Tag: thea rosenburg (page 1 of 7)

Coming Soon: A Book!

A large percentage of the books on our family shelves are actually about books. They’re books within books, if you will, and they’re filled with wisdom on how to read with children, why to read with children, and—best of all—what to read with them. The closing chapters of these books are always my favorites: they’re full of fascinating book lists.

I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t love book lists. (My blog is, after all, essentially a nine-years-long book list.) And so I am pleased to introduce you to Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children. This is an anthology of essays, edited by Leslie Bustard, her daughter Carey Bustard, and myself. With over forty essays written by dozens of contributors, Wild Things covers a range of reading-related topics, from fairy tales to graphic novels, classics to contemporary works, board books to Shakespeare. It’s all in there—the how, the why, and the what. A few of the stellar contributors are:

Cindy Rollins — author of Mere Motherhood and all-around homeschool guru
Missy Andrews — of BiblioFiles and Center for Lit!
Mitali Perkins — author of Steeped in Stories
Carolyn Leiloglou — author of Library’s Most Wanted
Katy Hutson — of Rain for Roots
Dorena Williamson — author of GraceFull
Carolyn Clare Givens — author of Rosefire
Matthew Clark — singer/songwriter
. . . and lots, lots more!

The essayists write from a variety of backgrounds, and while their interests and tastes vary (assuring there’s something in this book for everyone) every essayist recommends books full of truth, beauty, and goodness. (I know, because we read a lot of them as I wrote my chapters and edited the rest. Our library basket overfloweth!)

The book will be published this spring by Square Halo Books (the official listing is here, and you can pre-order a copy there). In the meantime, I’ll be sharing some books here that our family found through this project that I think you’ll love—books the other Wild Things contributors introduced us to. The Square Halo blog is also running posts by the editors and contributors, and we’re sharing even more wonderful books over there. If your library basket also overfloweth, our work is done!

Pictured above: all books mentioned somewhere in Wild Things & Castles in the Sky. Every one of them is worth reading!


Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children
Ed. Leslie Bustard, Carey Bustard, Théa Rosenburg (2022)

“Grave 8-A”

I park the van at the top of Section C, and my daughter and I get out into the rain. The spongy ground slopes away from us to the road below, speckled with headstones that are, in turn, speckled with lichen. Already my daughter bends over one, wipes the drizzling rain off its surface, and reads a name aloud.

About this cemetery hangs a pleasant sense of disorder. Stones shaped like benches, pillars, or pensive children kneel in the grass, half-sunken where the ground beneath them has settled; moss laps at their edges. Certain monuments here are notorious, like the massive stone angel who has, with her attendant urban legends, nearly eclipsed the family she was meant to memorialize. Broken stones lean in pieces against cottonwood trees whose burly roots slowly shoulder the soil away.

Unlike another local cemetery, which styles itself as a “memorial park” and offers natural burial as well as farewell tributes, death is still a presence here, not an unpleasant thought to be sponged away with rebranding. I feel comfortable saying “tombstone” here, or “grave.” As in, “Look at this grave!”—which I call to my daughter when I find one carved to resemble a scroll draped over a log and slicked with real moisture, real moss. She is at my side in a moment and together we puzzle out the inscription.

It is beautiful, but it is not his.

Grave 8-a

Since I was a kid, our local cemetery has been one of my favorite places—eerie and beautiful, sodden with history and urban legends. I used to walk through it on my way to college; the girls and I go often to explore; I gravitate toward the cemetery when I want to be alone. It was the first place we met my mom for a walk during quarantine, and it was there, one snowy evening twenty years ago, that Mitch and I confessed that we had, you know, feelings for each other.

Yet one of my most bewitching trips came about a few years ago, when my eldest daughter and I went the cemetery on a quest for knowledge. I wrote an essay about that trip, and The Rabbit Room (hooray!) kindly published that essay today.

“Josie Contemplates the Urban-Legend Angel,” or “2020 in a Nutshell”

This essay took over two years (off and on) to write, partly because it took me about that long to figure out what I was trying to say, and partly because I just had so much fun researching it. I learned about churchyard lichens, and about a spree of vandalism in our cemetery years ago. I spooked myself—pretty thoroughly and deliciously—researching the origins of those urban legends I grew up hearing. I know now about “grave wax” (don’t google it!) and about how long it takes a human body to decompose—in short, I learned far more about death and our cemetery than I actually needed to put into the essay, and yet I think every bit of that knowledge (except maybe the bit about grave wax) helped the story get where it was going.

And where it was going is here. (Thank you for reading!)

Note: The cemetery featured in the photo at the top of this post is actually not our local cemetery, but my other favorite cemetery: Sleepy Hollow in Concord, Massachusetts. I would have shown you our beloved local haunt (pun intended!) but . . . I ran into issues with the photo quality. I hope you’ll forgive the substitution.

“Two Truths & a Lie About Motherhood After the Little Years”

Yesterday morning, our youngest came out of her bedroom looking equal parts thrilled and apprehensive, and announced, “I think I have a loose tooth!”

I felt the tooth. It was so. Now, she’s been sporting a gap-toothed smile for nearly a year already, on account of knocking one of her front teeth loose on a bike handlebar last summer, but this was new. This was a Milestone for all of us.

My youngest child is losing her baby teeth.

And so it seemed apt that Risen Motherhood shared my article “Two Truths & a Lie About Motherhood After the Little Years” this week. What comes next? When her children don’t exactly need her all the time, what’s a mom to do?

I’ve heard moms talk about this moment—this “all the kids finally out of diapers” moment—like it’s a finish line, as though we ran hard and the race is over. High fives all around! I’ve heard rumors about getting my life back, about resuming paused hobbies, about reconnecting with my true self, the one who apparently spent the last decade buried beneath maternity tops and nursing pillows. But I wonder if it isn’t the other way around. I wonder if my true self was not the one showing through in those years of sleep deprivation.

You can read the full article here.

“What is Certain”

During these days at home, waiting, I bake aggressively. The smell of rising bread gives us a good change to look forward to, even as it gives us a measure of comfort and normalcy. We built a blanket fort that spread from our living room to our kitchen, and then a satellite fort upstairs that involved a full-size tent. Making a smaller home within our home seemed to help: it gave us somewhere to enter and exit, places to visit and then leave.    

But in the evening, as all four daughters make their way to bed and the day’s work slows, I cannot hide from this thought: So little is certain. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. Even the world outside is shuttered to me then, and our darkened windows reflect back only these familiar rooms.

That thought has always been true: I have never known what the next day will bring, but I have been able to make educated guesses and found my plans upon them.

So little has ever been certain, and yet, as I brush crumbs from the table and sweep the dining room floor, readying the room for the morning, I know that some things are certain. Some things always have been and always will be. Whatever the news when I wake up tomorrow, these truths will remain firm and unchangeable.

What is Certain

When the things we thought unshakable are shaken, what can we stand upon? In response to the world-wide upheaval we’re living through right now, I wrote about this question for Deeply Rooted. You can read that article, “What is Certain?,” on the Deeply Rooted blog.

You can read the full post here.

“Behold the King”

Writing about Christmas is one of my favorite ways to skim the emotional stuff off its surface and to remember that Christmas isn’t meant to be a season in which we all make everyone we love happy for four straight weeks, but a remembrance: the One who “neither sleeps nor slumbers” (Ps. 121) became a baby, vulnerable and finite, for us. The One who is everywhere at every time became, for thirty-three years, a man bound to seconds and minutes—for us.

I need to spend weeks each year considering this, looking at it from new angles, and so I’m quick to volunteer for the Advent and Christmas writing assignments. This year, I explored (and at times, it felt like a true adventure) those silent centuries before Jesus’ birth and the way God worked out his plan through them and through Jesus’ coming:


Four hundred years of silence.

After the roars and pleas of the prophets, that silence rang—as audible, in its way, as a lament. The Israelites had grown accustomed to the prophets and their noise, which often ran behind the clamor of daily life, a muted hum. . . .

But then that steady hum ceased. The last prophet’s words hung in the air: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” (Malachi 4:5–6). The Messiah is coming, the prophet said. And before him, one will come running—a herald, announcing his arrival.

Those were the last words the people heard from God for 400 years.

You can read the full article here.