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Saturday Book Review: Scary Stuff! (not-so-scary… for the little tykes) — Disney “Mickey Mouse: The Scariest Halloween Story Ever!”; “The Nightmare Before Christmas”; “H is For Halloween: A Book of First Words & ABCs”; “5-Minute Halloween Stories”

November 17th, 2018

Books! Halloween Books! Even though it’s almost Thanksgiving. Work with me people, I didn’t get a chance to review these until now.

Bon appetit, babies.

WM

(All photos by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Halloween Books

Halloween Books

“Mickey Mouse: The Scariest Halloween Story Ever!”

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”

These two slim paperbacks include CDs with sound effects and narration, and that is pretty, pretty cool (Disney Press, 2018, $6.99 each).

I’m aware that Donald Duck has nephews (Huey/Dewey/Louie) but Mickey has nephews, too? Well, they’re cute, and so is this book. It’s all purple and green and you know Wacky Mommy likes those colors best. Story is good, too. Thumbs up for this one.

And “Nightmare Before Christmas, because it’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” and I heart Sally. Jack Skellington is OK, he has a lot of personality for someone so boney. But that creepy Mayor can get to steppin’. (Disney sent me this amazing “Nightmare Before Christmas” pop-up book, too (Disney, 2018), but I have to review it later.)

Halloween Books

“H is for Halloween: A Book of First Words and ABCs” (Disney Press, 2018, $12.99)
“A” is for Abu and Aladdin juggling apples, “B” is for Belle and the Beast brushing bats from the attic, “C” is for Lilo and Stitch collecting candy in a cauldron, and so on. Super pretty big board book, heavy and with nice thick pages for the littles to work with. They can open the flaps, and trace the sunken letters with their fingers.

Halloween Books

“5-Minute Halloween Stories” (Disney, 2018, 188 pages, $12.99)
“Spooktacular” stories, again in an oversized format. There are a dozen total, all with a Halloween theme, from “Wreck-It Ralph” to “Inside Out” to “Alice in Wonderland.” This is the kind of collection they’ll pore over by themselves, to enjoy the art and play at reading, and will like to read again and again with their older siblings and parents. Candy colors and, of course, big, beautiful art. It’s Disney.

quote of the day: Viola Davis

November 17th, 2018

From Viola Davis (NPR interview):

“My definition of success is legacy, is significance. And also, might I add, my authenticity is my rebellion. It’s my F.U., per se. It helps when I think of it like that. That’s why I give these speeches; that’s why I say what I say. And it’s also my narcissism, because I feel that that’s probably what sets me apart from most people. But all those things are in my idea of success. If I can go to my grave feeling like — you know, it’s like Lorraine Toussaint said. She said the reason why she adopted her child is because she didn’t want ‘series regular’ to be on her tombstone. And yeah, I want something quite beautiful, like Shirley Chisholm — you know, on her tombstone is ‘Unbought and Unbossed.’”

Friday Book Review: “Heartwood Hotel: Home Again,” by Kallie George & Stephanie Graegin; “The Adventurers Guild,” by Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos

November 16th, 2018

Good Life

“Heartwood Hotel: Home Again,” written by Kallie George and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 4-8, 170 pages, $14.99). Ms. Prickles is marrying Mr. Quillson in the fourth and final book in the “Heartwood Hotel” series. (“Heartwood Hotel: A True Home,” “Heartwood Hotel: The Greatest Gift” and “Heartwood Hotel: Better Together” are the earlier titles.) Acorn souffles, beds lined with moss, and “the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest” provide a sweet way for young readers to escape.

These critters, Mona the Mouse; Mr. Heartwood, the badger owner; Tilly, the squirrel maid; hedgehogs Mr. and Mrs. Higgins, the gardener and head housekeeper, respectively; and the rest, will warm the heart for sure. Break out the Calico Critters and Rabbit Family, I’m just saying. J

“The Adventurers Guild,” by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos (Disney-Hyperion, 2017, grades 5-8, 306 pages, $16.99). This is a cool dystopian-style novel for the younger set, and is more Rick Riordan than Suzanne Collins. Best friends Zed Kagari and Brock Dunderfel live in the city of Freestone, where the two of them and the other young people of their city, one of the last standing after monster attack, wait to be assigned to a craft union.

The book is fast-paced, lively and with interesting characters.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Sunday Book Review: Scary Stuff! “#murdertrending,” by Gretchen McNeil; “The Mortification of Fovea Munson,” Mary Winn Heider; “The Life and Death Parade,” Eliza Wass; “Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale,” by Liz Braswell

October 28th, 2018

Wacky Mommy Book Reviews

Wacky Mommy Book Reviews

(Pictures by me, in my own inimitable style. NERR)

OK, y’all. Here are some creepy-cool-scary new young adult novels that I don’t wanna talk about. Because they’re scary is why. But they are all four excellent books, but gifted new writers, and you’ll like them. I promise.

Boo!

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

“#murdertrending,” by Gretchen McNeil (Freeform Books, 2018, pages, 339 pages, $17.99.) I’m hearing a lot of good buzz around this book, it looks good. Haven’t started it yet because, hello, it looks super creepy, too. #notabadthing

“The Mortification of Fovea Munson,” by Mary Winn Heider (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, 328 pages, $16.99.) She’s not Igor, she’s Fovea Munson, and yes, her parents run their own cadaver lab. What? You think that’s weird? (OK, it’s pretty weird.) Funny, grim, kinda kooky book about a girl making the best of a nutty situation. #love

“Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale,” by Liz Braswell (Disney Press, 2018, 475 pages, $17.99.) Ursula: alive and well and living on land, running Prince Eric’s kingdom. Ariel: in trouble. Is her father still alive? I like this one, it’s like yummy, yummy, Disney fan fic.

“The Life and Death Parade,” Eliza Wass () This one is spooky-scary-sad-good. I have been freaking out reading this one. It’s well-written, with well-developed characters and a good plotline. (Art? The cover and inside pages are beautiful, gold and black. Perfecto.)

Sunday Book Review: “Sanity & Tallulah,” by Molly Brooks; “Anne Frank’s Diary,” graphic novel by Ari Folman & David Polonsky; “Maus” by Art Spiegelman

October 14th, 2018

Book reviews/sunshine

Book reviews/sunshine

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

* Debut! The first book from author Molly Brooks, “Sanity & Tallulah” (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 8-12, 240 pages, $12.99). Geeky-smart girl scientists Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega run the show in this brand-new graphic novel. They live in a beat-up space station on Wilnick, with other scientist families. The girls pull off an amazing experiment, but when it goes wild (literally), they have to scramble before the situation gets worse. The mod art is a lot of fun, and the story is good.

* “Anne Frank’s Diary,” the graphic novel version, adapted by Ari Folman, with illustrations by David Polonsky (Pantheon Books, 2018, $16.48). This is a lovely adaption of Frank’s story and will no doubt be appreciated by readers of all ages.

* It makes me want to revisit “Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s World War II classic (Pantheon Books, 1991, 296 pages, $28.40). This was the first novel I ever read and revolutionized the genre.

Friday Night Book Review: “I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep,” by Dev Petty & Mike Boldt, also we have a cougar on my street and it’s in my neighbor’s yard

October 12th, 2018

Book reviews/sunshine

(Photo by me, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley.)

Cougars are big. Also a little scary. Don’t turn your back on one. (My advice.) I saw it last night, just loping down the street like it rented the place. This shit is bananas.

And now for a book review…

“I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep,” by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt (Random House Children’s Books, 2018, ages 3-7, 32 pages, $16.99).

Frogs = funny and this series proves it. (“I Don’t Want to Be Big,” “I Don’t Want to Be a Frog,” “There’s Nothing to Do!”) Frog doesn’t want to go to sleep, because hello, winter is coming and there will be snow! Pig told him all about snow. And he’ll skate, and drink warm drinks, and what is hibernation and why should he do it?The illustrations are funny, the story is funny, and the littles will laugh.

Tuesday Book Review: Little Books for Little Kids – “Where Do Jet Planes Sleep at Night?” by Brianna Caplan Sayres & Christian Slade; “1 Grumpy Bruce: A Counting Book,” by Ryan T. Higgins; “My Little Golden Book About the Solar System,” by Dennis R. Shealy & Richard Johnson; “WeeHeeHee: A Collection of Pretty Funny Jokes & Pictures,” by Wee Society

October 9th, 2018

Book Reviews

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

“Where Do Jet Planes Sleep at Night?” by Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Christian Slade (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 0-3, 26 pages, $8.99). This super-cute series of board books includes the titles “Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas?” “Where Do Steam Trains Sleep at Night?” and “Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?” Well, the questions needed to be asked. As far as jet planes go… it looks like they play hard, then their dads tell them stories.

The art is sweet and bright. Kids will love these titles.

“Where do biplanes sleep at night – those planes from long ago?
Do moms say, ‘Stop your stunts, kids!
Tomorrow’s another show”?

“My Little Golden Book About the Solar System,” by Dennis R. Shealy, illustrated by Richard Johnson (Golden Books, 2018, ages 2-5, 24 pages, $4.99). It’s not “The Happy Man and His Dump Truck,” or “Katie the Kitten,” and it’s definitely not “The Poky Little Puppy.” Oh, no. This one is for the junior-junior scientists in the crowd who fall between the ages of, say, 2-5.

So that’s basically every kid aged 2-5, because they all love science, dirt, the stars, bugs and water at those ages. Cool book. And there is just something about the Little Golden Book titles that makes us all happy — the gold spine, the familiarity — all good.

“1 Grumpy Bruce: A Counting Board Book,” by Ryan T. Higgins (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 0-3, $7.99). Bruce is pretty much a grouch, but his friends are not. I’m anti-skunk, but “2 uninvited skunks” are pretty cute, and so are “3 mice throwing a party” and all the rest. Cute.

I like big books and I cannot lie. This is a big book, with a big title, courtesy of Wee Society: “WeeHeeHee: A Collection of Pretty Funny Jokes & Pictures” (Wee Society, 2018, $22). You can draw in it, use it as an activity books, and tell everyone the jokes. Here’s one now:

“What kind of shorts do clouds wear?
Thunder-wear.”

Get it??? lol lol lol lol lol

Bon appetit! Happy reading!

WM

Monday Book Review — What’s New on My Nightstand: “Ship It,” by Britta Lundin; “The Christmasaurus,” by Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries; “Star Wars Most Wanted,” by Rae Carson

October 8th, 2018

Good Life

Summer 2018

Summer 2018

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

“Ship it,” by Britta Lundin (Freeform Books, 2018, 375 pages, $17.99). First of all – the cover of this book. Let us just pause a moment and adore it. Claire and Tess, “Demon Heart” fangirls at large, grace the jacket of Britta Lundin’s novel about fan fic, Comic Cons and teen lust and love. (Lundin is a screenwriter for the CW show “Riverdale,” and you may know her from her comic books.) I will give her a shout-out now cuz she’s from the Oregon coast, attended Reed College *and* the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her MFA in Film Production. (Nice!) Now she lives with her wife in Los Angeles, which I’m sure is great? But not the Oregon coast.

More on the cover – beautifully illustrated comic art is hiding under the dust jacket. It’s worth the price of admission just to have this comic, I’m just saying.

On to the book: It’s sexy, it’s funny, it’s tortured and beautiful. Basically these are all of my favorite things, so win, win, win and win. Claire is a queer, questioning, quirky and awesome teenager who writes fan fiction about a show called “Demon Heart.” Smokey and Forest star. It’s clear to mostly everyone – except Forest – that the pair are gay. Forest has fits because they’re not! Chaos ensues! And Claire meets a girl, Tess, on the Comic Con tour.

This book is long overdue.

“Star Wars Most Wanted,” by Rae Carson (Disney/Lucasfilm Press, 2018, 348 pages, $17.99). In keeping with today’s theme of art… Why do Star Wars books not contain more art? Sure, the picture books do. (See “Are you Scared, Darth Vader?” which is kind of one of my favorite picture books in the universe.)

But the chapter books? They need art, and they mostly do not have it. Even a few small pieces would be good.

OK, there, I’ve put in my two cents. Now, it’s time for holiday shopping, and please put “Star Wars Most Wanted” and the Darth Vader picture book at the top of your list. You’ll find someone who loves them, for sure, and it’s always good to have some extra gifts on hand, no? Perhaps wrap up a few tins of those Pirouette cookies, too. The chocolate hazelnut ones are nice, and you can re-use the tins for markers or colored pencils.

Rae Carson’s book, which has a cool cover by illustrator Florian Nicolle, tells the tale of Han and Qi’Ra, before “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Lady Proxima, the Scrumrats, the White Worms gang, sewers and intrigue, pirates and missions… Go for it.

“Christmasaurus,” by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Shane Devries (Random House, 2018, ages 8-12, 371 pages, $13.99) is just a cool-sweet little book and finally! Art!

Thank you. Good art, too. Fun art. Also, cool typefaces and REALLY BIG PRINT and really fun graphics.

The book itself is a sweet combo of dinosaurs, Christmas and humans. It reminds me of the “Land Before Time” series, and oh man, we loved those movies for years at our house. “The Christmasaurus” has the same sweetness, bittersweetness, and magical storytelling that “Land Before Time” does. Add this one to the holiday list, too.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Saturday Book Review: “Property of the Rebel Librarian,” by Allison Varnes; “It’s Not the End of the World,” by Judy Blume; “Squirm,” by Carl Hiaasen; “Travels with Foxfire,” from Phil Hudgins and Jessica Phillips; “The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek,” by Howard Markel; “All Are Welcome,” by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

September 8th, 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Hermit Crab + Friend (Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Isn’t that crab cool? We found him at Yaquina Head, on the Oregon coast. OK, lemme get some coffee and I’ll be right back…

Back!

Saturday book review, baby. I have never read so many good books all at once in my life. I’m being serious here. I always have a stack of books next to my bed, and usually one is great, two are three are good, there’s my Kindle as back-up (Shakespeare and Dickens, you’re always there for me) but lately?

I always have a dozen good books close by, and they’re all excellent ones. Finish-in-one-day-or-two books, is what I’m saying.

So here we go with a selection of children’s, young adult and grown-up books:

“Property of the Rebel Librarian,” by Allison Varnes, took me by surprise. (Random House Children’s Books, 2018, ages 8 and older, 275 pages, $16.99.) This young adult novel introduces us to June Harper, and I hope she appears in future books, because she’s a great character. People in her life — parents, friends’ parents, some of the teachers, the principal, even some of her fellow students — lose their collective minds and ban pretty much every book in the school library, and at home.

But she has a secret evil plan and it just might work… Really good story, plot, characters, and the writing was on point. It’s a timely book, as well. #knowledgeispower #takealookitsinabook #readingrainbow

“It’s Not the End of the World” is Judy Blume’s classic young adult novel about how one family deals with divorce. Karen wants to stop her parents’ divorce, but her parents seem pretty set on the idea. Her younger sister, older brother, and nosy aunt and uncle aren’t helping the situation. Sometimes, you just need to call on Judy Blume for some answers. I’m glad that her books have enjoyed the shelf life they have over the years. Blume remains the best at dealing with domestic drama, puberty, conflicts, bullying and all things kid. (Dell Yearling, 1972, 169 pages.)

Carl Hiaasen’s latest, “Squirm” is another cool young adult novel. (Random House Children’s Books, 2018, ages 8 and older, 276 pages, $18.99.) Billy Dickens doesn’t really know his father, and doesn’t really care to, since he bailed out on the family several years earlier. He and his mom are nature freaks, and love bald eagles, golden eagles, all kinds of snakes and basically any critter they come across. He lives in Florida (Hiaasen’s stomping grounds, where most of his books are set) but when he decides to go visit his father in Montana, his whole world tilts.

I have never met a Carl Hiaasen book I didn’t love, so this should come as no surprise to longtime readers, but this really is one of his best titles yet. Billy is a great character, and he’s surrounded by women — and his dad — and it makes the book even stronger.

“Travels with Foxfire: Stories of People, Passions, and Practices from Southern Appalachia,” from Phil Hudgins and Jessica Phillips. (Anchor Books, 2018, 314 pages, $19.95.) Foxfire, in case you haven’t heard, is a heritage preservation organization that does good work with students and mentors who bring us stories and background on the traditions of the Appalachian people. I’ve followed their work for years — they’ve been at it for 52 years now (starting in 1966, with the first book released in 1972). As the writer Raymond Carver would say, it’s a small, good thing. (But it’s kind of quietly a big deal, truth be told.)

This book of stories introduces us to bootleggers; the drivers who turned stock car races into modern day NASCAR; the ancient art of water dowsing; bluegrass, country and shape note singing, and lots of other artists, workers and characters. I was glad to see it arrive in the mail, it was like having a longtime friend stop by for coffee.

For more information, go to Foxfire’s website.

“The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek,” by Howard Markel, is an offbeat book about a couple of knuckleheads, a foodie and a physician, who introduced us to Corn Flakes and the pursuit of wellness, in their own inimitable style. It’s different, but I think you might like it. Non-fiction rules, man. Go read a biography or autobiography today and get back to me. (Vintage Books, 2018, 544 pages, $18.00.)

Last!

“All Are Welcome,” written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, is a perfect picture book for the start of the school year. (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 4-18, $17.99.) Everyone at this school is welcome with open arms. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Pretty pictures, a sentiment we shouldn’t need to be reminded of (but still do) and a poster under the flap of the book. Excellent.

Bon appetit, babies. Have a wonderful weekend.

WM

Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon Coast

August 31st, 2018

#westcoastbestcoast

This is one of our favorite spots, forever and always, on the Oregon coast. Leave the dogs at home or in the car (if the weather is cool, which it generally is.) All photos by me and my kid.

Enjoy your weekend.

WM

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

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