Poetry Friday: Lovely Limericks

Oh, limericks. Humorous, sometimes a bit naughty, and far more challenging to craft than they might immediately appear. A limerick:

“is a humorous poem consisting of five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines must have seven to ten syllables while rhyming and having the same verbal rhythm. The third and fourth lines only have to have five to seven syllables, and have to rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm.”

English artist, poet, illustrator, musician and author Edward Lear was a master of the limerick, and made their creation seem effortless.

There was an Old Man of Aôsta,

Who possessed a large Cow, but he lost her;

But they said, ‘Don’t you see,

she has rushed up a tree?

You invidious Old Man of Aôsta!’

I must confess that I lack Lear’s deft hand and talent for word creation, but I thought I might just toss my own hat into the ring, and challenge my bourgeoning poetry skills by attempting to create an original limerick. Being the devout cat lady I am, I of course had to write about a cat (though the fact that cat is a very easy word to rhyme with might have had some influence on my decision).

Have a great week, everyone, and never be afraid to rock those ridiculous hats, or whatever else makes you feel amazing!

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I saw this little tag on the Orangutan Librarian, and decided to give it a go myself! Have you ever wanted to know more about the Raincity Librarian and her reading habits? Well, you’re in luck (or not, either way, I’m doing the tag)!

The author in her natural environment.

eBooks or physical books?

I really do wish I could get into eBooks – they’re so convenient! Lightweight and incredibly portable, eBooks are perfect for those of us who read on the way to work or school. But, if I’m going to be honest, I am 100% a physical book person. I’m not a Luddite, I don’t have any particular attachment to the printed page, I just find it more comfortable on my eyes to read from print. Maybe one day they’ll come up with an eBook reader that my eyes find appealing, but until then, I’ll stick to paper.

Paperback or hardback?

Paperback. Cheaper and lighter.

Online or in-store book shopping?

I very rarely buy books. They’re expensive, I read quickly and rarely reread books, and I live in a small apartment with limited storage space. On top of that, I work in one library system and live down the street from the largest branch of another library system, so I have countless books at my disposal. I do have a weakness for second-hand bookstores, though. I love the cheap prices, I love being able to give previously-owned books a new home, and I love finding strange and out-of-print treasures.

Trilogies or series?

Series. I enjoy mysteries, which often come as series.

Heroes or villains?

Neither and both. I prefer well-developed, complex characters who have aspects of both good and evil to them. Although I do have a soft spot for deliciously wicked, wonderfully over the top villains.

A book you want everyone to read?

The right book for them! I want everyone to find the right books that meet their reading needs. I am a librarian after all.

Recommend an underrated book.

Anything nonfiction. It gets such a bad rap as being dry and/or boring, which of course is sometimes the case, but not always. Nonfiction is a valid option for recreational reading for all ages!!

The last book you finished?

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?

I have a bit of a confession to make…I dog-ear books. I’m sorry, I know it’s wrong, and I’ve tried to change, I just can’t help it!

Used books, yes or no?

Absolutely 100% yes. It’s recycling!

Top three favourite genres?

Nonfiction, mystery, historical fiction.

Borrow or buy?

99% borrow, 1% buy second hand.

Characters or plot?

I’d much rather have both.

Long or short book?

Short. I have the attention span of a toddler.

Long or short chapters?

I don’t know that I’ve necessarily thought too much about chapter length. I’ll leave that up to the author’s discretion.

Name the first three books you think of.

I’m going to cheat a wee bit and name the three books that are sitting on the desk beside me:

The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins

Depends on my mood.

Our world or fictional worlds?

Both! Two of my favourite genres are nonfiction (our world) and fantasy (fictional worlds), so I’m more than happy to explore both. I’m not a huge fan of contemporary settings unless they’re mysteries. I just don’t have time for relationship dramas.

Audiobooks: yes or no?

I have tried a few, and I love them in theory, but I just can’t seem to focus when I’m listening to an audio book. Again with the short attention span…

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Of course, that’s the entire point of a book cover! That’s why publishers (typically…) spend so much money, time and effort on designing eye-catching book covers!

Check out http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/ to see just how inspiring book covers can truly be.

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?

I haven’t actually seen many book to TV adaptations, though I did recently see the Netflix miniseries version of A Series of Unfortunate Events and enjoyed it very much.

A move or TV adaptation you preferred to the book?

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Just the right amount of material taken out and added. I really do prefer this movie to the book, as much as it might pain my mother, I die-hard LOTR fan, to hear me admit it. Sorry, mum!

Series or standalone?

I typically prefer standalone titles or series that feature self-contained plots. Anything that requires me to remember what happened in the previous book isn’t like to appeal to me, since I often go through reading phases, and it might be years before I pick up the next novel in a series. This happened to me when I tried to read the Wheel of Time series, and I was left pretty darn confused.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my reading habits!

Review: The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald

“Getting tuberculosis in the middle of your life is like starting downtown to do a lot of urgent errands and being hit by a bus. When you regain consciousness you remember nothing about the urgent errands. You can’t even remember where you were going. The important things now are the pain in your leg; the soreness in your back; what you will have for dinner; who is in the next bed.”

Betty MacDonald was a single mother of two young daughters in the 1940’s when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis, or TB, and sent away to a sanatorium. In her memoir The Plague and I, Macdonald reflects on the year she spent away from her family and surrounded by fellow residents from all different backgrounds and walks of life, brought together by a shared battle against a frighteningly prevalent, and often deadly, disease.

“We patients at The Pines differed in color, nationality, political beliefs, I.Q., age, religion, background and ambition. According to the standards of normal living, the only things most of us had in common were being alive and speaking English, but as patients in the sanatorium we had everything in common were firmly cemented together…”

TB, for many of us in the western world, is a disease most often relegated to historical novels and old movies. TB has always reminded me of the old Bing Crosby film The Bells of St. Mary’s, which stars Ingrid Bergman as a beautiful nun who contracts tuberculosis and has to move to a warmer, dryer climate to recover. TB is often mentally placed in a box with other old-timey diseases that only appear in old stories, like scarlet fever, diphtheria, cholera and leprosy – diseases that few of us privileged to live in relative comfort in developed countries will ever witness first-hand, but that sadly still ravage communities in many parts of the world, including parts of my own country.

For MacDonald, TB temporarily robbed of her everything she held dear. She was only able to see her young daughters once a month, for only ten minutes at a time. This was meant both to protect her young daughters from contagion and to limit any “excitement” that might tire MacDonald and prevent her recovery, but it was heartbreaking for the entire family. MacDonald was one of the lucky ones – she was able to leave the sanatorium after only a year of treatment. Many of her fellow residents would spend years at a time separated from their loved ones – it wasn’t uncommon for patients to remain at the sanatorium for five years or more as TB ravaged their bodies. Patients’ lives in the sanatorium were strictly controlled and monitored, to an extent that would horrify modern patients – they couldn’t bring personal belongings into the ward, they weren’t supposed to talk or read or get out of their beds without strict permission, they weren’t even permitted to have an extra blanket if they felt cold, as all bed linens were strictly controlled. They were shouted at and told off off strict, disciplinarian nurses and medical staff for any perceived violation of the rules. Every aspect of a patient’s life was carefully monitored, controlled and regulated, and contact with outside world was extremely limited. In many ways, patients came to feel as though they were criminals, stripped of their most basic freedoms, and with little control over any aspect of their lives. Whereas most contemporary hospitals strive to take a more integrated approach to medicine that works to care for a patient mentally and emotionally as well as physically, these patients were left to battle a potentially terminal disease removed from their loved ones in a setting that often felt more like a prison than a hospital.

As MacDonald reveals in her memoir, though, even in the most difficult of situations, one can always find humour and humanity. MacDonald describes the colourful cast of characters she shared her ward with, and the friendships she quickly developed. While the staff at the sanatorium often seemed cold, hard, even ruthless, their outward demeanour often hid kind, caring souls;

“The Medical Director ruled his sanatorium and the patients with a rod of iron, said constantly that people with tuberculosis were ungrateful, stupid uncooperative and unworthy. Then, carefully screening himself from his own kindness the way he screened his patients from their operations, he loaned those same ungrateful, stupid, uncooperative, and unworthy patients money, bought them bathrobes and pajamas, took care of their families and children, listened to their problems, helped them get work, and fretted twenty-four hours a day over their welfare.”

The medical staff at The Pines TB sanatorium were working with limited drugs, knowledge and resources to treat what was at the time a poorly-understood (by the public, at least), highly contagious and difficult to treat disease that was running rampant through urban areas. MacDonald was herself infected by a coworker who had knowingly been contagious for at least 19 years, and had infected an unknown number of people. Doctors and nurses were applying contemporary medical knowledge and widely accepted ideas surrounding recovery and behaviour, and though some staff were perhaps genuinely unkind and cruel (there are always bad apples in any bunch), by and large they were simply trying to do the best they could with what they had and what they knew.

MacDonald approaches her year in the sanatorium with gentleness and heart, and although the text does feel very much a product of its times (it was written in the 1940’s), MacDonald’s wit and humour are still very approachable and highly enjoyable. She’s just as happy to poke fun at herself as at others, and moments of laughter are tempered with moments of wistful sadness and quiet reflection. MacDonald was one of the lucky ones, a fact she never takes lightly, and while her treatment at the sanatorium left much to be desired, it was also the only affordable option available to a single mother of limited income, without which she likely would not have been able to recover.  While TB is treatable with modern medicines, and is no longer as widespread as it once was, it remains a potent and lethal disease in many communities even in Canada, and should not be taken lightly, or quickly forgotten.

The Plague and I is a fascinating slice of life story, a reflection on a specific moment in history that gives us glimpses into a bygone era that’s both so very similar and dissimilar from our own. It’s a story about never losing your sense of humour, no matter the situation, and about trying to make the best out of even the most daunting realities. Charming, witty, sensitive and heartfelt, The Plague and I is definitely worth checking out.

MONDAY FUNDAY – March 6, 2017

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share some of the titles you’ve been enjoying, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

Happy Monday!

If you read my poetry post on Friday, you’ll know that I’m none too fond of snow…

Well, as I sit here typing, there’s a veritable blizzard going on outside my window. It’s March. March. I’m not too pleased…

But, enough about the weather (snow, snow, SNOW!). Here are a few books I’ve read and/or shared this week!

I Can Blink by Frank Asch

My toddlers absolutely adored this simple animal picture book. We all took turns sticking our face through the pages’ large circular cutout, which had the little ones in absolute stitches! Lots of fun, highly recommended, especially for toddlers. Funny faces for the win!

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

I love, love, love Jan Thomas. Simple stories, silly characters, bright colours, bold lines – perfection! There’s also such a wonderfully surreal element to these stories – who else could have imagined a group of colourful dust bunnies who love to rhyme? So fun!

But….this one just did not work in a recent daycare story time. In fact…I think it would be fair to say it went over like a lead balloon. We really struggled with the concept of rhyme, which is a pretty central element in the story. Still, I managed to salvage the situation by encouraging a conversation about where dust bunnies might want to hide out from the scary broom! When in doubt, talk it out! It’s definitely a great book, but…sometimes even the best stories just fall flat!

Grumpy Pants by Claire Messner








I love penguins, so of course I had to pick this one up! And having read it, I’m pretty sure it was based on a true story – my own true story! What is a grumpy penguin to do after a crummy, cruddy day? In the case of this little penguin, the answer is simple – a bubble bath, a mug of hot chocolate, favorite pajamas, a bedtime story and a teddy pair wash all the grumpiness away! As a passionate believe in the restorative power of a soak in the tub, this very sweet, simple story is right up my alley. Kids love penguins, so this was a hit with the kids – everyone can relate to having a grumpy day!

So, I hope you all have a warm week, wherever you happen to be!

#DiverseKidLit – Indigenous Children’s Literature Month

It’s Indigenous Literature Month at The Book Wars!

The word Indigenous within a Canadian context encompasses First Nations and Inuit and Métis peoples.

Indigenous Literature in North America was once almost exclusively written by white settlers, who, with or without permission from the knowledge-keepers and elders of a community (usually without) published stories that belonged to a community they were not part of. Some of these authors had good intentions; some did not. Even more frequently, Indigenous characters appeared in settler stories only as stereotypes: one-dimensional figures whose sole purpose in existence was to teach the white (usually male) protagonist secret knowledge or to be defeated by him.

Fortunately, through the long advocacy of Indigenous authors and artists, #ownvoices stories are reclaiming their place and displacing harmful narratives. You can look forward to some pretty fantastic stories this month in a range of genres and for a variety of ages, written by authors of different nations, ages, and experiences.

All month long we’re going to be sharing Indigenous children’s materials, including board books and picture books, verse novels, YA and more! We’ll be sharing stories from Canada and around the world, exploring and experiencing #ownstories from a vibrant array of cultures and traditions. Indigenous literature is as diverse as the communities it represents, and we hope you’ll join us as we celebrate Indigenous Month!

The Book Wars is a blog all about literature for young people – we share reviews, news, interviews, guest posts, cover reveals and more! We all have different areas of expertise and interest, so there’s really something for every kidlit lover. Join us, won’t you?

Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in March is the Changing Seasons. Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, March 18th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current month is Changing Sesons. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • March 18th: Changing Seasons. As we eagerly await the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern, let’s share favorite books and resources on the seasons.
  • April 7th and 14th is our one-year anniversary of #diversekidlit! Stay tuned for some big events to celebrate!

Most Clicked Post from Last Time


The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit is Beth’s great roundup of Diverse Novels in Verse, part 2. (You can catch up on part 1 here.) Novels in verse are an incredible and accessible way for kids to get to know a character inside and out. You will find some new favorites!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestCarolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Guest Hosts for March

Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestInstagram

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Poetry Friday – Winter’s Four-Letter Word


It’s the ultimate winter four-letter word. This has been one of the coldest, snowiest winters in recorded history here in Vancouver, and I for one am absolutely, totally, one-hundred percent over it.

We had a few scattered flurries earlier this week, and I was not thrilled. Not thrilled at all. Vancouver is not a snow-friendly community. A few inches of white stuff on the ground and the entire city shuts down. A few more inches of snow and civilization as we know it grinds to a halt. Any more snow and they have to call in the National Guard to keep us from destroying ourselves and everything we hold dear (OK, I might have made that part up, but you get the picture).


Looking outside my window this week, I was inspired to pen a few words to express my indignation.

Hopefully March will usher in the beginning of spring, and kick this yucky winter out on its backside! Happy Friday, everyone!

Ten Great LGBTQ Picture Books

Early this week I attended a workshop put on by two sections of the BC Library Association – YAACS and the LGBTQ Interest Group. Three engaging, experienced presenters shared some great recommendations for picture books, middle grade books and YA books with LGBTQ+ content. It was a fascinating presentation, and I walked away with heaps of great ideas I couldn’t wait to share!

One of the speakers, Rob Bittner, talked about LGBTQ+ themes in picture books, and shared a handful of fantastic titles. These are all brilliant books that every library, whether public or school, should consider adding to their collection! Here just ten of the books that Rob shared with us:

10,000 Dresses

Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows…Unfortunately, when Bailey’s awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Quite the contrary: “You’re a BOY!” Mother and Father tell Bailey. “You shouldn’t be thinking about dresses at all.” Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together. And Bailey becomes the girl she always dreamed she’d be!

And Tango Makes Three

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children’s book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who became partners and raised a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo.

Call Me Tree / Llamame Arbol

In this spare, lyrically written story, we join a child on a journey of self-discovery. Finding a way to grow from the inside out, just like a tree, the child develops as an individual comfortable in the natural world and in relationships with others. The child begins “Within/ The deep dark earth,” like a seed, ready to grow and then dream and reach out to the world. Soon the child discovers birds and the sky and other children: Trees and trees/ Just like me! Each is different too. The child embraces them all because All trees have roots/ All trees belong. Maya Christina Gonzalez once again combines her talents as an artist and a storyteller to craft a gentle, empowering story about belonging, connecting with nature, and becoming your fullest self. Young readers will be inspired to dream and reach, reach and dream . . . and to be as free and unique as trees.”

Donovan’s Big Day

Donovan’s two moms are getting married, and he can’t wait for the celebration to begin. After all, as ringbearer, he has a very important job to do. Any boy or girl with same-sex parents—or who knows a same-sex couple—will appreciate this picture book about love, family, and marriage.  The story captures the joy and excitement of a wedding day while the illustrations show the happy occasion from a child’s point of view.

I Am Jazz

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

Jacob’s New Dress

Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear “girl” clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

Morris has a great imagination. He paints amazing pictures and he loves his classroom’s dress-up center, especially the tangerine dress. It reminds him of tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair.

The other children don’t understand–dresses, they say, are for girls. And Morris certainly isn’t welcome in the spaceship his classmates are building–astronauts, they say, don’t wear dresses.

One day Morris has a tummy ache, and his mother lets him stay home from school. He stays in bed reading about elephants, and her dreams about a space adventure with his cat, Moo. Inspired by his dream, Morris paints a fantastic picture, and everything begins to change when he takes it to school.

My Princess Boy

My Princess Boy is a nonfiction picture book about acceptance. With words and illustrations even the youngest of children can understand, My Princess Boy tells the tale of 4-year-old boy who happily expresses his authentic self by happily dressing up in dresses, and enjoying traditional girl things such as jewelry and anything pink or sparkly. The book is from a mom’s point of view, sharing both good and bad observations and experiences with friends and family, at school and in shopping stores.

My Princess Boy opens a dialogue about embracing uniqueness, and teaches you and others how to accept young boys who might cross traditional gender line clothing expectations. The book ends with the understanding that ‘my’ Princess Boy is really ‘our’ Princess Boy, and as a community, we can accept and support youth for whoever they are and however they wish to look.

This Day in June

In a wildly whimsical, validating, and exuberant reflection of the LGBT community, this title welcomes readers to experience a pride celebration and share in a day when we are all united. Also included is a reading guide chock-full of facts about LGBT history and culture, as well as a ‘Note to Parents and Caregivers’ with information on how to talk to children about sexual orientation and gender identity in age-appropriate ways.

Stella Brings the Family

Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day celebration, but what’s a girl with two daddies to do? It’s not that she doesn’t have someone who helps her with her homework, or tucks her in at night. Stella has her Papa and Daddy who take care of her, and a whole gaggle of other loved ones who make her feel special and supported every day. She just doesn’t have a mom to invite to the party. Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem in this sweet story about love, acceptance, and the true meaning of family.

And this is just the beginning! There are so many fantastic LGBTQ+ themed picture books to discover and share, so get thee to a library and check them out!

Five Favourite Lucy Worsely Specials

A quick background note – when I was a student, my all-girls Catholic university prep school gave out awards to the top graduating student in each academic subject. I didn’t give a damn about most of them. Math? Happy just to pass. Biology? Meh. English? Also meh. But history? The history award was mine. Nothing and no one was going to stand between me and that award, which I did in fact win. I was a history nerd then, I was a history nerd throughout my four-year undergraduate career, and I remain a history nerd now, though largely in a hobbyist fashion.

One of my idols, who also happens to be a prolific television presenter, is the brilliant (and absolutely adorable) Lucy Worsely. Worsely is “by day Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, and by night a writer of history books”, as well as being the host of several BBC historical series. She’s also got great fashion sense, and her collection of cardigans is enough to make a librarian weak at the knees. Talk about a role model!

I have yet to see all of the programs she’s hosted, but of the ones I have seen, here are just a few of my favourites (all of which can easily be found on Youtube or on DVD at your local library). All program descriptions are taken from Lucy Worsely’s website. While Worsely specializes in royal history, and has worked on a number of programs profiling different monarchs, she also highlights everyday social history, which is what really fascinates me the most. Whether it’s the history of romance, dance, or the rooms in our homes, these everyday history programs help us understand what life was like for average people like you and me. If you have an interest in history, particularly British history, these engaging, approachable yet still highly informative documentaries are a must-see. Anyone who thinks history is dry and boring simply hasn’t interacted with the right historians!

A Very British Romance, BBC Four series, October 2015

Corporate Photography Bristol_Evoke Pictures_BBC A Very British Romance-66

What could be more natural than romance, finding the perfect partner and falling in love? In fact every ingredient in this scenario, so beloved of romantics everywhere, had to be invented. In this three-part series Lucy Worsley will delve into the history of romance to uncover the forces shaping our very British happily ever after. The series will reveal how even our most intimate thoughts and feelings have been affected by social, political and cultural ideas.

Dancing Cheek To Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance, BBC Four series, November 2014

flapper Charleston

Lucy Worsley and Len Goodman take to the floor to reveal the untold story of British dance. Over three episodes, they’ll show how Britain’s favourite popular dances from over the centuries offer a fascinating window into British society and our relationships with one another.

Tracking the story of popular dance from the 17th century to just before the Second World War, Len and Lucy will demonstrate how dance has always been about far more than just mastering the moves and feeling the rhythm. It’s about sex and seduction, power and politics, etiquette, economics, and of course, romance.

Tales from the Royal Wardrobe with Lucy Worsley, BBC Four, July 2014

Charles II suit for TV page

Today, few people’s clothes attract as much attention as the royal family’s, but this is not a modern-day Hello-magazine-inspired obsession. As Dr Lucy Worsley reveals, it’s always been this way. Exploring the royal wardrobes of our kings and queens over the last 400 years, Lucy shows that the royal wardrobe’s significance goes way beyond the cut and colour of the clothing.  Royal fashion is and has always been regarded as ruler’s personal statement to his or her people. So most kings and queens have carefully choreographed every aspect of their wardrobe and, for those who have failed to do so, there have sometimes been calamitous consequences.

A Very British Murder, BBC Four series, September 2013

Murder: a dark, shameful deed, but also a very strange and very British obsession. How did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves? In A Very British Murder, we explore the development of the strange new genre of art that grew out of the British love of crime.  Starting with the notorious Radcliffe Highway Murders of 1911, and finishing with Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock just before World War Two, the series charts the birth and development of our interest in murder, and how it led to ballads, broadsides, puppet shows, melodrama, detective fiction and film – and those weird Victorian ceramic figurines depicting celebrated killers.  Includes interviews with P.J. James, Agatha Christie’s grandson, and a slew of specialist historians.

If Walls Could Talk, The History of the Home, 4-part BBC Four series, April 2011


This fun 4-part series for BBC4 explores the intimate history of your home, passing through the living room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. It was made by Silver River, has an accompanying book, and was nominated for ‘best history documentary’ at the Royal Television Society Awards 2012.

This is just a few of the many, many programs that Lucy Worsely has hosted, all of which are fascinating for history lovers and newbies alike. Highly recommended!

Poetry Friday : Familiar Faces

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who tries to make a point of visiting libraries and bookstores whenever travelling. There’s something so thrilling about surrounding yourself with books wherever in the world you happen to be. While it’s exciting to discover new authors and regional favourites, it’s also a lot of fun to see different versions of familiar books popping up in unlikely places. It’s liking see an old friend with a cool new hair colour – you still recognise your friend, but you’re delighted by their exciting new look!

And so, another haiku with related imagery from my trip to Japan! I do hope you’re not sick of Japan-related posts yet. Life has unfortunately not been particularly nice recently, so I’ve been longing for the free backpacking days of our adventure, and reliving the trip through the 5,000+ (!!!) photos we took.

In a foreign land,

Miles away from home, I see

familiar faces

Happy Friday, everyone! Have a great weekend! Anyone watching the Oscars on Sunday? I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only seen one of the seven films nominated for Best Picture…oh well, at least I’m a book nerd, and not a film nerd, so I don’t have to feel too embarrassed!

MONDAY FUNDAY: February 20, 2017

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share some of the titles you’ve been enjoying, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

Duddle Puck the Puddle Duck

Audience: PreS-Gr 1

Oh, talk about a tongue twister title! Karma Wilson is such a picture book treasure. Her texts always exude such warmth and gentleness, while still being lots of fun. Duddle Puck is a trailblazing duck who quacks to the beat of his own drum. This doesn’t sit well with the other residents of the farm, who take it upon themselves to teach Duddle Puck how to act like a proper duck.

To be fair, there’s nothing too groundbreaking about Duddle Puck – it’s got your typical “be yourself, don’t let others tell you what to do, believe in yourself” sort of moral. Still, the rhymes are bouncing, the animal noises are plenty of fun, and Marcellus Hall’s soft illustrations are absolutely delightful. This one is a bit long for my storytimes, but could work really well for slightly older groups.

The Cow Loves Cookies

Audience: PreS-Gr1

Have I mentioned I love Karma Wilson? When I grow up I want to be Karma Wilson, pumping out winning picture book after winning picture book. This is another collaboration with Marcellus Hall, which features the same farmer and several of the animals as Duddle Puck! I love that these too books seem to take place in the same universe.

The cumulative, rhyming text follows a farmer as he feeds his many animals – the horse gets hay, the geese get corn, the pigs get slop, and the sneaky, cheeky cow loves cookies! The cow, it’s revealed, has a mutually-beneficial arrangement with the farmer – the farmer shares his cookies with the cow, and the cow shares her milk with the farmer, so he can dunk his cookies! It’s very sweet, and once again Marcellus Hall’s soft illustrations have such a classic, vintage gentleness to them. This is another text that just too long and too complicated for my current groups, but which could work very well with slightly older groups, or groups that have a bit more patience!

Slug Needs a Hug!

Audience: PreS-Gr1

A little slug wonders why its mother never hugs it. Is it because it isn’t huggable? The little slug decides to make itself more huggable, and wanders around asking other creatures for their feedback. Of course, each animal suggests that the little slug change its appearance in a different, and at the end of its quest, the slug looks quite ridiculous. In an ending that will likely come as no surprise to anyone who has ever picked up a picture book before, mother slug reveals that she loves the little slug just the way it is – she doesn’t hug the little slug because she doesn’t have arms! So, the mother slug showers her little slug in kisses!

This is another longer rhyming picture book that I probably wouldn’t use in my story times, and some of the phrases don’t quite seem to flow as naturally as I would like. The “be yourself” message is a familiar one, and stories about characters changing their appearance to fit in (and looking ridiculous in the process) are a dime a dozen. Still, slugs rarely get cast in starring roles, and Tony Ross’ charming illustrations are sure to bring the laughs. Nothing groundbreaking, but still a lot of fun, and worth taking a look at.

So, how’s your week looking so far? Hopefully these sweet picture books will help you start the week off on a sweet note!