Pics

www.flickr.com
See more of Steve's pics



Shirts, stickers and more...
Get WackyMommy gear!
Excellent Blog
2007 Inspiring Blog
Rockin' Girl Blogger

Sunday Book Review: “Larf,” “Get Outside: The Kids’ Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors” and “Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More: The Eco-Journal of Corry LaPont”

June 3rd, 2012

I’ve come across some really fun and educational books lately. (No, that’s not a contradiction.)

“Larf” (written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, Kids Can Press, 2012, unpaged, $16.95) is one wild and furry guy. He is a Sasquatch, and he lives with his bunny, Eric. If I had to choose two imaginary friends, and those two were the only friends I could have, they would be Larf, and Schmidt from the show “New Girl.” Larf is living a pretty peaceful and solitary life, but that may be about to change…

The illustrations and story are hilarious; Larf is a vegetarian, which delighted the 10-year-old vegetarian at my house; and we just really enjoyed his story. This book is perfect for the 10-and-younger set.

Just in time for summer, we have Jane Drake and Ann Love’s book, “Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors.” Illustrations were created by Heather Collins. (Kids Can Press, 2012, 176 pages, $16.95.) Yes, I know. People are still yammering on and on about how kids never have recess at school anymore. They never go outside. They’re glued to their video and television screens and on and on. I can speak to what I see around me, and what we saw in our old neighborhood: People riding bikes, skateboards and scooters. Kids running back and forth to each other’s houses. Practices, practices, practices, for soccer, basketball, swim meets, concerts and dance. Kids throwing balls and frisbees and hitting things with sticks. We’re all on the computer too much. In fact, I’m sitting in front of a computer right now. Earlier today, I sent a few text messages. I watched part of a movie. But I also gardened and hung out the laundry on the line outside. We could be doing better, as world citizens, but we could also be doing a lot worse.

That being said, it is a little frustrating as a parent when you tell your kids to go outside and play, and they are literally the only kids out there because everyone else is inside. (We’ve taken to texting our friends, Going to playground, meet us there ;)

I think this book will come in handy for us. Want help learning how to garden? Making a scarecrow? Playing Stone Toss games? It’s in there. How about bird feeding, kite flying, or marathon card games? The book is divided into the four seasons (Summer: Make A Night Sky Dome, Pebbles in the Sand; Fall: Wildlife Blind, Worm Farm, for example.) and is straightforward — easy for the kids to leaf through, and perfect for those days when you can’t come up with any new ideas.

And there’s no one outside to play with.

Another new release is “Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More: The Eco-Journal of Corry Lapont” (Kids Can Press, 2012, 64 pages, $18.95). This was not written by Corry Lapont, though — she apparently is an imaginary, architecture-crazy young girl, with the stereotypical pesky younger brother. This one is named Riley, aka “The Question Box,” aka “The Factoid Finder.” And yes, that is the first and last time you will see the word “factoid” written on these pages, because “factoid” is not a word. The book was written by Etta Kaner and illustrated by Stephen MacEachern. OK, I’m kind of a stickler for calling a book a “journal” or “the almost-true story of,” etc. but hello, Dear America and My Name is America series. Yeah.

Am I too fussy? Probably.

Moving right along… This is an amazing book. Skyscrapers, dams, domes; various kinds of bridges; building green; job descriptions for architects, urban planners, structural engineers and other builder-type people; and yes, Portland’s own Hawthorne Bridge gets a little picture and a shout-out. (Thanks, y’all.) It’s a very cool book. My son would probably call it “one of those books that grown-ups love and kids don’t” but you know what? I think both of my kids are going to be into this one. You can answer a whole lot of those “how did they build that?” questions with this as a guidebook. There is a glossary in the back, and lots of good art and fact boxes sprinkled throughout.

Enjoy, and here’s to summer reading.

– WM

reading this week: “11/22/63,” “The New Jim Crow” and finally finishing “Great Expectations”

May 3rd, 2012

Those of you who have been reading me for a while know how much i love Stephen and Tabitha King. They are gifted story tellers, funny people, and I just get a little pissed that they don’t get credit where credit is due.

Also, Stephen just published this over on the Daily Beast and it’s a good read. Hear, hear. I finished his latest, “11/22/63,” a couple of days ago. I read the last two chapters first thing in the morning, because I had read ’til late-late the night before and it killed me that I keep nodding off and couldn’t get to the last bit. (One more reason to get a Kindle: When you fall asleep and the Kindle slips out of your hands, it is not nearly as bad as beaning yourself in the head with an 800-pound, 800-page Stephen King book. Just sayin’.) I loved this book as much as “The Stand,” and there is hardly anything in life, with the exception of my husband and the kids, that I love as much as “The Stand.”

Then I got in a lousy mood for the rest of the day, because I didn’t want the book to end. Even though it was 800 pages long. It is not often that a book I love as much as I love “The Stand” comes along. In fact, this is probably it now, for the rest of my life.

When that realization hit me, then I got a little aggravated. Because I still have a few decades left, but really, what’s the point now? (Kidding. I might only have a few years left, who the hell knows when their time is going to come? Just ask the Kennedys.)

There you have it.

“The New Jim Crow” is excellent. Get a copy and please STFU about how we’re living in a “post-racial society” and how racism “isn’t a problem for me!” Yeah, maybe cuz you’re white and not in jail, didja ever consider that? The author worked very hard on this book and it is fantastic. I can only read a few chapters at a time — it’s a lot of stats and info to take in. But you need to read it, and buy copies to hand out to your friends and family, and your co-workers who need a clue.

Stupid things I’ve heard white people say:
“Race isn’t a problem anymore, is it?”
“Race isn’t a problem for me.”
“She takes the whole race thing a little too seriously.”
“They need to stop playing the race card.”
“Black babies are soooooo much cuter than white babies.”
“Maybe Pablo will bring us some more towels.”

And that was just members of my extended family I was quoting there, not the general public. Woooooooooooooooooot!

Now, on to Dickens, because why not? I am not even going with the segues, I’m in a hurry.

HOW I LEARNED TO GET OVER MYSELF AND START APPRECIATING CHARLES DICKENS

I’ve kind of never read Dickens, to be completely forthright with you. Yes, I was an English major, thanks for asking! (Focus on women’s fiction and contemporary writers. Also Shakespeare. The End.)

I kind of thought Dickens was a jerk. My ma was all “‘Tale of Two Cities,’ oh it’s the best book ever oh you have to read it!” etc. and throwing a copy of it at my head and knocking me unconscious. Parents, heed my words: It is generally the kiss of death for an author when a parent says, Best book evah! and recommends it to their kid.

(Duly noted.)

I loved that episode of “Cheers” where Frasier wants to educate the guys at the bar, and starts reading aloud to them, It was the best of times/it was the worst of times…

Cliffie is all, Boy, make up your mind, Dickens, which was it? And Norm is all, That Dickens, he really liked to cover his butt, didn’t he?

So Frasier gets creative and adds in “a bloodthirsty clown that rises out of the sewers” and the guys were all, You had me at bloodthirsty clown, fully engaged. And I was all, I (heart) Stephen King. (See: Review above.) My point…

It’s that damn Kindle. You can get Austen, Shakespeare, Dickens, and many, many others for free. Best of all? You don’t have to actually read the books. You can just look busy and important, oh yes, I downloaded “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” I believe I’ll tuck into those this weekend. Then I’ll polish off “War and Peace” after that. So. Who knows why, but I actually started reading “Great Expectations” a while back. I think I was feeling cocky cuz I finally got through “Anna Karenina.” (Brilliant, by the by.)

I tried reading “Oliver Twist” and “A Christmas Carol” aloud to the kids. No go. They told me they saw the movies, and my son recited the entire plot of “A Christmas Carol,” complete with crazy accents and his own interpretive dance, to us in the kitchen and that was that.

Turns out, Charles Dickens was something else.
Turns out, I love “Great Expectations,” although it’s taking me a bit longer to get through it than I thought it would, due to the fact that…
Turns out, “Masterpiece Theater” did a slam-bang mini-series of “Great Expectations,” which I accidentally (season pass on my tivo — blame “Downton Abbey”) tivo’ed
Turns out, I had to watch the whole thing, thus creating a little bit of a spoiler for myself. Whatever, it was so worth it.

Peeps, I am now a Dickens fan. Also am eighty percent through the book, go me. Dickens does his own variations on the bloodthirsty clown, quite nicely. Lovely, really. Yeah, you start throwing around the English-speak, once you’re enthralled in Dickens World. Where I want to go, by the way.

Yeah, the kids know all about him. There is no hiding my newfound love. This was me, tonight, to my son, who was complaining cuz I took his videogames away:

me: “Yeah, try being Charles Dickens, how about?”

my kid, laughing: “Dickens, heh heh…”

me: “You don’t have it rough, he had it rough. You know why? Cuz his dad went to prison. Cuz he didn’t pay his bills. And guess who went with him? That’s right. Dickens’s mom. And his little brothers and sisters, oh yes they did. How would you like that? And Dickens had to go work in a factory, even though he was only 12…”

my kid (already down the stairs, going to bug his sister): “Uh-huh.”

xo happy reading xo

wm

Tuesday Book Review: “Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems,” “The Pirate Girl’s Treasure: An Origami Adventure” and “Bunnies, Crocodiles, And Me: Stories of Baby Beginnings”

April 24th, 2012

Hey. I started writing this book review several days ago, and it just is not going to write itself now, is it? Wait. I need another cup of coffee…

OK, I’m back. First up…

Presenting: “Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems,” by Jane Yolen, with photographs by Jason Stemple ($16.95, WordSong, 2012, 30 pages). Do you know Jane Yolen’s work? Yes, you do. She writes the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series (“How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms?” “How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?” etc.) and has published a whole bunch of other books, too. As far as I’m concerned, those guys making the big bucks in the NBA are nothing.

Jane Yolen is the rock star you should be worshipping.

She’s the author of “Owl Moon,” one of my favorite read-alouds when I do library work, and one of the best Young Adult books I’ve ever read about the Holocaust: “The Devil’s Arithmetic.” Jason Stemple? Yes, another unsung hero. His photos are spectacular and no, I am not using that word lightly. Go take a look. Visit their websites at Jane Yolen and Jason Stemple.

This is a fun poetry/science book wrapped into one. Twelve different bugs, plus a swarm, are profiled. Each gets a lovely poem, a cool photo, and a science fact box. My favorite is the honey bee. The poem begins like this:

“O Bee mine,
O blossom, please,
you are the best,
the true Bee’s knees.”

Ahhhhhh!

“The Pirate Girl’s Treasure: An Origami Adventure” was written by Peyton Leung and illustrated by Hilary Leung. ($16.95, Kids Can Press, 2012.) A pirate girl receives an unusual letter from her pirate grandpa and sets off on an adventure. What will happen along the way? This one is allegedly for the little kids, but my big kids had fun making the different origami designs illustrated in the back of the book. You can try your hand at making a hat, boat, or shirt, or all three. (The author was inspired by an origami model called “The Captain’s Shirt.)

“Bunnies, Crocodiles, and Me: Stories of Baby Beginnings,” is one of the sweetest, kookiest kid books I have ever come across. It was edited by Frederic Houssin and Cedric Ramadier, and is a compilation of works by nine different artists, including Peter Allen, Anne Brouillard and Katja Gehrmann. I do not know how this book came into my possession. I think it was in a box of goodies I was given when I was teaching.

Inside, you’ll find monsters giving birth to a new baby; bunnies upside down in a sonogram; and “A New Day,” by Bruno Gilbert:

“Sun is sleeping
peacefully
in his starry bed.”

It’s art, it’s poetry, it’s quirky and I think your kids will like it. Keep an open mind, and happy reading!

(I received two of these books as review copies. See disclaimer here.)

Saturday Book Review: “Animal Masquerade,” “The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea” and “Vote for Me!”

April 7th, 2012

“Animal Masquerade,” by Marianne Dubac ($16.96, Kids Can Press, 2011, unpaged) is a fun book. I like the disguises that all the animals are wearing. For example, the parrot is disguised as a turtle, and the turtle is disguised as Little Red Riding Hood. I think lots of kids would like this book. It’s for ages 7 and younger, but others might like it, too.

“The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea,” written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Willow Dawson ($15.95, Kids Can Press, 2012, 80 pages) looks like a good book for Earth Day, which is coming up on April 22nd.

“Vote for Me!”, by Ben Clanton ($16.95, Kids Can Press, 2012, unpaged) is a good one. Personally, I voted for the elephant, but you guys might choose something different.

– By Wacky Boy

Monday Book Review: “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” “Next Stop Grand Central,” “I’ve Got Your Number,” “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” and… “Ollie the purple elephant”

February 27th, 2012

Amy Chua has gotten a load of grief over her memoir, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” about parenting her two daughters. I liked the book — I thought she was brave and forthright, and funny, too. She’s the first one to admit her flaws, people, so get off her back. I agree with some of her methods. I know, I know — she got a little extreme. But you know what? Motherhood makes you crazy. It’s the truth.

Maybe we could talk honestly about our struggles and demons, instead of going all judgmental and focusing on finger-pointing. When did it become such a sticky wicket, “modern parenting”? Try to do the best you can and call it a day. Gah.

“Next Stop Grand Central” is another great picture book by Maira Kalman. It was published in 1999, but I just got a copy of it a couple of months ago. I’m trying to collect everything by Kalman — some of it is expensive and hard to find, but if you poke around on eBay and Amazon, or at the used book stores, titles show up and you can find them at reasonable prices.

Just received a review copy of Sophie Kinsella’s latest, “I’ve Got Your Number.” (My disclaimer.) I started it and it is fun and engaging, like her books always are. I needed something a little lighter — I’ve been on an F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald kick — novels, bios, short stories. I like these self-imposed author studies I do, but it’s a little much sometimes, eh, Sylvia? So Ms. Kinsella, thanks for another good read.

(Edited on 3/12/12 to say: Finished the Kinsella book last week — loved it. There’s a touch of sorrow and intensity to this one, woven through. V. good.)

“No one wants to hear stories about about bad things. That’s the truth. I remember that my tutor at college once asked me if I was all right and if I wanted to talk. The moment I started, he said, ‘You mustn’t lose your confidence, Poppy!’ in this brisk way that meant, ‘Actually I don’t want to hear about this, please stop now.’”

Next: Somehow, when I was doing my library work, I missed reading Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s picture book, “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” (flipside in Spanish: “!La Verdadera Historia de Los Tres Cerditos!”). You know why? It’s such a great book that the students and teachers always had it checked out and I never got to enjoy it! How dare they! Ha. Found my kids’ old copy awhile back, out at their grandma’s house, and brought it home with us.

I give this one five out of five stars. Yes. !Si!

Jarrett J. Krosoczka (who also wrote the hilarious “Lunch Lady” series of graphic novels) has a new picture book out: “Ollie the purple elephant.” Too. Cute. Really liked the art in this one, and the story is fun. That’s it for books. Now how about a short film and some music? Alright.

This short film won an Oscar last night. I just adore it.

And now, just because I am still so bummed about Whitney Houston’s death, another video — this one of an impossibly young Whitney and her incredible mom, Cissy. Peace, peace, peace to the Houston family

on the coffee table: “Following Ezra,” “Tender is the Night” and “Paradise Lost”

January 19th, 2012

“Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism and Love from His Extraordinary Son” is a great read for any parent, not just parents of special needs children. Nice work, Mr. Tom Fields-Meyer.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night” is where it’s at for me this week. I re-read “The Great Gatsby” awhile back, but I must say that “Tender is the Night” is closer to my heart. Also it’s funny, in the middle of all the pathos.

“Abe North was talking to her about his moral code: ‘Of course I’ve got one,’ he insisted, ‘– a man can’t live without a moral code. Mine is that I’m against the burning of witches. Whenever they burn a witch I get all hot under the collar.”

I’m grappling with John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” still. I can’t say “again,” because I remember loving this poem and flying through it in college. Wrote an amazing paper (no doubt) (ha), did cartwheels all around Satan, Adam and Eve. (sigh.) I’m reading it for book group, I have to finish it. (argh.)

Also reading Mikal Gilmore’s insightful and well-written profile of David Bowie, “The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust: How David Bowie Changed the World,” in the Feb. 2, 2012 issue of the Rolling Stone. I wish we were discussing that in book group, instead of “Paradise Lost.”

“…There were too many suicides (in my family) for my liking… as long as I could put those psychological excesses into my music and into my work, I could always be throwing it off.” — David Bowie, in 1993

The Wacky Mommy Book Review That Will Not Be: “Wildwood,” “The Marriage Plot” and… that other one. That great book I just read and took back to the library and what was the name of it???? Gah. Oh, right. “STORI Telling” (Tori Spelling’s memoir) (one of ‘em)

January 12th, 2012

Man, I loved Tori Spelling’s memoir. Yeah, she had a writer help her with it, but it’s her voice, her stories, all Tori, all the time. I love that girl. Yes, I was a big 90210 and Melrose Place fan, back in the olden days before there was high-def TV. Her dad was just a crazy writing, producing, Hollywood machine gun of a guy, and her mom is named Candy and loves to buy shit and… The Spellings are as close as we have to royalty in this country we call the U.S. of A., no? Steve and I think her husband, Dean McDermott, is funny as hell, too, cuz he played Stan Ryckman in one of our favorite TV shows ever, The Tournament. (It’s a Canadian show about hockey, it’s as if they designed it just for us.) I love those two, and their kids, and their other kids (their goats) and that’s all. xoxoxoxoxox to you and your family, Tori. Next?

Oh, yes. Next is the bad news. I tried to read Jeffrey Eugenides’s (“The Virgin Suicides”) latest, “The Marriage Plot.” Made it through the first 71 pages. Yeah, you take a pee. Whatever. (This is an “adult” book.) You do not “pee with taurine force” (p. 59.) (Yeah, your guess is correct. “Like a bull.”) You have breasts. You may even have pale breasts. But a “pale, quiet, Episcopalian breast”? (p. 71.) Now you’re just trying to show off wif your writing, boy. Eh.

Next? “Wildwood,” by Colin Meloy (from the band the Decemberists, and that one episode of the TV show “Portlandia”) and his lovely wolf, Carson Ellis. Was it named for Wildwood restaurant, the fancy-shmancy place in Northwest Portland? Maybe they like to eat there or something. I do not know. Oh! It’s named for the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, no doubt. There you go.

I do love Ellis’s art — she has done illustrations for Lemony Snicket and Florence Parry Heide and (one of my favorites) Trenton Lee Stewart (“The Mysterious Benedict Society”). She, Meloy and their kid, who is, I’m sure, adorable, as kids usually are, live in Portland, Ore. They are referred to as “hipsters.” (Ellis-Meloy, that is.) Their young adult novel has been getting rave reviews and lots o’ press and wow, what a book, etc. Babies, all I could think about was “Portlandia,” and a ways into the book, I became convinced that Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, who I know, I know, a lot of you find as adorable as the Ellis-Meloy kid is, no doubt… I started thinking that they wrote the book, even though of course they didn’t, it’s Mr. Meloy and Ms. Ellis’s book and chicken people, no, crows, crow people and St. Johns in North Portland oh-my-gawd it’s so hip I could die, and gah…

gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc. gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc. gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc. gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc. gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc. gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc. gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc. gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc. gah argh gah blech arrrrr etc.

I’m telling you. Hell hath no fury like a native-born and -grown Portland girl who can’t live there anymore cuz it’s not her people anymore and…

Where was I? Oh, yeah. “What right do you have to even review books? Who are you, anyway, Little Miss Astor Butt?”

I. Love. Books. I have a B.A. in English, I write and edit, my kids and husband are all big readers, I come from a family of big readers on both sides, mom’s and dad’s, and… right. I’m a librarian, too, in my free time. You know what a book needs to do? Move me. And these last two just didn’t, fancy words, gushing accolades, pretty covers, what have you. So gimme Tori Spelling. She’s funny, she’s real, and she’s not trying to impress me. She’s self-deprecating as hell. She does something kooky, things don’t turn out well, and she says, Surprise, surprise…

You can keep your hip references and wordy-wordiness, alright? Please, for the love of Mike, don’t be pretentious.

(PS — I purchased “Wildwood” for my kids. They do like Portlandia, but refuse to read this book that I plunked down $17.99 for. The other two I checked out from the library. No disclaimer needed. Although I did get hungry for apple pie, reading “The Marriage Plot.” Two of the characters are discussing when pie used to arrive with a slice of cheddar on top, yeah, I remember that, one of the characters says, followed by no, actually I don’t. So I put the books aside and baked a pie. It was delicious. So there’s my disclaimer.)

all for now,

wm

Our Favorite Christmas Books

December 20th, 2011

I’m on vacation this week and next. Here is a column that originally ran Dec. 3, 2007.

enjoy! and happy 2012.

wm

I published the BEST round-up last year, or the year before, who knows. All of these holidays run together. It was our favorite Christmas books, and it was a thing of beauty.

Then I hit delete on what I thought was a DRAFT and no, it was not a DRAFT, it was the published version. And poof! No more round-up.

I’ll try again…

Hershey Kisses,

WM

The Best Christmas Books Ever:

Gratitude: Day 15, plus… The Tuesday Book Review: “My Name is Elizabeth!” “Motion, Magnets and More,” “Look at That Building!” and… Cookies! From Kroger’s!

November 14th, 2011

Grateful on Tuesday for things people send me in the mail.

This week I’ll be reviewing another batch of books from Kids Can Press (ages 4-7 looks like the target audience for these three titles), and reviewing a batch of cookies, too. Yes, it’s a rough life here at Wacky House, what with all the reading materials, cookies and writing. Plus, I get to do all this in my pajamas and take a nap whenever I want. #mydreamjobthankyou.

First of all: I like this publishing house. They have some great titles. (I knew this already, but they sent me an impressive catalog along with my stack of books and man. Good selection.) I want to get a copy of “Ankylosaur Attack,” by Daniel Loxton, with Jim W.W. Smith, and perhaps “Biomimicry,” by Dora Lee and Margot Thompson. (Cool things from the natural world and the human inventions that have been inspired by them.) And you know I’m crazy about anything by Melanie Watt (the Chester books, Scaredy Squirrel, etc.).

“My Name is Elizabeth!” by Annika Dunklee and Matthew Forsythe, is a sweet book about a little girl with a big personality. Elizabeth! There is a queen named after her, even. She is not Betsy. Not Liz. Not Lizzy. Not Beth. Got it? Is anyone gonna listen? The art is reminiscent of some of my favorite kids’ books from the ’60s. (Forsythe did the illustrations with pen and ink, gouache and digitally.) Fun — his work looks vintage and brand-new at the same time. The story is engaging and I loved how it clipped right along.

I’m keen on science books for kids, especially for younger kids. They crave science and often don’t get enough opportunities to do experiments at school. Adrienne Mason and Claudia Davila’s “Motion, Magnets and More” (subtitled “The Big Book of Primary Physical Science”) is a compilation of four books: “Move It!,” “Touch It!,” “Build It!” and “Change It!” Lots and lots of info on materials, mass, structures, solids/liquids/gases, and… what science book would be complete without experiments and projects. Kids can learn to make their own ice cream, paint with salt, have races with Ping Pong balls and lots more. This book will be fun for kids, parents and teachers alike.

Scot Ritchie dedicated “Look at That Building! A First Book of Structures” to his dad, “Ross Ritchie, one of Canada’s great architects.” Aww. I mean, c’mon now. Awwww… So right away that tells you two things: 1) This guy loves his dad and 2) He’s going to look at architecture through the eyes of a child. Sally, Yulee, Martin, Pedro and Nick have a project in mind: a doghouse for Sally’s dog, Max. Along the way they learn about foundations and floors, walls, beams and frames, shapes and columns and even green roofs. Instructions are included for making a “Mini Doghouse” out of craft sticks, construction paper, glue, tape and marshmallows. That brings me to treats.

BzzAgent sent us a delightful package this week. Cookies! Two boxes of them. The DVD of Harry Potter 7, Part 2, that we pre-ordered showed up today, too (under separate cover, of course). Really, this was a banner day over here. Here is our take on the cookies:
1) “Very tasty with my coffee au lait.” — me
2) “Good. Like Chips Ahoy, but not as crunchy.” — Steve
3) “They were good. Yummy!” — Wacky Girl
4) “They were so good, but kind of dry. I need more!” — Wacky Boy

So there you have it, folks.

(PS — Please see my disclaimer.)

On the Coffee Table: “Beloved,” “Blue Nights,” “A Paradise Built in Hell” and “How to Be an American Housewife”

November 1st, 2011

“Beloved” (Toni Morrison) — I have tried, and failed, to read “Beloved” at least a half dozen times since it was released in 1987. “Song of Solomon” had a profound influence on my life when I read it for the first time, at age 18. “The Bluest Eye” is astounding, as well. But “Beloved” is the one that made everyone sit up and take notice of Morrison. All I could think was, About time. This time I won’t let it elude me.

“A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster” (Rebecca Solnit) — I think I picked up this copy at church one Sunday. (We have a great bookstore — it’s one of the many reasons I feel at home at my church.) I’m reading it slowly; it’s tough going. But Solnit is a gifted reporter, and has a good ear for dialogue. I also appreciate the way she presents/interprets her stats/facts and weaves in history.

“Blue Nights” (Joan Didion) — Just finished this one. So painful to read, but I loved “The Year of Magical Thinking.” Loved this one, too. It’s written like a love poem to her late daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne Michael. I have always been devoted to Didion, but after these two books, she has my fierce and appreciative loyalty like never before. I hope she can find peace. She deserves that.

“How to Be an American Housewife” (Margaret Dilloway) — Wow. Great read. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. I kind of love it when that happens, don’t you? It’s the story of the struggles and challenges facing a Japanese woman who marries an American following World War II. It’s well-written, and the heroine grabs you by the collar and keeps you next to her, right from the first page. Highly recommended.

« Previous PageNext Page »