From the library...

How To Behave and Why…

It’s been awhile since I wrote about a book, not for lack of books in our world but for overwhelming abundance. The collecting, reading and sharing of books is as essential to life in our house as breathing most days, and sharing all the ones we love would be a full time job!  Sometimes a book comes along, however, that is so important and good and valuable that it must be shared and celebrated. I found this amazing gem during a visit to Citylights bookstore in San Francisco. 

How to Behave and Why” was written by Munro Leaf (most famous for writing “The Story of Ferdinand” – the mild-mannered bull) and published in 1946. 

It’s a deceptively simple looking “children’s book” with a universal message…

Focusing on four essential character traits it explains what the values mean and why they are important in a simple but not pedantic way, so that they are accessible to the very young, the very old and all other ages in between. 

I love that the writing manages to be idealistic and realistic at the same time. If I could buy this book for every child or teacher I know, I would!

We are living in strange and unsettling times, but it is reassuring to know that there are still many good people living fair, honest and kind lives. We need to remind ourselves and each other that these qualities are timeless, and that they can be universal if we keep recognizing their value in ourselves and others. 

A note from the editor of the newly published re-issue:

I hope you read and share it – and tell me what you think! Have you come across any gems at the bookstore lately? 

From the desk of...


Collecting is a funny habit, which belongs to a certain type of person. Some of us are just collectors. We have the urge to complete sets, find matches, build groups of like with like. I am a quirky collector – the object of my pursuit has changed over time and usually there are several small “sub-collections” on the go. At a young age I learned to scavenge at flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores with my mother. This led to a feeling of adventure, discovery and a few odd ball collections along the way. Some of the best are still with me today…

(The entire Nancy Drew library. Rule: each book must be older than me.)

I was reading with one of my primary students last week and came across this charming poem in an out of print reader. (Coincidentally, old school readers are another thing I collect – let me know if you have a stash of them somewhere!)


It made me think right away about all the things I have collected over the years…




Buttons, stamps, coins, postcards, rocks, shells…

I met and married a man who has his own unusual collector qualities. We combined our favourite flea market finds to build a life together. As Erin Flett said, “Collect things that you love, and that are authentic to you, and your house becomes your story.” And so we did.


So many things to gather into one place… Vintage toys, race cars, art glass, and my very favourite…

Fisher Price! (So many years of hunting down hard to find bits and pieces of old sets have led to an eclectic collection … Loved by our own children, all other children who come to visit, and most of their parents too!)

The personal collections have spread throughout the house. Dishes, musical instruments, antlers (really!) and so many books.

We have art books, travel books, history books, design books, car books, children’s books… (You can never have too many.) My personal favourites are from the anchor paperback series edited by (and often illustrated by) Edward Gorey…


I have been collecting these for years but they are getting harder and harder to find. Again, if you have a secret stash, call me!

All of this treasure hunting has rubbed off on my children, who have each curated a special place to keep their most prized collections…



So why do we collect? Are these objects so very important to us?

I don’t think so –
For me the inspiration is usually related to a person or a place. The object is a link to a memory or experience that has meaning, and holds the connection to the memory.

The desire to find, match, and organize the objects that have meaning is part of my personality. It isn’t the item itself that is the goal – it’s the process. “I dig because it’s part of who I am!”

How about you – what are you hunting and gathering these days?