writing

The Beauty of Books

I love selling books, listing new books, smelling them, stacking them up on my desk as I write their summaries and learn more about their authors. I love it when an old note falls from the pages, a scrap of paper a business card or pressed flower. I love getting orders and carefully packing them up to be shipped off to their new homes.

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Some have gone to libraries, some were anonymous donations to universities, others were birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, Easter gifts, books that people have been looking for for years and have been thrilled to find at my store. I love sending off the prayer books, rosary booklets and especially Roman missals and thinking of the prayers that will be learned or enhanced because of them.

Some people are surprised that I run a little bookstore and they ask me if they sell and the answer is, yes, books sell. But more importantly they speak. Books are perfect little vessels of the printed word. The bound book is all elegance, unassuming, practical, and yet alluring. They are superior to ebooks, kindles, and blogs not because of nostalgia or sentiment but because of their inherent beauty, their  physical accessibility. This will always be the case. When the first book binder painstakingly bound the first book, the written word, betwixt the pages, had found its true home.

-Mrs. Karl T. Cooper, Jr.

 

Books Babies Love

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Lullabies (with pictures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Many mother and baby pictures, that little ones identify with easily, from various parts of the world are included. It’s also fun to “find” people from our extended family in the paintings.

The World of the Polar Bear (nature photography related to their interests)

This is a great one, if your toddler likes polar bears. Lots of amazing shots of mothers and cubs. Not limited to bears either; meet muskoxen, seals, walruses, belugas, and arctic foxes.

Corduroy and Goodnight Moon

These classic picture books never get old. Not even after ten consecutive repetitions 😉

A is for Altar, B is for Bible

Build a basic religious and liturgical vocabulary and begin (or enrich) the most important conversation you and your child can have. This Montessori-inspired alphabet book is a beautiful aid to handing on the faith, communicating the love of Jesus, and bringing even the youngest children into dialogue with the Word of God. (Catholic or High Church Anglican specific.)

Write Your Own Book! (or “Wreck This Journal”)

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In our blank book, we draw and name basic shapes, illustrate favorite nouns, explore with crayons and colored pencils, paste stickers, favorite greeting cards, and pictures, and practice fine motor skills with colored tape. Give your toddler freedom to scribble, rip, and experiment to his heart’s content but don’t be surprised if you like some of the pages so much that it becomes difficult to do that!

-Mrs. Aldertree

Your Beads

I found your Rosary

in the children’s room

Lying there between

A.A. Milne and Madeline.

Yesterday it got mixed in the laundry

It scraped the washer’s insides

As I slid it up to  kiss and slip it

In my apron’s pocket.

At night you ask

Where’s . . . 

And I reach out my hand to you,

Extending her mantel,

Here.

knit brows smooth a bit

and we begin again,

rose after rose forming a crown

studded with chants:

Salve Regina 

(You know it better than me. )

and then our litany

We finish at the cross.

Tired from contemplation,

you set down the beads.

-Mrs. Karl T. Cooper, Jr.

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Mrs. Renner

Mrs. Renner managed the classroom with authority,  humor and a pinch of sarcasm. She was probably the best teacher I ever had; for she introduced us to good books. We read: Where the Red Fern Grows, Number The Stars, The Phantom Tollbooth, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Bridge to Terabithia.

I didn’t realize at the time what an impact those books would make on me or how they would help me later in life. When Mrs. Renner read to us, we weren’t listening to improve our language skills, we were encountering life, it’s beauty and it’s pains. These books taught us how to live, how to cope with boredom, loss, how to think.

I don’t remember ever being tested on these readings, they were given without attachment to scores, or outcomes. Mrs. Renner did not come between the student and the book. This made all the difference; these books spoke and she simply let them.

I was not a big reader at the time, but I quickly became entranced by  Billy’s love for his two dogs Old Dan and Little Ann, Karana’s shrewdness, her grief at losing her brother,  Annemarie’s courage, Milo’s adventures, but Bridge to Terabithia was my favourite.

Initially, I was disappointed that Terabithia was not another Narnia. A new world did not unfold, rather a sad story of friendship. In it I encountered grief in a new way. In Island of the Blue Dolphins the struggles were of a far off land in circumstances beyond my little world but in this one, loss was confronted in everyday life. The book stayed with me as good books do.

Four years later, my younger brother fell from a tree in our backyard woods and died. Those woods were our romping grounds. We were children in those woods, warriors, pioneers, confederate soldiers, doctors, nurses and then we weren’t. Childhood ended with the shock of death, the sharp pain of loss, the dull ache of grief.

As a Catholic, I had hope in eternal life. As a young girl with no actual experience of death until then, books inadvertently became a guide to grief. Thankfully, good ones had been set in my path by a good and loving teacher. And when I had the courage to walk in those woods again,  Billy, Karana, Annemarie, Milo, Jess and Leslie all came back to me, their losses, their grief, their grit. I was not alone.

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 -Mrs. Cooper

Small Bee

This evening I found myself looking at an old journal and reading the details of my own past life like a novel. I would never have remembered all this if I hadn’t written it down but, unlike with a novel, I didn’t just imagine the events I was reading about, I really did remember them.

On one of the pages, I’d copied out this poem.

Small Bee

I must tell you how it happened,
Believe it or do not –
An episode to end housewarmings
In granaries of song.

I say, the drowsy blossom closing,
A bee was trapped within;
Moonlight passed through clouds and darkness
Till lawns lay diamonded.

Then spirits stalked to beg for baptism
In the open halls of night,
Their silent footfalls never troubled
The clovers’ sleep nor mine.

Astonishing – that one night’s hostel,
The thousand shimmered dreams –
Who knows sleep’s charm inside a blossom,
Except the captive bee?

Leonardas Andriekus was a Lithuanian poet and a Franciscan priest. He died in 2003, not so long ago. I loved this poem all over again when I rediscovered it tonight. The spirits begging for baptism bespeak a uniquely priestly nightmare.

Let’s pray this month for the souls of the dead still longing for heaven, for the souls of the living in desperate need of baptism.

-Mrs.Aldertree

Prayer of St. Gertrude to release 1000 souls from Purgatory: "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.":