the school of things

This summer we visited an exhibition of Lee Ufan (Marking Infinity). It was very relaxing. I loved the rocks on cushions (Relatum) and the repetitive paintings and prints. If you are interested in this type of thing, you can find out a bit more about the movement that Lee was a part of, Mono-ha, and see a video about Ufan here. Mono-ha may translate to "the school of things". This is apparently not a very good translation, but I like it. It seems very vague and inclusive. I feel like I belong to the school of things.

Anyway, I came across our tickets from the exhibition while I was tidying my paperwork today and we decided to do some Ufan-inspired paintings at the kitchen table with the Augs.
We used brushes and q tips. Auggie improvised by drawing suns over top and running a toy crane through the paint, wheel painting-style.

It was fun. And then we cut our paper up (it was thick watercolour paper) and used some for birthday cards.

Mr. Brushshoe & Miss Broach

Mr. Brushshoe, designed by Mats Theselius for Die Imaginäre Manufaktur in 1999. It's been sitting in our post queue for a bit, waiting for the right time to pop out.

Then this morning this beautiful felt broach from catrabbit popped up on our blog feed (via bkkids)

These both feel like early spring and they just make you happy to see them.

The Red Balloon

"What does it take to entertain a child? It doesn't take 3D or CGI or talking animals or pop songs or celebrity voiceovers. Children's pleasures are much simpler. The Red Balloon, a 34-minute film by Albert Lamorisse, is a masterpiece of simplicity." —AO Scott., New York Time Critics Picks.

You can find a copy for yourself online SFMoMA or watch it on YouTube.

For more information, see Janus Films (and find out more about the lesser known White Mane, as well).

A Kingdom Lost For a Drop of Honey

We will try to do an activity post soon, but in the meantime here is a little extra post from Robin.

When I was working on the endpapers for Julie Flett's Owls See Clearly at Night, I was given lot of beautiful illustrations to work with—hard to choose! We settled upon a nighttime scene, with buffalo in the front and a rabbit in the back, making them a simple two-colour vignette. The back endpapers were reminding me of something but I couldn't think what. Yesterday it popped into my head. It is the tale of The Old Man in the Moon from A Kingdom Lost for a Drop of Honey (and other Burmese folktales).

This is a book I had as a child, and is still on my bookshelf. I found the stories very fascinating. They have a similar structure to European folktales, but sometimes the outcome is surprising. For example, in the tale of Mister Luck and Mister Industry, it is Mister Luck who prevails — the structure is very different to The Ant and the Grasshopper). The setting, Burma, is full of tigers, elephants, monkeys, and little glimpses into daily life,

"It was the cool season, during which people travelled from one village to another, and there were many wayside stalls selling fried fish and fried cakes."

Anyway, the tale of The Old Man in the Moon goes like this (paraphrased):

There was an old man who made his living pounding paddy. He was alone, except for a rabbit as a companion. He pounded the paddy all day and into the night. His rabbit friend crouched nearby, eating the chaff.

One night the old man was tired of sifting the grain from the chaff after pounding it all day and he said, "If I only had an old woman with me, she could do the sifting, and also keep me and rabbit company." [I like that he is concerned about his rabbit's loneliness as well as his own.]

The Moon-goddess took pity on him and began to visit him during the day, taking the form of an old woman. She sifted and he pounded and at night she returned to the sky. After a few weeks the old man said, "Who are you? Why do you go away when night falls?" The old woman replied that she was the Moon-goddess and she then agreed to take the old man and his rabbit to her moon and let them stay with her forever.

You can still see them when the moon is full.

cococakes + children's books

cococake made some fantastic mini cupcakes for our Foggy launch. Before ordering, we were looking at cococake's web site, which got us onto her (that is, Lyndsay Sung's) blog with its addictive gallery of cute cakes. We chose some simple mini cupcakes with flags and sprinkles. But! As we were looking we saw these children's book themed cakes for Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

I've been having trouble sleeping, thinking of the cupcake possibilities for a big birthday coming up this summer.

The Summer Book

We love the stories and illustrations of Tove Jansson, and we were lucky enough to grow up reading her Moomin tales.

This week on BBC 7, you can listen to her 1972 novel The Summer Book. The program will be available for seven days after the initial broadcast. However, the best way to experience the book is to read it.

The Summer Book is not a children's book. It's about a young girl and her grandmother spending a summer together on a small island in Finland. This is a good summary and review: Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. It's a very beautiful book. This much-loved copy is a Christmas present from Judith to Robin.

Cheburashka Чебурашка​

A few years ago, I saw a cute little character in a magazine (maybe petit glam, which was being featured in Inside Magazines...I'm not sure) with massive furry ears. As the text around him was only Japanese and Russian, it was difficult to tell what his name was and find out more. The Russian Olympic team (which was recently in Vancouver, sporting his image) has solved the mystery. He is a Cheburashka, and will be the official mascot of the Sochi 2014 games.Cheburashka originally appeared in a 1966 children's book by Edouard Uspensky. In 1969, a stop-motion animated series based on the book came out. We love Eastern European stop-motion animation, some of which has been a source of inspiration for our dioramas and hopefully for some stop-motion animation of our own.