Of Children’s Books And Butterflies

by Rick Nau

“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Western Swallowtail

Western Swallowtail

One afternoon I stopped and watched a yellow butterfly in the park. The wind was strong, out of the west, but the butterfly maintained its place below the trees, soaring and diving with each and every gust, circling round and round, until, I don’t know why, it landed on a leaf. Why not a flower, I wondered? 

And so, that night, I surfed the web, soaring up and diving down, amid the myriad pages, searching for that butterfly. High and low I searched, until my eyes were overwhelmed with children’s picture books, books inspired by butterflies.

One cover caught my eye, bright green it was, entitled: How To Raise Monarch Butterflies. But then I read the smaller print: A Step By Step Guide For Kids. A warning shot across the bow?

How To Raise Monarch Butterflies by Carol Pasternak

How To Raise Monarch Butterflies by Carol Pasternak

I hunkered down and looked at a review. “A book for children to learn about monarch butterflies, their lifecycle and the benefits of monarch butterflies to the environment. Includes step-by-step instructions for raising your own crop of butterflies in your home. Great for nature lovers young and old alike.”  Mari Farthing Metro Family Magazine (Oklahoma)

I delved in deeper. What would a kid need for this adventure? A bit of string? A jar? Some pots? Some milkweed seeds? Seems rather tame to me. How’s this compare to climbing Everest or walking on the moon?

But then again, I hadn’t read the book. Perhaps some great adventure lay within, some quest for beauty and for fun. I’d have to take a look. Or should I not? Or would some call it writer’s block?

And so I ask the reader to reply. Should I start raising butterflies?

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If you don’t see the comments box between here and the next post, click here, then scroll back down to the bottom of the page. If you’re interested in getting a free Kindle copy of The Ruby Float, click here.

 

 

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Chronicles Of Narnia–C. S. Lewis
 

Chronicles Of Narnia

by Rick Nau

I’ll start this post with an appropriate quote from C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles Of Narnia. Writer’s should keep it in mind whenever they’re penning stories for younger readers.

NO BOOK IS REALLY WORTH READING AT THE AGE OF TEN, WHICH IS NOT EQUALLY-AND OFTEN FAR MORE-WORTH READING AT THE AGE OF FIFTY AND BEYOND.

If you haven’t read the Chronicles of Narnia, now is the perfect time. Meet Aslan, Lucy, Susan, Edmund, and Peter and a huge cast of other good guys and villains in one of the most famous tales of all time. Here’s more about The Chronicles from Goodreads:

“Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.

“. . . Deceptively simple and direct, The Chronicles of Narnia continue to captivate fans with adventures, characters, and truths that speak to readers of all ages, even fifty years after they were first published.”

And a review or two, or three:

“This book taught me two important lessons; that looks can be deceiving and that two wrongs don’t make a right.” The Guardian, Review of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

“ . . . The Horse and His Boy is a smashing adventure, and one of the series’ more mature volumes. ” T. M. Wagner, SF Reviews.net

“ . . . Lewis is appealing to our innate sense that something exists that is higher than the reality we perceive with our physical senses.” Pages Unbound, Review of The Silver Chair

And,  if you happen to be in Dallas in September or October, you won’t want to miss “C. S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert.”

C. S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert

C. S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert

If you think Dallas is too much of a schlepp for you (I’m thinking of those of you who live on other continents or islands), then don’t read John Stoltenberg’s review of the play. He’ll have you wanting to take the next bus, train, or plane to Dallas.

So, why not unplug for a while, open your wardrobe door, and see what’s on the other side? And to make your journey more affordable, especially if you’ve shelled out your hard-earned cash to see C. S. Lewis Onstage, I’ll soon be offering a giveaway of the complete Chronicles of Narnia. While you’re waiting, drop me a line and let me know what your top three favorite books are.

And, if you’re interested in getting a free Kindle copy of The Ruby Float, click here. But, of course, you can’t be interested if you know nothing about the book, so be sure to read Julia Wilson’s review at Christian Bookaholic.

 

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C. S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert
cslewis-most-reluctant-convert

Still wondering whether you should make that trip to Irvine to see Max McLean in ‘C. S. Lewis Onstage, The Most Reluctant Convert?’ This review by John Stoltenberg, who saw the show in D.C., should clench it for you.

Review: ‘C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre

by John Stoltenberg

Believe it or not, this is one terrific piece of theater. It’s a one-man play about an influential, world-class thinker that’s every bit as smart, fascinating, and satisfying as the best such solo performances seen in this town. It bears comparison to the portrayals of Alexander Graham Bell (2013) and R. Buckminster Fuller (2010) by local acting legend Rick Foucheaux....

To read the entire review click here.

The show will be playing in Irvine at the Irvine Barclay Theatre July 14-17. You can also see it in San Francisco and Chicago. Check the Fellowship For Performing Arts website for dates and ticket availability.

Max McClean As C.S. Lewis

Max McClean As C.S. Lewis

Rick NauComment
My Dream–Christina Rossetti
 
Sargent-Muddy-Alligators

My Dream

Christina Rossetti

Hear now a curious dream I dreamed last night
Each word whereof is weighed and sifted truth.

I stood beside Euphrates while it swelled
Like overflowing Jordan in its youth:
It waxed and coloured sensibly to sight;
Till out of myriad pregnant waves there welled
Young crocodiles, a gaunt blunt-featured crew,
Fresh-hatched perhaps and daubed with birthday dew.
The rest if I should tell, I fear my friend
My closest friend would deem the facts untrue;
And therefore it were wisely left untold;
Yet if you will, why, hear it to the end.

Each crocodile was girt with massive gold
And polished stones that with their wearers grew:
But one there was who waxed beyond the rest,
Wore kinglier girdle and a kingly crown,
Whilst crowns and orbs and sceptres starred his breast.
All gleamed compact and green with scale on scale,
But special burnishment adorned his mail
And special terror weighed upon his frown;
His punier brethren quaked before his tail,
Broad as a rafter, potent as a flail.
So he grew lord and master of his kin:
But who shall tell the tale of all their woes?
An execrable appetite arose,
He battened on them, crunched, and sucked them in.
He knew no law, he feared no binding law,
But ground them with inexorable jaw:
The luscious fat distilled upon his chin,
Exuded from his nostrils and his eyes,
While still like hungry death he fed his maw;
Till every minor crocodile being dead
And buried too, himself gorged to the full,
He slept with breath oppressed and unstrung claw.
Oh marvel passing strange which next I saw:
In sleep he dwindled to the common size,
And all the empire faded from his coat.
Then from far off a wingèd vessel came,
Swift as a swallow, subtle as a flame:
I know not what it bore of freight or host,
But white it was as an avenging ghost.
It levelled strong Euphrates in its course;
Supreme yet weightless as an idle mote
It seemed to tame the waters without force
Till not a murmur swelled or billow beat:
Lo, as the purple shadow swept the sands,
The prudent crocodile rose on his feet
And shed appropriate tears and wrung his hands.

What can it mean? you ask. I answer not
For meaning, but myself must echo,
What? And tell it as I saw it on the spot.

Home Going: Poetry For A Season
 
Fireflies

I remember summer nights in Texas, warm enchanted nights when my brother and sister and I would hike down to the creek behind our house to collect fireflies. This poem, taken from Carolyn Weber’s Home Going: Poetry For A Season, brings back the magic of  those nights.

FIREFLIES

by Carolyn Weber

On the night we move in
we sit in a row
on the couch
beads on a prayer chain
faces pressed against glass,
all awe, framed.
Outside, countless points of living light
dot the darkening grass.
Screen door screeches then slams
as we race outside to join the twinkling dance.
Bare feet meet cool grass,
the heat retreating with the day.
Children in night shirts,
me, in my tattered robe;
all of us, sorely underdressed
for such festivity.

What are we doing here?

Unleashed uncare wins out,
along with weariness lifted, doubts appeased.
After a full day of unpacking,
of worries and obstacles,
of sweat and second thoughts,
only now the revelation:
Joy unlimited in the connecting of dots …
Everywhere!
The dance of living light.

“Fireflies” is reprinted here with the permission of Carolyn Weber. To find out more about Home Going, please visit Goodreads.

Teaching Your Kids About Opera

This is a super-fun, interactive video that will teach your kids oodles about opera. It was designed by Classical KUSC Radio & Creative Kids Education Foundation. Just click on the image to get started. Please note that you'll need to have Flash installed to make it work on your computer, however.

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A Poem For All Times
Oath-Of-Christian-Kighthood

AN OATH OF CHRISTIAN KNIGHTHOOD

Andrew Cuff

I swear allegiance to the Lord,
The Source of unattainable Good
And Author of truth, justice, and life.

And to the precepts of His spoken Word,
By which I may prove my devotion
And live the life that my God desires.

I offer my heart as a home made clean
For Christ's Holy Spirit, which from my Father proceedeth.
Undoubtedly this is His greatest gift to His children.

To uphold the safety and virtue of the weak,
To show civility and mercy to the enemy,
To give heart, soul, mind, and strength to the calling of Christ:

Here is my oath, this day foresworn.
Of all purposes Christ first in my heart,
For whom I will do battle ceaselessly unto death.

Rick NauComment
An Easter Carol–Christina Rossetti
Morning-Of-Resurrection

An easter Carol

CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

Spring bursts today,
For Christ is risen and all the earth’s at play.

Flash forth, thou Sun,
The rain is over and gone, its work is done.

Winter is past,
Sweet Spring is come at last, is come at last.

Bud, Fig and Vine,
Bud, Olive, fat with fruit and oil and wine.

Break forth this morn
In roses, thou but yesterday a Thorn.

Uplift thy head,
O pure white Lily through the Winter dead.

Beside your dams
Leap and rejoice, you merry-making Lambs.

All Herds and Flocks
Rejoice, all Beasts of thickets and of rocks.

Sing, Creatures, sing,
Angels and Men and Birds and everything.

All notes of Doves
Fill all our world: this is the time of loves.

Rick NauComment
How To Tell A Story

Some great tips from that master storyteller, Mark Twain:

The Humorous Story an American Development.—Its Difference from Comic and Witty Stories.
 

I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told, for I have been almost daily in the company of the most expert story-tellers for many years.

There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind—the humorous. I will talk mainly about that one. The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.

The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst.

The humorous story is strictly a work of art—high and delicate art—and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous story—understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print—was created in America, and has remained at home.

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. And sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the "nub" of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.

Very often, of course, the rambling and disjointed humorous story finishes with a nub, point, snapper, or whatever you like to call it. Then the listener must be alert, for in many cases the teller will divert attention from that nub by dropping it in a carefully casual and indifferent way, with the pretence that he does not know it is a nub.

Artemus Ward used that trick a good deal; then when the belated audience presently caught the joke he would look up with innocent surprise, as if wondering what they had found to laugh at. Dan Setchell used it before him, Nye and Riley and others use it to-day.

But the teller of the comic story does not slur the nub; he shouts it at you—every time. And when he prints it, in England, France, Germany, and Italy, he italicizes it, puts some whooping exclamation-points after it, and sometimes explains it in a parenthesis. All of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life.

Let me set down an instance of the comic method, using an anecdote which has been popular all over the world for twelve or fifteen hundred years. The teller tells it in this way—Twain goes on to write several examples of what hes talking about, such as The Wounded Soldier & The Golden Arm

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All Saints–Christina Rossetti
Adoration-Of-The-Magi

All Saints

Christina Rossetti

They have brought gold and spices to my King,
Incense and precious stuffs and ivory;
O holy Mother mine, what can I bring
That so my Lord may deign to look on me?
They sing a sweeter song than I can sing,
All crowned and glorified exceedingly:
I, bound on earth, weep for my trespassing,–
They sing the song of love in heaven, set free.
Then answered me my Mother, and her voice
Spake to my heart, yea answered in my heart:
Sing, saith He to the heavens, to earth, Rejoice:
Thou also lift thy heart to Him above:
He seeks not thine, but thee such as thou art,
For lo His banner over thee is Love.’

*From The Complete Poems Of Christina Rossetti

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