Posted tagged ‘children’s books’

The Saturday Book Shop – The Snail with the Right Heart

February 13, 2021

Most book stores do not have a section labelled “Simply Enchanting”, but they ought to, and this book definitely falls into that category of undefinable magic (mixed with true science) that will no doubt make it a contemporary classic for young readers—and everyone young at heart too.

The Snail with the Right Heart: A True Story by Maria Popova with illustrations by Ping Zhu is a children’s book that holds a fascinating story with down-to-earth wisdom alongside soaring wonder of the ages within its covers. (And if you’re a book printing/design geek like me, you’ll notice that not only the stunning pages, but even the end papers of the covers are delicately and brilliantly illustrated. The tiny details of book production, along with the inner workings of tiny gliding snails zing me.) Three years in the making, the book is quite timely, especially in these times:

“A love story, a time story, an invitation not to mistake difference for defect and to welcome, across the accordion scales of time and space, diversity as nature’s wellspring of resilience and beauty.” – Maria Popova

Maria Popova’s name is familiar if you’re a reader of her fabulous BrainPickings site where she mesmerizes us all with her passionate and poetic writings about all things books, art, design, poetry, music, marvels, philosophy: LIFE.

Popova is after my own heart here when she describes so wonderfully what I have long felt about the best of children’s books:

“Great children’s books move young hearts, yes, but they also move the great common heart that beats in the chest of humanity by articulating in the language of children, which is the language of simplicity and absolute sincerity, the elemental truths of being: what it means to love, what it means to be mortal, what it means to live with our fragilities and our frissons. As such, children’s books are miniature works of philosophy, works of wonder and wonderment that bypass our ordinary resistances and our cerebral modes of understanding, entering the backdoor of consciousness with their soft, surefooted gait to remind us who and what we are.” – Maria Popova

There’s more to Popova’s behind-the-scenes about writing this gem, as well as more photos of the gorgeous inside pages of the book here.

And while we’re on the subject of snails, and because it’s the day before Valentine’s, I’ll leave you with a little poem I wrote back in 2014 about embracing the spirit of snails and all they can teach us about unexpected blessings of perspective, whether we’re in full tilt hummingbird-heartbeat doings mode or embracing the reminders of slow and steady rhythms of just being that come our way … Happy Heart Day All! ❤️❤️❤️

OF SNAILS AND TRAILS
by Paula Boyd Farrington

 

I read about Totem Animals
whose essence shows The Way
The article said if you don’t know yours,
Be aware: it will somehow speak to you; show up during your day
 
And there you were
when I went out to the car
In plain view—a darling little snail
On the rear view mirror: driver’s side
 
Oh no, I groan …
I don’t want my totem to be a SNAIL!
Sluggish. Slow. Escargot.
No, thank you. No. Just … no.
 
But there you are again
In the evening dusk
climbing outside the kitchen window,
seemingly everywhere I look.
 
Oh my. Not what I wanted to see.
Why couldn’t I have glimpsed a National Geographic Gazelle?
A Lion. A Jaguar. A Hawk. A Flamingo!
Something powerful or exotic. Oh hell.
 
But there you are.
Carrying your likeness of a gratitude symbol
upon your mandala of a spiral shell,
your home right with you, wherever you may dwell.
 
Let me look closer, your antennae sweeping out
Stretching forward, inquisitively sensing the air
I watch you quietly know where you’re going,
on your own glossy path, climbing here and there.
 
Let me rethink this tiny powerhouse of Now
to warm to What Is
seeing anew the natural grace
In everything that lives.
 
This little snail is more than cute,
It fulfills an important role
Recycles organic matter,
Strong and steady it goes and goes.
 
And your giant ocean cousin?
All pink lipped with curvy shell,
known as an aphrodisiac,
her majesty feeds the islands well.
 
Named the Queen Conch.
She sometimes sports a pearl.
A royal snail in aqua seas
Classic beauty, a crown of whorls.
 
So can I embrace this totem tale?
As a celebration of gentler slower trails?
Of gliding along smoothly through time & tide?
The heart’s humble wisdom says: oh, snail—be mine! ❤️
Paula Boyd Farrington ©2014Oh! And one last time-oriented p.s. … I had the pleasure of getting to create the art for the cover of this Exumas: The Kingdom of Blue coffee table book (and wrote a poem inside about my first flight to Exuma!). The book is filled with gorgeous photos by Alessandro Sarno, holding a reverent gaze on life in this beautiful chain of islands surrounded by some of the most stunning clear ocean waters anywhere. It’s perfect for anyone who loves The Bahamas or whose heart wants to visit. The publisher is offering a 20% discount through Valentine’s Weekend. Link to the site is here.

 

Enjoy & see you back next week at The Saturday Book Shop!

 

The Saturday Book Shop

December 12, 2020

Welcome back to The Saturday Bookshop!

This first book I want to show you today is near and dear to my heart because it is by my dear friend and internationally-acclaimed artist, Chantal Bethel. I had the honor of getting to design and handle the graphic layout for Beyond the Surface: Art, Discovery, Healing and Transformation—a coffee table treasure filled with 112 full color pages of her beautiful and powerful paintings, mixed media installations, and sculptures, along with a selection of essays, quotes, and poems by various writers, art historians, curators, artists, and art critics. Born in Haiti, schooled in Belgium, and ultimately finding her home in The Bahamas, Chantal Bethel’s work reflects her complex and multi-layered story. Chantal Bethel’s art continually delves “beyond the surface” connecting pieces of her own life with the fullness of humanity’s tragedies and triumphs. To see a flip-through of the hardcover book, click here. The book is available in Nassau at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) Mixed Media Gift Shop, or in the U.S. and Canada by writing to me here.

NEXT UP IS A GREAT READ & NEW CHRISTMAS CLASSIC

Smelling Roses: A Tale of Connection and Transformation is a debut novel by another dear friend and celebrated multi-talented painter and mixed media artist, Claudette Dean, who also writes poetry and now: brilliant books as well! I was honored and delighted to get to put together the cover design for this new Christmas classic—a tale of different dimensions of tide and time coming together to channel light during the tumultuous era of the 1960s. Sparkling with wit and mystical wonder, the story is amazingly in synch with today’s changing world and the challenges of trusting the growing waves of love rising against huge opposition. This novel is available via Amazon, or check with Claudette Dean via her website. It’s a Christmas page-turner and heart warmer all at once.

AND SPEAKING OF CHANGING TIMES …

With the votes finally counted and President-elect Joe Biden and VP-Elect Kamala Harris bringing new leadership to the United States, it’s important to remember the work that yet needs to be done and to say: Black Lives STILL Matter. Works by gifted new talent, like the marvelous writer/artist Morgan Harper Nichols, and a dynamic collection of black voices curated by conceptual artist Natasha Marin, share life experience alongside longtime greats, such as the legendary writers Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. And I’m enjoying President Barack Obama‘s memoir so much. Those of you reading this who’ve known me for any length of time know how enthusiastically I campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Reading A Promised Land reminds me of his intelligence, cool head, solid strength, and passion for a fair playing field that he brought to bear—all while rebuilding a crashed economy into a thriving one while battling unprecedented political obstruction. I’m cheering now for the election of Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia. Even a very small donation to their campaigns at this moment would be a huge gift to a smoother path toward helping us all build back better. Here are links to the titles pictured above:

All Along You Were Blooming by Morgan Harper Nichols

Black Imagination curated by Natasha Marin

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

..AND A BIG GRATEFUL SHOUT OUT to my longtime dear friend and bookshop connoisseur and mentor, Vanessa Hammill, who specializes in designing books about the history of her family’s native North Carolina, while also handling special orders and classroom recommendations for teachers and professional groups. She has a wide depth of book knowledge about all sorts of books, and first introduced me to classic children’s books, way before my now-just-graduated-from-college-daughter was born. These classics were well-worn with happy repeated readings. I dusted them off here from the storage box of childhood keepsakes. Well worn and well loved. Such wisdom in children’s books. And I am especially enchanted with the vibrant and joyful art and illustrations of Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, and Ashley Bryan.

… well, I see the clock has just ticked past midnight as I type this, so here’s hoping you’ll enjoy this chapter of The Saturday Bookshop even if you’re not seeing it until Sunday morning! I forgot how long it sometimes takes to link things up on blogs! (smiles) The wonderfully self-fluent writer Havi Brooks says “All timing is right timing.”  I love that. And I’m very much enjoying sharing about my love of books here, and it would be wonderful to hear what you’re reading, or looking forward to reading, or any longtime book favorites. See you next week & happy reading!

“Books are a present you can open again and again.” 


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