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April 2024   Issue #38



Happy April!      


Welcome to issue #38 of The Simpsonian Muse. I am your scribe, Martha Seif Simpson, Author and Children's Librarian. As the header says, this monthly newsletter will feature:

  • News – Mine as well as other interesting tidbits
  • Views – A few photos from my world travels
  • Stuff to Amuse – A mish-mash of activities, crafts, recipes, videos or whatever I am excited about sharing

If you missed the previous newsletters, you can click the button on the left sidebar on my website to catch up or click here. *NOTE: If you are a subscriber to my newsletter and some of the photos don't show up, please go to my website to read it. The server is sometimes finicky.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I hope you will find something to inform and entertain you.


~ NEWS ~


I mentioned a while back that I've been volunteering in my synagogue's library, which had been abandoned since Covid and was in desperate need of modernizing and reorganizing even before then. Seven dedicated volunteers started working in October 2023 to get the job done.


I took charge of the children's and teen's books. The picture books, many of which were about Jewish holidays, were all jumbled together. I sorted them all into bins to make it easier for kids (and adults) to find what they want. Other people cleaned up the adult fiction, nonfiction, biography, and local history collections.


The biggest job we had was entering all the books into a new computer system. The collection had never been online before! We cataloged each book and added new labels and barcodes. Now, members can look up and check out books via computer. We have finally entered the digital age!


On March 8, the Congregation Mishkan Israel Library had a grand re-opening ceremony. Here are a few photos of the renovated library.

I think the picture book bins look great! The colorful bins hold holiday books, and the grey bins have the rest of the picture books, sorted by the author's last name.


Here I am, with some of the holiday books. Gee, that Purim book on the top shelf looks familiar!


This wall has Adult Fiction on the left and the Banned Books collection (donated by CMI's former rabbi) on the face-front display below. On the right are the Young Adult and Intermediate (middle grade) books. I have a few more I can donate to these collections!


I'll be volunteering in the library one or two days a week to help patrons find books and use the new computer system.


But wait, there's more!


I donated lots of Beanie Babies and other plush toys for the Read Your World (formerly known as Multicultural Children's Book Day) auction, which runs from April 1-15. You can see all the items that were donated and bid on them by clicking here.  You can filter your search to see just books, toys, author visits, or other categories. Please take a look and help support this non-profit agency whose mission is to raise awareness about children's books that celebrate diversity and inclusion.




This month, I'm sharing some social media posts that recommend books I love.


With Passover coming in April, here is a post by Penny Schwartz about some new kids books for 2024.


If you love kids books, you should follow Mia Wejen, whose social media name is Pragmatic Mom. She recommends books on her website, blog, and social media accounts. Here are her April booklists for Earth Day and Autism Acceptance.


Also look at Michele Kirichanskava's article, 5 Holocaust Books That Deserve To Be Adapted Beyond 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' on the Hey Alma website. It includes the Sydney Taylor Honor book, Wrath Becomes Her by Aden Polydoros and the Sydney Taylor Notable book, Alias Anna by Susan Hood and Greg Dawson.


Speaking of Sydney Taylor (which I often do, as you may have noticed), Richard Michelson's picture book biography, One of A Kind: The Life of Sydney Taylor, was published in March. I already have my copy, and so does the CMI library!




This year, I'm featuring the birth dates of authors and illustrators who create books for kids and teens. Here are some people, along with a sample of their books, for April 2024.

  • April 2 -  Hans Christian Anderson (The Little Mermaid and other fairy tales)
  • April 5 -  Richard Peck (A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago)
  • April 8 -  Trina Schart Hyman (Saint George and the Dragon)
  • April 9 -  Margaret Peterson Haddix (Among the Hidden)
  • April 12 - Beverly Cleary (Ramona series, Strider)
  • April 12 – Gary Soto (Chato's Kitchen)
  • April 13 – Marguerite Henry (King of the Wind)
  • April 14 – Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Snowflake Bently)
  • April 16 – Garth Williams (Charlotte's Web)
  • April 21 – Barbara Park (Junie B. Jones)
  • April 22 – Eileen Christelow (Five Little Monkeys books)
  • April 25 – Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy-Tacy books)
  • April 26 – Patricia Reilly Giff (Lily's Crossing)
  • April 27 – Ludwig Bemelmans (Madeline's Rescue)
  • April 27 – John Burmingham (Mr. Gumpy's Outing)
  • April 28 – Lois Duncan (I Know What You Did Last Summer)
  • April 28 – Amy Hest (Baby Duck books)

Can you identify the 5 Newbery winner and honor books and the writers or illustrators of 3 Caldecott books?


 ~ VIEWS ~


This month, I wrap up our Alaskan vacation.

On June 9, the HAL Noordam arrived in Ketchikan. Here is a view from our cabin.


It's hard to see in the above photo, so here is a close-up of the tunnel that's in the center. Thie tunnel is in the only mountain in the world where you can drive above, below, and around it.


We took an excursion to Saxman, a Tlingit Indian village. Here's the sign at the entrance.


We went into the Clan House to see a dance presentation.


Most of the dancers and drummers were kids.


I was fascinated by the little girl in the back, who was too small to participate. She was wearing an outfit like the others, but kept taking it off and putting it on again while she wandered on and off the stage. The dancers made room for her but kept on going with the performance.


According to Wikipedia, Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles, and many are at Saxman Village. After the dance, we were brought into a long, narrow room to hear someone speak about how they carve totem poles. It was too crowded inside to take pictures, but I took photos of some finished poles outside.




This stern-faced fellow sat atop one of the poles. He's supposed to be former United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, who served in President Andrew Johnson's administration. Seward set up the US purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867, and a city on Alaska's southern coast is named after him.


After the excursion, we returned to the dock and explored some of the shops. We had a nice meal at the Alaska King Crab Company restaurant before getting back onto the ship.


Watch this video from Drifter Dave to see more of Ketchikan. He walked along the same dock and ate at the same restaurant John and I did. Dave's video also shows the Salmon Walk, which we didn't see. The following day, Dave goes to the Saxman Village. Luckily for us, it wasn't raining when went, and we did go inside the Clan House. We visited the gift store, too.  


This video by Pedrozo Travel goes into the Clan House and shows some of the performance. It also goes inside the building where totem poles are carved.


After leaving Ketchikan, the ship cruised along the inside passage until we reached Vancouver, where we disembarked. This map shows several of the ports we visited on our vacation.


This was the second time John and I visited Alaska. It's a beautiful state with a lot to see and experience.

What is our next destination? Come back in April to find out!




You can learn more about the Tlingit people here.  and information about their totem poles here

This site has more facts about Tlingit art and culture.


Alaska district governor John Brady began collecting totem poles from various places in southeast Alaska in 1903. They were brought to Sitka, Alaska. and were arranged to form a totem trail in what is now Sitka National Historical Park. These totems are similar to the ones we saw at Saxman. Here is a coloring page of a totem pole shown from the front and the side.


That'll do it for this month.

Until next time, remember to enthuse your muse!


~ Martha