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Benton Co. Fair 2019, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

September 7th, 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Saturday Book Review, for the kids: “Boy Mom: What Your Son Needs Most From You,” by Monica Swanson; “The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School,” by Kristin Mahoney

September 7th, 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

(“Fleurs,” by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

You might know Monica Swanson from her blog, and her most well-known post, “What a Teenage Boy Needs Most From His Mom.” She has four boys, a happy marriage, her faith and God, she lives on Oahu and grows tropical fruit. I wanna go over to her house right now, drink smoothies and hang out.

Her new book, “Boy Mom: What Your Son Needs Most From You” was just released. It’s great. (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2019, $15.99, 228 pages.) She takes on healthy eating, boundaries/freedoms, prayer and faith, technology and freedom and lots of other stuff. Engaging talk-talk, insight and stories.

Oh, I know Kristin Mahoney. She wrote “Annie’s Life in Lists,” the young adult novel I reviewed a while back. So here’s something new from her, that’s equally fun. “The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School,”(Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, Random House Children’s Books, 2019, $16.99, ages 8-12, 304 pages). What are the 47 types? They include, but are not limited to, the scary teacher, the gooser, the cackling eighth-grade boys, Officer Perry, Keira, all as described by Augusta “Gus” to her little sister, Louisa, “Lou,” who is wondering about middle school.

It’s a challenge, Lou. But you can do it.

The advice is going to be helpful for anyone heading into middle school, or already there.

Have a great weekend, y’all. Talk soon.

WM

Friday Book Review — Kids’ Books: “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood,” by Marjane Satrapi; “Thurgood,” by Jonah Winter & Bryan Collier

September 6th, 2019

Silver Falls, Oregon

Silver Falls State Park, Silverton, Oregon, USA

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Of course I want to hear a story from someone who has a strong (and/or sad, intense, funny, moving) story to tell.

This is one heck of a story.

“Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon/Random House, Inc.; translation by L’Association, Paris, France; 2003; ages young adult and older) is the first in the series of four graphic novels, Satrapi’s account of growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. This is an astounding work of art.

We have another outstanding story in “Thurgood,” a new biographical picture book written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Bryan Collier (Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House Children’s Books, 2019, ages 5 and up, 40 pages, $17.99). Award-winning writer Winter has written a number of titles, including a biography about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the extraordinary “Lillian’s Right to Vote.”

Collier is, simply, one of those most gifted artists of our time. He has won four Caldecott Honors, including an award for “Rosa,” a book about Mrs. Parks, and one of my favorite picture books ever, which he collaborated on with poet Nikki Giovanni.

Thurgood Marshall, American hero, Civil Rights activist, and the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, was born in 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland, and died in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1993. What he did in the years in between is inspiring, incredible and intense. The book doesn’t pull any punches. He was the star pupil of civil rights attorney Charles Houston, who took him on a road trip to the Deep South to study white vs. black segregated schools.

“FACT: Unlike the white kids’ schools, the black kids’ schools had dirt floors and no restrooms. The students were malnourished and sad. ‘Separate but equal’? Yeah, right.”

Don’t ever think that kids can’t handle books like these, that pack so much honesty, violence, unfairness and truth between the covers. Kids are aware how unfair life can be, and they need tools to change their world for the better.

Enjoy these titles, and have a great weekend.

WM

Summer Roses, Corvallis

July 13th, 2019

Avery Park, Corvallis

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row)

Keep Fucking Going

Keep Fucking Going

Keep Fucking Going

Keep Fucking Going

At last… Saturday Book Reviews: What’s On My Nightstand — Janet Evanovich, Jeannette Walls, Curtis Sittenfeld and Jonathan Safran Foer

July 13th, 2019

Keep Fucking Going

Just wanted to say hey and tell you — I love summer. I’m reading all summer long, and finishing a new manuscript (memoir, first draft is done, ready to send to agents, woooooooooot!), gardening, hanging out with my kids and the pets, eating as many nectarines/peaches/plums/grapes/cherries and as much watermelon as I possibly can.

Also back to writing letters and cards to friends, and that just feels good. Cuz you gotta send a letter to get a letter.

How’s it with you? :)

* Reading through Janet Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” series, about the New Jersey bounty hunter; her best friend and assistant, Lula; her granny and family; and her sexy, problematic boyfriends, Morelli and Ranger. These books are so much fun.

* “The Glass Castle,” by Jeannette Walls, is a whole different kind of read. Gritty, poignant, funny memoir that everyone else has read but me. It’s great, but it did take awhile to hook me. Books, that’s the way it is sometimes.

* “American Wife,” by Curtis Sittenfeld, is just a knock-out. I nabbed it from a Little Free Library, score! I’m really liking this novel, and it’s one of those reads where I just study the scenes, the characters, and re-read sections. So good.

* “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” by Jonathan Safran Foer, is one that I’ve been wanting to read for awhile. Glad a friend recommended it and put it back on my radar.

So what are you reading?

xo

WM

Thursday Book Review: Here I Am, Baby! “Baby Astronaut,” “Baby Oceanographer,” “Except When They Don’t” & “Dibs!” — all by Laura Gehl, with illustrations by Daniel Wiseman, Joshua Heinsz & Marcin Piwowarski

May 16th, 2019

March 2019

“Sky High,” by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

May 2019

(Photo by moi)

What’s on the menu today?

Writer Laura Gehl and illustrator Daniel Wiseman have just released a pair of board books for the littles, the first in a new series: “Baby Astronaut” and “Baby Oceanographer,” HarperFestival/HarperCollins, ages 0-4, $8.99 apiece). So cool. Baby Astronaut and her friends have their suits, their helmets, and a big sense of adventure. Off they go! Baby Oceanographer studies the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Indian, the Pacific and the Southern oceans like a geeky rockstar. Great art, lots of colorful drawings and fun stories.

“Dibs!” is the first word baby Clancy learns from his big brother, Julian. Pretty soon he’s saying “dibs!” on everything at the bakery, an entire airplane, and… the White House? But what is he going to do if aliens show up? Laura Gehl wrote the words; Marcin Piwowarski did the astounding illustrations that are almost 3D, the way they pop full-color off the page.

“Except When They Don’t,” by Laura Gehl, charmingly illustrated by Joshua Heinsz, takes a whole bunch of stereotypes about girls/boys/boys/girls and turns them upside down. Gehl is a fun writer, I’m enjoying this crop of her work.

Bon appetit, babies! Basketball game is starting…

WM

Sunday Book Review: “Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn,” by Mary Pope Osbourne & Sal Murdocca; “One-Third Nerd,” by Gennifer Choldenko & Eglantine Ceulemans; and “Dragons in a Bag,” by Zetta Elliott

March 17th, 2019

March 2019

March 2019

March 2019

(Pix by N. Row Rawley)

“Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn,” by Mary Pope Osbourne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca (A Stepping Stone Book/Random House, 2007, 108 pages). Ah, the genius of Mary Pope Osbourne. My kids loved this series, the fiction and non-fiction titles alike.

It must be rough, I’m thinking, having a librarian as a mommy. One minute, you have this amazing set of Magic Tree House books, the next minute, she’s given them all to one of her third-grade classes because why? Because I said so. Lol. “Because they needed them more than you two did.” (In my own defense… they really did. They only had a few of the titles, and they were tattered and worn.)

But the other day, going through boxes containing Nerf darts, random coasters for the coffee table, misplaced board games and Tonka trucks, what should I come across? My daughter’s pretty necklace, for one. And an overlooked Magic Tree House book — “Dragon of the Red Dawn.” Such a great series. If I’m ever blessed enough to have grandkids, I’m buying the whole series all over again. (I won’t give it away this time. Promise.)

Check out some of Osbourne’s other work, too — the mythology books and science titles are great.

Next up: new releases.

“One-Third Nerd,” written by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans (Random House Children’s Books, 2019, ages 8012, 211 pages, $16.99). Loved this book. “One-Third Nerd” introduces us to a cool cast of characters: Cupcake, the dog that won’t stop peeing on the carpet; a family that has recently gone through a divorce, but are dealing; a big brother, Liam, who doesn’t want any extra attention called to himself; Dakota, the middle sis, a science geek who struggles making and keeping friends; and Izzy, the little sis, who has Down Sydrome and is the huggingest kid in America.

This is an awesome chapter book. Reviewers have compared “One-Third Nerd” to Judy Blume’s books, and it is that good. The drawings by Eglantine Ceulemans remind me of Hilary Knight’s work, they’re very sweet.

“Dragons in a Bag” is the latest from author, playwright and poet Zetta Elliott. (Her books for young readers include “The Girl Who Swallowed the Sun” and “Melena’s Jubilee.”) Geneva B. did the charming, detailed illustrations. This is a cool book, and a lot of fun, with some seriousness added to the mix.

Jaxon’s mom, worried that they are going to lose their apartment due to eviction, drops him at his Ma’s house. Only… she’s not really his granny, she’s kind of a witch.

Not a mean old lady — a witch. And she needs Jaxon’s help with some baby dragons.

Well-written, engaging, and go, Brooklyn!

xo and bon appetit,

your girl,

Wacky Mommy, aka Nancy

Thursday Book Reviews: “Where Did You Come From, Baby Dear?” by George MacDonald & Jane Dyer; “William Wakes Up,” by Linda Ashman & Chuck Groenink; “Rosie and Rasmus,” by Serena Geddes; and “The New Neighbors,” by Sarah McIntyre

March 14th, 2019

2019

2019

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Reviewing this week:

“Where Did You Come From, Baby Dear?” by George MacDonald, drawings by Jane Dyer (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 3-7, 32 pages, $17.99). How is baby? British author MacDonald (1824-1905), a Scottish author, poet and minister, wrote this lovely story about babies touched by cherubs’ wings, made out of love, brought by God. Beautiful, airy pastels by artist Dyer, who has illustrated more than fifty picture books. This one would be a nice gift for new parents.

“William Wakes Up,” written by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Disney-Hyperion, 2019, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). William, c’mon now. You and your buddies need to wake up. C’mon. You can do it. It’s spring, and it’s time to bake the Welcome Cake. Lovely art, a nice story, and a sweet welcome to spring. (Tell chipmunk, Get. Up!)

“Rosie and Rasmus,” by Serena Geddes (Aladdin, 2019, ages 4-8, $16.99). This one is due for release April 2nd and I cannot wait for the latest from this Australian writer and artist. We have an independent dragon, and a lonely little girl, and let’s see how this friendship will go. It’ll be good. #bffsAnd4ever #dragonsrock #girlpower The copy I have is review only, but the colors, the words — beautiful. Final copy will be even better, I’m sure. (The author dedicated it to her younger self, with an inscription that says, “This is us.” #love)

“The New Neighbors,” by Sarah McIntyre (Penguin Workshop, 2019, ages 3-7, $17.99). Well hello, rats! say the bunnies upstairs. They wanna tell Lettuce (their big sis) all about it. But… uh… wait. Who moved in? Will they be friendly? Let’s all go find out. Sweet art, nice use of repetition while the story builds, and funny, funny ending. (There will be cake.)

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Saturday Book Review — for the grown-ups: “Olive Kitteridge,” by Elizabeth Strout; “Son of a Gun,” by Justin St. Germain; ” “Dreaming in Cuban,” by Cristina Garcia; “The Sum of Our Days,” by Isabel Allende

March 2nd, 2019

2019

I’m late to the game for Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winner, “Olive Kitteridge” (Random House, 2008, 270 pages). Thirteen stories = one amazing novel. Olive is a retired school teacher who lives in Crosby, Maine, with her husband, Henry. Olives weaves and dodges throughout the stories. The stories are heartbreaking, beautiful, stripped down, spare, lush and rich. It’s a lot, this book. I’ll finish it and I’ll start it again. It’s that kind of book. xo

2019

If you’re looking for an extraordinary memoir to read, check out “Son of a Gun” by Justin St. Germain (Random House, 2013, 242 pages). It’s his story about the murder of his mother, Debbie St. Germain, and the fall-out in his life, before and after.

2019

(Winter 2019, all photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Just started “Dreaming in Cuban,” by Cristina Garcia (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992, 245 pages). This is one I missed when it was first released. It’s a magical book.

“The Sum of Our Days,” by Isabel Allende, (HarperCollins, 2008, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden, 301 pages) is the sequel to “Paula,” Allende’s memoir about the loss of her daughter. Just like all of Allende’s work, it’s brilliant.

Bon appetit, babies. Happy winter, happy reading.

WM

Thursday Book Review — for the little kids: “How Do Apples Grow?” and “Ocean Life,” by Jill McDonald; “Vampirina in the Snow,” by Anne Marie Pace & LeUyen Pham

February 28th, 2019

2019

Hello, folks, and thanks for your patience. Meanwhile, my dining room table is ready to topple over cuz so many books!

Jill McDonald and Hello, World! have released two cute new titles, “Ocean Life” and “How Do Apples Grow?” (Random House Children’s Books, 2019, 0-3 years old, $7.99 apiece). Both have beautiful illustrations and extra tidbits of knowledge tucked into the edges. For example, from “Ocean Life”: “A sea horse father carries eggs in a pouch until they are ready to hatch” and “Sea turtles have lived since the time of dinosaurs!” Cool. Apples, apples, apples: “There are more than 7,000 types of apples!” Beautiful.

2019

“Vampirina in the Snow,” by Countess Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Mistress of the Night LeUyen Pham, is the latest in the Vampirina series (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, $17.99). The Vampirina books are funny and sweet, and you can catch it on Disney Junior, too. Vampirina and her ghoulish friends are catching snow flakes on their tongues, building snowmen and making snow angels. Here’s to winter.

2019

2019

(All photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley.)

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