Kindness in Kids Literature

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World Read Aloud Day’s theme this week is Kindness.

I admit it. I’m not always kind. If I’m picking up or dropping off kids and I’m behind the only-person-on-the-face-of-the-earth who slows down when driving through a green light, or lets ten other cars go so that I miss a left turn arrow, or is holding a phone (illegal in NJ), or drives below the speed limit, I may honk my horn, may say things not appropriate for a G-rated audience, and may have a bit of road rage. May, I say. It’s not pretty.

Hmm, it sounds like a good time to answer LitWorld’s prompt this week: “What kindness role models have you met through reading?”  

Top Five kids’ books where kindness is key. 

  1. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
  2. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne 
  3. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  4. Ginger by Charlotte Voake
  5. Ella the Elegant Elephant by Carmela and Steven D’Amico

 Hon, in which books do you think kindness plays a large role?

Animals and children always bring out kindness in me. This sweet goat got a nice neck scratch.
KIND KID: Animals and children always bring out kindness in me. This sweet goat trotted over to me and got a nice neck scratch.

Friendships in Kids Literature

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World Read Aloud Day’s theme this week is Friendship, and friendship in kid’s literature is one element that keeps us reading. I have so many favorites, but here are the Top Five Friendships in kidlit that make me care and make me cry.

  1. Watership Down by Richard Adams, Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and Silver.
  2. Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant, Henry and Mudge
  3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Lucy Pevensie and Mr. Tumnus
  4. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Despereaux and Princess Pea
  5. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger

Who are your favorite friends in literature, kids or adults?

Hon, of course I have to add one more friend to this post. She’s a best friend to everyone in our house.

My Plus One and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds--everyone's best friend!
My Plus One and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds–everyone’s best friend!

Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe

Teen Daughter at exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.
Exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.
Prada's Flame wedge sandals, 2012
Prada’s Flame wedge sandals, 2012

Do you live near New York? Do you love metaphors in material? Are you a fashionista? A shoe-aholic?

If so, I highly recommend the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibit “Killer Heels:  The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe.” Interestingly, curator Lisa Small didn’t arrange the shoes chronologically but, rather, in categories. In doing so, visitors learn historical contexts for modern inspiration. (exhibit runs until February 15)

As a writer, I didn’t just see shoes; I saw characters. One grimaced as she rubbed her bound feet. One strutted down the runway in her silver, architectural heels. One cantered alongside Mr. Tumnus in Narnia. And me? I stomped atop Horse Shoes, hand-on-hips, then swished my black velvet cape rimmed in red as I turned my back on the Demons and galloped into the forest where the fairies and elves awaited my return.

(Please excuse the poor photo quality. Shoes were behind glass in dark rooms.)

Jean Paul Gaultier (French) Nude Tattoo Boots, 2012, leather, plastic, metal
Jean Paul Gaultier (French), Nude Tattoo Boots, 2012, leather, plastic, metal
Manchu Woman's Shoe (Chinese), Qing Dynasty 19th century, cotton, embroidered satin-weave silk
Manchu Woman’s Shoe (Chinese), Qing Dynasty 19th century, cotton, embroidered satin-weave silk
Prada (Italian) Fuoco Silk and Lizard Platform, 2013
Prada (Italian), Fuoco Silk and Lizard Platform, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winde Rienstra (Dutch), Shutter Heel, 2013, Laser cut PerSpex (Plexiglas), screws, elastic, wooden beads
Winde Rienstra (Dutch), Shutter Heel, 2013, Laser cut PerSpex (Plexiglas), screws, elastic, wooden beads
Shoise, Matilda Maroti and Petra Hogstrom (Swedish) 2013, "Mother of Pearl:
Shoise, Matilda Maroti and Petra Hogstrom (Swedish) 2013, “Mother of Pearl:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zaha Hadid X United (Iraqi) "Nova", 2013, chromed vinyl rubber, kid napa leather, fiberglass
Zaha Hadid X United (Iraqi), Nova, 2013, chromed vinyl rubber, kid napa leather, fiberglass
Christian Louboutin (French) 2011-2012, "Deja Vu", patent leather, suede, ornamental eyes
Christian Louboutin (French), Deja Vu, 2011-12, patent leather, suede, ornamental eyes
George Sakier (American), 1930's-1940's,  "Glass"
George Sakier (American), 1930’s-1940’s, Glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolce & Gabbana boots (Italian)
Dolce & Gabbana boots (Italian)
Sputniko! (Japanese/British) 2012, "Healing Fukushima"
Sputniko! (Japanese/British), 2012, Healing Fukushima

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoes for Women's Bound Feet (Chinese) 19th century Qing Dynasty, embroidered satin, wood, paper
Shoes for Women’s Bound Feet (Chinese) 19th century Qing Dynasty, embroidered satin, wood, paper
Christian Louboutin (French) 2011-2012, "Puck", goatskin, leather
Christian Louboutin (French), 2011-12, Puck, goatskin, leather

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masayakushino (Japanese) 2013, "Stairway to Heaven", goatskin, baby lamb, crow feather
Masayakushino (Japanese), 2013, Stairway to Heaven, goatskin, baby lamb, crow feather
Iris Schiefertein (German) 2006, "Horse Shoes 3", horse fur, horse hoof, wood, zipper
Iris Schieferstein (German), 2006, Horse Shoes 3, horse fur, horse hoof, wood, zipper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Horse Shoes 3"
“Horse Shoes 3”

 

 

Day Trippers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hon, have you seen the exhibit? What did you think? Which shoe on display here is your favorite? 

Character Driven Gingerbread Cookies

Sassy, classy, tasty gingerbread ladies!
Sassy, Classy, Tasty Gingerbread Ladies!

I’m right in the thick of it! The Holidays, of course.

Time seems to fly more quickly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. With four kids coming and going, I am constantly grocery shopping, cooking, baking and doing laundry.

Since I’m sure you don’t want to see pics of laundry (Hubby’s nicknamed me the “Laundry Wench”) or my Dining-Room/Dorm-Room-Depot, I’ll be posting recipes. I’m raising my virtual glass of sherry (Julia Child-style) in a toast to being the Kitchen Queen, Domestic Goddess, or whatever euphemism you can think of for someone who dons an apron for hours and falls asleep with her head on the kitchen table.

Just because I don’t have time to write doesn’t mean the words stop forming in my head. I “write” while I drive, sleep, run, cook and bake. Gingerbread men and women bring out a desire to create dialogue!

Hence, they are…

CHARACTER DRIVEN COOKIES! (clever, don’t you think?) 

Dough's made and ready to roll!
Dough’s made and ready to roll!
Cookies by the dozens.
Cookies by the dozens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creators of Characters.
Creators of Characters
Decorating takes concentration.
Decorating takes concentration.

 

 

 

 

 

Cookie Crowd.
Cookie Crowd.
"Snowman Stylin'!"
“How do you like my ‘Snowman Stylin’?”
"Oh no, not the gumdrops!"
“Anything but the gumdrop buttons!” said the Gingerbread Man from Shrek.
Little Boy, Gingerbread Man, Hipster and Snowman
Little Boy, Gingerbread Man, Hipster and Snowman.

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon ground ginger

1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

To decorate the cookies, use your imagination.  We used Royal Icing (recipe below), Mini M&M’s, Cinnamon Imperials, Sparkling Sugar and French Dragées. We used toothpicks and paintbrushes as decorating tools.

Directions:

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

2.  In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and egg on medium speed.

3.  Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue mixing until well blended.

4.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.

5.  Divide dough in two, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator for a couple of hours.*  Let dough come to room temperature before rolling cookies.

6.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Thicker cookies = softer cookies; thinner cookies = crispier cookies.

8.  Cut out cookies with desired cookie cutters. Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes.

9.  Once baked, allow cookies to cool before decorating.

Yield:  24 five inch tall cookies.

Source:  Food.com, “The Most Wonderful Gingerbread Cookies” by gingerkitten D

*Dough can be stored in refrigerator for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for later use.

additional flour to your cookies.

Royal Icing 

Ingredients:

3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 Tablespoons meringue powder (also know as dried egg whites)

6 Tablespoons warm water

Directions:

Beat 4 to 5 minutes by hand. Stir in optional flavors and desired tints. Royal icing is white, so if you stir in vanilla flavoring, it will turn the icing yellowish. If icing gets too thick, add tiny bits of warm water until you get the consistency you want.

Yield: About 3 cups icing.

Happy baking, hon!