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Big, Big, Super-Duper Book Review! Or, What’s New on My Nightstand: “Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word,” by Sarah Jane Marsh & Edwin Fotheringham; “Freya & Zoose,” by Emily Butler & Jennifer Thermes; Wee Society’s “Write On: My Story Journal” & “Yay! My Celebration Journal”; and “In the Night Kitchen,” by Maurice Sendak

November 11th, 2019

So many photos ❤️

(Dorothy & Alice art credit goes to… someone)

Oh, babies and big kids, get over here. Books! Some old, some new, and lots coming in for holiday reading and gift-giving.

“Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word,” by Sarah Jane Marsh, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 8 and up, $19.99). He was expected to spend his life following his family’s tradition of sewing underwear, and that alone is enough to give readers a laugh or smile. Thomas Paine, an English corset-maker’s son, had different ideas. He met Benjamin Franklin, traveled to America, and the rest is the American Revolution and U.S. history. Really cool book about Paine’s writing and its impact, and the art is fantastic.

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” Yes, yes.

He wrote essays protesting slavery, “…selling husbands away from wives, children from parents… is this doing to them as we would desire they should do to us?” which encouraged people to start abolitionists societies and end slavery.

When he was writing his pamphlet, “Common Sense,” he was warned by his peers to avoid the word “independence.”

So he used it 22 times.

Independence, independence, independence…

We need to remember Paine’s words today.

“Freya & Zoose,” by Emily Butler, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2019, 208 pages, ages 8-12, $16.99). Now comes this sweet novel about Freya, a rockhopper penguin, and her unlikely traveling companion, Zoose the mouse. The book is set in 1897, at the time of S.A. Andree’s Arctic Balloon Expedition. This one is fun, and the illustrations help bring the story to life.

Two new ones from Wee Society: “Write On: My Story Journal” and “Yay! My Celebration Journal” (Clarkson Potter, 2019, ages 5 and up, $14.99 apiece). I’m torn on these books. (Torn? Page? Get it?) Well, I am. Because they’re very cool, but they look too much like books, and not enough like journals, and if a journal looks too much like a book, no one wants to “dirty it up.”

Nonetheless, they are neat, with lots of places to scribble, tear, create and write. I’m a big fan of writing prompts, and the way “Write On” has approached it is with scene, character and conflict cards. For example: You’re in a hidden forest, with a talking burrito and taco, and… they couldn’t stop dancing!

So that’s pretty fun. Go all crazy, y’all.

“In the Night Kitchen,”by Maurice Sendak (Harper Collins, 1970). This one is just for me and my own big kids.

This classic is as much fun as “Where the Wild Things Are,” but doesn’t get as much airplay. It often lands on “banned books” lists because our hero, Mickey, is nudie patootie. (“Mama! Papa!”) Man, do I love this book.

He hears a “racket in the night,” has a fit, falls through the dark and floats out of his jammies, “past the moon & his mama & papa sleeping tight” and into the Night Kitchen.

Love, love, love.

Bon appetit, babies! Have a great November.

Wacky Mommy

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