Have you ever watched a child, or anyone for that matter, deeply engrossed in a book? Maybe they wear a slight Mona Lisa smile. Maybe they glance away from the page for a minute, but still have a faraway look in their eyes. Or maybe they even cry, gasp, or laugh out loud. There are so many gorgeous paintings from the 19th century of people reading books. This one (upper right) is slightly after that period (1905) and is by Albrecht Samuel Anker (April 1, 1831 – July 16, 1910). He was a popular Swiss painter and illustrator who often depicted scenes of 19th-century Swiss village life. For the sake of post length, I’ve limited my favorite portrayals to the following: young girls reading books by themselves. The picture at left was created in 1855 by Austrian painter Eduard Klieber (1803-1879). It was around the time of many of these paintings (mid 1800s) that beautiful books were first produced for children. With a German influence, both type and illustration improved and the fashion of only writing about morals and manners was finally starting to decline. When we study these expressive paintings, it’s interesting to wonder what the girls are reading. Could it be a book of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, or maybe Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)?Above painting from 1877 is by English painter Sir Frederic Leighton (3 December 1830 – 25 January 1896). Good idea to use a book-stand as some of these old books look pretty heavy.Even back in 1863, there was multitasking going on. This girl probably couldn’t choose between her two favorite hobbies, deciding to enjoy them both at once, instead. Her joy is beautifully captured forever by German painter Meyer von Bremen (28 October 1813 – 4 December 1886).
Look at the concentration and emotion on this lovely young lady from 1850. So completely absorbed in her book, she seems unaware of being studied by Austrian painter Franz Eybl (1 April 1806 – 29 April 1880) who created this timeless oil on canvas.
Not exactly a book, but let’s head over to Greece to enjoy this humorous portrayal of a young girl reading what appears to be the daily news in 1882. Could she be reading about political candidates? She has been captured forever by Greek painter Georgios Jakobides (11 January 1853 – 13 December 1932).Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (7 March 1802 – 1 October 1873) painted the above portrait in 1835. An English painter, he is best known for his lion sculptures in Trafalgar Square.Above painting is by Emil Rau (1858-1937), a German painter. I love the light coming in through an unseen window.An example of the highly recognizable style of French artist Auguste Renoir (25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919). A leader in the development of Impressionist painting, he completed the above in 1886.Ilya Yefimovich Repin (5 August or 24 July 1844 – 29 September 1930) was a Russian realist painter who gave us this lovely Reading Girl in 1876.We can’t leave out Winslow Homer (February 24, 1836 – September 29, 1910), American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He painted the above work: Reading by the Brook in 1879.Anton Ebert (1845-1896) was an Austrian painter who painted the above girl (c. 1890) with two little books to enjoy.
Three more to go, all too beautiful to leave out.From 1869, the above masterpiece is by English painter George Goodwin Kilburne (24 July 1839 – 1924).Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt (21 July 1854 – 18 August 1905) was a Finnish painter. Although the above was painted in 1881, it has a more contemporary look to me. Except for the shoes and lack of a cellphone, this might be the girl next door. The dog looks very much like author Cynthia Lord’s adorable little dog, Milo, with one ear up and one ear down.Last, but certainly not least, The Shepherdess (c. 1890) by English Illustrator Myles Birket Foster (4 February 1825 – 27 March 1899).
That’s plenty for now, Happy Reading! Please check out the second half of this post here.
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Great Reviews for CALL ME AMY
“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.” –KIRKUS
“Strykowski lovingly captures seaside Maine and the travails of adolescence in her quiet, sweet-natured debut novel.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Strykowski ably depicts Amy’s insecurity and self-doubt, Craig’s bravura and pain, and Miss Cogshell’s wisdom with a deft, convincing touch. In essence, Amy comes of age as she fights to find her voice in the outside world and shed some of her debilitating insecurity. Readers will cheer her on, and her splendid team, too.” –BOOKLIST
"The protagonist grows throughout the story, from a shy loner to having two friends and speaking her mind in front of her adversaries at school as well as to the whole town. …Amy is a reliable narrator and easily relatable.” –SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
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“To do a good deed, we can find friendship in the most curious of locations. “Call Me Amy” is a novel from Marcia Strykowski following the struggles of Amy Henderson, who finds an injured seal and seeks to nurse it, with the help of a scorned aging woman and an unusual youth. Set in the early 70s and exploring the essence of loneliness, “Call Me Amy” is a powerful read that should prove so very hard to put down, highly recommended.”—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“This is a wonderful YA tale for the simple fact that it shows one and all that the power and courage to stand up and be heard in this life comes from within. And that no matter who you are, you have that toughness inside your soul. Craig has a lovely heart that hides behind that sarcasm he aims at the world, and he will remind every small town girl about that quiet boy she fell in love with long ago. ‘Old Coot’ brings the fun and humor along with her, and Pup is the sweetest creature in the world. Having all the ingredients of first love, faith, loss and strength makes ‘Amy’ unforgettable.” —FEATHERED QUILL
“For Amy, 1973 has been a lonely year, her only friend moved away and she feels awkward around her classmates. Until one day Amy discovers that Craig, another classmate, has rescued an injured seal pup. Amy agrees to help him and together they hide the pup at Miss Cogshell’s house, the odd old lady most kids call “Old Coot.” Amy learns that people aren’t always what they seem to be, and she forms a friendship with Craig and Miss Cogshell. A great story about friendship and doing what you think is right.” —KIDSBOOKSHELF
“For those ages 8 to 12, Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski will resonate with familiar themes of growing up. The year is 1973 and for Amy Henderson, it has been a lonely one with too many awkward moments to count. When she finds an injured seal pup, she rescues him to rehabilitate him. In the process she forms an unlikely alliance with Craig, a boy around her age, and an older woman in town. With their help she discovers that people aren’t always what they seem despite what others may think of them. This is a story filled with many elements that will appeal to younger readers and I highly recommend it.”—BOOKVIEWS.COM
"A wounded seal pup propels 13-year-old Amy Henderson into an unlikely alliance with an unusual older woman and a mysterious boy in a small Maine fishing village. Readers will cheer for Amy as she protects Pup, gains confidence, faces challenges, and comes up with an idea that could change not only the future of her village, but also, her own life. With a skillful hand, Strykowski introduces us to a small town with memorable characters and the girl who could bring them all together." ---Anne Broyles, award-winning author of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS
"In a small town in Maine in the 1970's, Amy is standing on the brink of becoming a young adult. The events that will force her to discover who she is, what she is made of and how she wants others to perceive her are sweetly told through awkward teenage moments, the triumphs and sadnesses of that age and ultimately, Amy's discovery of her own beliefs, strength and courage." ---Kathleen Benner Duble, acclaimed author of THE SACRIFICE
“Call Me Amy is exactly the type of book I love. The characters are relatable and likeable; they are individuals that the reader enjoys getting to know while watching them change and develop. The setting of the small Maine coastal town is idyllic, and the reader is quickly and completely immersed in this community. Although the novel takes place in the 1970s, it feels timeless. Young readers will readily associate with Amy’s struggles and triumphs with her relationships with family and friends, and mature readers will be gently nudged back to this period in their life. These universal qualities make this novel a perfect choice for many types of readers. As a Youth Services Librarian, I would enthusiastically recommend Call Me Amy to our young patrons as well as to a more adult audience. Because it can be enjoyed on so many levels, this novel would be an ideal source of discussion for an adult/child book group.” ---Patty Falconer, Youth Services Librarian
"I just finished CALL ME AMY and I think it is wonderful with beautiful descriptions. I love the characters and their story. It is like having seen a good play or movie and later, while you are doing other things, it comes back to you and you think about the characters again." ---Peggy Arnold, retired teacher and avid reader.
For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely and uneventful year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, who slinks around in an oversized army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids, who catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing.