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What’s New on My Nightstand — Monday Book Review: “Fall is For School,” by Robert Neubecker; “Poppy Louise is Not Afraid of Anything,” by Jenna McCarthy, illustrated by Molly Idle; “When God Made You,” by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow

March 20th, 2017

“What didn’t you do to bury me / But you forgot that I was a seed.” — Dinos Christianopoulos, poet (b. 20 Mar 1931)

This one won’t be out until end of June, but I received galleys in the mail for review, woot! (I donate the galleys to teacher friends, who use the art for bulletin boards. This works out nicely.) “Fall is For School,” written and illustrated by Robert Neubecker (Disney-Hyperion Books; June, 2017; ages 3-5; 32 pages; $17.99). This is the sequel to Neubecker’s “Winter is for Snow.” Another one to look for: “Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing,” written by Kay Haring, and illustrated by Neubecker.

Fall is time for school, and most kids (and parents :) ) look forward to it. But what do you do, sister, when your brother hates school and says he’d rather stay home? This is a sweet “New York kids” book, with loads of color. The red-headed siblings are a likable pair — the sister, already dressed in her school clothes; the brother, refusing to change out of flip-flops and shorts. How can she coax him?

“Fall is here! Come on with me! It’s time to go to school!”

He’s having none of it. But they will meet their teachers, who will help them learn about Romans, the pyramids and… (this being New York and all)… dinosaurs! (Thank you, American Museum of Natural History.) Great book. Fun story, the art is whimsical and inviting, and will give parents and teachers a good way to segue into a discussion.

Visit the artist online at neubecker.com.

“Poppy Louise is NOT Afraid of Anything,” by Jenna McCarthy, illustrated by Molly Idle (Random House Books for Young Readers; April, 2017; ages 3-7; $16.99) When students tell me their favorite colors (and ask me what mine are), I immediately say, purpleandgreen. Purple and green have been my favorite colors since I was a kid. Flowers, gardens, landscapes, clothes, jelly beans… Now comes “Poppy Louise,” with a purple-and-green theme, so you know it’s good.

She really, really, even though she should be, sometimes, is not scared of anything, much to the consternation of her friends and her big sister Petunia.

“How do we get up on your roof?” she asks her friend Finn.
“We don’t,” Finn tells her.

I love storytimes when the kids cut in, Ms. Nancy, that is not a good idea, is it? No, it’s not. Finn is right to work on his rocketship and leave the roof alone, lol.

“People call Poppy the brave sister and Petunia the careful sister. Petunia prefers to think of herself as wise.”

Is there anything Poppy is afraid of? Read on and we’ll find out.

Jenna McCarthy also wrote the Maggie Malone series. Molly Idle is a Caldecott Honor winner for “Flora and the Flamingo.”

“When God Made You,” by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow (WaterBrook & Multnomah, 2017, juvenile fiction, 48 pages, $11.99) Yay, more purple and green! A little girl, searching for her place in the world, is told:

“God pictured your nose and all ten of your toes. The sound of your voice? God had it composed. The lines on your hands, your hair, every strand, God knew every detail like it was all planned.”

God is there, throughout the book. He’s a hipster, wearing a beret and a scruffy white T-shirt, Capris, white tights and red ballerina slippers. Perfecto.

Mr. Turner’s website is at MatthewPaulTurner.com; David Catrow’s is here. (He has illustrated a ton of great stuff, including the Molly Lou Melon books.)

Happy Monday, everyone, happy spring! And happy reading.

xo

wm

What’s New on My Nightstand, Wednesday Edition: “The Teacher’s Pet,” by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Zachariah OHora; “I Love My Grandma,” by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Emma Dodd; “Goodnight, Numbers,” by Danica McKellar, illustrated by Alicia Padron

March 15th, 2017

This one isn’t coming out until June 20, but keep it in mind: “The Teacher’s Pet,” by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Zachariah OHora (Disney-Hyperion Books, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99).

Mr. Stricter and his students are breeding tadpoles. Once they’re grown, they can keep just one for a classroom pet, he tells them. But… pets and classrooms have a way of getting interesting. Bruno, their pet, (“Isn’t he adorable?” Mr. Stricter asks) smashes, crashes, farts, has allergies and maybe isn’t the best classroom pet. And he doesn’t really look like a tadpole at all. What?!?

How can the students break it to Mr. Stricter?

Funny story, one that will be great for a classroom or library read-aloud, of course, but will be a good one, too, for parents and kids of all ages. (Not limited to ages 3-5.) The ’60s-style art is whimsical and pretty. An engaging picture book.

Speaking of pretty art… “I Love My Grandma,” written by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Emma Dodd (Disney-Hyperion Books, 2016, ages 3-5, 32 pages, $17.99) is another lovely picture book. It’s a rhyming book, with great, big vivid pictures in soft colors. “I go ’round to her house to play/And sometimes we just chat all day.” (Love.) A sweet tribute to the special relationship to grandmas and their grands.

Alicia Padron illustrated Danica McKellar’s latest math/picture book, “Goodnight Numbers” (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017, ages 2-5, 32 pages, $16.99). (Winnie Cooper from the television show, “The Wonder Years,” yes, that’s who wrote this :) She acted, and then she went off to graduate summa cum laude in mathematics from UCLA, go, go, go, Winnie!) Absolutely charming picture book, which will comfort the littles as they unwind for the night, while teaching them basic math concepts.

The art is precious, Padron did a beautiful job. The “frames” within each page are an extra nudge with the math. (The number 7 page, for example, “Goodnight, seven days. Goodnight,whole week. Goodnight, seven teeth so clean they squeak,” for the words, but you also get a cat toy with seven baubles attached, a picture on the wall with seven strawberries, seven buttons on mother’s skirt, and so on. Clever. That kind of repetition enforces the counting, the memorization, and the comprehension of math.

All for now! Enjoy your day, wherever you are.

– WM

Sunday Recipe Club: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread; love & marriage & divorce

March 12th, 2017

Steve and I are getting divorced, did I happen to mention that? It sucks. Yeah. That’s all I got about that. I feel bad for the kids, I feel bad for us, too, but we’ll all be happier, eventually, so… So, so, so.

It still sucks. I don’t have to like it. (And please spare me the, Your marriage was so perfect! Soulmates! And “oh, nooooooo,” etc. Thanks. It wasn’t that great, apparently, our love. It wasn’t strong enough.)

Locked myself out of my blog, but here I am, back in. The breadmaker broke. Everything breaks at once (“when it rains/it pours”) — the fence, the breadmaker, our marriage, our family unit, the thermostat outside that tells us inside how cold/hot it is, the carpets are trashed, the puppy ate the entire irrigation system in the backyard, which didn’t work all that well, anyway, truth be told, and on and on.

(And I’m wondering, why did I ever nickname my husband, MEH, My Estranged Husband, Hockey God? He’s not a God. He’s not God. He’s just a dude. Anyway.)

I thought I’d use Steve’s recipe for homemade bread, couldn’t find it, then I remembered we wrote this cookbook and there it was. Only it’s too hard, I hadn’t remembered that until I saw it again.

But right next to it… my bread recipe. That I don’t even remember at all. I don’t remember baking it, writing it down, including it in the cookbook, nothing. But there it was, here it is, it’s simple and rises fast and the 2 loaves I baked turned out awesome.

So my kid, who only loves only homemade bread, and always has, is happy. I’m happy about that, and other stuff. Spring. Our crazy puppy. My other kid is happy, too. One kid is out walking the dog right now, the other is playing video games. Later, we’ll go for dinner with friends.

Things will settle down someday. In the meantime, I write, and bake bread.

Some things don’t change.

xo wm

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

Dissolve 2 tablespoons yeast in 2 cups warm water; leave for five minutes
Stir in 1/2 cup sugar or honey
Add one cup oats
Add 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix in 2 eggs
Add 2 cups white flour & 3 cups whole wheat flour, stirring in as you go. Depending on the weather, you might need a little more or a little less flour
Add in 2 teaspoons salt as you stir

Turn onto floured bread board. Knead nine or ten times.

Put into greased bowl, cover with towel, put it somewhere that’s not too cold, not too hot, not too drafty, and let rise until double in size.

Grease pans or cooking sheets, form dough into 2 loaves of bread or 24 rolls.
Leave again and let rise until doubled.
Bake at 375 degrees until nice and brown and yummy. Brush with butter when done.

Bon appetit, babies!
wm