Friday, April 27, 2018

Back in Galicia, Spain!

Today I'm celebrating being back in Galicia Spain. It's hard to believe we left Sacramento two weeks ago, arriving on Saturday evening, April 14th (Spain time). Since arrival, we've had intermittent cold, warmth, bright sunny days, thunderstorms, sun again, wind . . .. Each day is an adventure in weather.

It's great to be back! We've been busy ever since, having lunches with friends, snacks with neighbors, visiting our closest neighbors Eva & Manolo often, walking to a nearby pueblo (about a mile or two away), going into Monforte de Lemos (the closest bigger town) to walk around and stop for a glass of wine at our favorite cafe-bar on the main plaza.

Above is a picture of our field that one of our neighbors, Miguel-Angel plants each year with potatoes. It was plowed like this last week with plans to plant on Monday, but a fierce thunderstorm struck on Sunday, so he had to wait until Wednesday. Here are some scenes from a walk we took to El Barrio, a small village that fringes the larger village of Tuiriz.

This is outside a small village
 called Santalla, taken from the road.
Nearing El Barrio. 
Somewhere along the way.

Meanwhile, below is a picture of the plaza in Monforte. It's like this all the time, filled with families enjoying coffee, lunch, beer or wine, pastries. Kids running about everywhere in glee. Babies being cooed over. And the rise and fall of voices in the beautiful Spanish language.
Outside a cafe-bar we like, Lienzo.

Because we have come here so often and for so long, we keep running into people we know in Monforte. It's almost like a homecoming. Our Spanish is decent enough that we can limp through conversations without too much trouble. In no way can I say we are fluent—we aren't by a long shot—but it's encouraging to at least understand most things and to be understood. (And the Spanish are encouraging. They patiently wait out our word searches.)

More pictures will be coming. Meanwhile, do you like to walk out in the country? In the park? What are some of your favorite walks?

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate.)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Two Great Books by Steve Richardson

Today I want to share two wonderful books for children, both written by Steve Richardson. They are inspiring and uplifting picture story books/early chapter books, and each one is beautifully illustrated. Both are picture books for kids of any age, since the pictures tell each story visually. They are the kind of books that belong in libraries—public, school, and personal—because they beg to be read more than once. The first is Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest, which came out last month. The second is Billy's Mountain. (My neighbor read it to her two-year-old grandson, and he has been building mountains in her back garden ever since.) Without further ado:

Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest,
written by Steve Richardson, illustrated by Chris Dunn

When Jimmy Squirrel announces that his dad can build the biggest, best treehouse in the world, he stirs up competition among his friends—and not the best kind. Everyone says their dad can build bigger and better ones. Only Paisley Rabbit is silent, but she is the one to suggest a contest: Everyone will build a treehouse and then vote on the best one. 
            They all get to work on building their treehouses—except Paisley. She gets to work on research instead. Her main priority is her little brother, Davy, who needs a kidney transplant. She promises him she will have a special project for him and then plots out her master plan. 
            There is so much to like about this book. No spoilers here, but Paisley shows how vision, perseverance, caring for others, and working together can achieve much more than brash ego. Her ultimate treehouse benefits others in a way no one would have foreseen. This is an inspiring story with a strong female protagonist. The ending is both surprising and deeply satisfying.
            Chris Dunn's illustrations are gorgeous, with incredible details. Page by page, they tell the story as a feast for the eyes. This is a book for every home or school library, and it’s a layered story one will read again and again.

Billy's Mountain, written by Steve Richardson, illustrated by Herb Leonard

            For Billy, life on a Kansas Prairie has only offered an unchanging landscape of flat prairie. His favorite book shows snow-capped mountains, forests, waterfalls. One day an idea comes to him: he’ll build a mountain like the ones in his beloved book. It will bring all the wildlife in those pictures: bears, deer, elk, beavers. At first, Billy enlists the help of his friends, but the going is slow, and they give up after they’ve built a forty-foot hill. 

But Billy is determined. He contacts a family friend who is also a reporter. The reporter writes an article about Billy’s dream. The story makes national news. The news reaches an old man who remembershisearly dreams. He, too has a determined spirit. He decides to work with Billy. And when young and old work together with determination—well, miracles can happen. 

The author takes time with the miracles that unfold in this book. Young readers will develop an understanding of ecology and wildlife while seeing, too, the result of collective effort and commitment. None of this is didactic or preachy. It’s easy to get involved in Billy’s plans and root for them, and it’s interesting to wait for what comes next.

Herb Leonard’s illustrations have the same, comfortable feel that drives the story. Kansas prairies, mountain meadows, snow caps and streams, Billy’s hopeful face as he thinks of his mountain—all these have a glow to them that make a reader feel they are in each scene.  

You can learn more about Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest HERE
You can learn more about Billy's Mountain HERE

How about you? Do you have favorite books that keep resonating with you because of both the wonderful story and the wonderful illustrations? Any titles, authors, or illustrates  to share?