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Tuesday Book Review: Happy (belated) Christmas! “The Chicken Chronicles,” by Alice Walker; “Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets,” by Sara O’Leary & Jacob Grant; “Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas?” by Brianna Caplan Sayres & Christian Slade; and “God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin,” by Adah Nuchi & Rob Polivka and other delights

January 15th, 2019

Untitled

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Those are the newest bok-boks, who turn one year old next month. We’ve lost one, but the other four are alive and well. Chickens = heartbreak, it turns out. Which I knew, but didn’t really know, until they were part of our family.

I started this post a long time ago, thought I hit publish and didn’t, so here we are. So happy-after-Christmas reviews.

I’m reading Alice Walker’s book about life, love, family and chickens. It’s called “The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories: Glorious, Rufus, Gertrude Stein, Splendor, Hortensia, Agnes of God, the Gladyses, & Babe: A Memoir,” and I’m liking it. The title alone makes it worth the price of admission. I’ve always liked Walker’s writing, though, and her attitude. Like many of us, I discovered her in college when we read “The Color Purple.” If you don’t know her writing, or haven’t checked in with her lately, please do.

I have some other chicken books (that I received as Christmas presents) that I will review later. Bok-bok.

“Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets: An Unusual Alphabet,” written by Sara O’Leary, with pictures by Jacob Grant (Random House Children’s Books, 2018, ages 3-7, 40 pages, $17.99). Pretty art, sweet words.

“Aa: Alligators think you’d like them/if you got to know them” (I believe we all feel this way, at times…) and…

“Ee: Elephants are happiest at bathtime” are my two favorite pages.

Awesome book.

“Owl Babies,” by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson, was one of my children’s favorites, and mine as well, back in the day. And the “Little Bear” books, by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak. So. Many. Cool and sweet animal books.

“Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas?” (by Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Christian Slade, Random House, 2018, $16.99) These Digger books are funny.

“Where do food trucks celebrate Christmas after serving lots of meals? Are there special Christmas menus at these restaurants on wheels?” (With art of daddy snowman and kids, with their pink frosted cupcakes, by the cupcake dessert truck.)

Trucks, kids and gifts — winning combination.

Also recommending “God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin,” written by Adah Nuchi, illustrated by Rob Polivka (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, $18.99). Great bio of an incredible songwriter who has come to symbolize America. The book includes a list of websites and a bibliography in the back, but the song list? That’s all for me. It’s ten of his best-known songs, and includes “Blue Skies,” “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” and my favorite, “White Christmas,” which my dad taught me to play on the piano when I was a little bitty girl.

Lots of love, more reviews soon, and bon appetit, babies!

WM

Sunday Book Review: “Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe,” by Preston Norton; “The Perfect Secret,” by Rob Buyea; “It Wasn’t Me,” by Dana Alison Levy; and “Inkling,” by Kenneth Oppel

December 23rd, 2018

“Nothing is really so very frightening when everything is so very dangerous”

― Gertrude Stein

Misc., babeee!

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

New classic, just like that… “Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe,” by Preston Norton (Hyperion, 2018, middle school & high school readers, 410 pages, $17.99). Cliff Hubbard doesn’t want anyone to get too close. Nicknamed “Neanderthal” because of his size (6’6″ tall, 250 pounds at age 16), grieves for his dead brother, is ridiculed by the other students at his high school, is damaged daily by his abusive father, while cherished by his mother, who is trying to get a better life for them. In spite of it all? He’s an amazingly good person, who wants better for his mom, himself and those around him.

Chapter One

“There are three rules to high school irrevocably inscribed within the interstellar fabric of the universe.

Rule number one: It’s all bullshit.”

This novel has replaced “Catcher in the Rye” for me as my new favorite teenage angst book. It’s brilliant, well-written, and thoughtful.

“The Perfect Secret” is Rob Buyea’s sequel to “The “Perfect Score.” (Delacorte Press, 2018, ages 9-12, 364 pages, $16.99.) The kids from Lake View Middle School — Gavin, Randi, Scott, Trevor and Natalie — are back for another adventure, this time hoping to patch up the relationship between the mother/daughter duo who teach at their school. Buyea knows kids — he has taught third- and fourth-grade, plus high school biology, and was also a wrestling coach. His dialogue and stories will speak to young readers.

“It Wasn’t Me,” by Dana Alison Levy (Delacorte, 2018, ages 10 and older, $16.99), is a new one on my shelf. A prank goes wrong, a student’s photography project is damaged, and five other students claim, “It wasn’t me.” A la “The Breakfast Club,” we have the Nerd, the Princess, the Jock, the Screw Up, the Weirdo and the Nobody.

“Inkling,” by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 8 and older, 256 pages). Extraordinary children’s book by Oppel and Smith, both Toronto, Canada residents. It’s about an artist father, who has creative block; a son who is faltering because he can’t create the art he needs to for a school project, and a sister, who has Down Syndrome and is needing attention. They all miss Mom.

Reminds me of “Crenshaw,” the Katherine Applegate book, which is an outstanding read, too. Both are good titles for grabbing the reluctant readers.

Bon appetit, babies. Happy holidays, and here’s to a grand 2019!

WM

Misc., babeee!

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Saturday Book Review: Rick Riordan Presents “Aru Shah and the End of Time,” by Roshani Chokshi; plus “The Isle of the Lost,” by Melissa de la Cruz, Robert Venditti & Kat Fajardo; and “Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas: A Petrifying Pop-Up for the Holidays’”

December 8th, 2018

Halloween Books

(That dog loves to be read to. Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Book reviews! Fun stuff.

This is part of the Rick Riordan Presents series. “Aru Shah and the End of Time: A Pandava Novel, Book One” by Roshani Chokshi (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, 355 pages, $16.99). Chokshi, who also wrote “The Star-Touched Queen” and “A Crown of Wishes,” has written a great young adult novel that I’m hoping is turned into a film someday. Oh, wait! Looks like Paramount Pictures landed the rights.

Our heroine, Aru, plays kind of fast and loose with the truth. Her schoolmates find her out when they discover she’s working at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture (where her mother is curator) and not taking a fancy vacation like she told them she was. They don’t believe that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed and here, our story begins. Great to read a book that focuses on Hindu mythology, with an Indian girl as the main character.

The next book in the series, “Aru Shah and the Song of Death” will be released in April, 2019.

“The Isle of the Lost,” by Melissa de la Cruz, adapted by Robert Venditti, with art by Kat Fajardo, and lettering by Leigh Luna (it’s a labor of love, this one) is a very cool graphic novel. (Based on the “Descendants” novel, from Disney-Hyperion, but of course, 2018, $21.99). Nice art — all purples, greens and reds — that rises off the pages and invites you in. The plot is a little all over the place, but I think I’m the only one who’s going to have a problem with that, not Disney fans. A lost scepter; a big cast of familiar characters; Diablo (Maleficent’s evil raven); Dr. Facilier, the strange MC — it’s good fun. The story: Disney villains and their family members are given the heave-ho from the Kingdom of Auradon and sent to the Isle of the Lost.

Things get weird.

Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas: A Petrifying Pop-Up for the Holidays” was just released (Disney Editions, 2018, $65). Matthew Reinhart worked hard on this one, and it’s amazing. Save it for the teenagers and grown-up “Nightmare” buffs; keep it on the shelf and only let the babies admire it under supervision. It’s an outstanding work of art.

Bon appetit, babies.

WM

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.

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.

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

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

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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