Archive for May, 2012


Yay it’s Children’s Book Week! This event celebrates reading and books for youth. According to the official website: “Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running literacy initiative in the country. Children’s Book Week originated in the belief that children’s books and literacy are life-changers. In 1913, Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, began touring the country to promote higher standards in children’s books. He proposed creating a Children’s Book Week, which would be supported by all interested groups: publishers, booksellers, and librarians.” So read to your children and encourage them to read!  Below is the poster for 2012 Children’s Book Week, created by author/illustrator David Wiesner (who created the amazing book Flotsam which won the Caldecott in 2007). Check out all the classic children’s book characters he used! If you like the poster, you can order one for free (just need a SASE and check this link for more info).

As you have gathered from my blog, I love to spend my free time reading children and young adult books, usually more than adult books. The Children’s Book Week website held a contest for the Children’s Choice Awards for the best books of the year. Here is a list of the books of the year and finalists. It is broken down in categories: Kindergarten – 2nd Grade, 3rd – 4th Grade, Fifth – Sixth Grade, Teen Book of the Year, Author of the Year, and Illustrator of the Year. I curious about most of the books as I haven’t read any in the first or second categories. I’ve heard Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt was good, as well as Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein. I loved The Clockwork Prince: The Infernal Devices: Book Two and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Rick Riordan’s books are always a fun read, for both girls and boys (I tend to find myself gravitating towards books made especially for boys). I absolutely love Brian Selznick and his magnificently illustrated books, and I managed to get my mother to read both The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, and she loved both of them as well.

One of my favorite artistic group of artists were the PreRaphaelite Brotherhood. This group included painters like Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Ford Madox Brown, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, Lord Frederic Leighton, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Sir John Everett Millais. It is called Pre-Raphaelite because they imitated artwork done in the Medieval through Renaissance style before Raphael. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website on the Brotherhood, it was “an art characterized by minute description of detail, a luminous palette of bright colors that recalls the tempera paint used by medieval artists, and subject matter of a noble, religious, or moralizing nature. In mid-nineteenth-century England, a period marked by political upheaval, mass industrialization, and social ills, the Brotherhood at its inception strove to transmit a message of artistic renewal and moral reform by imbuing their art with seriousness, sincerity, and truth to nature.” One of the offshoots of the Brotherhood was the partnership formed by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. According to previous Met website, “As their works became more decorative, the Pre-Raphaelites were increasingly interested in the decorative arts. In 1861, Burne-Jones and Rossetti joined Morris’ new design firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (reorganized as Morris & Co. in 1875), producing murals, stained glass, furniture, textiles, jewelry, and wall coverings inspired by botanical motifs.” I have always enjoyed medieval and renaissance art, so I was naturally drawn to these artworks as well. I saw my first exhibit of Pre-Raphaelite artists in London at Tate Britain (which happens to have the largest collection of this period of artwork in the world) when I was 15 and I fell in love with Rosetti’s work in particular. I ended up using his work for an art history paper I wrote during my undergraduate career.

The Brotherhood frequently used the same model in their works. One of the most famous was Elizabeth or Lizzie Siddal. She is the most famous for her portrayal of the dying Ophelia from Hamlet in Sir John Edward Millias’ painting OpheliaShe mostly posed for Dante Gabriel Rossetti though, and later married him. For more information on their marriage, check out this post. Lizzie was basically the face of the Pre-Raphaelite’s idea of beauty. Lizzie was a bit of an artist/poet herself and at one point Rossetti became her mentor. Beata Beatrix Rossetti painted in memory of Lizzie, who died of a laudanum overdose (which she was addicted to). In the painting, he compares himself to the poet Dante, who is grieving over the loss of his unrequited love Beatrice, the same way that Rossetti was grieving over Lizzie. A dove is shown handing Beatrice/Lizzie poppies, which was where laudanum comes from. The overall painting has a very dreamy quality to it.

 Beata Beatrix, 1864-70

Jane Burden Morris, wife of artist William Morris, was another that was frequently used. Rossetti also loved to use her and featured her prominently in his work. He actually lived with Jane and William at one point, while Jane and Rossetti carried on their affair. I actually prefer her paintings to Lizzie Siddal, but this is just my opinion. He glamorizes her in his paintings, but I think she is still a pretty woman anyways. Here is a photo of the actual Mrs Morris.  I have always loved the Proserpine painting, one of his most recognizable works. Proserpine is the Roman equivalent of Persephone and her mother Ceres is Demeter. She is stolen by Hades and must spend 1/2 the year in the underworld with him, and 1/2 on the Earth with her mother. Jane, as Prosperpina, is shown holding the pomegranate from which she ate the six seeds. The open fruit always looked so sensual to me, as did his interpretation of Jane.

Proserpina, 1874

The story of Saint George was a popular one amongst the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The following painting was done in 1857, and he used Jane Morris for his model, but he also did another version later on in 1862 with Lizzie Siddal as his muse (finished days before she overdosed and subsequently died). He also designed a set of stained glass windows on the subject of St George, which were created by the Morris firm. A lot of Rossetti’s paintings are Renaissance-looking, but this one is purely Medieval. In the scene, St George has killed the dragon (whose head rests in the foreground) and is embracing Princess Sabra, whose hand he has won for defeating said dragon. She is giving him a lock of her hair. According to the Tate Museum’s page on the painting, “St George’s distracted gaze hint at Rossetti’s dilemma of being involved with Elizabeth Siddall but feeling a strong attraction for Jane.”

The Wedding of St George and Princess Sabra, 1857

This year celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the Caldecott Medal, the highest award for a children’s picture book. Check out the ALA’s new medal designed by one of my favorite children’s author/illustrators, Brian Selznick. It’s so cool how he has worked in so many classic children’s books such as Madeline, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Selznick’s own 2008 award winning book), Where the Wild Things Are, Make Way for Ducklings and other characters. Because of the anniversary, I figured I would start my Caldecott challenge. Every year since 2008 (basically since I started library school), I have tried to read as many Caldecott winning books as possible. At first, it was because I was taking a Children’s Literature class and we had to read a bunch. Later it was because I just enjoy reading picture books and I was curious why that year’s winners and honors got picked. I’ve read 63 of the Caldecotts, but that’s not that many considering there’s a total of 240 books. So I’ve got quite awhile to go. Here’s the list in case you are interested.

For the last 1 1/2 months I have been seeing my new doctor and trying to sort out my health. I’ve found out that I have sleep apnea, which is basically where you stop breathing when you sleep, which is why I’ve been waking up so exhausted (and not just from being a new mom). I’ve had carpel tunnel on and off for about 3 years, but was never sure if it was arthritis, which my mom got at a young age, or not. So I’ve been tested again for it and we’re waiting to see the results. According to my nerve conduction test yesterday, I have a mild very treatable case of carpel tunnel. You try telling that to my hands and arms when I have a really bad case of it and it hurts to move them at all. Let me tell you that ibuprophen doesn’t help. Maybe Aleve will, I don’t know.

Aside from the health concerns, my hubby is flying to England for 1 1/2 weeks to go to his sister’s wedding. He’s not been back for 6 years, since a few weeks before we got married, so it is definitely time. So I will definitely be missing him and his help with the house and the baby. I might need a vacation by the time he comes back, lol.

I was browsing one of my favorite food blogs today, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. She makes the most amazing desserts that I’ve not actually tried yet but have so many of her recipes. Plus she’s incredibly funny. One of her posts mentioned why she started blogging seven years ago and why she continues to do it today. So I figured I would share. When I started my first blog, a couple of years ago, it was to have something to do in my spare time when I wasn’t doing school work. Now I think it is more of a creative outlet for me. I, as you know if you’ve been a follower for awhile or have read my About Me page, have a degree in Library and Information Sciences but am not currently working in a library. I’m not even volunteering in one at the moment because I’ve been so busy and have had no free time. I miss working in a library, recommending books and helping people (yes I help people in my current job but it’s not the same). I usually go to my public library at least once a week, because I need to drop off books I’ve read but I also just like spending time there. I’ve had some interviews at several different libraries, but none of them have panned out job-wise. This blog has become my connection to the world via books, reviews, and events through the American Library Association (ALA). It’s also a great way to connect with new people. Aside from my family and the people I work with, I never go out, so I don’t know that many people in the Phoenix area. Therefore, connecting with people online is a good alternative. It’s also an opportunity to use my brain as my current job is a more common sense than thinking person’s job. Being stimulated in the brain department is always a good thing, something I feel like I’ve been lacking a bit since we moved to Arizona.

My parents went to Greece before I was born and brought back a great little cookbook. I consider this book to be the authoritative word on Greek cooking. Its Pasticio recipe (basically Greek lasagna) is the only one I like to use because it is so good. My dad was a Classics minor in undergraduate school, so he was thrilled when they got to see all the famous sites from the Classical Age of Greece. Alas, I have never been but hope to one day. When I was in middle school, I found a recipe for Stifado, or Greek Beef Stew. It has become a family favorite, topped with feta cheese, especially in the wintertime as it is a hearty meal. I love Gyros (I know this is really Turkish, but Greeks claim it too), Greek Salad, Stuffed Grape Leaves, and pretty much all Greek pastries. Whenever there is a Greek Festival in the city we are living in, I try to go to all those as well.

When I was in graduate school at University of St. Andrews, two of my best friends were Greeks. One was from Kefalonia (an island off the Ionian coast of Greece) and one was from Athens. The Kefalonian studied Social Anthropology and did her thesis on Laughter and Madness in Kefalonia, and the Athenian studied Art History and did her thesis on a Portuguese artist named (I think Maria Helena Vieira) da Silva. We also had three Greek Physicists on the floor below who frequently came up and had dinner with us. Living with them and learning about their culture and way of life was amazing. They were full of so much vitality and personality, kindness, hospitality (I know where I can stay if I ever make it there), and love. It is because of my Kefalonian “Effie Mou” (my Effie, mou being a term of endearment) that I eat zucchini because of her zucchini/courgette and feta pie, and Greek olives. She used to get these care packages with fresh cheese, olives, olive oil and grappa from back home that I just loved!

I recently found this website on Greek food and culture called Kalofagas, which means “gourmet” in Greek. It has some excellent recipes for Greek, Canadian, American, Indian, Italian, and Turkish food. The website has Non-traditional desserts like ice cream and this other ice cream and this gelato, as well as more traditional Greek fare such as Kunefe and the more interesting Artichoke Moussaka (for those like me who don’t like Eggplant).

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