Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Temptation! Holland Hall Book Fair!

What to do...What to do?

As I bustled around preparing for work this morning, the words 'book fair' on the Tulsa morning news show grabbed my attention. Instantly, I went on point! Books? A book fair? When? Where? Oh, I waited on tenterhooks for the commercial break to end. Surely, the book fair must be special... I mean, really, how many book fairs make the morning news?

Turns out that it isn't just a special book fair; it is a spectacular book fair! It is the Holland Hall 50th anniversary book fair. Here is a description from their website:
Holland Hall Book Fair
This Holland Hall tradition attracts thousands from Tulsa and the surrounding region. It features tens of thousands of used books with a huge selection of rare books, children’s books, games, puzzles, stuffed animals, CDs, videos and DVDs.

Could have knocked me over with a feather! Tens of thousands of books?! And it is an annual event that I've missed since I moved to Oklahoma 25 years ago!! Oh, the agony of missed opportunities!

Definitely a situation that needs rectifying but here is my dilemma: My family has spent the last two Saturdays in Tulsa for other events. Sundays are just not enough time to rest plus prep for the week ahead... so the homefront is in dire need of attention. My weekend projects: Cleaning, tackling a years worth of receipts for taxes, and playing with my poor neglected child. (mommy guilt). Hubby's projects: Setting up a new laptop and rousting a raccoon out of the attic... plus a few more jobs that he is as of yet unaware. ;D

Quite the conundrum, isn't it. And Mr. Cozy Book Nook is absolutely no help what so ever in keeping me on the straight and narrow. Hubby is even more easily led astray than moi and is itching to get his fingers on the CDs, DVDs and special interest books.

Just think of all the amazing treasures waiting to be discovered. Bet there are some games and picture books perfect for Little Cozy Book Nook... and cookbooks... and garden books... and bios... and fiction galore. And what could be in the rare book section? That one really has me curious.

So will we or won't we? Shall we or shan't we?

What would you do? Stay home like good little girls and boys or go play at the fair.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Treasures! Steal Away... to Freedom

Not too much time for treasure hunting today but I spotted a gem to enjoy during lunch. Steal Away... To Freedom by Jennifer Armstrong, 1992.

The synopsis caught my interest: two 13 yr old girls escape to the north. One is African-American and the other is caucasian. The book opens with a letter written in 1928 from a Mary in Manilla to a Free in Toronto and alludes to a great friendship, mistakes, and a memoir that it is time to share with the world. Okay-- that hooked me: I do have a thing for old notes/letters.

My questions about who Mary and Free could be were soon answered. Mary is the granddaughter of the white girl (Susanna) in the synopsis and Free lives with the now elderly African-American girl (Beth).

Susanna and Beth decide it is time to share their story with the youngsters who write down every word.

Even though some bits are a bit melodramatic, the story the old women tell is compelling. Both sets of girls meet at age 13 in very different circumstances. I can't wait to find out how each set gets past the fear/distrust to become friends.

I really should have brought this home instead of saving it for next Tuesday's lunch read. Why do Susanna and Beth have to escape? Does Susanna's male cousin start harassing the girls? What is Susanna's horrid female cousin up to? Will Beth overcome her fear of punishment and let Susanna teach her to read? In the second story line, why does Free seem to dislike Mary at first sight?

Well, guess who is going to be raring to get to work next Tuesday?!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mrs. Baja's First Award!

Big News!
Too exciting!! Amy from The Black Sheep Dances bestowed the Honest Scrap Award onto her favorite bookblogs and Mrs. Baja's Cozy Book Nook was included in that illustrious group. What an honor.... Thank you, Amy!

To receive such an acknowledgement for a new blog left us absolutely gobsmacked... completely speechless! Well, not speechless for long. After all, DeLynne is a linguist and I am a speech pathologist... We are rarely without words or so our dear hubbies contend. Oh, the emails that whizzed to and from the Green Country of Oklahoma, USA and the Rain Forest of Queensland, OZ.

The Honest Scrap Award

In accepting this award, we are required to list 10 fascinating and/or quirky true things about ourselves then forward this award to other deserving bookblogs. How fun!

Ten Hopefully Fascinating (or at least Somewhat Interesting) but Definitely Quirky True Things about your Hosts

Not such a tough exercise with a friend you've known for 30 years. Is that considered cheating? We each remembered things about the other that we had forgotten as individuals--- and commonalities that surprised us even after all these years.

Quirks in common:

1. Neither of your hosts can whistle.

2. Neither of your hosts can fall asleep unless our ears are covered by the covers.


1. I can flip my tongue upside down as well as roll it.

2. I removed my own braces with wire cutters and pliers for prom.

3. I traveled around the world with $350 spending money.

4. I arrived in Australia with $7 in my pocket and stayed.

5. I've studied 6 languages so far and speak 3 fluently. Currently, I teach Italian to teenagers, kindergartners and adults. My French night classes have been running for years.

6. I have an absolute weakness for any china that is blue and white. Our table is a psychedelic pastiche: nothing matches and I love it.

Lesa (display name Cozy Book Nook)

1. I do not have nor will I ever have pierced ears.

2. I can't hold my breath under water to save my life but I can snorkel like a wild woman! In fact, on my first snorkeling adventure, I swam with a sea turtle!

3. I always cry when I hear the Star Spangled Banner or read/watch a poignantly heroic battle scene.

4. I am a library girl and rarely buy books. Too expensive and limited storage and I don't want to be known as the 'crazy book lady' in my old age.

5. I've walked across Abbey Road and been in the Cavern Club.

6. Green thumb here! I always start 100s of seedlings for my own garden and my garden buddies' gardens. Typically, I plant at least 80 tomato plants and 40 pepper plants.

Whew! Hope we didn't exhaust your interest!

Sharing the Love

Now, the highlight: presenting the Honest Scrap Award to our favorite book/reading blogs! No stuffy, dry or pretentious literary reviews in these blogs. Our nominees are engaging, humorous, charming and clever; celebrating a love of books and reading with an unique personal flair. Nominees if you wish to participate grab your logo, confess, and pass it forward.

And The Award Goes To...

Psyched On The Prairie What a wonderfully clever and irreverent blog. If you have ever read the 'Little House' books, you must check out this blog!

OE Books: One Story At A Time RYCJ shares sentimental and amusing anecdotes and original short stories all wrapped up with a love of reading.

Books Are Like Candy Corn This enticing title leads to an irresistible blog! Elegantly and beautifully written, Rob's blog covers a variety of genres with a dash of humor.

The Life (And Lies) Of An Inanimate Flying Object This blog includes reviews, original stories and personal narratives. Haleyknitz writes with a refreshingly expressive honest voice... also sprinkled with humor.

Thank you again, Amy, for presenting this award to Mrs. Baja's Cozy Book Nook and for being so kind to the 'new kids on the block'. We are beyond flattered!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Language Learning Resources

Are you trying to learn a language? Don’t know where to start or need that extra boost to your studies? I have some hints and advice for you. For many years I have taught adults languages, and they often want advice on which resources to buy, which internet sites to use, etc.

Don’t get too carried away at first. Most classes are self contained, and you’ll have all the essentials if you’ve signed up. If you do want to build a language-learning resource center, take it slowly. Here are suggestions of books and CD’s that anyone can use to help their language studies. I will try to give general advice, with specific examples, so you can adapt these ideas for any language you’ve chosen. But let’s pretend you are learning French.



When travelling you must carry a tiny notepad and a pen, and have it handy, in your pocket. I am afraid that sometimes students think they are saying words really well, but in fact their accent is unintelligible to native speakers. If you are having difficulty being understood, then whip out your little book and write down what you’re trying to say. Then, if you have found a friendly speaker, repeat after them to learn the correct pronunciation.

Also, there will be times when you don’t understand what someone is trying to tell you, and they can write it down for you to read. This is especially helpful with numbers.


The Idiot’s Guide series has ‘Learning the language on your own’ guides as well as phrase books available in pretty much any language you’d want to learn. They are the first book I recommend to my students. The ones I’ve used have explanations of grammar and vocabulary done in a snappy, easy-to-digest style. They also come with a CD rom, which in my experience is just a soft version of your book, so not exciting. The Dummies’ Guides would, I’m sure, offer a similar product, and none of my students have had anything bad to say about them.

Old grammar books are old. Teaching philosophy has changed remarkably over the years, and old books are out-dated. They are likely to be cheap, and your learning style might be compatible with them, though. I plowed through old exercise and drill books and felt I learned lots from them.


Firstly, I’ve never really come across a BAD dictionary. My main advice would be to buy, if possible, a dictionary published by a company in that language. For example, use Larousse to study French, Mondadori for Italian, and Langenscheidt for German. You’ll want to consider size: are you going to carry it as you travel or keep it on your desk? Obviously smaller dictionaries won’t give you as many words as bigger ones, so it might be worth having two; a big one at your desk for study and one for carrying to class and in your bag as you travel.


Essential if you travel, these pocket sized books are sorted by topic, so you just flip to your situation. For example, banking or restaurant will have all the basic vocabulary and phrases together for you. You can ask, ‘Do you have this in a smaller size?’


These picture books have an image with text in both languages, sometimes with a fair bit of culture, too. They are a fun way to study with your kids, if you have them. You might pick up a hundred words with one of these, while releasing your inner child.


These are for the pedantic, detail-minded learner, or the more advanced student. Verbs are the skeleton that language hangs on, and it’s worth having a book dedicated solely to them if you want to move beyond survival phrases (Don’t think I’m knocking survival language—it’s essential!). They contain a list of verbs with all their possible conjugations, and I find mine essential.


Audio resources are essential. You can listen to them over and over,
parroting until you’ve got it right. They range from the massive, expensive and highly respected Rosetta Stone to this perfectly adequate $10 cheapie I picked up at my post office. I recommend my students buy a cheap one to start, and master that before investing more money.


Once you’re ready to attack a ‘real’ text, you’ll just have to shop around. You have to find something challenging that’s not going to frustrate you. Here’s where there’s not that much available, in my experience. If you are in a university town, check out the second-hand book shops students frequent. I’ve found some treasures in my small town bookshop even though we have no higher learning institution here.

One under-utilized resource is romance novels. Don’t laugh! They have a predictable plot, few characters, limited vocabulary (some new words here!), and a reasonable length. See if you can find the site for a major romance publisher in your target language, and you might get free online reads.


Learning a second language can be an incredibly rewarding experience, just make sure you are kind to yourself and have fun as you go along.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Treasures!

More treasures to share! This school library is an absolute treasure trove of great materials to stimulate language/vocabulary, grammar, and articulation.

Unfortunate, of course, that the library flooded but I am so pleased that it was moved into my classroom! Used to be so tiresome lugging a heavy bag of materials on Tuesdays. Now anything I need for therapy is within arms reach! So convenient... hope the library isn't moved back to the previous location after repairs.

Here are a couple of the school library picture books I've been using in my speech/language therapy sessions.

These pages are from A Child's First Dictionary, 1948.

Aren't the illustrations delightful? Love it!

Check out these illustrations from The Carousel Word Book, 1968.

Note how much the style changed in 20 years. You can definitely tell this book is from the late 60s.

Which is your favorite style of illustration?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book?

Grandma and Grandpa got the girls a gift certificate to a local book store, and Dellylu chose this beautiful book by Lauren Child. She passionately collects everything Charlie and Lola, who are the cutest characters ever. This story doesn't have Charlie and Lola, but the illustrations and pop-ups are irresistible.

Below is a synopsis by our eight year old.

"It's about a boy named Herb who gets trapped in fairy tale book with pop-up stories. But Herb drew mustaches and glasses on all of the people, and put telephones in every room. Goldilocks and the three bears are in it, and she is very angry when Herb is in her story."

It's a book about books and taking care of them. Dellylu was captivated by the book within a book idea, and counted them all up. I loved the message that was delivered without sounding preachy. Herb is no brow-beaten goody two shoes!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Plum, last Plum

I promise I won't review any more Evanovich, because they are all pretty much the same, but here's what I read about a year ago. Laugh-out-loud-tears-in-my-eyes funny. Thanks, Linda for loaning it to me, and I hope you had a good birthday.

Chinese Cinderella

We read this for Reader's Cup last year, and it was not easy for my poor 11 year old. She cried some nights. For a sheltered, treasured modern girl it is hard to understand how another child could be treated so badly. I read ahead and it did end in a note of hope, but it seemed a long way away at the pace of one chapter per night. I don't actually recommend it as a bed-time read. My girls like something happier before they fall asleep.

Adeline Yen Mah immigrated to America after a difficult childhood. This book is not so much an American memoir as a Chinese one. It brings a very interesting period of Chinese history to life, and is one of those hard-work-triumphs-over-adversity stories that can be so inspiring.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Treasures...

Yippee! Another great Tuesday in the school library. Didn't get to go last week and I did miss my book moments.

Today's pages sponsored by:

Lad: A Dog
A book from my childhood that I had forgotten about. Lots of doggie drama in the the first three pages. Lad, a gentleman collie, adores Lady. Lady's head is turned by the arrival of a handsome collie stranger. Lad calls the stranger Knave. Funny! If I remember correctly, the whole story is told from a doggie perspective.

This one goes on my reread list. As a kid, I do remember the 1919 writing style being a bit tedious in parts; so I probably skimmed over a lot to get to the action bits. Do you ever re-read books that you read as a child? I find it interesting to compare the interpretations of my kid-self with my adult-self. Funny how much I missed as a child.

Brave New World Always thought provoking...

Never read this one but the description on the first three pages of a boy being bullied on the bus seemed very familiar. While the bullied boy's face is mashed against the bus window, he spots an unknown unkempt boy with dirty feet running like the wind past the bus and out of sight. Certainly captured my interest and definitely rang a bell: I've seen the movie! Gonna read it anyway. Books are always better than the movie!

The Man Without A Face
Intriguing first three pages. Going to read this one! I must find out why the boy is disconnected from the world. Who is the scarred man? How do the two connect and heal?

Today's lunch offering:
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Charming story but I never seem to remember Rebecca. I always reminisce fondly about Laura, Anne, Sara Crewe, and all the Little Women. Poor forgotten Rebecca...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Man's Got to Have a Hobby

Caveat; my copy of this book is currently loaned to a friend, so I’ve written by memory.

William McInnes is a well-known, spunky Australian actor most famous for his role in my favourite TV series Sea Change. In Aussie lingo ‘sea change’ literally means quitting your high-powered job and downsizing your life to move to a small beach community. Figuratively it means any huge life change.

So, spunky Aussie actor decides to write a book. Should we read it or stick to perving at him on the screen? A Man's Got to Have a Hobby is a memoir of his childhood, with particular attention to his dad. He grew up less than an hour from where I live now, in a rambling house in a beach community with lots of brothers and sisters, an aunty and his parents. The house was on a battle axe (shaped) block next to the fire station, and
McInnes recounts these years with skill, tenderness and humour.

McInnes paints portraits so clearly, I feel as if I knew his family through mutual friends. His parents were eccentric, and his childhood almost Tom Sawyer-esque in its freedoms and adventures. The entertaining neighbourhood characters wander in and out of the family’s life and home. What I found most touching was the relationship between the adults; his parents were in love with each other and fond of his aunty.

The protagonist, however, is his dad, and
McInnes describes a man less fettered by the common drumbeat. He was a man of integrity, good humour, and industry, always busy with a project and ready to help a friend. His one-liners had me laughing out loud.

Except for one very brief scene, this book is appropriate for any age, and I was disappointed I couldn’t let my eleven year old read it. It did, however, make a great gift for Hubby. I recommend you read it, even if you’ve never seen the spunky man on TV. He writes as good as he looks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thanks, Book Elves!

Did you know that losing one's voice is a detriment to providing speech therapy? Yes siree bob, it is! Imagine the poor kids attempting to imitate my 'croakity croak croak'. Besides, it hurts!

Today, instead of therapy, I planned to knock a major dent in my Mount Everest high mountain of paperwork. Mind you, this is my main school not the Tuesday 'library workspace' school. In this classroom
, there are absolutely no books to lead me to the darkside.

Until now...

A little book elf named Juanita left a treat on my desk with an tantalizing note: Good Read. To a compulsive reader like me, that's like waving a red flag. Like the Borg say, 'Resistance is futile'. But I'm so proud of myself because tough as it was, I resisted. Well, my eyes strayed occasionally and once I read the back cover, but that was all, I swear!!

Near final bell time, another book elf dropped off her latest cookbook acquisition for me to peruse at my leisure. Since I was on a roll, I had planned to continue working after school. As if!

Just too weak from resisting the lure of the Dean Koontz book all day. I caved...

Can you blame me? It was Pioneer Woman's cookbook. Who could resist that?!

If you aren't familiar with Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, you must visit her blog. She is the Oprah of the blogging world and her blog is absolutely spectacular!

Vegetarian city girl Ree accidently married Marlboro Man who proceeded to whisk her away to a life of ranching. Ree's anecdotal accounts of adapting to life on the ranch and all that entails are quirky, engaging, funny and completely entertaining. Imagine leaving a career life, Starbuck's, sushi, parties, plays, pedicures and pumps for jeans, boots, mud, manure, cooking for an army of ranch hands and homeschooling four beautiful kids. Actually, it sounds like a great trade-off to me. I'm a city girl to country girl transplant, myself! (yes, a man's doing in my case, as well)

Pioneer Woman's cookbook isn't a typical cookbook. It is similar to her blog: stories, beautiful photographs and recipes.

Thank you, Janet, for sharing your cookbook. I didn't dare bring it home to read for fear of accidently dropping it in the muddy swamp that is my yard. Instead, it is safely hidden in a desk drawer.

Can't wait to read some more tomorrow--- only during lunch and breaks, of course. Must continue knocking down that mountain of paperwork. Tomorrow's mantra: Must not open the drawer... Must not open the drawer...

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