Category Archives: Biography

“Inspire Your Heart With Art” Day

As January winds down the cold days and gray skies can definitely start to wear on your soul.  Take time to warm your inner spirit through the arts.  Today’s celebration is meant to inspire, uplift, and restore happiness in your being through the beauty of artistic endeavors.  That can mean a lot of different things to different people, so follow your heart to what will bring you joy today.  Whether you visit an art museum, listen to a symphony, see a play, or perhaps pick up your own paintbrush and create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, let the creativity in our world ignite a renaissance in your soul.  Check out some great reads from a variety of art genres and become inspired!

Visit a museum and discover new worlds!  Art is everywhere – in painting, sculpture, furniture, ancient Egyptian tombs, suits of armor or aboriginal carvings.   Be it the MET,the Art Institute of ChicagoMFA Boston  or the Getty there is inspiration at every turn for every interest.

museumThe Museum by Susan Verde is an ideal way to introduce any child to the wonders that await when you visit the art museum.   A young girl travels through the museum encountering inspiring works of art that are delightfully interpreted by illustrator Peter H. Reynolds.  Contradicting the “traditional” view of art museums as dull and unwelcoming to children, The Museum invites children to investigate and interpret art on their terms.  It opens the door for creativity and inspiration, as well as fostering art appreciation. (PB)

mixedupfilesFrom The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, is the classic tale of  Claudia and her brother, Jamie, who run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.   For anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to be in a museum after hours, for anyone who has wondered about the origins of the artwork hanging on the walls, and anyone who has felt under-appreciated.  (MR-4/6)

luncheonboatingpartyLuncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland guarantees you’ll never look at a Renoir the same way again.  Narrated in turn by Renoir and seven of his models, the painting takes shape as the artists personal, professional and emotional influences impact the story of the artworks creation. (Mom’s Bookshelf)


Listen to Bach or Duke Ellington.  There is a different style of music for every mood!  Paint to music and see how it influences your color and design choices!  Or  read about a favorite composer to learn about their inspiration.

luigioperaLuigi At The Opera by Ellie Alldredge-Bell.  Luigi’s grandfather introduced him to “music stories” and Luigi loves listening to them in the car.  Now he is thrilled to attend an Opera about ghost ship, and the best part is he is going with his grandfather!  A delightful tale that reminds us that sharing our love of the arts is the best way to encourage appreciation in younger generations.(PB)

harlembirdHarlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson shares the story of Florence Mills, the daughter of slaves,  who sang like a bird and, when given a chance at stardom, chose to hold true to her ideals! (PB)

mthmozartMoonlight on the Magic Flute, Magic Treehouse #41 by Mary Pope Osborne has Jack & Annie traveling back in time to Mozart’s Vienna.  But why is a precocious six year-old named Wolfie distracting them, or is he the true mission? (ER-2)

Maybe you get inspired to move and groove – and the art that is closest to your heart is dance!  From Baryshnikov to Balanchine, Fossey to Fred Astaire, whether you are inspired to pirouette or pop-n-lock, dance can make your spirit soar!

josephinebakerJazz Age Josephine: Dancer, singer–who’s that, who? Why, that’s MISS Josephine Baker, to you! – by Jonah Winter  A triple threat and independent spirit Josephine Baker did it all with style.  She crushed the status quo and changed the face of entertainment forever! (PB)

dancesrDancers of the World  by Aurelia Hardy takes readers on a voyage around the globe through native dance styles.  Do a jig, try a waltz or grace the stage in a ballet – it’s all here for dance enthusiasts to explore. (ER-2/3)

paintedgirlsThe Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan follows the story of the van Goethem sisters, who in 1878 after their father’s death, find their best prospects at the Paris Opera where Marie trains to be a ballerina and Antoinette joins the chorus.  Faced with difficult choices, and possibilities for a new life, each must decide whether the necessary sacrifices are worth the cost. (Mom’s Bookshelf)

“To Be, or Not To Be” Inspired!  Enjoy a play by Shakespeare or delight in a Rogers & Hammerstein musical.  If you can’t catch a live performance in your area, cuddle up for an in-home viewing of a Hollywood version of a classic stage production.

muchadoaboutnothingMuch Ado About Nothing – A comedy, tragedy, love story, betrayal, redemption, and it’s all told as only Shakespeare can.  This movie version sticks to the story and brings it to life with some famous faces, (most of whom kids these days recognize from the Harry Potter films!) (YA- 12 and up)

Check your local high schools and theater groups to catch a live production of My Fair LadyThe Music Man, or Once Upon a Mattress.  It is a great way to support your arts community and introduce kids to theater without a significant cost.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Art, Biography, dance, museum, music, theater

Sweet Serendipity

It should come as no surprise that I am a planner, a meticulous organizer who makes sure every trip has a well researched itinerary to please all  members of our traveling crew.  Over the years however, I have come to listen to the little voice that reminds me now might be the time to throw the timetable out the window and grasp a “couldn’t have planned it if I tried” moment.

Without fail, when I’ve seized these moments, they have become the most cherished of memories.  My favorite serendipitous moment happened two years ago in New York City.

November 2012 232crop

HuskyGirl heading up the nearly empty walkway towards the giant balloons!

We had the opportunity to join our West coast family in Manhattan for the three days before Thanksgiving.   After an incredible visit, the girls and I had a day to ourselves on Wednesday as we waited for our 6pm train to Connecticut where we’d spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws.  We decided to visit the American Museum of Natural History, which is very cool in its own right.  What happened when we left could never have been planned.  We tried to get out out to Central Park, but the exits were off limits as they were preparing for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade the next morning.  We were directed to an obscure exit that took us to a semi-covered tunnel area.  Central Park was to the right, but I didn’t want to go that way – If the road was already blocked off how would we get a cab to Grand Central Terminal?  No, lets go left.  So we did.

And found ourselves funneled into the viewing area for the Macy’s Giant Balloon Inflation Event.

Not only did we not plan this, I didn’t even know this event existed!  We were able to walk with the hoards past the balloons as they were inflated, getting a true sense of their enormous size and learning about each balloons’ history.   I honestly can’t recall exactly which balloons we saw, but I can conjure in my memory the music, festival atmosphere, and wonder that accompanied this experience.    Once we were directed out of the viewing area we realized that this was no small event.  Thousands of people lined the streets  – which meant we had been quite lucky indeed (although we only saw half the balloons due to our unorthodox entry point) but also meant there wasn’t a cab to be seen for miles.   The trade off of this experience was a missed train and later arrival in Connecticut, as well as a good 12 extra blocks of walking.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.   More importantly the spontaneity and surprise of stumbling into the experience was key to the magic.

Sometimes you have to know when once-in-a-lifetime is reminding you to let go.  So plan accordingly!

Check out this wonderful non-fiction read about the creator of the giant Macy’s Balloons .

balloonsoverbroadwayBalloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet tells the tale of puppet maker Tony Sarg and his invaluable contribution to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  From his beginnings as a marionette maker to his puppet displays in Macy’s Herald Square location windows, Sarq was an innovator in the field of puppetry.  In 1924 he created many of the original floats for the first Macy’s Parade.  However, when Macy’s wants him to create something bigger and better, Sarq must figure out how to make puppets that are going to excite the huge crowds now attending the parade each year.  With a little imagination, and innovation, Sarq proves that the amazing is possible.


Filed under Biography, History, Holiday, Thanksgiving

I is for…

What if you could be anyone, or go anywhere?  With a little imagination anything is possible!

Isabella books by Jennifer Fosberry

Isabella is a little girl with big plans.  With unlimited imagination nothing is impossible for a girl who truly believes in the magic of pretend!  (PB)

isabellagirlonthegoIsabella: Girl on the Go – Isabella is spending the day helping her father, but she isn’t going to settle for ordinary chores!   As she goes about her day each chore becomes an exciting adventure across the globe.  Where will she end up?  The best place of all, of course, home.  Wonderful information for young readers about the fantastic destinations that Isabella visits – from the Pyramids at Giza to the Great Wall of China – at the back of the book.

isabellanotmynameMy Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? – Isabella isn’t going to settle for just being Isabella!  Call her Sally the astronaut or Marie the scientist, or Mommy the greatest Mommy there ever was!  Isabella spends her day pretending to be all her heroes, driving home the idea that girls can be and do anything they want.  And maybe being Isabella is the best person for her to be, after all.  Turn to the end to learn all about the amazing women Isabella adores.

isabellastarofthestoryIsabella: Star of the Story – Isabella discovers the wonders contained in the covers of a book when she visits the library.  Here she takes a turn at being the lead role in classic children’s tales while she tries to find just the right book.   Who will Isabella be next?  Peter Pan, Goldilocks and Black Beauty all make appearances, but it is the yellow brick road that leads Isabella to the checkout desk and the perfect book for her.  Don’t forget to check out more information on the stories Isabella enjoys at the back of the book – perhaps one is just right for you!

Leave a Comment

Filed under A to Z, Art, Biography, classics, Library, Picture Book