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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

Monday Book Review: I love kids’ books. It’s true. “The Itchy Book,” by LeUyen Pham; “The Gumazing Gumgirl! Popped Star,” by Rhode Montijo, with Luke Reynolds; “Super Saurus and the Egg,” by Deborah Underwood and Ned Young

August 6th, 2018

Kid Feet

“The Itchy Book,” by LeUyen Pham (Disney-Hyperion Books for Children, 2018, $9.99). This is from the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! book series, which is similar in style to the Dr. Seuss recommended readers. Super cute, and has art from Mo Willems to open and close the book. “Dinosaurs do not scratch,” the sign says. Who knew? But what if they get itchy? It’s a dilemma. (Warning: You will want someone to scratch your back after reading this.) It’s awfully funny, and the illustrations are funny and sweet, too.

“The Gumazing Gumgirl! Popped Star,” by Rhode Montijo, with Luke Reynolds (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, 147 pages, $14.99). Our superheroine Gabby Gomez is back for her third adventure in the series. Me? I like any book that commands you to “SMELL ME!” Great little graphic novel, action-packed and super-stretchy. But are Gabby’s parents going to flip if they find out her real identity?

“Super Saurus and the Egg,” written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Ned Young (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, $16.99) — “Beepity Beep,” “Beep,” “Beep Beep Beep” and “Boop” and off we go and into the story. Little Dino Super Saurus is busy battling Zottlebots when his parents inform him that a new little brother or sister is on the way. The egg, he decides, is the Egg of Doom. This could end badly. Maybe his parents will trade the egg for a cotton candy machine? Clever way to introduce the idea of a new sibling to an older child.

Monday Book Review — What’s New on My Nightstand: “Willa of the Wood,” by Robert Beatty; “Nothing Happened,” by Molly Booth; “Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen,” by Candace Fleming & Eric Rohmann

July 30th, 2018

“Willa of the Wood,” by Robert Beatty (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, 376 pages, $16.99) feels a bit like “The Borrowers,” which is cool. Set in 1900 in the Great Smoky Mountains, the book tells the story of Willa, a “night spirit” who borrows things from humans in order to ensure her clan’s survival. The novel is different, offbeat and has lots of adventures. Beatty is also the author of the Serafina fantasy series.

I’m enjoying reading “Nothing Happened,” (“what happens at camp stays at camp”) a twist on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” (written by Molly Booth, Hyperion Books, 2018, 325 pages). Camp Dogberry, the year-round home of sisters Bea and Hana Leonoto and their parents, welcomes back counselors Claudia, Ben, John and the younguns who attend as campers. Book contains teen sexuality, some curse words, and dialogue that is funny, honest and real. Great summer read.

Another good read is “Strongheart, Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen,” written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann. (Random House Children’s Books, 2018, ages 8-12, 256 pages, $17.99.) The book is based on the true story of Strongheart and Lady Jule, canine movie stars of the 1920s. These German Shepherds were something else (if you google you can find some old clips on YouTube.) Kids like dog books, and “true” books (“Did this really happen? In real life?”), so I’m thinking “Strongheart” will be a hit. The illustrations are graphic novel-style — tip of the hat to Brian Selznick (“Hugo Cabret,” “Wonder”).

Bon appetit, babies.

WM

Saturday Book Review: So Many Summer Titles, Happy! “Miles Morales: Spider-Man,” by Jason Reynolds, cover by Kadir Nelson; “Hilo: Waking the Monsters,” written & illustrated by Judd Winick; “Grow up, Ant-Man!” written by Brandon T. Snider, illustrated by Jessika von Innerebner

July 21st, 2018

When someone sends me a case of books… oh, my gosh. The exhilaration, the joy, the goofiness that is involved, daily, with being a book geek… yeah. I loved when those Scholastic Book Club orders would show up, when I was a kid (and later, there were the Scholastic Book Fairs with my own kids, and my own fairs that I ran when I was a librarian). Ah, books. So that’s how I have felt a lot lately, when the mail shows up. :)

All photos by me :) Except I think the butterfly pic is by B, because how could I take my own pic with a butterfly on my arm? Lol.

Coronado Shores, Corvallis, chickens n dogs 💜
That’s a blue butterfly on Marys Peak in Corvallis. One of the endangered Fender’s Blues? Or one of the less-endangered ones? Who knows. Pretty, though.

First up: A review I needed to do months ago when this awesome cool book landed in the mailbox. “Miles Morales: Spider-Man,” by Jason Reynolds, cover by Kadir Nelson (Marvel, 2017, 261 pages, $17.99). Great book about a school-age young man who is smart, funny, loves his family, has fun with his best friend, is crushing out on a pretty poet in his class, puts up with school and the drama there and oh, yeah. He’s Spider-Man. Which is kind of a pain.

This book is a mystery, a story about a superhero, a love story, a family drama, and it’s all about poetry, too. It is poetry. Also? Brooklyn! (I like the Brooklyn/New York kid books. You know.) (And the cover is one beautiful work of art. Love Kadir Nelson, love.) You’ll like it. Reynolds’ other books include “When I Was the Greatest,” “The Boy in the Black Suit,” “All American Boys” and several others.

Coronado Shores, Corvallis, chickens n dogs 💜

That’s a lovely sunset at Coronado Shores, Gleneden Beach, Oregon coast. I miss living there, but you can’t have it all, babies. Where would you put it?

“Hilo: Waking the Monsters,” written and illustrated by Judd Winik (Random House Children’s Books, 2018, ages 8-12, 208 pages, $9.99). If you like the “Bone” series (or “Big Nate,” or “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”) you are going to love this graphic novel (this is Book 4 in the series). Hilo and his sidekick Gina are going to save the world, so watch out.

Coronado Shores, Corvallis, chickens n dogs 💜

My old front yard at the beach house, with gunnera plant (elephant ears) on front right.

Marvel’s “Grow Up, Ant-Man!” (written by Brandon T. Snider, illustrated by Jessika von Innerebner, Marvel, 2018, $12.99) is a picture book for the littles. Super fun, bright colors, and will hold the kiddos’ interest. Cassie’s dad, Ant-Man, is a little wild. She’d like him to grow up, but she would also like him to play in her dollhouse and have a tea party with her. So there’s some conflict. Lol.

All for now, babies.

WM

Thursday Book Review: For the Children! — “The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley,” by April Stevens; “Annie’s Life in Lists,” by Kristin Mahoney; “Star Wars: Are You Scared, Darth Vader?”, by Adam Rex; and Danica McKellar’s “Bathtime Mathtime” & “Do Not Open This Math Book”

July 5th, 2018

June 2018

I love books. But I also love sleep. And social mores dictate that I must at least “make an effort” around the house and yard, and work, and cook sometimes and there you have it. I am vowing this summer to take two blocks a week — a morning, an afternoon, an evening, whatever combo works — shirk all responsibility and read, instead.

“The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley,” by April Stevens (Schwartz & Wade, 2018, ages 8-12, 197 pages, $16.99). I am enamored with this book, and dear Frances, aka Figgrotten, and her desire to understand nature, anthropology, and her big sister, Christinia. The author has made some brave choices with this book. I like that, too.

“Often, at dinner, she’d ask questions that seemed to confuse her family. Things like, ‘I read that Margaret Mead used to hang up the phone when she was done talking to people. She didn’t even say goodbye. Just clunk, put the receiver down. Do you think that was because the people she studied didn’t have telephones?’”

This is a delightful and insightful read. Ditto for the next one:

“Annie’s Life in Lists,” by Kristin Mahoney (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 8-12, 261 pages, $16.99). Do you like making lists? I do. So does Annie. But sometimes she makes lists, sees patterns, remembers details that other people don’t, and this makes her stand out. When she moves from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Clover Gap, population 8,432, she has to make some adjustments. Engaging story, believable characters, such a good book.

Now for something entirely different…

A Star Wars book: “Are You Scared, Darth Vader?” by Adam Rex (Disney/LucasFilm Press, 2018, $17.99). Have you read “Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich”? You should, because it is really good and very funny. So is this one. Darth Vader (surprise) isn’t scared of one thing — not witches, not bats, not public speaking, not spiders, not… children. Wait. Read the book and see what happens. It’s a good one, and the illustrations are a lot of fun. Yes, that’s right, I said “fun” and “Darth Vader” in the same paragraph.

Last but not least, two new math books from children’s author, math whiz and actress Danica McKellar: “Bathtime Mathtime” and “Do Not Open This Math Book” (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 2-5, 20 pages, $8.99, and ages 6-9, 160 pages, $18.99). The first is a sweet little board book, with counting games and bright, colorful illustrations. The second is chock-full of addition + subtraction math games that are so fun and innovative that it might take the kids awhile to realize that they’re learning. So much fun. Get them comfortable with numbers, you won’t regret it. And you might even learn a little something, too.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Friday Book Review: What’s On My Nightstand — “Homing Instincts: Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm,” by Sarah Menkedick; “The Gravity of Birds,” by Tracy Guzeman; “An Unquiet Mind,” by Kay Redfield Jamison; and Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale”

June 29th, 2018

(All photos by my kid)

June 2018

“Homing Instincts: Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm,” by Sarah Menkedick (Vintage Books, 2018, 276 pages, $17). A woman who has traveled the world travels back and begins her new life as a mom on her family’s farm in the Ohio countryside. I like Menkedick’s style, sister-from-another-planet, but down-home at the same time. It’s an interesting read. You feel like you’re right there when you read it.

June 2018

“The Gravity of Birds,” by Tracy Guzeman (Simon & Schuster, 2013, 294 pages, $15.99). Just started this one, it’s very good.

June 2018

“An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness,” by Kay Redfield Jamison (Vintage Books/Random House, 1995, 219 pages). “well i think/i’m losing my mind this time/this time/i’m losing my mind/that’s right…” — “What’Cha Want,” Beastie Boys We’ve all been there, babies. I read this book when it first came out, to try to figure out where shit went sideways with my Dad. I’m re-reading it now for my own sanity, and because I’m working with elders now, and there is nothing scarier than to feel your mind slipping away (see: dementia, see: memory loss, see: Alzheimer’s, see: too much info crammed into the computer that is the human brain). To know it’s happening, and not be able to stop the slide? Scariest shit ever. This is a brilliant work, from a brilliant lady. Read it.

June 2018

“The Nightingale,” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2015, 567 pages, $16.99). World War II, the French Resistance, a love story… rock it. This was a birthday present from B. :)

June 2018

(^^ That’s me! ^^ And photo by me, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Bon appetit, babies, have a great weekend, bye.

WM

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