Archive for the ‘Children's’ Category

The Mouser Transition: He’s “Home”

March 26, 2011

Mouser and Miss Kitty are licking the just-steeped bag of oatmeal and Carapils. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Mouser is getting along fine at our house. For those of you who don’t know, Mouser was my dad’s cat at Gunderland until my dad passed away on July 1st of last summer. Although I really wanted Mouser to live with Bill and me, I was kind of nervous about bringing Mouser to a non-farm environment. However, so far, so good. Now that he’s with us, every time I have some quiet time with him, oddly enough I feel like it is an extension of time with Daddy.

Mouser and Miss Kitty

Sammy and Mouser

When Mouser arrived at our house we had two other cats: Sammy and Miss Kitty. After the initial getting-to-know-yous for all three cats, Sammy was fairly friendly toward Mouser. Miss Kitty would give Mouser the Marge Simpson growl that she gives to most everyone. Mouser just wanted to play with both Sammy and Miss Kitty.

All three got a tad friendlier, but not sleep-in-the-same-box friendly. Things have changed, though.

This winter Sammy’s thinness and bony spine became evident. Early on our vet thought that maybe Sammy wasn’t eating due to stress induced by a newcomer — Mouser — living with us. Of course, I felt so terrible, because I was the one who so badly wanted Mouser to come and live with us, but not at Sammy’s expense. However, after spending a few days at the vet clinic for tests, in mid-February Sammy was diagnosed with a form of cancer.

Mouser and Sammy after Sammy returned home from the vet clinic.

When Sammy returned home, Mouser seemed to hover around him and kind of protect him from Miss Kitty’s more frequent hisses and spats. About three weeks later, Sammy went to cat heaven. (By the way, there is such a children’s book called Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. She also wrote and illustrated Dog Heaven. For anyone who has lost a dog or cat friend and therefore could use a little TLC and also a twinkling smile, I recommend these books.)

Miss Kitty now seems a bit nicer to Mouser. It’s probably just that they’ve had more time to get used to each other. And, maybe they both miss Sammy. Tonight they both enjoyed licking the bag of oatmeal and Carapils after it had steeped. (Bill and I used those ingredients in making a home brew clone of Blue Moon.) Now Mouser and Miss Kitty are sleeping in the same box.

* * * * * * * *

…More about basketball in a day or two.

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


New Year’s Eve with the Curious: Jackson and George

January 29, 2011

On New Year's Eve Jackson and I went to the Perry (Iowa) Public Library. Curious George got our attention. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll see that H.A. Rey's name is on the front cover of the book. Margret Rey's name is not.

Do the names Margret and H.A. Rey ring a bell? How about the Curious George books that for decades have endeared children of all ages? While I’ve “known” Curious George for what seems like forever, I didn’t realize that the creators (the Reys) were German Jews who fled Paris in June of 1940 just before German troops marched into that city. A manuscript and sketches of what later became known as the monkey Curious George literally saved the Reys as they escaped before arriving in the United States in 1940.

In December my brother-in-law Jeff sent this link that includes the harrowing story of how Margret and H.A. Rey escaped the Nazis. The article also includes a link for the Margret and H.A. Rey Center in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. (Sounds like a great New England vacation stop!)

Houghton Mifflin site provides photos of and additional information about Margret and H.A. Rey.

As evidenced in the above photo, the front cover of Curious George includes “H.A. Rey” but not Margret’s name. This made me curious as to why Margret’s name isn’t on the cover. After all, wasn’t she an author, too? At the Houghton Mifflin site (linked to in the previous paragraph) is an FAQ section. One of the FAQ answers gives a brief explanation of how the Reys worked together on their books.

Curious George was first copyrighted in 1941, the year after Margret and H.A. Rey arrived in the United States. This scan is taken from a copy from the 74th printing. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Reading about the Reys’ escape from the Nazis provided the impetus for Jackson, my almost-five-year-old grandson, and me to go to the Perry library to check out Curious George. Jackson was fascinated — curious — as was I. When I looked at the illustrations I remembered that if the Reys did not have those illustrations with them as they escaped, they may have never made it to the United States in 1940. And therefore, there may have never been Curious George books as we know them today.

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Full Moon Intrigue

June 26, 2010

Jackson and me last night reading Kitten's First Full Moon. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll understand the moon's intrigue.

Last night Jackson, Grandpa Bill (my husband) and I went outside to experience the full moon. That prompted Jackson and me to read Caldecott Medal-winner Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes*. After reading, it was late, late, late for Jackson to go to bed.

Even from his bed, nothing gets past Jackson. He came out of the bedroom to realize I was getting my camera ready to photograph the moon. He asked if he could get the “tall thing” (tripod).

So, at about 11:00 PM, all three of us in our jammies went outside into the humid summer night for our photo session. Just the three of us and the moon, stars and lightning bugs. We set the tripod/camera height at about 24″. I sat cross-legged right up to it with Jackson sitting in the bowl of my lap so he, too, could see the camera’s moon-images. I know these photos aren’t the most memorable ever, but those moments from last night are.

One of last night's first photos.


Right before the wind picked up, suggesting we go indoors.

*Click here to hear Kevin Henkes pronounce his name.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page. Soon to be posted is a series of interview segments regarding Rolfe, Iowa, in the ’40s and ’50s.)

It Isn’t Halloween Without The Hallo-Wiener!

October 30, 2009

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Bill, Jackson, and The Hallo-Wiener (Click photo to enlarge.)

Not to forget a Halloween essential at our house, we just had to pull out The Hallo-Wiener.  Although some of the adult (um…make that adolescent) humor goes right over a 3-year-old’s head, there’s still plenty of emotion and story in the illustrations and text to envelop a little tyke’s heart.

But, for the adolescent humor…here are examples of lines that crack me up every time.

*** When Oscar (the Hallo-Wiener) went off to obedience school, his mother stood in the front doorway waving and calling out to him, “Farewell, my little Vienna sausage!”  With the other dogs watching.  (Poor, poor Oscar.)

*** When Oscar was feeling bad he was “looking quite frank.”

*** And, my favorite…when Oscar got in trouble at school, he had to write on the blackboard 100-or-so times, “I will not sniff my neighbor.  I will not sniff my neighbor.  I will not sniff…..”  (You probably need to “be there” reading this book to fully appreciate this last excerpt!)

When The Hallo-Wiener was first published, School Library Journal reviewed it proclaiming, “This may be the funniest Halloween story ever written, and it’s definitely got the most lovable hero.”  My sentiments, exactly.

Enjoy.  And, Happy Halloween (er).

The Story of Ferdinand the Bull (and Cattails)

August 30, 2009

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(Click photo to enlarge.)

(Click photo to enlarge.)

I’m on a mission to get through the posts about Oregon, but I couldn’t resist sidetracking again.

Jackson (our 3 1/3 year-old grandson) spent Friday night with us.  He went to “man breakfast” with Bill yesterday, where Jackson had his usual Hy-Vee fare:  blueberry pancakes and chocolate milk. more…

The Little Engine that Could — (No Watty Piper?)

June 22, 2009
Joe reading to Jackson before dinner.  In 1980 this copy was given to Jackson's mother (my older daughter) by my parents.  My parents gave a different copy to me in 1960.

Joe reading to Jackson before dinner. In 1980 this copy was given to Jackson's mother (my older daughter) by my parents. My parents gave a different copy to me in 1960.

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Today I was with my dad near Rolfe, Iowa, for several hours.  Later, both of our daughters, son-in-law, and three-year-old grandson came to Bill’s and my home.  We relaxed (or combined “corn flower” if you talk with farmer Jackson!) and had dinner.  Jackson was so excited to be at “Nanna’s and Grandpa Bill’s” and to see Aunt Katie and Uncle Joe.  When I was working on dinner I noticed it had gotten quieter. more…