Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Day with Two Girlfriends

That's me up there.. I do dream about wearing those hats and walking through the country sides of England getting my hem all muddy. (Colin Firth is there too)

Over the holiday break - (yes- I took a holiday break! One day! - it was fabulous!) - So I met my friend, former college roommate - text book publisher extraordinaire- and fellow Jane Austen fanatic - writer of Austenacious -(Jane Austen Blog to bookmark!) Christine Osborne in NYC. We were off to The Morgan Library to see an amazing exhibit "A Woman's Wit" - Jane Austen's Life and Legacy. It was a small exhibit- but like Jane herself and her books- good things come in small packages.

The exhibit was made up of her own letters mostly written to her niece and sister. One handwritten manuscript - of Mansfield Park.. and awe inspiring little first editions of her books. We were determined to make out her handwriting in an effort to know Jane better- she wrote backwards and crossways- and was not very neat at all. But in her handwriting was the person she was- the personality that comes through in her books. I could sense the frustration that a woman of her intellect felt living at such a time. You could feel the dances and the agitation of finding "neither wit nor genius" in the people she had to talk to. She found solace in her writing- but wrote little of it to her loved ones- concentrating on topics like who was in the dog house in the family or how she was making the most of the fabric she could afford to sew a dress. She wrote multiple letters a week- sometimes they were so casual- as we speed off an email these days.

The most touching letter in the room was written by Jane's sister. It chronicled Jane's death. Untimely at the age of 41. It was written in such vivid detail- you could sense her pain at the loss. What books would she have written? What would she have done- married? Traveled?... Like so many great talents.. they burn a little brighter- and their light goes out much too soon.

We left to tour the rest of the Morgan library.. and saw amazing things. William Blake was a revelation to me- an artist focused more on Winsor McCay and Walt Kelly. I found his work entirely - amazingly- ahead of it's time.

We stood in a room containing 5 Gutenberg bibles!- Mary Shelley's own Frankenstein edition ...that J.P. had good taste... original copies of Dickens - Shakespeare.. signed music sheets by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and Mozart... a Botticelli here- a Rembrandt there.... ... Eee Gads!

We went back up to say goodbye to Jane. It felt no different than saying goodbye to Christine late that night in Penn Station. I don't see her often (she lives in California) - so saying goodbye is hard- but when we're together it's enjoyable and laughter is easy.

We stayed through dinner and drinks with another long time friend from SU. Brooke, Christine and I filled the evening with every pleasantry and much wit and genius was found! (ahem... thanks Jane)

What a gift some people are to the world and to eachother!

My Jane story- wouldn't you just love to read it?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Sketch Card Give Away!

She's gettin nuthin for Christmas....

Last card for the week - (maybe for the season) as the holidays scream ever closer!!
Be the first to leave a comment here and email me your address :

I will send you along this tiny watercolor painting 2.5 X 3.5"- for some holiday cheer!

Today is my daughter's 10th birthday! She's an amazing person. I CAN believe she's 10. After a few weeks of strange crying fits- it's hit me.(I was crying) She's passed thru those magical years and is walking that fine line between childhood and adolescence.. and it is freaky!!!

So many new things ahead of us in the Light family!! We're gonna roll the dice on splitting life between Long Island and Massachusetts ... Leigh's taking over the business finally after 17 years... and we both turn 40 next year. ( uhhhhhhhhhhg) It is daunting and exciting and I am hopeful 2010 will be a great year! I hope it's filled with possibilities for all of you too!-Kelly

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Give Away Continues!!!

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!

As the holidays continue.. so does my need to fight the Grinch with in. So MORE GIVE AWAYS!!!

Be the first two to leave a comment here- and email me your address to receive one of these sketch cards! Previous winners ineligible (bah humbug) and my email is :

Oops! Panda plants one on Polar Bear .

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Give Away-Part Deux!

Ho-Ho-Holiday Sketch card give away. Fashion cards this time... I always wanted a santa inspired, full skirted christmas outfit a la "Holiday Inn" and a Jane Austen regency era lass lookin for a kiss. Little watercolors painted last night as my daughter fell off a horse @ horseback riding.. oy vey. 2 1/2" by 3 1/2 ". Same as yesterday - first 2 people to leave a comment on the blog and email your addresses, each win one of these sketch cards.

my email-

* Previous winners ineligible- d'uh-o!

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah- so no more cards for this week! As an equal opportunity holiday family - we get really busy starting tonight. I hope whom ever is lighting the candles- has a wonderful family filled festival of lights!

My favorite Chanukah songs on the playlist!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Give Away!

These Cards are off to spread holiday cheer! Will do more!

What better way to snap out of being HOLIDAZED- than to give!

The first 2 people to leave comments here on the blog- and then email me your addresses- will each be mailed one of these sketch cards. They're both little watercolors (2 1/2" by 3 1/2") on illustration board. Painted while my daughter is in the pool at swim practice. (very tough to do - dripping kids)

my email :

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Plea- A Rant- A Rally Cry - A Call to Action

I've tried over the past year to remove a lot of personal opinion from my blog. -Keepin' it just about the art. All "professional" don't ya know?! But lately - I've been a bit thrown by confounding experiences of the literary kind.

Conversations and interactions with adults and children who seem to view reading as a pastime of the - past. Parents who either sadly express that their kids don't want to read or others who brush it off as a time hassle amongst too many other activities.

We all want kids who exercise- wrestling- Taekwondo- dancing- softball- swimming - baseball - soccer - are all great. But what about exercising the brain? The imagination- if neglected, atrophies. Flex it. Stretch it. Grow it. Imaginations that flourish can turn kids into one day scientists, inventors, explorers, doctors, teachers, artists, writers, builders... creative thinkers. creativity is applicable to every single walk of life. Kids don't get the time in the school day to be creative these days... it has to be built in to home life.

Our elementary school has a 20 min a night obligatory reading rule until the 5th grade. I believe that at 5th grade- the habit is understood to be ingrained- so it will continue without obligation. The ending of that rule is not to say- "Hey, great news! You don't have to read anymore!" It's not relief they should feel- they should just keep reading.

On top of these interesting new insights .. I've had conversations with the school librarian- my daughter's best friend- and other Moms that have revealed a wide spread reading of the "Twilight" series by 4th and 5th grade girls. So- your daughters have not read Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series- but they are jumping to read about a lusty teenage vampire who has a dysfunctional hormone swollen relationship with a girl that eventually leads to sex and death and the girl giving up every single molecule of herself to be with a boy?(yes-I have read them.) The school librarian- much to her credit will not have the books in the elementary school library. That leaves it up to the parents. There's time for these books- later. When they are emotionally mature enough to think about the issues raised in the Twilight Series. Not at 9 when unicorns and wizards on the page are as real to them as a freaky vampire boyfriend can be. At 9 - words on the page etch into the brain.

At 9!!! At 9 - 13 the books kids read are the books that will be their favorites. The books they will love. The books that will be their escapes from puberty and cliques and pressures and family stress. At 9-13, the imagination thrives!! If you feed it, it can lead to the creation of who they will be as adults.

Between 9 and 13, I read some of my all time favorite books. My Mom hung a hammock in the backyard in the summer and handed me a stack of books saying "Here- you're gonna love these". That's what it takes- some time - a pitcher of lemonade - a parent suggesting, making an effort, showing interest- handing the book to the kid.

Some of the Books I read between 9 -13:

1. A Wrinkle in Time
2. The Lion , the witch and the Wardrobe
3. From the From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
4. Little Women
5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
6. SO many Nancy Drew books
7. Jane Eyre
8. David Copperfield
9. The Last Unicorn
10. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn
11. All Judy Blume books(has there been any other author that deals w/ puberty better?-I don't think so)
12. Tolkien (my older brother LOVED these)
13. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (my favorite book of all time)

How do you get your kids to read???

I think it's part of my job as a parent to seek and find great books for her to read. It is not hard to do. Walk up to the library counter - the librarian will be so happy when you ask her for recommendations. Go to the book store armed with your kids interests- tune in to what your kid likes. Is it music? Is it horses? Is it mystery? Is it sports? - Find the book with the hook. Hook 'em. It's a domino effect. The Scholastic book club Flier is for you to look at too. Blurbs about each book- right there for you to read and the books are discounted so much.

I have Frankie- my neighborhood boy who does not love to read. I buy him comics and young graphic novels. He gets a bag of them for his birthday - and his parents tell me- before they toys get played with- the books are all read. I know he loves science- I know he loves action. Franklin Richards- son of the Fantastic Four- boom. BIG HIT.

Comics are a gateway book. There is nothing wrong with comics- you peruse them first. You decide which are appropriate or not. My daughter loves comics and that doesn't stop her from picking up 500 page novels.

Turn off the TV. (I am not a TV hater. My kid watches TV. But I decide when- or she asks.) So turn it off and turn ON the imagination with a book. TV is the reward in my house. Is everything else done?- Sure. Watch away. A dvr is an awesome tool. Save up their favorite programs- so they can watch them when they have the time. If a kid has a book that he/she is really into- they won't put it down. "TV- what TV?" ".. shhh.. Mom, I'm reading".

I recently read a book about life on an Indian Reservation - opened my eyes and mind up to another life experience so drastically different then my own- but in that book.. I connected to a 14 year old kid. From age 29 - 37 , I got to go to Hogwart's School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 2 years ago - I was in the Napoleonic Era- and every few years I visit Pemberly w/ my friend Jane Austen. My love of reading probably began with Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, Richard Scary and Curious George- but it took hold between 9 and 13. Seize those years parents... cause after that... the kids want to choose for themselves, as they should.

I hope this wasn't too preachy. I know, from personal experience- life is hectic and crazy. Being a parent is a constant race from place to place while juggling all of life's flaming swords. Reading slows that pace down. Give that gift to yourself and to your children.- Kelly

Ps- The List I sent to the school librarian of elementary -school appropriate graphic novels:

Our Author/Illustrator Visit in March - Woo Hoo!

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute (Paperback)

~ Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Author) - New Serie

Oddly Normal, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
~ Otis Frampton (Auth We just got these- Maggie likes the first one a lot.

Babymouse #1: Queen of the World! (Paperback)
~ Jennifer Holm (Author), Matthew Holm (Illustrator)
There are 12 books in this series. Maggie has 10- likes them a lot.

The Whole World's Crazy (Amelia Rules) (Paperback)
~ Jimmy Gownley (Author, Illustrator)
We have a few of these. Good- deals with divorce

~ Kazu Kibuishi (Author) this hasn't come out yet- but looks good.
We have these- 2 Amulet Books - fantasy adventure. Death of one parent- on level of Harry Potter

Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School (Hardcover)~ Ruth McNally Barshaw (Author, Illustrator)
Maggie has these- a girl's diary/journal- the flip side of Wimpy Kid- Resourceful girl

Sound Off! #1 (DANIEL BOOM AKA LOUD BOY) (Paperback)
~ D.J. Steinberg (Author), Brian Smith (Illustrator)
Have bought this for boys as gift

Knights Of The Lunch Table (Paperback)
~ Frank Cammuso (Author)

Graphic Classics:series of classic books.
I have given these as gifts to boys. I think Boys connect with comic books so easily- reluctant readers will read these and then pick up a real version of the book later.

Below is a list I made over a year ago- some titles may still be in print. I don't own all of these- so can't say if they are all good.

$13.60 Used & New from: $12.91

3. Clan Apis by Jay Hosler
$10.80 Used & New from: $7.99

 - a little mature humor- 5th grade. fart humor- name calling - won lots of awards

5. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
$14.96 Used & New from: $10.00

 - Wordless- Gorgeous book

7. The Plain Janes (Minx) by Cecil Castellucci
$9.99 Used & New from: $1.49

8. Kampung Boy by Lat
$13.46 Used & New from: $1.28

The list author says:

"I read these years ago, in the 90's. Walt Kelly meets Miyazaki. Great."
$26.37 Used & New from: $14.50

10. Sundiata: A Legend of Africa by Will Eisner
Used & New from: $10.00

11. The Courageous Princess by Rod Espinosa
$10.17 Used & New from: $3.56

 - Maggie has this loves it- good for 2-3rd graders

Used & New from: $16.11

$9.56 Used & New from: $2.99

14. Spiral-Bound by Aaron Renier
$10.17 Used & New from: $0.18


$8.00 Used & New from: $0.73
More in this series- great for 2-3rd graders

16. Scary Godmother: Wild About Harry by Jill Thompson
Used & New from: $25.86

Used & New from: $2.00

More in this series- maggie liked this a lot- girl Indiana Jones-ish

Used & New from: $4.98

20. Open Me...I'm a Dog by Art Spiegelman
$11.55 Used & New from: $0.01

Used & New from: $16.55

$6.99 Used & New from: $0.95
Maggie has this- Ok -not great

23. Gray Horses by Hope Larson
$11.66 Used & New from: $5.72

24. Four Pictures by Emily Carr by Nicolas Debon

$8.95 Used & New from: $3.16

$9.32 Used & New from: $5.69

$7.95 Used & New from: $2.21

28. Southpaw by Scott Morse
Used & New from: $4.99

$4.99 Used & New from: $0.01

$4.99 Used & New from: $0.01

Used & New from: $3.71

$10.39 Used & New from: $3.79

37. Lil Bird Keeps His Word by Daniel Rossi

38. To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel