Dear Book Lovers, Welcome! I am delighted that you have found The Through the Looking Glass blog. For over twenty years I have reviewed children's literature titles for my online journal, which came out six times a year. Every book I reviewed for that publication can be found on the Through the Looking Glass website (the link is below). I am now focusing on writing reviews and articles, and finding interesting book related news, for this blog. Many of the titles that I will be sharing with you will appeal to adults as well as children. I firmly believe that some of the best writing in the world can be found on the pages of books that were written for young people. I invite you adults to explore these books for yourselves; they will, I am sure, delight and surprise you. I hope what you will find here will make your journey into the world of children's literature more enjoyable. Please visit the Through the Looking Glass Facebook page as well for even more bookish posts

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring is here, no it's not, yes it is, no it's not...

Happy belated Earth Day everyone!

I have to tell you that here in Ashland, Oregon we have been having the strangest spring I have ever experienced. On April 11th I was up at the crack of dawn to go to Medford, a town just 20 minutes away from my town. I drove to the downtown area and then proceeded to collect my runner's packet for the Pear Blossom Run. Not being in the best of running shape, I had decided to do the 5K and not the 10 mile. The morning was freezing and I was quite numb as I set off with the other runners.

Later that day I sat on the side of the streets with hundreds of other people to watch the Pear Blossom Parade. It was quite a spectacle and my daughter Elise was particularly taken with the horses and the clowns. After being frozen earlier in the day I was then cooked as I watched the parade.

Since then we have had lovely warm days - and snow. And I don't mean a little snow either. We had stick-to-the ground snow for one day and several flurry filled days as well. On Saturday April 19th my husband and I walked into town to go and see a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It was blizzard like outside and we arrived at the theatre covered with snow. I have to say that the production of "Coriolanus" that we saw was superb. I read and studied the play a long time ago and read about it again before I went to the performance. The actors swept me away and by the end of the play (which is very tragical) I was feeling very moved and spell bound. Anyone who loves Shakespeare's plays should try to come to Ashland to see the performances put on by this very special theatre company.

One the work front I have been preparing for the May issue of the Through the Looking Glass Book Review by reading a varied and wonderful collection of books about "Insects and their relatives." Even though I studied entomology in university many eons ago, I found myself learning all kinds of fascinating things about insects, spiders, and other many-legged animals. One book in particular struck me. "A Place for Butterflies" not only describes several lovely butterfly species but it also highlights the rocky future that many of these special creatures are facing. Often we think of endangered Giant Pandas, threatened elephants, and the status of other rare large animals. We forget that there are many smaller creatures which are endangered too, creatures which many of us can do something to help. By planting a garden filled with the kinds of plants that butterflies like, we can make a difference. Best of all this is an activity which children can enjoy. They will see the fruits of their labors when butterflies come to the flowering plants which they so carefully planted in the spring.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 31, 2008

A new month begins

Happy Almost-April! I posted the new issue of Through the Looking Glass Review today and as per usual, I already feel that the new month is here. Despite the fact that the office was closed for a week for Sping Break, the new issue of Through the Looking Glass Book Review has seventy new reviews in it. These include some terrific titles for Arbor Day and Earth Day, and a hilarious book called "Framed." In this title by Frank Cottrell Boyce, a young boy discovers that the world of art has something to offer everyone. Art can effect people in the most extraordinary ways and the adventures and misadventures that the boy has as a result of his encounters with precious artworks are utterly delightful.

For Spring Break my family and I went skiing at Mt. Bachelor near Bend, OR. There was a lot of snow, and more fell while we were there. Not being used to skiing in powder I had trouble one day but the rest of time the conditions were fabulous. I know that a lot of people love powder, my husband does, but everytime I go into it I find my skiis going in opposite directions. Not long after I end up flat on my back or face first in a dift. No, groomed runs are a must for me.

Getting back home to Ashland on Friday March 28th was very hard. It was snowing so heavily that we crawled along the roads at a brisk 30 miles an hour - on average. We saw numerous cars lying on their sides or on their backs in the ditches. In addition, as we ambled along, we saw cars in front of us gracefully slide across the road. It was most unnerving. Thankfully we were able to move along without too much slipping, and six hours later got home - two hours later than expected. The storm was a firm reminder that Mother Nature is still very much in charge.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Was Leonardo da Vinci as crabby as all that?

I have just reviewed a work of historical fiction about Leonardo da Vinci and it really got me thinking. Was Leonardo as crabby as he was portrayed in the book? The book is told from the point of view of Leonardo's servant, a boy called Giacomo. I thought that Giacomo was a character which the author had made up but it turns out that he really existed. In his notebooks Leonardo complained about the boy many a time and oft but apparently one can tell that the painter was in fact very fond of Giacomo.

After reading about this I became determined to get a copy of the notebooks for myself. I really want to know what Leonardo was like. Reviews of the notebooks mention that one can get a very real sense of the inner Leonardo from his writings. I look forward to finding out if this is true or not.

This weekend was wonderful here in southern Oregon. The sun shone, it was warm, and the sky was an amazing blue. My family and I went and looked at a few houses - we are looking for a home of our own - and then we went to the local Chocolate Festival. The event was held in the lovely Ashland Springs Hotel and I don't think I have ever eaten so much chocolate in one go in my life! Milk chocolate candies infused with Lavena and with a caramel filling. Dark chocolate truffles with a raspberry center. Fresh pears dipped in warm melted chocolate. My seven year-old daughter, not surprisingly, began to feel a little sick after a while. My husband and I took a break from the chocolate at one point to taste some wine. It was perfect. Then we went back for a little more chocolate before we gave up eating, bought some treats, and walked home in the sun.
Ashland is definitely getting more tourist visitors these days. The warmer weather and the opening of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has brought people here from all over. I cannot imagine what it is going to be like in the summer. We moved here in early September of last year so we have yet to see what Ashland is like in the spring and in the warmer months of May, June, July and August.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Please help Reading is Fundamental


Reading is Fundamental (RIF) needs your help. The President's proposed fiscal year 2009 budget released in February eliminates the Inexpensive Book Distribution Program, which is the RIF Book Distribution Program. Unless Congress reinstates funding for this program, RIF will be unable to distribute 16 million books annually to the nation's youngest and most at-risk children. RIF serves 4.6 million children. Please click on the link below to visit the RIF Action Alert page so you can make your voice heard and support their efforts.

Please help this worthy cause by going to the Action Alert Page on the RIF website.

A First Blog

Well, there is a first time for everything and today I am putting together my first blog. Funnily enough, even though I have been publishing a website for several years, I find this new form of communication rather intimidating. Who would have thought it! Since this my first attempt I hope you will be patient with me.

Workwise: The last days of the month approach and as always this is a stressful time because I have to get the new issue of Through The Looking Glass Book Review out. So far I have done seventy reviews and I hope to squeeze a few more out before posting day. For the March issue I put together a formidable collection of books about women of note - for the Women's History Month feature. I found so many splendid stories and I hope my reviews will encourage girls to read about the brave, bright, and determined women who have helped make the world a better, and more enjoyable place. One book was great fun. It was about the women and girls who were "Daredevils" in the late 1800's and early 1900's. They were shot from canons, rode high diving horses, walked on the wings of planes, and more.

Another book which I loved and which really shows readers what women have done to make life easier, happier, and safer for all of us is Rabble Rousers by Cheryl Harness. This is a marvellous title and I would have loved it even if I wasn't good friends with the author :-)
The other project this month which really delighted me was a feature on picture books which convey a meaningful message to their readers. I was very careful which books I selected to review and now feel I might have to extend the feature to another month because I found so many treasures on my shelves. I want to share all of them with my readers if I can read fast enough. The topics covered by the books are varied and sometimes very thought provoking.
A very exciting new development is that my new web guru (my first actually), Dune Thomas, is building a database for the website so things are going to change a lot on Looking Glass Review. I can't wait because my web building program is struggling to deal with the size of the site. The time has come for me to hand the site over to someone else to build. It feels very strange and I am still getting used to the idea.

On the personal front: My family and I are going skiing on Mount Shasta, CA on Thursday. My daughter Elise has the day off from school and Brian and I have arranged things so we can take the day off from work. I can't wait. The slopes are wonderful there and I have made a lot of progress improving my parallel turns.
The Holy Terrors, our two Siamese cats Suma and Sara, are wrecking havoc as usual. So far this week they have tipped over three potted plants and they broke a pretty blue glass vase that I got for Christmas. I was NOT pleased. They are also driving Reeka the dog crazy because they insist on playing with her tail. They adore our other dog Pippin and snuggle with him until he has to make a break for it. We are convinced that the cats think that they are dogs. They play with dog toys for hours and Sara is a great fetcher. Here is Sara sleeping with her tongue sticking out. Seeing her do this makes us laugh every time.
Don't be fooled by the sweet looking demeanor. She is a truly wicked little cat and yet I still adore her.

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