Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

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Title: Owl Moon

Author: Jane Yolen

Illustrator: John Schoenherr

Published: 1987

Main Characters: a little girl, her father

Short Synopsis of the Story: One moonlit winter night, long past the little girl’s usual bedtime, a girl and her father embark on a special expedition into the deep woods. They trudge through the white snow. The only sounds are that of the winter night: a train whistle, a dog answering the train with a howl. You have to be as quiet as you can when you go owling. The owling expedition has been a long time in coming and the little girl is excited to at last have the chance to go on this adventure with her father. Pa reaches a spot in the woods and mimics the call of a Great Horned Owl. Pa calls many times and is not rewarded with an answer. The little girl’s brothers have forewarned her of the possibility of not spotting an owl so she is not unduly disappointed. The girl’s face becomes icy with cold but she doesn’t complain. They move deeper and deeper into the forest, into the depths of the dark trees until they come to a clearing. Pa mimics the owl’s call once again and this time there is a response through the trees. Pa and the little girl smile with anticipation and the owl moves closer until Pa shines his torchlight on the owl’s face just as it is about to land on a branch. For what seems like an eternity the owl, Pa and the little girl hold each other in a long stare. Then the owl lifts its great wings and disappears into the night. The girl and her Pa, walk home with lifted spirits and the knowledge that you don’t need warmth or words to go owling. All you need is  a night with an Owl Moon and a heart full of hope.

Favorite Part of the Story:  Author of the story Jane Yolen, had three small children who frequently went owling with their father, David Stemple in the wintry woods surrounding their rural Massachusetts home. The illustrator, John Schoenherr fills the pages with vivid, evocative images that pair with the simple, beautiful writing perfectly. Some of the scenes and landmarks in the book are taken from Schoenherr’s personal experiences walking with his children around the Schoenherr farm. Owl Moon is an unforgettable book to read with your children, particularly on a cold, wintry night. It is filled with a great spirit of adventure that both adults and children will find heartwarming.

September 2015 Favourites : Books, Audiobooks, Bookish Blogposts, Movies, Library Hauls and Much More.

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September 2015 was a slow but good month for new books, audiobooks and movies. It took a little time getting into our normal routine after our month long trip to India. Here is a round up of my September (and a little bit of August) favourites …

In the month of August the only two books I had read from my Holiday Reading List were coincidentally Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (a fantastic read) and Tempestuous April by Betty Neels.  Both of them contained April in the title but here the similarity end. I will leave you to arrive at your own conclusions…

Enchanted April is the perfect read for a summer vacation and found it into my September blogpost that lists Eight Books that Remind Me of Summer. Set in Portofino, Italy, Enchanted April tells of a sort of ‘re-birth’ of four different women who travel to Italy to spend time in a rented medieval castle, to find solace in the beautiful surroundings.

In September we frequently visited our library.

Little M and I are continuing to read from the Time Magazine’s list of Top 100 Children’s Books. Two books on this list are Tuesday by David Wiesner and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.

Tuesday is more of a picture book with terrific illustrations. It tells the tale of a series of animal invasions that strike at a particular time and place, namely Tuesday evening at around eight o’clock in a small suburb. Frogs invade the skies in hundreds of thousands, flying along on lilypad aircraft. They invade backyards, dark sitting rooms where people are dozing off in front of the television. Neither the press nor the police know what to make of it the day after, when the town is strewn with abandoned lilypads. All is well until next Tuesday at the same time… when a shadow of a flying pig is seen eerily set against a barn door…

Owl Moon is another wonderfully atmospheric book. It tells the story of a young child setting out on her very first owling expedition with her father. The night sky glows with the golden glow of a full moon- the best time to view an owl in the deep, snow laden woods. It is a tale of patience and forbearance, excitement and anticipation.

We are really enjoying all the books on the Time Magazine’s list of Top 100 Children’s Books. I cannot recommend them enough. Not on the list but of great entertainment value to Little M, is another installment of the Sofia the First entertainment series (she missed her a great deal whilst in India).

My reading in September was slow. I’ve started The Land Where Lemons Grow  by Helena Attlee which is a history of the introduction of citrus fruit in Italy. In great detail it researches how this fruit  has invaded the Italian imagination, from Calabria’s Diamante citrons, the blood oranges of Sicily, to the bergamot thriving on narrow strips of coastline. There is a bit of everything in this part history, part horticulture, sociopolitical culinary book offering.

I finished the latest installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s Edinburgh series featuring philosopher Isabel Dalhousie called ‘The Novel Habits of Happiness’. As usual the book has a little bit of everything that I love, scenes from a Scottish city, romance, a light mystery, memorable characters and very large doses of reflection. It is the first book I reach for when I come back from our holiday.

Another book that I have started is a ‘cozy’ post-WW1 mystery set in Leeds called ‘Dying in the Wool‘ by Frances Brody. Speaking of mysteries, September marked the 125th Birth Anniversary of Dame Agatha Christie which I celebrated with my blogpost ‘An Ode to Agatha Christie: Celebrating Her 125th Birth Anniversary with Eight Memorable Books’.

I bought an audiobook from Audible in September called ‘In and Out of the Kitchen’ by Miles Jupp and cannot recommend it enough. It is a BBC 4 radio drama about a ‘cookery writer’ Damien Trench and his writing and domestic struggles.The writing is so very funny in a wry sort of way… really enjoying it.

As the mother of a 3 year old I find it impossible to visit the cinema nowadays and watch ‘non-princess themed’ movies. One of the bonuses of the Emirates flights to and from India was the excellent selection of current movies . On the way to India I watched ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ which I loved and has inspired me to give this favourite Hardy a re-read. On the way back to the US, I was lucky enough to watch the dramatized version of Vera Brittain’s poignant WW1 memoir ‘Testament of Youth’ which was epic. I cannot recommend these two movies enough.

Lastly, the whole family watched not one but two dramatized versions of C.S. Lewis’s classic -The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe… and Aslan made it into my art journal.

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Hope you had a wonderful September. See you in October xxx.

Summer of 2015 Holiday Reading

We will be visiting our hometown of Kolkata in India during the month of August. I haven’t been to Kolkata for five long years. I can’t wait to catch up with friends and family, eat savory street side snack food and be overwhelmed all over again by the sights and sounds of the city. Though it is essentially a holiday, I will be taking some work with me. But, I expect that in between socializing and working,  I will have a little time to myself to catch up on my reading.

It is such a delicious task to select books to read on a holiday. I find the Kindle so handy for such circumstances. I can pack a huge library within a sleek gadget and I don’t even have to feel ashamed about hoarding so many books! Even though I may not end up reading a single line, it is comforting to know that the books are close to me and can be reached easily if I need them.

Although I do enjoy using my Kindle, I also really like reading from the Kindle app on my iPod. It is a little narrow and you do have to flip the page every few seconds but It is very convenient for reading in bed. I can lie down and read on my back (my favorite reading position) and my arms don’t hurt.

Since I don’t expect to have Wi-Fi in Kolkata (I will have internet access in the form of a data port inserted into my laptop) I’ve downloaded my books in advance. I thought it might be fun to share a look at the books I will be reading on the trip. They represent the ultimate in my concept of comfort reading.

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The author’s writings just take me to a calm and relaxing place. They are often witty, light and often convey a strong sense of place.

The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by Alexander McCall Smith is the fifth installment in the 44 Scotland Street Series set in Edinburgh, Scotland. The series was originally published in serial format in a Scottish newspaper and still runs to this day. Apart from providing delicious glimpses into Edinburgh city life, the stories are quirky, and have a variegated cast of characters. They make me smile and each short chapter is the perfect small morsel to fit into 10 minutes of reading time.

I am finishing off The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim and enjoying it immensely. It is the perfect summer read. It takes place in Italy. Four, lonely women decide to rent a medieval castle together for the month of April to escape their everyday lives in London. The writing is humorous and the characters well drawn.

Barbara Pym is a favorite author of mine and I have not yet read Jane and Prudence. Pym is often compared to being a latter day Jane Austen. I find her writing wry and intelligent. I cannot wait to dive into it.

I also enjoy reading books in the epistolary format especially those set during war times. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and These Wonderful Rumours by May Smith particularly spring to mind as books from this genre. When I read These Wonderful Rumors last year, many parallels were drawn between it’s context and that of the ultimate wartime diary- E. M. Delafield’s The Provincial Lady Diaries. A trip is a wonderful opportunity to read books in this short chapter format.

Betty Neels is the ultimate escapist read. Please don’t read her books if you have a very rational mind. Nothing makes sense in her stories. The Dutch doctor always rescues the English nurse and marries her and whisks her away to the Netherlands into a loveless marriage that blooms later on. To me though, the books are very charming and provide tiny glimpses of a side of Europe that I am unfamiliar with.

Lastly, a book from my favorite genre- mysteries. I have heard many good things about A Scream in Soho. It is a part of the newly re-released British Library of Crime Classics series. The cover looks lovely with a vintage feel. Need I say more?

In addition to e-books I decided to download the free audiobooks app on the iPod. I intend to walk everyday to get in my daily exercise and I thought listening to some audiobooks would be perfect to listen to during my walking. The librivox audiobooks are free to download. I rarely read classics nowadays, so I thought I would download a few classics. The following are the audiobooks I’ve downloaded:

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That, in a nutshell, is a glimpse into my summer holiday reading. Any bets that I won’t even finish a single book? Never mind. I won’t be heartbroken if that happens because I know that the time will have been filled with other enjoyable pursuits. Hope you are having a wonderful summer (or perhaps winter) wherever you are. I’m off to venture forth into a summer adventure.