Finding Vivian Maier

I wrote this film response for my photography class this past spring.  My analysis of the documentary Finding Vivian Maier does contain some spoilers, but the true jewel of the movie is the photographs, so I do not think my spoilers will affect your enjoyment of the documentary too much.

Vivian Maier self-portrait pastiche
One of Vivian Maier’s self-portraits (left) and a pastiche I did of it (right) for one of my class assignments.  A pastiche is an imitation of art that pays homage to the original work.

When aspiring author John Maloof uncovers the work of an obscure photographer, his journey of discovery introduces the world to Vivian Maier and inspires the creation of the documentary Finding Vivian Maier.  Both artists and art can be quite controversial, and Vivian Maier and her photographs are no exception.  At the same time, though, this film’s cinematography, storytelling, and the work of Vivian Maier that it presents are often exceptional, intriguing, and even inspiring.

From the first second to the last, Finding Vivian Maier is full of cleverly-crafted shots.  The cinematography has an appealing aesthetic, and I like the way in which the filmmakers link together interview footage of experts and Maier’s acquaintances with Maier’s photographs and personal audio recordings.  Because of the film’s clean but creative cinematography, the storyline is easy to follow and interesting without the need for dramatization or actors.  Additionally, I think the framing of certain shots is appropriate and effective.  For instance, scenes where the film zooms out to show dozens of Maier’s photos laid out in a grid exemplify the photography compositional rule of patterns and repetition, and this is a powerful visual tool for emphasizing how prolific a photographer Maier was.  Finding Vivian Maier also includes examples of compositional rules such as the rule of thirds and the use of unusual perspectives, which are nice touches in a documentary about a photographer and add interest to what might otherwise be boring footage.  Thanks to the documentary’s high quality cinematography, black-and-white photos linked with interview scenes become a seamless story which draws in the audience.

street photography MaierWhile high quality cinematography is valuable, however, the storytelling in Finding Vivian Maier is another essential part of the film.  According to what the documentary reveals, Maier is a controversial person who is lonely, perhaps mentally ill, and can be alternately wonderful or abusive towards the children she nannies.  I appreciate that the movie maintains a relatively unbiased approach to the story.  The film is full of personal accounts from people who have known Maier and the opinions of art experts, and how the filmmakers tell the story presents different sides to Maier’s life, focusing on both her strengths and weaknesses.  In addition, the fact-based storytelling method and the frequent use of interviews to stitch the story together helps promote the film’s credibility.  One aspect of the storytelling that I do not understand is why the storywriters include the uplifting discovery that Maier attempted to have her work published in the middle of the film rather than at the end.  Following this exciting revelation, the documentary highlights Maier’s mysterious life and erratic personality and concludes on a sad note with her lonely death.  This arrangement of events strikes me as an odd storytelling decision, although I do think the story ends strong in the last scene with its audio clip of Maier and a shot of one of her self-portraits being developed.

photo by MaierThe storytelling and cinematography in Finding Vivian Maier help make the documentary interesting, but Maier’s photographs are the most inspiring and intriguing aspects of the film.  Maier’s photographs range from clever to stunning to disturbing.  Just like Maier, the photographs are often full of mystery and contrasting character.  She clearly had an excellent eye for photo composition and natural talents which she honed with constant practice, resulting in the thousands of images Maloof finds in his search.  I think Maier’s persistence and boldness in taking photographs teach the importance of practice and pushing outside one’s comfort zone to achieve success in photography.  No theories can replace hands on experience.  In particular, I like how Maier’s photos are often candid and raw; they show the world as it really is with all its beauty and flaws.  I think it is intriguing that Maier was so bold in her photography because, by all accounts, she was reclusive and sometimes even scared of strangers,

In spite of her secretive life, reclusive personality, and lifelong silence about her work, Vivian Maier now has posthumous recognition thanks to Finding Vivian Maier.  More importantly, though, Maier has found a voice in her photos that will continue to speak for her.  Through the pictures, audiences can meet strangers and gain a new perspective on life and the world around them.  These images communicate everyday experiences, emotions, and scenes and also reflect the creative but eccentric artist who shot them.  Maier’s story is another example of how some of the greatest artists have broken and lonely lives, yet despite—or perhaps because of—this, they are able to capture beauty and share it with the world.

Note: Finding Vivian Maier is currently available on Netflix Instant.


Etymology Enigmas Explained

Without words, humans could never tell or write stories.  But in a strange reversal of this relationship, some words would not exist without stories.  Instead of deriving their form and meaning from similar words in other languages, some terms are named after and earn their meaning from myths or history.  In fact, many unusual terms in English are named after people and places and the stories related to them.  After a little digging, I solved the etymology enigmas of the following ten words, and I have included their origin stories below.

Bluetooth: This strange technological term has always intrigued me, and I recently discovered that it is named after Harald Bluetooth, a Danish king in the 900s A.D. who united and Christianized Denmark (Baltzan 197).  The logo for the modern technology Bluetooth combines two runes which stand for the Danish king’s initials: Runic letter ior.svg and Runic letter berkanan.svg.

Pyrrhus bust

Cadmean/Pyrrhic: Adjectives used to describe a type of victory in which losses are so great that they offset the actual victory.  In Greek mythology, Cadmus was a Theban prince who sowed dragon’s teeth which grew into men who ended up slaying each other (“Cadmean”).  Pyrrhus was a Greek general who defeated the Romans at Asculum in 279 B.C., but with such heavy losses that he “declared…that another similar victory would ruin him” (“Pyrrhic Victory”).

Laconic: An adjective for terseness, this word is named after the inhabitants of Laconia who were famous for their verbal brevity.  We know them as the Spartans, but in the Greek, an inhabitant of this land was called Lakōn (“Laconic”).

Limerick: The poetry form limerick derives its name from a city in Ireland of the same name.  (Header image is of a castle in Limerick, Ireland).

OK: This word signals agreement or acknowledgement and first appeared in 1839 when it was “a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and supply an explanation in parentheses” (“OK”).  In this particular case, OK was used as an abbreviation  that meant “all correct”—obviously as a joke because neither letter in the abbreviation was correct.  U.S. President Martin Van Buren popularized the term when he used it in his 1840 reelection campaign because his nickname was “Old Kinderhook,” named after his birthplace.

Robot: According to author Paige Baltzan, Karl Capek coined the term robot in a play in 1921, and robota is a Czech word that means “forced labor” (222).  Since then, robot has become a common word, especially popular during the heyday of science fiction.

Sandwich: A popular form of food, the sandwich’s name comes from the Earl of Sandwich, who is credited for making the first sandwiches.

Ambrose Burnside
General Burnside

Sideburns: The term sideburns is a variant of the word burnsides, both of which have the same meaning and originated from the last name of Ambrose Everett Burnside, a general in the American Civil War who had very impressive side-whiskers (“Burnsides”).

Tantalize: Did you know that this word was named after a king in a Greek myth?  Tantalus was a son of Zeus and the predecessor of Menelaus and Agamemnon.  After betraying the gods’ trust and committing some pretty abominable deeds, Tantalus was eternally punished in Hades for his crimes.  According to legend, Tantalus had to stand “up to his neck in water, which flowed from him when he tried to drink it, and over his head hung fruits that the wind wafted away whenever he tried to grasp them” (“Tantalus”).

Tarantism: This is a disorder characterized by an irresistible impulse to dance.  Apparently there was a tarantism epidemic during the 15th through 17th centuries, predominately in southern Italy.  Tarantism was popularly attributed to being bitten by a tarantula, and the tarantella was an energetic 6/8 meter dance thought to be a remedy for tarantism.  Turns out, the tarantula was innocent of all accusations, but now it has at least two terms named for it.  And in case you were wondering, all of these words derive their names from the Italian city Taranto.

Works Cited

Baltzan, Paige.  Information Systems.  4th ed., McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.

“Burnsides.”  American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed., 2016.

“Cadmean.”  Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913.

“Laconic.”  American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed., 2016.

“Limerick: Poetic Form.”  Encyclopædia Britannica Online,

“OK.”  American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed., 2016.

“Pyrrhic Victory.”  Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, 2010.

“Tantalus.”  Encyclopædia Britannica Online,

“Tarantism.”  American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed., 2016.

A Wealth of Words

The English language lacks the lovely vowels of many languages, such as Hawaiian, Asian, and Romantic ones.  With all its harsh consonants and unpleasant vowels, English may never rank high as the “most beautiful-sounding language in the world.”  However, English does have a rich vocabulary full of words that may not be beautiful per se but have so much character or are so strange that they are fun to use.  Take this sentence for example:  “The squirrels scarfed the scrumptious scones.”  Isn’t that ridiculous but also just fun to say aloud?  Next time you find something in your fridge that is out-of-date or smells suspicious, instead of asking if it’s safe to eat, you could ask, “Is it esculent (aka edible)?”  Some other fun words include quiddity, effulgent, elenchus, vitiate, tergiversate, and numinous.

Wealth of Words imageAcquiring and implementing new English words can be not merely fun but also have practical applications.  Precise words enhance all types of writing, improving clarity and making sentences more compelling.  A good exercise to increase your vocabulary is to write down unusual words that you encounter.  Sometimes I list them in a little notebook as I’m reading.  Later, look up the definitions of the words and practice using them until you fully understand their meanings and can incorporate them into your own conversations and writing.  Another good way to discover new words is to find synonyms for words you commonly use.  When a word has too broad a definition or is overused, it can become weak.  Using a variety of terms makes each one more meaningful.

English has a wealth of words that are fun and free to use—whether they are “million dollar” words or not.  My only caveat is to be careful so that you don’t overload your conversations or writings with presumptuous-sounding words.  Either use an outlandish word here and there just for personal pleasure or work hard to master new words so that you can incorporate them smoothly and naturally into your vocabulary.  One way in which you can integrate new words into your speech is by reading books that have broad vocabularies.  Books from previous centuries are often a good starting place for this as they can have rich vocabularies of terms that may have fallen out of use but are not yet archaic.  These books can introduce you to new words, familiarize you with unique words you’ve seen before but never used, and give you examples of how to use them properly.

In an era in which we idolize that which is “free” in cost, I think we often undervalue and ignore the wonderful gift we have in the form of the English language.  Improving our vocabulary and discovering new words can have so many benefits, from personal enjoyment to improved communication and even better reading comprehension skills.  With such a wealth of words at our fingertips, I think it’s sad that we don’t appreciate and use the English language more.

P.S. Only once we become brave enough to make recondite words quotidian will our conversations truly coruscate.  (And yes, that is an example of what not to do with new words, but sometimes it’s too entertaining to resist!)

George & The Werewolf, Pt. 3

This is the third installment in a four-part short story which we have been writing on Thousand Mile Walk.  For those of you just joining us, here are Part 1 and Part 2 of “George & The Werewolf.”

Rounding a bend in the steep mountain track, George was temporarily blinded by the rays of morning sun that the shoulder of rock had hidden.  He tipped his hat brim down over his eyes and focused on his feet.  A misstep here would be fatal, for after days of scaling the mesa, he was acutely aware of the peril of the precipice on his right, and there would be no one to catch him if he stumbled.

A loosened pebble skittered off the path and into the expanse beyond, its pattering echo cracking the shell of silence that seemed to encase him and shut him off from the world of the living.  The hollow sound reminded him once more of how alone he was.  Or was he truly alone, George wondered, thinking about the nocturnal howl and the paw prints and boot marks he had noticed yesterday and this morning.  Did someone else know of his contract?

Head still tilted and hat limiting his vision beyond the next few paces, George suddenly saw a moving black shadow slice the path in front of him.  Glancing up in surprise, he was once again blinded, then shielded his eyes with his left hand—the other one sliding to the Wilhelm 56Z in his holster.  A tall figure was outlined at the head of the steep track, hands raised and palms out.

“Who are you?” George shouted, weapon at the ready.  “Why are you here?”

The figure turned and disappeared around a turn in the track.  George yelled and sprinted up the path.

“Stop, or I’ll shoot!”

Reaching the turn in the path where the figure had vanished, George halted abruptly.  The person had disappeared.  Listening, George realized the silence of moments before had resumed.  He heard no running steps or scattering rocks.  The early morning chill had already evaporated, and even this brief exertion had left him sweating and out of breath in the unusually thin air.  For a moment, George felt dizzy.  Had he merely imagined the figure?  Was he hallucinating?  When was the last time he had spoken to another living soul?  He had lost count of the days since he had buried his guide.  Had it been days, or weeks?  George shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.  Holstering his Wilhelm, he tugged a water canteen from his pack and drank.

Yes, surely he had been hallucinating.  His mind felt much clearer now, and George tried to forget the disturbing occurrence and refocus on the path and his mission.  In all this solitude, he needed to keep his mind active if he wanted to retain his sanity.

George began to sort through possible internal conversation topics.  He pictured a hearty German breakfast, with link sausage, poached eggs, and cider, and quickly regretted the thought, as his stomach began to grumble.  Dry bread, water, jerky, and tinned food was all the fare he had eaten since the journey began, and even once he completed his mission, he would have to subsist on the same until he returned to the seaport to board his ship home.  He would be able to enjoy a good meal soon enough—once he finished Mr. Acton’s contract, that is.

To try to forget about breakfast, George surveyed the barren scene around him.  He thought of the beautiful mountains of Germany that were nothing like this desert of rock and aridity and glaring sun.  Had these mesas ever raised a real tree, not one of these scraggly bushes that barely resembled its German cousins?  George snapped off a dry twig as he passed a “tree” and broke the branch into pieces with his restless fingers, scattering the splinters as he walked.  Dusting his hands off, George refocused on the path and quickened his pace.  He squinted far up the path and realized his destination was in sight.

Distracted by what he saw at the top of the path, George passed the boot prints in the sandy ground without a glance or a moment’s thought.  Neither did he hear the quiet steps behind him which his own scramble up the rocky path had muffled.  For a second, George felt the coolness on the back of his neck of a passing shadow, but as he began to turn to discover the source, a breeze followed, and with it, a hand and the butt of a gun.

Cold, darkness, a pain in his neck and head, biting wind, and a faint tapping sound.  As George pried his stiff eyelids open, at first he thought he was in a dark room.  Or was he blind?  He blinked, and his eyes began to water, then to clear and focus.  Pinpricks of starlight appeared, and he realized it was night and he was on his back.  What had happened?  His blurred thoughts began to clear, then awoke with freezing clarity as he heard a snarl, and then the first low notes of a howl.  A howl that was louder and closer than it had ever been in all his nightmares, and George knew without a doubt that this was no nightmare.  His fingers twitched softly toward his hunting knife; his Wilhelm would be no use from the ground against an opponent that had the close quarters advantages of claws and teeth.  Gripping the knife handle, George slipped it silently from its sheath.  He heard faint panting and a quiet click-click-clicking circling him and coming nearer.

…To be continued and concluded by Catdust19.

Viceroy’s House: A Divided India

Did you know Pakistan has only existed for 70 years, and Bangladesh is only 46 years old?  Why and how these countries came into existence forms a fascinating and often-forgotten part of 20th century history which began with events that the 2017 movie Viceroy’s House brings to light.

Viceroy's House group
Lord Mountbatten and his wife and daughter with Gandhi

British historical drama Viceroy’s House depicts the rule of the last viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who is appointed to oversee British withdrawal from India and the establishment of an independent Indian nation.  Granting independence is not an easy task, however, for India is divided by race and religion, and its Muslim minority fears oppression under a Hindu majority rule.  Mountbatten attempts to negotiate a satisfactory compromise between three political giants: Jinnah, Gandhi, and Nehru.  Muslim leader Jinnah seeks a separate nation for Muslim Indians.  Gandhi desires a united India, even at the cost of offering Jinnah and the Muslim minority full power in the new Indian government.  Nehru disagrees with both propositions.  As Mountbatten and his family adjust to life in India and struggle to achieve a peaceful conclusion to the crisis which confronts them, conflict breaks out across India, and tensions rise.  In addition to focusing on the main storyline of India’s political problems, the movie highlights the struggles that the people of India face during this time by depicting the lives and relationships of the Indian staff which serves in the viceroy’s house.  At first, some of these side characters seem like filler to introduce extra conflict and romance.  Nevertheless, these characters serve an important purpose, for they reveal how India’s political problems affected individuals and everyday life.

Viceroy's House staff
Lord Mountbatten and his family (in the center) with their staff at the viceroy’s house

While a quick perusal of a history book or encyclopedia page will quickly tell the end of the story, Viceroy’s House does more than just narrate events, for it also provides insightful perspectives into what life may have been like for the viceroy, his family, and all the people of India who were affected by the events leading up to and succeeding India’s Independence Day.  The movie thoughtfully touches on the divisions that religion and race wrought in India as Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs saw each other not as united Indians, but as divided races.

Although the film undoubtedly takes liberties with the true story, the fact that the filmmakers consulted Lord Mountbatten’s daughter Pamela and that the director’s grandmother lived through the tragedies following India’s independence lends the film credibility and a sense of personal connection which sets it apart from many historical dramas.  Viceroy’s House vividly brings to life an incredible story with gorgeous details in costumes, sets, music, and cinematography.  More importantly, though, the movie treats its subject seriously and sensitively, as this chapter of history deserves.


College Caroler


The songster carols every morn

To welcome in the day newborn

As day’s first light and sunbright rays

Enter my room through branchy maze

And weave around my window shades

To stripe my floor in bright cascades.


And now as evening falls, again

I hear that happy song begin,

A lullaby to close the day

And bid the sun to go away

Until the moon has come and gone,

Then to return with break of dawn.

Note:  Listening to a little songbird singing outside my dorm room window one morning and evening this past week inspired me to write this short tribute.  After months of silence during my time at school, the birds have suddenly emerged and begun to carol everywhere on campus.  I would have expected them to be active in the late summer and fall, not in the middle of winter with snow and freezing temperatures, but who can know the mind of a bird?

Back to School

Stepping out into the cold, Emilia shoved her gloved hands into her coat pockets and scrunched further into her scarf.  The silence surprised her.  No one was out on the university’s sidewalks in the early evening dark.  No cars, no doors, no shoes, no animals, no leaves sounded around her.  The world felt muffled in a thick layer of cold quiet.  Even when a car did roll by, it too seemed muted and distant.  The night was beautiful in its unusualness.  Emilia smiled and would have stayed outside a little longer to enjoy the wintry wonder of the silence, but she was shivering and already late for her normal suppertime.

As she entered the warm cafeteria, Emilia fumbled in her pocket and pulled out her ID.  She smiled and said hello to the worker at the front desk.  When she held out her ID for him to swipe, he waved it away.  “Go ahead.  The system’s down,” he explained.  In the cafeteria, the workers were already wiping down tables and stacking chairs as Emilia cut up her slice of ham.  Her meal seemed to take forever thanks to a whistle-like beep every thirty seconds.  Was a fire alarm battery going out?  Should she be concerned?  No one else reacted, so neither did she.  Did it really take her a minute and a half (three beeps) to cut up a slice of ham?  Probably so, she admitted a little reluctantly.

Finishing up her meal, she left the cafeteria and stopped by one of the many public restrooms on the way back to her dorm.  The beeping from the cafeteria was mimicked here by a softer, electric beeping that was less concerning but still annoying.  How can there be four soap dispensers and still no soap?

Back in her dorm room, whose deceitful thermostat read eighty degrees, Emilia kept her coat and scarf on, hoping that either she or the room would warm up.  She also hoped the showers would be hot.  After all, this was college life after the Christmas holidays, the day before classes resumed.  Even the little things are successes on days like this, and not to be taken for granted.  Everything would be back to normal in a day or two.  Or wait.  Emilia’s phone chimed, and she saw an alert from the campus police about an armed robbery.  Well, that wasn’t particularly normal or reassuring.  But at least she was inside for the night, and apparently the university warning system was functioning.  Good to know.

A Children’s Christmas

As in previous years, I’ve compiled a list of the latest Christmas books I’ve discovered.  This year, they’re all children’s books, but I think even older audiences will find them fun.  Happy reading, and Merry Christmas!

Christmas TapestryPatricia Polacco’s Christmas Tapestry is a touching story that highlights the wonders of God’s designs as he uses people, places, and events to bring about his will.

On Christmas EveOn Christmas Eve by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Nancy Edwards Calder is a beautiful word picture, even though it isn’t strictly speaking a poem.  Brown details a brief scene on Christmas Eve as curious children tiptoe through their house.  Her descriptions are well-chosen and breathe life into the scene, and in this book, the words enhance the story even more than the pictures.

The Christmas StoryAn unusual type of picture book, The Christmas Story by Robert Sabuda contains some amazing pop-ups accompanying paraphrased Nativity passages (see the featured image of this post for an example of one of the illustrations).

Stopping by WoodsRobert Frost’s famous winter poem comes to life with Susan Jeffers’ lovely illustrations in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  While some people might argue that pictures are superfluous because of the descriptive nature of poetry, I think artwork like Susan Jeffers’ in this picture book enhances the poem and offers a new viewpoint on how one might imagine the scenes the poem portrays.

A Northern Nativity

In A Northern Nativity by William Kurelek, 12-year-old William dreams of what it would be like if the Holy Family came here and now (in the 1930s).  Would people recognize Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and if so, would strangers welcome them or refuse to help them?  By placing the Holy Family in unexpected contexts across North America, Kurelek teaches his audience about Christ and the Bible.  He also reminds readers of the far-reaching extent of Christmas and the good news it proclaims to all people of every race in every time and place.

An Unlikely Lineage

Genealogies form some of the hardest passages of the Bible to appreciate.  For a long time, I saw them as boring lists of hard-to-pronounce names that I would have to struggle through when my family took turns reading Scripture aloud.  Then, during my pastor’s sermon series on Genesis, I began to realize the meaning and value of these recitations.  Just like the rest of God’s Word, genealogies point to Christ and the Gospel.  In particular, God’s grace and providence shine forth in Jesus’ unlikely lineage as described in Matthew 1:1-17.

Many names stand out in Matthew 1, and Jesus’ genealogy is indisputably full of faithful, godly, and kingly men.  Nevertheless, it is also a list of sinners and people with surprising backgrounds.  Abraham lied out of fear (Genesis 12:10-19; Genesis 20:1-2), and his sons Isaac and Jacob showed favoritism toward their children and tried to override or control God’s plans (Genesis 30:37-43).  Judah committed incest with his widowed daughter-in-law Tamar, and their son Perez was the ancestor of Boaz.  Boaz’s mother Rahab was a Canaanite and former prostitute, yet her faith led her to help and then join with God’s people.  Boaz’s wife Ruth was a Moabite; however, she faithfully stayed with her widowed mother-in-law Naomi and made Israel her home.  David committed adultery and murdered Uriah, yet his son by Uriah’s wife became part of the lineage of Christ.  The books of Kings and Chronicles detail the lives of Solomon and his descendants, the best of whom were imperfect and the worst of whom committed abominable deeds.

While focusing on the worst aspects of these Biblical characters’ lives paints a dark and disheartening picture of sin, I see in it hope and grace.  Christ came to save sinners just like these people.  Their stories of brokenness remind us why they and we need redemption, why Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection are necessary.  This lineage also reminds us of the mightiness of God, who chooses to use sin-broken men and women to accomplish his purposes, and who can use what is meant for evil to accomplish good (Genesis 50:20).  Studying Christ’s genealogy reminds me of 1 Corinthians 1:26-28, where Paul writes, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.”

Christians are part of a mighty throng of people, full of faith, sin, strengths, and weaknesses, who needed their divine descendant and his redemptive work just as much as the rest of the world needs him.  Deeper comprehension of the reality and weightiness of sin is not something we should shy away from, for the more we realize the darkness of the world, the more we grow in our appreciation of what the LORD has done.  Only once we acknowledge the darkness in which we walk, will we recognize our need for the Light.  As we read of Jesus’ birth, let us not pass over his lineage and its redemptive message.  As we burn candles and light Christmas trees, may these be reminders of the Messiah who declared himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12), and let us also remember Zechariah’s words: “The dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79) and “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (1:68-69).

Works Cited

The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: Oxford Edition: 1769; King James Bible Online, 2008.


Rainy days have so much potential, but all too often we focus on what we can’t do instead of what we can.  In the picture book Druthers by author and illustrator Matt Phelan, a little girl named Penelope is bored because it’s raining.  Druthers coverSo her daddy asks her what her “druthers” are, and…if I told you anymore, I’d give the whole story away, so I’ll leave it up to you to see where it goes.  Druthers has a sweet story and lovely watercolor illustrations which are full of expression and detail.  Phelan is a talented artist, and I really enjoy how his paintings meld with the simple narration.  Druthers has a clever premise, and I like how Phelan uses the book to define and expand on the term “druthers” while also telling a story about a little girl, her daddy, and a rainy day.

If you’re interested in more books by Matt Phelan, I have reviewed his graphic novels Bluffton and Snow White on our sister site Flint and Bone Comic Reviews.