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Archive for the ‘Natalie Merchant’ Category

Abbe and I spent a wonderful day yesterday. We covered about 425 miles. Yikes! Our initial destinationBug was the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. You know you’re there by the Bug in front of the museum. Our goal was to view the exhibit of Barbara McClintock’s artwork for the book Leave Your Sleep, a companion to Natalie Merchant’s amazing CD of the same name.LeaveYourSleep

Of course, another goal was to get Ms. McClintock and Ms. Merchant to autograph a copy of the NatalieMerchantbook, which they did. A tremendous BarbaraMcClintockexhibit, it was. McClintock’s work is so detailed. The more you look at it the more you see. Of course, I had to buy some of her other books there.

Our next stop was Rogers Book Barn in Hillsdale, NY. On the way, Rogerswe passed the Circle Museum (didn’t stop in), which is apparently an artist’s memorial to himself. Oh well. It was someone’s 15 minutes of fame. That was an hour of searching the various nooks and crannies for the perfect book. We each some luck in that area.

On the final leg of our journey, dinner was in order and I remembered this diner that Lisa and I went to on the way home from Williamstown, which has great egg creams DailyPlanetand malts. I had a vague idea where it was and this time my memory served me well. Dinner at the Daily Planet. Each room is decorated in a decade theme, 1940s, 1950s, etc. with movie posters and other memorabilia. I had the Duke of Earl Egg Cream with my burger. Yummmm!

When I finally got home at 9:30 PM, after starting at at 7 AM, the only thing I wanted was my bed. It was a great day.

Plus, to top it off, Abbe gave me an advanced copy of Julie Anne Peters’ Lies My Girlfriend Told Me and the first season of Veronica Mars. Got lots of reading and viewing to do.

 

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LeaveYourSleepI’ve mentioned how much I love the book and CD, Leave Your Sleep, a book of old children’s poems edited and sung by Natalie Merchant. The artwork by Barbara McClintock is wonderful.

Well, now you can see the original artwork at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. It’s an exhibit I plan to see as soon as possible. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for exhibit information.  I’ll let you know how it is when I do finally go.

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I’m not one of those people who keeps track of the number of books I read. To me, it’s not a contest. And many times, by year’s end, I forget the books I read at the beginning of the year and wonder whether I’ll have to scramble to come up with 10 books. So it was a nice surprise that I had 9 books which I gave the top rating of 5 in Librarything. What was even nicer, was that there were even more 4s, so 2012 was a darn good reading year from my perspective.

Reading’s a personal thing, as you know and there are a myriad of factors that go into enjoying a book: your mood when you read it, your favorite author, impeccable wording, an engrossing plot, believable characters. These top 10 books have it all: I was in the right mood, it was my favorite author (or singer, in one instance), the plots ranged from family, to heroism, to illness and the characters were pretty much all people I would like to meet. So, here goes:

SmallDamagesAlthough the top 5 are all magnificent books, I’ll always put a Beth Kephart book on the top of the list. She’s an incredible author whose words, many times, are poetic and lyrical and she outdid herself in Small Damages about a young pregnant girl who finds out that the true meaning of family isn’t always biological. If you read one of Beth’s books, you’ll find you have to read them all.

John Green’s Fault in Our Stars takes us through the harrowing ordeal of cancer but the love and friendship and perseverence that its characters exhibit is incomparable. It might just make you shed a tear. I described it as a book of strength, of philosophy, of humor and determination. It is all of those and more.

At the end of Wonder by R. J. Palacio, Mr. Tushman, Director of Beecher Prep School, Wonderaddresses the 5th grade/6th grade classes with a quote from J. M. Barrie’s The Little White Bird: “Shall we make a new rule of life…always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.” That is the theme of this gem of a book. It is the realistic story of a boy born with a serious facial deformity, overcoming the odds by mainstreaming into the local school. Told from various points of view, once you start it, you won’t put it down.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein comes in at number 4. It is a touching story about two young girls during World War II, one a pilot and the other a spy behind enemy lines in France, if you will. Their heroism and their friendship, while to them small, is huge. It is not like any other war story you’ve read. It is captivating (no pun intended) from the beginning.

LeaveYourSleepRounding out the top 5 is Natalie Merchant’s Leave Your Sleep. A five year labor of love, Merchant put to music children’s poetry written from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s and released a wonderful CD of the same name. She then, with illustrator Barbara McClintock, published a book with some of the poetry and beautiful illustrations. I’ve heard Merchant sing these poems several times in concert and have the CD, and as she said ““Poetry speaks of so much: longing and sadness, joy and beauty, hope and disillusionment…But poetry on the page can be difficult to penetrate; sometimes it needs to be heard.” But once heard, reading it and seeing the colorful illustrations adds a whole new perspective.

Since this is getting long, I’ll briefly mention the next 5:

The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale: if you’re the “grunt” who gets picked on, you want to find the Bully Book and destroy it. Bullying seems to be an epidemic and Gale tries to reverse the tide in this excellent book.

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher: Crutcher seems to have found his stride again in this honest book about honesty and relationship. Not as ‘in your face’ as Whale Talk or Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes (my two favorites), it’s still up there with his best.

Stay With Me by Paul Griffin: Violence is a fact of life to some people. Some people are good and some aren’t and what happens to them doesn’t always make sense. Stay With Me had me rivited and, it indeed, did bring on a tear or two.

NoCrystalStairNo Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson: A marvelous picture book and more about Nelson’s great-uncle Lewis Michaux, a driving force for educating Blacks in Harlem. Michaux started out with nothing and built a tremendous bookstore in Harlem that attracted the likes of Malcolm X.

Almost Home by Joan Bauer: Bauer is one of the foremost writers for middle school readers and her stories are uplifting. In Almost Home Sugar Mae Cole survives her mother’s depression and a foster home by spouting the words of her grandfather, King Cole. A must read–plus the dog on the cover is adorable.AlmostHome

And the last of them are:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Ask the Passenger by A. S. King

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

I read so many more great books in 2012, but this is the best of the best, to me. I hope you enjoy some of them.

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LeaveYourSleepAlbumWe saw Natalie Merchant in concert last night backed by an orchestra. What a treat! She’s the consummate performer with a voice that achieves amazing volume and emotion and notes. She also knows how to humorously chide the few latecomers and the guy whose flashbulb shined in her face, but she did it in a friendly way.

Her songs included my favorites from Leave Your Sleep and she satisfied those not famiiar with this work by singing older songs from her solo and 10,000 Maniacs careers.  The liner notes in the night’s program stated that “…Natalie Merchant embarks on a new artistic path, creating songs from literary inspiration which are composed for expanded musical emsembles and orchestra.” And last night’s performance was a prime example.

And to top it all off, she nonchalantly said that she saw the devastation on Long Island caused by Hurricane Sandy and the night’s profits will go towards relief on Long Island…and then she moved on to more songs. I told Susan on the way out that Natalie Merchant just seems like a nice person. She lives in upstate New York. Hmmmmm! How far can that be from Warwick?

In closing, if you ever have the chance to hear Natalie Merchant live, jump at the opportunity.

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Two years ago, at a librarian conference, I had the unexpected pleasure of hearing Natalie Merchant sing. I didn’t really know much about her, since I wasn’t much of a 10,000 Maniacs fan, but I was blown away by her performance of poetry put to music and since then I’ve taken advantange of any opportunity to hear her. (But I digress from my point.)

Natalie Merchant loves words and she used to recite poetry to her young daughter. In 2010, she recorded a CD, Leave Your Sleep, in which she put to music 26 poems of poets known and obscure. It was the culmination of years of research, finding the poems, digging out biographical information on the poets, some of whom wrote poetry as a sideline or hobby. The result is a marvelous listening adventure; one I constantly go back to.

But, Ms. Merchant didn’t leave it at that because she understands that sometimes artistry is enhanced by the combination of mediums. Today I received my copy of Leave Your Sleep, the picture book, illustrated by the award winning Barbara McClintock. It is a beautiful book in which 19 of the poems on her CD are written out with colorful illustrations. It is a delight for the eyes.  Along with the book is a CD of Ms. Merchant singing these songs. In her introduction, Ms. Merchant writes “Poetry speaks of so much: longing and sadness, joy and beauty, hope and disillusionment…But poetry on the page can be difficult to penetrate; sometimes it needs to be heard.” Or accompanied by illustrations. Leave Your Sleep, both the book and the CD, are the perfect blend of media to bring out the best of these poems.

On December 1, I’m going to hear Ms. Merchant sing some of these songs accompanied by an orchestra. What a perfect way to hear poetry!!! Leave Your Sleep is the perfect gift for a child of any age.  That’s why I treated myself.

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