Daily Archives: October 2, 2013

light the night

If you know us personally, or if you’ve been reading here awhile, then you know that my niece is battling leukemia. Her diagnosis came out of the blue earlier this year, and within days of the news she started treatment. If you know anything about this battle, it’s one that doesn’t allow you to catch your breath. They say the word, and then everything changes – schedules, priorities, vocabularies. Even if you have a rare moment to stop and reflect, you still can’t catch your breath. The fear is overwhelming, and relentless. I remember my sister-in-law saying how impossible it was to process it in the beginning; there are no real choices, just a path that’s already prescribed for you. You just get on and go – there may be dozens of emotions that you barrel through each day, but indecision isn’t even an option. You just get on and go.

One of our best friends works with patients and doctor teams and research teams in this area – leukemia and lymphoma. She told us in the early days that it would be like this, and why that is a good thing. You can’t waffle, you don’t say no. You just put your head down and do it – in our niece’s case, for two and a half years. She just passed the six month mark, and she’s done remarkably well. It’s not easy, but she’s still smiling, always smiling. 

Carving two and a half years out of a childhood is huge thing – a big gash. But it works. It works a lot – and her family will do anything to make it work, whatever it takes. Research and funding and hard work and smart minds and gracious families and brave children along the way have helped to define this path of treatment that improves outcomes. And that’s what it’s really all about. Because there is only one outcome that we wish for – and that she works for – every single minute of every single day.

My niece – and her team – are walking in the Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on October 12. Please consider contributing to her team to support research efforts – the link is here, and will remain at the top of the sidebar for a few weeks. 

She walks this walk every single day – and anything that we can do to make it a little easier / shorter / better is great. For her, and for all the others in their own spots along this journey. 

Thank you.

(story)time: Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer

I realize this is the second book review post in two days, but if you are anything like me, once October 1st rolls around you start writing out those holiday gift and to-do lists, and try to knock some of it off before the hustle and bustle of November and December roll around. Books are always a good gift (in my opinion), so I thought I’d try to feature a few more of our favorites on the bookshelves this month. Pretty soon it will be book fair time (it’s in November – more on that to follow), so if you are local, I’d love for you to visit and maybe get a little bit of your own holiday book shopping done. Around October 1st I also seem to stop purchasing books, and start collecting lists of them to buy through the fair. We need to get our weekly library trips back on the calendar as well – the older one is going through books at a record pace around here. I promise I’ll feature some more of her favorites soon. But it’s picture books that have my heart, and here are two that I love.

I talked a little bit about “Iggy Peck, Architect” here, but I thought I’d bring it up again because there is a new book out from the same author, Andrea Beaty, and the same illustrator, David Roberts.
Iggy is the story of a young boy who shows great architectural promise from an early age – constantly constructing buildings out of found objects. His parents are stunned, but delighted with his creations. We especially love the Gateway Arch made out of pancakes.
And then poor Iggy goes to school and encounters a second grade teacher who despises architecture and she discourages Iggy’s model building practices. But Iggy’s construction skills save the day on an ill-fated field trip, and architecture becomes a celebrated subject in the halls of his elementary school from that day forward.

I love the illustrations in this book – I love the collection of modern houses in Iggy’s neighborhood, the use of mixed media to create the scenes on each page. You’ll recognize iconic furniture pieces throughout the book, and the fashion designs are pretty amazing as well. It’s a terrific rhyming book, and it’s a visual feast. Which made me very excited to see this new book, “Rosie Revere, Engineer” by the same duo.

Young Rosie was a born tinkerer, and as she gets older her inventions become larger and more elaborate. Her efforts are praised in the beginning, but one day an invention of hers draws (well meaning, but still hurtful) laughter from someone she respects, and she’s so discouraged that she gives up her dream of being an engineer and creating her own flying machine. Luckily, Rosie gets a visit from a recognizable figure – a distant relative named Rose, who shares her own notebook that is filled with sketches and notes about famous female inventors and engineers and pilots across time.

Rosie reads the stories of these women, and listens to the wise words of Rose, and realizes that failures are to be expected – even celebrated – and they should fuel the fire for future efforts.

My girls love the ending of this story – where Rosie inspires the rest of her class to start inventing things on their own. You’ll see overlaps of characters between both books, and the final page of inventions is delightful. In both books you’ll find that the characters are initially encouraged in their endeavors, but how easy it is to get discouraged along the way. It’s a good reminder that kids have so much drive and excitement and energy for learning and creating – and if it’s encouraged and celebrated (especially in girls), then magical things can, and do, happen.

I would recommend both of these books for readers between five and ten. Younger ones will also enjoy the pictures and the rhymes. There is so much detail in the illustrations, it’s a delight to read and examine – you’ll find new things each time you open the pages. It’s very easy to jump from these books into nonfiction books about the architects and engineers that are referenced in the pages. “Rosie Revere, Engineer” ties in well with the story of the iconic poster Rosie the Riveter, and also with the history of flight (particularly from the standpoint of women contributors).

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!