A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable is based on true events and tells the story of two women in Paris. One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialA Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable is based on true events and tells the story of two women in Paris. One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialist (April Vogt) and the other is renowned courtesan during the Belle Époque period in Paris just before World War I (Marthe de Florian). April is summoned to Paris and jumps at a chance to escape her crumbling life in the United States. In Paris she discovers an apartment that has been shuttered for more than 70 years and full of priceless furniture and paintings collected by Marthe but abandoned by her family. April also meets a solicitor who agrees to share Marthe’s journals. Through these journals, April learns about the woman behind the collections....more
Two dads, four boys, one dog, one cat, and one invisible cheetah. The Family Fletcher is preparing for a new school year, the first school year whereTwo dads, four boys, one dog, one cat, and one invisible cheetah. The Family Fletcher is preparing for a new school year, the first school year where all four of the very different boys will be in school. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy follows this unique, and at the same time totally normal, family throughout the year as they deal with their individual problems. Twelve year-old Sam is a soccer player, a cool kid looked up to as the example for his younger brothers. Can he transfer his talent for storytelling into a part in the school play, and more importantly still be cool? 10 year-old Jax thinks Sam is the coolest, and wants to be accepted as part of the same crowd, now that he’s in the same school building. But with a changing friendship and a school project hanging over his head, Jax might end up more behind than ever. Eli, also 10 (but a couple of months younger), is starting a new, expensive, academically minded school, trading familiar faces for scholarly challenges. When his new school turns out to be less amazing than he had hoped, he struggles with the his ability to admit he made a mistake. Six year-old Froggie (not Jeremiah) is excited to start kindergarten with Flare, his invisible cheetah. His biggest problems are asking for kittens, turtles and convincing his family that his new friend Ladybug is real girl. Even with all of their individual issues to work through, the whole family comes together for the biggest Halloween party ever, camping trips, and convincing their grumpy neighbor Mr. Nelson that they mean no harm. With loving support from both Papa and Dad (who have some misadventures of their own), the Fletchers work together to overcome all obstacles that come their way. This is a fun romp that just happens to have a diverse family at the heart of it....more
“3 weeks 2 sisters 1 car” Perfect for the holidays—the quintessential family road trip! I’m not generally a fan of graphic novels, but author and illus“3 weeks 2 sisters 1 car” Perfect for the holidays—the quintessential family road trip! I’m not generally a fan of graphic novels, but author and illustrator Raina Telgemeier does a great job of convincing me to broaden my horizons. I just read her newest title, Sisters, which explores the complexity and humor of sibling rivalry and family relationships. Sisters evokes a universal familiarity. Who doesn’t remember the family road trip as the perfect time to fight and bond? Telgemeier’s first autobiographical novel, Smile, continues to be incredibly popular. Booklist described it as “possibly the only universally embraced graphic novel on the planet.” Sisters continues Raina’s story, sharing how she and her sister Amara fight their way to common ground, against the backdrop of a family reunion, also filled with family fights and affections. Sisters left me with a smile and warm memories of my own sisters…and wishing for more. Perhaps Telgemeier will turn me into a graphic novel fan yet!...more
Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you madMaya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
My takeaway from Amy Poehler’s Yes Please is she has worked hard, taken risks, cultivated friendships, laughed at herself, experienced good & bad in life, and made people feel good.
Poehler is best known for her work on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation, but Yes Please reveals there’s a lot more to this actor than laughs and feeling good. She is a Mom, humanitarian, advocate for girls and women, community builder, and “bossy” in the very best way.
I listened to this book and because it was narrated by Poehler, with help from family and friends, the listening experience felt intimate and revealing. Kathleen Turner introduces the chapters and we hear from Amy’s parents, Carol Burnett, Mike Schur, Patrick Stewart, Seth Meyers, and others. Poehler has an infectious laugh and I found myself laughing along with her while thoroughly enjoying the listening experience.
I started this review with a quote Amy Poehler included in the book. I’ll end with Poehler’s words: The only way we will survive is by being kind. The only way we can get by in this world is through the help we receive from others. No one can do it alone…...more
A wordless picture book, released in the U.S. in 2014, which addresses the cyclical nature of time.
In 126 fully illustrated pages the authors exploreA wordless picture book, released in the U.S. in 2014, which addresses the cyclical nature of time.
In 126 fully illustrated pages the authors explore what time means and does to nature, animals, plants, people, technology and our ways of thinking. Generally, each page spread represents one set of before and after. Many interact with one another or hearken to earlier sets of images, all of them are beautifully detailed and leave much to be explored in subsequent readings.
Surprisingly philosophical, this work begins in the inverse of how it ends, making it capable of being read in both directions and thus allowing time to flow forwards, backwards and in the round. Repeating images, literary allusion and tongue in cheek humor make this a great read for all ages....more
Teenager Holly Mackey (daughter of a Detective featured in French’s previous detective novels) is living and studying at an all-girls boarding schoolTeenager Holly Mackey (daughter of a Detective featured in French’s previous detective novels) is living and studying at an all-girls boarding school outside of Dublin, Ireland. The administrator of the school posted a notice board where students can anonymously leave notes called, “the secret place”. The novel opens with her having discovered a note saying, “I know who killed him.” She understands it refers to the unsolved murder of a student from the nearby all-boys school whose body was found on the grounds the previous year. She takes the note to the only cop she trusts, cold case Detective Stephen Moran. He wants a promotion to the murder squad and is savvy enough to know he can approach the newly partner-less, gruff Detective Antoinette Conway and hope to impress.
The story is told mostly from the Detective’s point of view with chapters interspersed following the back-story of Holly and her friends’ experiences at the school the prior year. The solve happens over the course of a day of intensive interviewing at the school; the Detectives’ frustration and desperation for a collar ends up creating a locked-room mystery vibe that can feel quite suffocating. Since most of the book is devoted to the testimony of independent teenagers (e.g. puberty, rebellion, in-fighting, and inherent distrust of adults) you soon find yourself suspecting everyone and wondering if these cops should just give up.
French’s books are always extremely detailed and, since you’ve the Detective’s point of view, you get the feeling that you’re meant to be taking good notes in order to solve this. There’s generally a foreboding feel, sometimes hinted as supernatural but often manifested as unease about every character’s motives. Her stories are dark and meticulously plotted, they lean towards police procedural rather than the more typical bestseller suspense....more
Sometimes I wonder who chooses the cover art for books. The feathery image on the cover of this book does not even hint at the collection of fun zanySometimes I wonder who chooses the cover art for books. The feathery image on the cover of this book does not even hint at the collection of fun zany patterns inside. From mustaches, and scrabble tiles, to Volkswagen buses and instamatic cameras, this is a collection of really great ideas. Each project contains a materials and treds list, as well as a pattern that contains not only symbols but colors, making them very easy to follow....more
The 25 cute and colorful crochet projects in this book are divided into three sections: Living, Giving and Wearing. The book starts with a 26 page intThe 25 cute and colorful crochet projects in this book are divided into three sections: Living, Giving and Wearing. The book starts with a 26 page introduction covering the materials and tools needed, well photographed introductions to each of the three basic crochet stitches, as well as other things needed to complete the projects in the book. Unfortunately, while introduction is full of photographs, each of the projects themselves has only one photograph of the finished product. The step by step written instruction seem clear, and might be enough for an experienced crochetist, however....more
Are you looking for a craft that doesn’t require a sewing machine? A bit of fun hand sewing? Jeanette Lim has put over 70 of her “feltie” patterns inAre you looking for a craft that doesn’t require a sewing machine? A bit of fun hand sewing? Jeanette Lim has put over 70 of her “feltie” patterns in this sequel to Big Little Felt Universe. Divided into 10 fun and unique sets – from cupcakes and dinosaurs, to pets and bowling pins, there is bound to be something here that entertains you. Everything is hand sewn so really all you need is some felt, scissors, a needle and thread to get started....more
I heard the description of the book on NPR and while it’s not a book I think I normally would have picked up, I’m glad I did. My main concern during tI heard the description of the book on NPR and while it’s not a book I think I normally would have picked up, I’m glad I did. My main concern during the first chapter or two was whether I would be able to keep straight the many different characters. With 33 miners, all men with sometimes similar names, I started to wonder how I would remember who was who. I needn’t have worried: the author does a terrific job using callbacks and reminders to help the reader along. The story was gripping and well told.
Though I remembered how the story ended because of the massive news coverage at the time, I had not realized the details of what was truly a miraculous and surprising rescue. It was fascinating reading about how the miners dealt with such a grim situation only to be faced with a media storm as soon as contact was made – though they remained trapped for many more weeks.
This was a terrific read; it’s a page turner that I would recommend to a broad audience....more
This book collects the profiles of 11 cartoonists and one “Editor with a Horn” (Lee Lorenz). The profile on Roz Chast (“The Exurban Everymom: Roz ChasThis book collects the profiles of 11 cartoonists and one “Editor with a Horn” (Lee Lorenz). The profile on Roz Chast (“The Exurban Everymom: Roz Chast”) elaborates on some of the biographical facts she illustrates in her memoir, as well as describes some very entertaining tidbits of what has shaped her life as a cartoonist. The details present a delightfully earnest look into the autobiographical elements that make her cartoons so relatable. It’s a must-read for Chast fans....more
Chast's expressive illustrations accompany the poems Merritt wrote to honor the 101 two-letter words allowed in Scrabble. With Chast’s illustrations aChast's expressive illustrations accompany the poems Merritt wrote to honor the 101 two-letter words allowed in Scrabble. With Chast’s illustrations and Merritt’s clever songwriting abilities, the book is sure to bring a ton of smiles....more
Ways to effectively learn have always been interesting to me. In my quest for information/validation for the way I personally choose to gain new knowlWays to effectively learn have always been interesting to me. In my quest for information/validation for the way I personally choose to gain new knowledge and skills I came across some pretty interesting material.
As I started reading finals week at the U of I was just beginning. Every day students were in the library pouring over materials from the semester. I was learning that cramming was a pretty ineffective method to really learn. Making errors was cited as a particularly lasting learning tool IF timely corrections are made.The author points out that the more effort that is put forth during the acquisition of new material, the better the retention and ability to apply the knowledge will be in the future. If this is valid, I will have a better retention of this book because I retrieved the information from my head for this blog post.
One example given is that of a professor who changed his class structure to several periodic quizzes rather than a final exam at the end of a course. He (and researchers) discovered that by retrieving information throughout the semester that students were better able to retain what was covered during the course and as a byproduct, increased their grades by a significant amount.
He also discusses and pretty much debunks the whole theory of learning styles (visual, auditory, kin-esthetic) from the angle that one style suits an individual for all types of learning. Research indicates that successful teaching/learning methods depend much more on the material/skills being taught than on what an individual perceives to be “their” learning method. I know that this is certainly true for me....more
I long have been a fan of author Charles Todd’s mystery series featuring the character Ian Rutledge. A Fine Summer’s Day is the just-published, perfecI long have been a fan of author Charles Todd’s mystery series featuring the character Ian Rutledge. A Fine Summer’s Day is the just-published, perfectly-presented prequel to the sixteen novels in the series. It is a satisfying detective story in its own right, but what’s best is learning some of the back stories of the series’ characters.
If you are already a fan too, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this installment. It takes place just as England is mobilizing to enter World War I. Rutledge is a detective at Scotland Yard and is courting Jean, the young woman who we know will break their engagement upon Rutledge’s return from the war. Many other familiar characters whom we have come to know are introduced here as well.
Why do I like the series so much? Ian Rutledge is an honorable and intelligent man who is haunted by the horror of the war. How he solves mysteries while trying to regain some emotional stability in his life are complimentary and compelling themes. His Scotland Yard assignments take him all around England–and sometimes to Scotland–and the places and historical settings come to life.
When I recommend the series to readers, I always suggest that they read them in order. While there is enough background information repeated in each novel to make them understandable if you don’t read them in order, the character development does flow from book to book and you see the natural progression of the characters’ lives. Now I will suggest that readers begin with this book.
A couple more notes about the series’ characters: you don’t get much here about Hamish MacLeod–which makes sense because he becomes part of Ian Rutledge’s life only when Rutledge enters the war. And there’s a tantalizing reference to Simon Brandon, a name you will recognize if you read the Bess Crawford mysteries, by the same author. I wonder if we can look forward to a merging of their stories sometime soon?...more
Sam and Dave have dug a hole in my mind. At the risk of sounding like a heretic in the realm of children’s librarians, I’ll admit that I’ve not been aSam and Dave have dug a hole in my mind. At the risk of sounding like a heretic in the realm of children’s librarians, I’ll admit that I’ve not been a fan of Jon Klassen’s hat books. Grim humor is just not my thing. So with reluctance, and only after hearing all the buzz, I decided I did need to read Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. And my first reaction was bewilderment—“What happened there?” So I read it again. And again. And yet again. And then looked at the illustrations. And then looked at them some more. I shared it with my teenage daughter, who shared it with her friends. (“Freaky!” was their verdict, which was a compliment.) And somehow, it has grown on me. I still don’t really understand it. Neither does anyone else, I’ve learned. There are many theories about what it really means. But what did the dynamic duo of Barnett intend for it to mean? And will we ever find out where Sam and Dave really are? The ending is unnerving, and I keep turning it over in my mind. The spare text, subdued illustrations, and determined characters remind me a bit of The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson, though a bit grimmer. (Still, The Carrot Seed family is a bit harsh, too, don’t you think?) Will Sam and Dave achieve the same classic status? If you haven’t read it yet, get your hands on Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. And please…explain it to me!...more