Clement C. Moore and illustration by Roger Duvoisin, the “father” of Petunia, the lovely goose all children loves. The text is a bit too long for a toddler patience, but you can at first show them the picture and talk a little about some of the ideas in the book.

Clement C. Moore and Roger Duvoisin The night before Christmas

The second one is “Leaf Jumpers” by Carole Gerber and illustrated by Leslie Evans. Is a funny book about autumn and all the sorts and shapes of leaves. And the fun the little ones have jumping in leaves piles…

Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans Leaf Jumpers

As a conclusion to a long and comprehensive text: read to your baby anything, anytime, any book. He would love the sound of your voice and the intimacy between you two. For baby books, the board boks are more likely to resist and not to hurm the baby ( cuts in the paper, chewing on it, etc).

You don’t have to invest a lot at first. Buy a small selection at first and see his reaction. You can also buy them preowned, are easily to desinfect since the cardboard is sturdy and not affected if you weap it clean with an antibacterial napkin. When the baby is older and doesn’t show interest in the books, you can give them to other babies ( wich we did) or sell them to buy books for older children.

Enjoy!