RSS: RSS Feed Icon


Where My Wellies Take Me...
by Clare & Michael Murpurgo is one of those books that is so pretty and smart that I hesitate to do much of any kind of review because it's too hard not to lump the superlatives and make it sound impossible. I want to tell you it functions remarkably well as a poetry anthology, that Pippa's story of gentle outdoor adventure will appeal to kids and parents who enjoy a good jaunt and that Olivia Lomenech Gill's scrapbook style design and artwork is classic in all the best ways.

Oh heck. I love this book and I'm not afraid to just say tell you so.

The basic story is simple: Pippa sets off from her kind Aunt Peggy's on a trek through the countryside (hence the need to wear her wellies). She visits a local farmer, takes a ride on his horse, has a lunch, considers some birds, pigs and dandelions, plays Pooh sticks, spies a fisherman (and dwells on the end of life for a fish) and makes it back to the village in time to be crowned the unexpected victor of a race.

What elevates the book is the accompaniment of so many impressive poems from the likes of Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Yeats, Rossetti and more. The poems are often short, easy to understand and directly applicable to the text. The combination, with the great scrapbook pages and Pippa's story, makes this a lovely read and also a book to pore over for hours while studying the art.

Some books are treasures and Where My Wellies Take Me... certainly fits that standard. The very young will like Pippa a lot but I think it actually might reach best for the 6 & up crowd - 8 -10 year olds could be the best age of all. Really, though, it depends on the child. You'll know when you look at it if it fits for the explorer in your life. I hope it does.

Here are a couple of spreads from the Olivia Lomenech Gill's website:


An assessment of life at the moment:

1. I have realized that the work involved in getting an agent after your agent retires is really exhausting. My synopsis is done but I need to update the professional bio (which feels like college all over again) and come up with a list of comparable titles (thus proving that while my proposed book is still unique, it is not too unique).

2. I'm also supposed to provide 2 chapters. As I am still researching the stuff for the beginning of the book, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to accomplish this in any sort of chronological order, but 2 chapters are 2 chapters, I suppose.

3. UGH!

4. I will be at the Pacific NW Booksellers Association Tradeshow in Tacoma in 2 weeks, manning a booth for Taku Graphics & Shorefast Editions. If you are going to be there, stop by and say hello! (And enter our drawing for Alaskan awesomeness.)

5. My website is getting a bit of a redesign in the coming weeks. Mostly behind the scenes stuff (including a new commenting format).

6. I'm working on articles about aviation + mail in AK, fly-your-own-plane tourism in AK and the history of aviation and fishing. If this excites you, keep an eye at Alaska Dispatch News for more.

7. I think I have rewatched every episode of The Gilmore Girls a zillion times. I'm wearing out my dvds. (Perfect background watching for writing.)

8. I'm sending out 2 letters to churches with questions about family weddings from the past and purchasing some certificates from NYC. The genealogy continues.

9. I have to find out how to query for a Rockland State Hospital record of commitment because on top of everything else (and there has been a lot of stuff in my family history), we also had someone committed to one of the most notorious psychiatric hospitals in US history.

10. Of course.

11. Recent reads include Celine Kiernan's Into the Grey - a very atmospheric YA ghost story set in Ireland that I loved a lot. I'm hoping to get a review of it (and a couple of other scary-type books) submitted to an online review site. I'll keep ya posted.

12. I've been reading lots of small stuff around the edges. I can't seem to focus too much beyond my Booklist reading these days (which lately included a title about infectious diseases - oy). Last night I read Marie Claire magazine and it was almost too much. (I am however all over the 1930s articles on Alaska flying and fishing; that is my speed these days.)

13. I'm craving grilled cheese sandwiches. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

14. I have to send off a letter requesting archival information about the papers of a man who died 70 years ago. I thought I might be crazy to pursue writing an essay about him (I have no idea where I would submit it) but google searches bring up so little and there should be more. We'll see what happens. Maybe I won't find enough to write about - although that alone might be the point of the essay then.

15. I found out last week that one of my relatives died from complications due to syphilis.

16. Of course.

16. Pretty hard to top that, so I think I'll end here!

From Tingle Alley:

When Jane was working on this story on the history of Seventeen, we did a lot of emailing back and forth about Back to School magazine issues and how much we loved them. In junior high I read the hell out of every September issue of Seventeen, and the memory is all caught up with the anticipation of seeing people again after the summer and the belief that Everything Was Going To Be Different This Year.

One year, one of the pieces of editorial advice was to soak cotton balls with perfume and lay them on your next day's outfit so that the outfit would become pleasantly layered with scent. I did this DILIGENTLY for at least a month. Four or five cotton balls each night. So that's what September always feels like to me, like the time of year that you believe that you can soak some cotton balls in Jean Nate, tuck them in your clothes overnight, and become magically alluring the next day.

I was a huge fan of Seventeen, from about 1980 (7th grade) through high school. I identify completely with what Carrie writes here about the back to school issue. Every summer I plotted transformations to be unleashed upon the world (and school) in September.

It never happened.

But I still get that thought--that "bouquet of newly sharpened pencils"--thought about making my mark in the fall. Back then it was all about changing my clothes and my hair, now it's more about getting my closet sorted out and reducing the stacks of paper that threaten my laptop; about plotting future articles and organizing research notes.

September comes around again this year, just like it always does, and I'm so happy to see it. I love September and all the accomplishments it still dares us to have.