Anthropomorphic language and imagery, rhyming, alliteration all accompany the gorgeous photographs of various wild animals going about their day in thAnthropomorphic language and imagery, rhyming, alliteration all accompany the gorgeous photographs of various wild animals going about their day in the winter woods, gossiping about the stranger who appeared overnight and is disrupting their routine. Their wariness is quickly overcome by the discovery of carrots and seed around the stranger, who remains immobile even as the birds and bunnies and deer feed around him. Have you guessed it? It's a snowman, built by young children who delightedly observe the forest creatures enjoy the treats they left.
And at the end is a recipe for a snowman that the reader can follow so that they can create their own stranger in the woods!
On a cold winter's night, a beautiful fox slinks and lurks around a village, looking for...what? Warmth? Food? Shelter? Clearly, all can be found fromOn a cold winter's night, a beautiful fox slinks and lurks around a village, looking for...what? Warmth? Food? Shelter? Clearly, all can be found from the houses of the village--at least if you're a human. But for the fox, the warm lights glowing from the windows belie the unwelcoming reception of the humans within, who drive the fox away. Nonetheless, the fox finds her way into the greenhouse, and it is there that a young boy finds her and her litter of pups. He offers her a basket of food, and this kindness is later repaid when Mama Fox and her pups bring the boy a magical garden of flowers, blooming in his room.
That this is a wordless story--a picture book in the truest sense of the words--makes it a truly remarkable work. (Perhaps there are a bunch of wordless picture books out there, but I haven't encountered any before). The cut-out illustrations, coupled with the whimsical yet intricate backgrounds, lend to the overall quietly magical tone of the book, and the fact that there are no words also helps the audience (caregiver and child) come up with their own variations on the story, thereby encouraging the development of imagination.
A perfect book to read on a cold winter's night!...more
An imagined love story between Prince Edward (later the king who gave up the throne for a divorced woman) and a fictional character, Lily, who try (anAn imagined love story between Prince Edward (later the king who gave up the throne for a divorced woman) and a fictional character, Lily, who try (and fail) very hard to defy his cold, royal parents.
Frankly, I was less intrigued with the love story between Edward and Lily than I was about Lily's sisters and their lives. ...more
While this book is its own unique creation, it is also a book that somehow seems to embody elements that echo those of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie andWhile this book is its own unique creation, it is also a book that somehow seems to embody elements that echo those of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie and The Warmth of Other Suns.
A story of one African-American family, who clawed their way out of the South and struggled to build a middle-class life in Detroit, this is a book that is most decidedly a product of the times in which we now find ourselves. In the spring of 2008, the Turner family--immense, complex, seething with love and resentment and secrets and confusion--is facing the loss of the house they grew up in. Job loss, urban blight, underwater mortgages all are too-common elements in the stories of many lives, but somehow, they seem more real and poignant here. This is a fantastic book, a thoughtful contemplation on what homes and houses represent for us, and the ways in which the traumas American society has inflicted upon African-Americans linger on, even today. ...more
During my middle school years, I attended a middle school in Florida that was...how should I put this...underprivileged, I suppose would be the best wDuring my middle school years, I attended a middle school in Florida that was...how should I put this...underprivileged, I suppose would be the best way to phrase it. I remember that it was smack in the middle of what many called "the projects." I know I adopted that phrase, too, not knowing the origin of the term, or the loaded associations. Bottom line was, the school definitely did not reflect a solid middle-class constituency. It was a diverse group of students there, but every morning, and every afternoon, I boarded a school bus that then trundled off and deposited me into my own neighborhood, which may as well have been in another universe.
Reading Ms. McSpadden's book was a lot like taking a trip down memory lane. She and I are of a same age, so reading about her upbringing in St. Louis during the 1990s, and getting the pop culture references she made, rang very familiar with me. However, as I was reading it, I couldn't escape the feeling that her experiences, and mine, were nothing alike. We may have experienced the same events and culture, but in vastly different settings. I think that might be why it is difficult for many to read this book and really get the environment Ms. McSpadden grew up in, and later raised her children in. It's so far beyond our realm of experience, and when there is such a gap, how can we really understand?
I want to understand. And it's thanks to Ms. McSpadden's courage and honesty that I am at least able to read what it is like to be a female growing up in a racially-divided city, surrounded by a family filled with warmth and love and chaos, struggling to make the right choices when you don't have the information and resources to guide and support you. She raised her son, Michael Brown, as best she could, and worked hard to keep him in school. When he was killed by a policeman in disputed circumstances, she was left reeling from the shock and abruptness of her firstborn's violent and senseless death. She's spent her time since then trying to find justice for her son, and provide healing for others who have lost their children. In this very honest book, which perhaps deliberately presents information in a somewhat jumbled and chaotic fashion, she has given us a harsh portrait of a facet of American culture that many of us have never, will never experience firsthand--but should know about in order to understand how people, events, and geographies evolve the way they do.
It's a book about Michael Brown, but more than that, it's a book about Michael Brown's family, his life, his death, and his legacy. It's a book about the woman who gave him life and is trying to give his life meaning in death. It's a book that's going to make many of us uncomfortable, but it's not a book that we should turn away from. It's a book that throbs with raw anger, and many other emotions, and it's a book that doesn't agree with many of the outcomes of what happened in 2014. (Whether or not I agree is irrelevant.) It's a book of a mother's trauma at losing her child to violence, suddenly, a trauma that none of us should ever have to endure. It's a book made me think a lot about my fellow Americans and the vast differences between us, and the ways in which we live side by side yet worlds apart. ...more
Weir's novelized but fairly accurate account of Katherine of Aragon's tragic life is a solid offering in the already-crowded court of books serving thWeir's novelized but fairly accurate account of Katherine of Aragon's tragic life is a solid offering in the already-crowded court of books serving the Tudor family. I tend to roll my eyes and refer to this (and other books like it) as "Not another Tudor novel!" but this particular tome distinguishes itself for being packing more of an emotional punch. Year by year, and decade by decade, the reader is permitted to witness the degeneration of Katherine's marriage and her struggle to maintain her dignity and faith in the face of Henry VIII's increasingly horrid treatment of her. When Katherine finally passes away, bringing about the end of the book, you may find yourself breathing a sigh of relief--not that the book is finished, but rather that Katherine's suffering is.
I understand Ms. Weir intends to write novels about all of Henry VIII's wives--she drew such a sympathetic portrait of Katherine that I find myself wondering how she will manage to evoke sympathy for Anne Boleyn. Yet such are Ms. Weir's talents that I have no doubt that when the time comes, I'll find myself praying that her story will have a different ending, even though I know what will happen. ...more
"When you go from buggies to space travel, I'd say you've covered a good many miles."
So says one of them women interviewed in this book, which is a c"When you go from buggies to space travel, I'd say you've covered a good many miles."
So says one of them women interviewed in this book, which is a collection of oral histories of Hoosier women who grew up from the late-1800s through the 1960s. Most of the attention is paid to the period between 1890 and 1945, and you can see how Indiana, and the lives of her denizens, change through the generations as technology, war, and economic booms and busts ripple their way across the landscape.
There aren't enough words in the world to describe how grateful I am that this book, as well as the other books in this series, exist. Oral histories are rather wonderful things, I think, particularly when the histories touch on the lives and times of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles who are passing on, taking their own life stories with them, as well as the precious details of "how life was" for the everyday person.
Something to ponder: it might be worth reading this book, or excerpts of it, aloud to your senior relatives. Sometimes memories of past times, events, people, manners, and objects spur their memories and minds more than recent things, and will engage and energize them more. Plus, it might spur them to reminisce about their own lives, and thus you will learn more about them....more
I love me some Bill Bryson, don't get me wrong. I've read four of his books, and enjoy his sometimes subtle, sometimes juvenile, sometimes snarky sensI love me some Bill Bryson, don't get me wrong. I've read four of his books, and enjoy his sometimes subtle, sometimes juvenile, sometimes snarky sense of humor, to say nothing of his gentle meanderings which come to the point in their own sweet time. But this book...I'm really struggling with. It's meant to be a reflection of the various quirks of America, as seen through the eyes of a person recently returned after a decades-long sojourn in England. But in reality, it's more of a collection of columns in which he gripes and laments a lot. (Even by his own wife's observation, he does this.)
I think this is an example of how no two people read the same book. Chances are, if I were to pick this book up and re-read it, 10 or 15 years from now, I will enjoy it more. For I will be a different person, enduring different circumstances, reading it with different perceptions, and thus reading an entirely different book. At this point in my life, the last thing I need to spend my recreational time on is a collection of curmudgeonly complaints, however humorous they might be. I really DON'T want to finish this book; it's emotionally draining. However, I am compelled to finish it, based on the sneaking and probably ill-founded suspicion that I might end up skewered in a column written by Mr. Bryson in which he laments the fickle and lazy nature of American readers and how they will likely bring about the 4 Horsemen or a resurgence of Saint Vitus's Dance or a raise in Mr. Bryson's water-bill. ...more
This "sequel" to Pride and Prejudice was the most...anemic attempt at a literary homage I've ever encountered.
First, the author spends a great deal oThis "sequel" to Pride and Prejudice was the most...anemic attempt at a literary homage I've ever encountered.
First, the author spends a great deal of time telling, not showing.
Second: The entire Darcy family have been reduced to Mary Sue status. OF COURSE this wealthy, titled family would vigorously campaign for social reform. fweh*R#3ghgvidhv (Oh, sorry, I mistyped there, since I was blinded by the gleam of light reflecting off their collective halo.) OF COURSE they make all sorts of sound business decisions, and everyone in their acquaintance has felicitous, happy marriages, unopposed by anyone. OF COURSE Elizabeth and Darcy lived in perfect harmony and happiness, with nothing to distress them except for when they reproached themselves for the months of foolishness in which they despised each other upon first acquaintance. Of course, these moments pass quickly and are remedied by them congratulating themselves, at great length, and many times over the course of the book, over their good taste in marrying each other.
Notwithstanding the occasional shenanigans from the Wickhams, and one untimely death of a cousin's husband, the Darcy way of life is pretty perfect. Lest we get too fed up with this (too late), the author obligingly throws in a double-tragedy toward the end of the book, when she kills off the Darcys' only son along with his cousin. But even that tragedy is remedied when Elizabeth gets pregnant again and has another son--but therein lies a MAJOR flaw in the book.
We don't learn of this plot development until suddenly, blah blah blah they go off to Italy and try to heal from their loss and in the fall Elizabeth was brought to bed of their son, whom they named Julian blah blah blah". And it's like, "Wait, what? THE READER NEVER EVEN KNEW SHE WAS PREGGERS." And lest you to think that it's the author's way in keeping in accord with the discretion of the day, nope! She had no problems before then about relaying news of pregnancies. It was the most glaringly heinous and unfortunate example of poor editing that I've ever seen.
The one redeeming thing about this book is that, thankfully, the author had the good sense not to delve into any mention of sexual activity. That's the one thing worse that can possibly pop up (heh) in a P&P sequel. ...more
"You can get anything you want if you think you deserve it."
Good lord, after finishing this book--this emotional roller coaster of a book--I almost wa"You can get anything you want if you think you deserve it."
Good lord, after finishing this book--this emotional roller coaster of a book--I almost want to contact the author and be like, "Thank you for including us on your journey." Because it's clear that this YA novel of Amanda, a bright, teenage trans female is a reflection, at least in part, of the author's own journey. Transition. Process. Struggle, perhaps, but it's not for me to say whether it was a struggle for her. If there's one thing I've learned about being a middle-class Caucasian cis het female, it's not to try to define others' experiences for them.
(Please note: while the protagonist was born male, I will only be referring to her as female, as that is what she perceives herself as. The only reason I am stating this at all is to avoid confusion.)
Amanda wasn't always so very...Amanda. She made her entry into the world as Andrew, with the corresponding twiddly bits, and so that was how those closest to her saw her. Except. Except that her peers sensed that there was something different about Andrew, and so made her life hell. It took a failed suicide attempt for her to acknowledge to herself, and to her parents, that she needed to present outwardly as female, and to make the transition. Name change, hormones, reassignment surgery, the whole shebang. (PHRASING, sorry.) Only problem was, in her mother's suffocating Southern town, there are plenty who remember Amanda as Andrew, which would make life even more hellacious. So off Amanda goes to live with her father, on the other side of the state, where she can start over in every sense, where folks will only have known her as her.
Slowly, she warms up to her fellow students, and tries to allow herself to believe she deserves the life she's building--a life with friends, a boyfriend, and a future of hope. She may even start trusting people with her origin story...but what if she trusts the wrong person?
Thus ends the synopsis.
I have little more to say about this book other than it's one of the best books I've read this year. It had me crying in more than one place, for more than one reason. It gave me goosebumps. It helped me understand the transitions and the obstacles. It's written realistically, and sensitively, and the sense of place (it's set in the South), from the weather to the vernacular to the food to the manners, is SPOT-ON.
If you read any book this year, read this one....more
This is a lovely spin on the "books of seasons." Gorgeous photography, a fun font, and a fresh look make this book stand out as an ideal purchase forThis is a lovely spin on the "books of seasons." Gorgeous photography, a fun font, and a fresh look make this book stand out as an ideal purchase for libraries looking to refresh their young children's books on seasons. ...more