#WeNeedDIverseBooks, Art, Books, Illustrators, poetry

Reading is the Best Way to Relax


      “A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic,” Carl Sagan 

The week has flown by, riddled with the everyday happenings, participating in the writing challenge of NaNoWriMo, and revising an old manuscript.

Like many of you (I’m assuming) I love to read: poetry, YA, Adult, and Children’s Books. I read during my down time, which is literally when I’m in bed, for an hour or two before I drift off to sleep.

I’ve read some extraordinary books lately: Jean Rhys “The Wide Sargasso Sea,” and Helena Viramontes’ novel, “Their Dogs Came With Them.”  Both five star books, IMHO. These highly emotive, descriptive books had an intensity to them that I loved, but that also exhausted me—in a good way.

Reading doesn’t just keep the mind sharp, possibly stave off Alzheimer’s, and help you sleep better (not if you read horror), but research says reading is the tops in relaxation. Really—they did studies. Here’s the conclusion from the UK-University of Sussex: 

Reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 per cent, said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis.

Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles…it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.

Listening to music reduced the levels by 61%, have a cup of tea of coffee lowered them by 54% , taking a walk by 42%, and video games, 21%. 

So today I was delighted to come across a children’s book I think I will enjoy. Maria Popova said this about the book she featured for the week:

I was instantly smitten with Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown, with absolutely stunning illustrations and hand-lettering by artist Julie Paschkis 

Go have a look at the gorgeously illustrated pages that Popova has on her website: Brain Pickings. The colors delight the eyes, the illustrations and words relax the body.

An instant chill pill.

I’ve added this book to my public library list, which has grown now to 10 books on hold.

So relax everyone. Take time out to enjoy your favorite activity to help you gather yourself together and take on the coming week.

Books, Children's Books, fiction, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Illustrators, Pura Belpre Awards, Rafael Lopez

And the Winner Is…

Two time winner Rafael Lopez, artist and illustrator.
It’s quiet an achievement to win an award and I imagine a great accomplishment to win an award twice, but Rafael Lopez, artist and illustrator, is one of the few multi-award winners in children’s illustrations. Artists, such as Mr. Lopez, bring to life the words written by authors, adding another dimension to a story.  
The 16th Annual Pura Belpre award honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The award is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. 
One of the recipients for 2012 was Guadalupe Garcia McCall, award winning author, of “Under the Mesquite Tree.” I’ve read this book and it is exquisitely written in free verse. The emotionally riveting verse has us feel the experience of 14 year old Lupita, the eldest of a large family, who is dealing with her mother’s terminal illness. 
Artist Rafael Lopez was awarded his second 2012 Pura Belpré honor award for his illustration of “The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred.” Just look at this richly colored book cover. Makes you want to turn the page to see what else is in store for the eyes.
His artistry graces buildings in San Diego with bright colored murals and he has been asked to contribute three paintings to Oprah Winfrey’s school in South Africa. He also drew the Latin Music Legends stamp series in 2011 for the US Postal Service. 
For an interesting view on how stamps are created and the artists’ experience see Lopez’ Studio blog.
Mr. Lopez said he was thrilled beyond words to receive the honor and illustrated his reaction in this short video:
As a book lover, and owner of a tiny bookstore, I appreciate the craft that goes into the writing and illustrating of a story. These artists, both of the written word and drawings, work extremely hard to get their thoughts, concepts, and visions just right. This is what separates the average from the good and great. This is what has us cherish favorite books and reread them more than once. 
When you think back on your favorite children’s books which one’s speak to you or make your children wide eyed with amazed interest?