Tag Archives: A to Z Challenge

Z Is for Moose

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z

I know, I know, moose doesn’t actually start with Z, but you didn’t think I could make it through the whole month without featuring an alphabet picture book, did you? And Moose has been waiting all month to make an appearance- you don’t realize how disappointed he was when M was for Miss Piggy.

Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham is a hilarious book, maybe not the best introductory alphabet book, but a whole lot of fun. I think it would be best for kids who more or less already know the alphabet and are ready to play with it. Zebra is putting on an alphabet show, with all kinds of animals and things like ice cream and a xylophone, and poor Moose is just too anxious for his turn. He tries to be on stage for D, gets inside the ice cream cone on I, and sticks his head in at H is for hat. Each time he is told by Zebra that no, it’s not his turn. And then M is for Mouse, and Moose runs amok, stepping in the pie, knocking the queen off her throne, scribbling on the snake. By Y, Moose is just so sad he’s not going to be in the book, but Zebra tells him it’s not too late: Z is for Zebra’s friend, Moose.

I think the charm in this one, for me, is that it takes the standard rather boring ABC book and shakes it up. It actually has a plot. The illustrations by Paul O. Zelinksy , with some additions by Moose, are cute and bright, and by the end I felt bad for over-eager, pushy Moose. He just wants to be included, and I was glad it had a happy ending. It ends up being a heart-warming little story.

I can also see it as a good discussion book to share with preschool/ early elementary kids. It could lead to talks about how it would feel to be moose, to feel like you were being left out. Or what to do if your friend’s feelings get hurt.

It’s a book I would have enjoyed sharing with Amber when she was younger.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Picture Book- Alphabet

Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository | Website

Published February 28, 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s
32 pages

The A to Z Challenge is hosted at its own blog.

Book source: Library

Flash Fiction: Dreaming of Xanadu

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x

Dreaming of Xanadu

She dreamed of Xanadu, with its gilded palaces, a lush paradise full of possibilities.

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

If she could just break free from this house, this ivy-covered prison.

When he had brought her here, she had been thrilled. The manor was peaceful, a fair mile from the village, and so solid she didn’t hear the winds that barreled across the plains and the storms that regularly blew in felt distanced. The thunder rumbled and lightning filled the sky, but she was safe to watch the spectacle, framed by the huge window in her studio, a room set aside for her to create, paint, dream, imagine, a room he never entered except by her request, hers alone.

She had been delighted. It was a hideaway for the two of them, apart from the world. They had planted a garden, curled up on the sofa in the evenings to read, but slowly, gradually, she had felt it change. He became angry more often, blamed her for something she didn’t understand. He left, sometimes for days, locking the door behind him, a lock she couldn’t open from the inside. She was trapped, isolated, alone. When she looked out her beloved window all she saw was the emptiness of the fields, the menhirs a bittersweet reminder of a civilization long gone.

She tried to paint, to evoke the images in her head of distant lands, exotic peoples, wild animals. She tried to escape into her worlds, but she couldn’t. Canvas after canvas was covered with the same image, the same painting of the scene outside her window, sunny, overcast with dark gray tumbling clouds, at night with a million sparks of light in the sky, but always the same place. It was killing her.

He was gone, again, had been since yesterday afternoon. She looked at her painting again, tears springing to her eyes. She threw it with all her pent-up anger and frustration, shattering the window. She looked out and imagined herself walking down that path. She stepped through, cutting her calf on a jagged shard still clinging to the frame, and began walking, blood dripping, as the clouds let loose, rain soaking her.

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Not my best, but I needed to use an X. The quote is from “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, published in 1816. The A to Z Challenge is hosted at its own blog.

The X that was the image on the front page for this post is by Melanie J. Cook.

Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.

Thursday’s Tale: Baba Yaga

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w

Baba Yaga by Viktor Vasnetsov

Today’s Thursday Tale is actually about a specific character, not a specific story. I’ve mentioned Baba Yaga before, when Vasilissa the Beautiful encountered her, but today I wanted to talk a little more about the witch herself. She is one of my favorite fairy tale characters, even though she doesn’t usually have a story of her own, just appears in others’ tales.

Baba Yaga is a strong, powerful, frightening woman who comes to us from Slavic folklore. She is far from your “typical” witch.  Whenever she appears on the scene, a wild wind begins to blow, the trees around creak and groan and leaves whirl through the air. Shrieking and wailing, a host of spirits often accompany her on her way. She flies around on a giant mortar, kidnaps and presumably eats small children, and lives in a hut that either stands on chicken legs, and is sometimes surrounded by a fence with a skull on each pole. Sometimes the hut has a door which is not revealed unless a magical phrase is uttered; Baba Yaga herself flies in and out of the chimney.

In most tales, Baba Yaga is portrayed as an antagonist; however, some characters have been known to seek her out for her wisdom. She often fulfills the function of donor; that is, her role is in supplying the hero, sometimes unwillingly, with something necessary to further his quest. Seeking out her aid is a dangerous act though. Any hero, or heroine, who seeks her out needs to be properly prepared and pure of spirit. He or she also needs to be polite. It is said she ages one year every time she is asked a question, which may explain her reluctance to help. This effect, however, can be reversed with a special blend of tea made with blue roses.

“Baba Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. Wild and untamable, she is a nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth.”

As part of the Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop, co-hosted I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and vvb32reads, I’m giving away a fairy tale re-telling, one that includes Baba Yaga herself.

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn’t. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn’t know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams.

I have one copy up for grabs. This giveaway is open internationally, as long as the Book Depository ships to you. Enter through May 1.

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