Isn’t It Romantic?

This month Spotlight on the Stacks will showcase a romantic book & movie pairing each week. We are starting the month strong with Diana Gabaldon’s swashbuckling, time-traveling, genre-bending novel Outlander. After you finish the first book in this beloved series, be sure to check out the hit television show and its beautiful stars. ūüėČ

outlander

What I’ve Been Reading

finders keepers

To whom does the past belong? You might be surprised to discover that when it comes to the world of ancient artifacts and antiquities the most ethical answer may not be the best solution to this very poignant question. In Finders Keepers author and eco-adventurer Craig Childs explores a multitude of grey areas concerning this very question. He takes the reader on a fascinating journey through time to introduce us to our ancestors as well the present day players in what has grown to become a multi-million dollar industry. Along the way we meet archaeologists, museum curators, illegal pot hunters, and high-end collectors but being able to discern the heroes from the villains may not be as easy as you might think. A captivating book from a highly gifted writer that is lyrical, investigative, unbiased and thought-provoking.

-Tricia is a Library Assistant and the Publicity Coordinator for the Oliver Wolcott Library.

What I’ve Been Reading

higher call
It’s not often that a book will bring so many tears to my eyes that I have difficulty reading the pages, but the real life story of two enemies and a heroic act of compassion in A Higher Call is as captivating as it is moving. In what is heralded as “the most incredible encounter between enemies during World War II”, author Adam Makos transports the reader back in time to December 20, 1943 when a German flying ace, in a treasonous act of mercy, secretly escorts a lone and damaged American B-17 bomber from enemy territory to the safety of the English Channel. In A Higher Call we come to know, and compassionately understand, the life stories of both pilots as well as the circumstances that led each of these men into war; their quest to find one another after forty years have passed; and a deeply profound friendship that was forged over war torn skies.

Tricia Messenger is the Library Assistant and Publicity Coordinator for the Oliver Wolcott Library

Top Ten of 2010

Greetings my fellow readers!¬† I finally ¬†finished up my 2010¬†reading journal and I am currently preparing my first entry for my¬†2011 journal. Throughout the year, I keep an ongoing list in a journal of all the books I have read. I have also been keeping¬†track of other items I have taken home from the OWL.¬† I actually keep¬†a tally of not only the¬†books but¬†also the ¬†movies, magazines and music cds I have brought home.¬†It is¬†fun to look back and see all the great entries I have made. I thought I would share my top ten check outs of 2010 with you–(please feel free to share your top 10 in the comment box below. I look forward to reading them!)

 

1.Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons: The album is by far my favorite check out of 2010!¬† The band consists of four young men from West London. Their songs are an eclectic ¬†mix between bluegrass, folk and old world charm. They really make you feel the words and their message. The website sums it up beautifully ” Feel the fire in your belly and the romance in your heart as you listen, let your voice break into rapture – and you too, sigh no more”. Check this album out and you¬†won’t¬†be disappointed!

2. Daughters of Witching Hill¬†by Mary Sharratt: Based on the infamous 1612 Lancashire witch trials, Sharratt’s¬†latest novel portrays the religious turmoil and hard life of 17th-century¬†rural England.¬† What makes this story fabulous are two main characters:¬†Bess Southerns¬†and her feisty granddaughter Alizon¬†Device.¬†Bess is a¬†healing woman, able to¬†cure animals and people with herbal folk magic. She strives to do only good, but when she teaches her dear friend the witchcraft, she releases a curse of revenge and evil. Years later, Alizon¬†comes into the power herself but denies it, and this leads to tragedy.¬† The story has you rooting for¬†Bess and cringing at the treatment of the women and their families in the prisons. A great read but not for the faint-hearted! I loved this book.

3. Compromising Positions by Susan Isaacs: Long Island housewife, Judith Singer, is incredibly bored with her marriage and her life. So when her dentist is murdered and the suspect is her neighbor, Judith is only too happy to stick her nose into the investigation. Judith delves deeper into the murder and deeper into the throngs of¬† an affair she has with the lead police investigator. This book was recommended by a patron and I am glad he did. The read was pure entertainment and a very interesting look into the lives of the 70’s housewives! Did anyone stay faithful?

4. IT Crowd Season 4: In season four, the¬†It Crowd try yet again to socialize with the people upstairs at¬†Reynholm Industries, Jen tries to her talents as the new Entertainment Manager and later pretending that she can act as an Italian translator for Douglas; and Moss proves a whiz on the¬† Countdown TV game show. I have never laughed so hard watching a show–EVER. The show is hysterical!¬† (ps the OWL owns all four seasons)

5. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo¬†by Stieg¬†Larsson: “An international publishing sensation, Stieg¬†Larsson’s¬†The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfying complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel”.¬† (From the Trade Paperback edition). I really enjoyed the mystery and thrill¬†of this first book in Stieg’s trilogy, however I did not enjoy the 2nd book, Girl Who Played with Fire, as much. I am on the waiting list for last book, Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest . I hear this is the best one yet. I look forward to reading it.

6. Minds Eye by Hakan Nesser: This is the  first novel in the Inspector Van Veeteren series. The series is set in Sweden. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is a grumpy investigator that has a rather unsettled personal life.  Van Veeteren is philosophical, with a dry wit that makes this an enjoyable read. In this mystery, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren knows that murder cases are never as clear as they appear: Janek Mitter woke one morning with a brutal hangover and discovered his wife of three months dead in the bathtub. Without a clear alibi, Mitter is found guilty of a drunken crime of passion and sentenced to a mental institution. But questions arise of his guilt when Mitter also becomes a murder victim. Now the chief inspector launches an  investigation into the two murders. But it may only be through a mysterious letter that Mitter wrote shortly before his death that will finally allow Van Veeteren to find the real killer. If you like a mystery and are a fan of the hunt- Nesser is for you.

7. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen: Sarah Addison Allen invites you¬†to a quirky little Southern town. Two very different women, Julia and Emily,¬†discover how to find their place in the world no matter how out of place¬†they feel. They discover that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby; they’re a way of life. Allen weaves her fantasy elements into this story through magical wallpaper that changes to suit your mood or¬†lights that¬†skip across the yard at midnight and¬†mystical cakes.¬†Julia¬†¬†bakes cakes to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but she also bakes¬† in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever.¬†Can a cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing¬†in Emily’s moonlight¬†backyard?¬† Allen writes nice stories that are not too “sweet”. This book is great entertainment.

8. Ruby Blue by Roisin¬†Murphy: Funky, jazzy and electric are words that I would use to describe this album. The¬†songs are a mix of¬†dance rhythms, organic drums and funky piano tunes. It has been described as having¬†a “psychedelic quirky edge and is an¬†entertaining, slightly bizarre solo debut. Lots of fun”(amazon). Good album to listen to while¬†I¬†do my yard and house work.

9.¬† Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson: In the small village of Edgecombe¬†St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s¬†wondrous debut.¬†The Major leads a quiet life filled with the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for years: honor, duty, and a¬†of course,¬†a good cup of tea. The Major and a Pakistani shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali are drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses. They¬†soon discover they have romantic feelings for each other. Can their relationship survive the¬†differences of their culture and tradition? Major Pettigrew is a wonderful story. A great read for a cold winter’s night!

10. College Board Book of Majors¬†:¬†This is¬†great resource for those hunting for colleges. The book offers information on over nine hundred college majors, including possible course studies, career paths, and guidance on which high school courses¬†are recommended for the student to take prior to college. The Book of Majors helps narrow the path for the student and offers helpful insights for their future. It was a tremendous help in our house. I brought it home and left it on the kitchen table for perusal. The teenager took the bait ūüôā

This post is written by Audra, who is jotting down her first entry of 2011: Florence + The Machine’s album, Lungs

Oh! The Holiday Cheer….. BAH!

It is that time of year again, the crazy holiday season. The time when it seems every one is stressed, tired and very irritable. Whether it be on the road, standing in those long lines at the check out or just plain dealing with the regular folk in your life, it can be a trying time.

Why is that when the Holidays stroll along your family can turn into these uptight crazy people? It is almost impossible to please everyone on your list. How can you find your inner peace during this hectic time? I am trying desperately to stay focused on the good, to stay calm and just go with the flow. I admit, I am struggling a lot with finding my inner “happy place”.

Thankfully, the OWL has the solution. Find your peace, focus on the issues that matter, and enjoy a laugh along the way with these books that I recommend:

Talk to the Hand: The¬†Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World¬†Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door¬†by Lynne Truss is an absolutely hysterical book. Truss¬†delves into the death of civil discourse, the loss of customer service, the refusal to live by any rules but one’s own, the all to common use of profanity, the dismissal of criticism, and the lack of responsibility. Each examination is not¬†only an opportunity to rant but a thoughtful and intelligent effort to understand the obnoxious¬†behavior.

Miss Manner’s Guide to Domestic Tranquility: The Authoritative Manual For Every Civilized Household, However Harried by Judith Martin. Miss Manners reminds the confused of basic civilized manners: no nosiness, no exploitation of social events for business purposes, no taking note of others’ rudeness, and taking an¬†interest, whether¬†faked or genuine, in¬†one’s guests. Half-judge, half-humorist, Martin is very entertaining.

10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace by Dr. Wayne Dyer PH.D. Dyer suggests having a mind that is open and attached to nothing, treating yourself as if you already are what you’d like to be. You¬†apply the¬† wisdom¬†of avoiding all thoughts that weaken you. The book is complimented by peaceful pastel-colored watercolors.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff….and it’s all small stuff by Richard Carlson.¬†Carlson¬†provides common-sense advice for living a less hectic and more meaningful life. His essential message is that we get caught up in “the small stuff,” and never get around to doing what makes us or¬†those around us¬†happy. He advises readers to engage in such small kinds acts such as paying someone a compliment daily or writing a letter to a friend. Carlson urges small daily changes to bring about a more peaceful self.

Five Good Minutes in the Evening. 100 mindful practices to help you unwind from the day & make the most of your night by Jeffrey Brandley, MD and Wendy Millstine, NC. This book  offers 100 mindful exercises, visualizations and affirmations for busy readers who have trouble letting go of the workday. Restore your evening to a calm, serene experience and connect with your family. (have a nice dinner)

8 Minute Meditation: Quiet your Mind. Change Your Life by Victor Davich. This book offers a simple, easy program to help beginners experience reduced stress and increased focus in only eight minutes a day. Designed by meditation expert and bestselling author Victor Davich, this program teaches the basic principles of meditation.

An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life by the Dalai Lama, edited by Nicholas Vreeland. Dalai Lama continues to spread his message of compassion beyond the borders of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama teaches us that mediation is merley the process where we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction. Meditation is used also as a technique used to diminish the force of old thought habits and develope new postive ones. This book is a treasury of teachings that point clearly to a better way to live.

And finally if you just cannot find that inner peaceРand all else failsРturn to Chocolate From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers by Nick Malgieri. Triple Chocolate Pudding on page 202 will do the trick for me. How about you?

This post is authored by Audra

A New Homeowner’s Vacation

This week I am away from the library on vacation. As I have written in one of my recent blogs, we are new homeowners. It is my first full week off in the new house and I am looking forward to it.   

Over the past ten months we have discovered a plethora of quick fixes that the¬†previous homeowner completed so that the house would “look good”¬†for the realtor showings. For example,the toilet paper holder fell off the wall two days after we moved in.¬†The darn thing was totally cosmetic and barely hanging by the screws.The¬†other¬†night I went into the bathroom to retrieve some dental floss out of the cabinet and the entire cabinet came¬†crashing down.I am glad I¬†was the one who had the unfortunate accident and not my kids!¬†The fix- it list so far in the bathroom is:¬† fill the large holes in the wall, sand and paint the wall¬†then hang a new cabinet. The book, Creative Homeowner’s Bathrooms, is just what I need to handle these repairs.I can plan, remodel and build all sorts of bathroom projects. The book’s introduction is filled with tips on the basics. It is a great beginner’s guide. Chapter 6 ¬†is just what I need to fix the bathroom: Vanities and Storage. Chapter 12 is packed with Paint and Fixtures Guidance. My dream chapter would be 15: Master Baths, the Luxurious Personal Haven.¬†¬†¬†

Onto the next room or shall I say rooms, our entire house was painted in cream. Everything is cream-colored, the trim, baseboards, window sills and the walls. I am ready for some color and some touch ups. My eyes cannot take the sea of cream anymore.¬† As you readers know, my husband is quite talented with paint. He has an amazing eye for color. I have brought home¬†the¬†¬†1001 Ideas for Color and Paint¬†by Emma Callery.¬† Color and decorating is not my thing but I do know that¬†I do not like all of this beige. The¬†book has great color palette groups for you to choose. It displays¬†nice layouts¬†for the reader to see what colors will compliment each other or better yet, the book also¬†describes¬†the colors by multiple schemes. For example: harmonizing schemes or maybe you like contrasting schemes. I like the ideas the book lays out for painting by the decades. Geoff and I both like the 70’s, the avocados and golds.¬†

The Popular Mechanics Complete Home How-To is going to assist us with the minor fixes we have to do with the walls and moldings.  We also need to address some of the flooring issues in a few of the rooms. The Popular Mechanics Complete Home How-To is printed out so nicely with step by step instructions and photos. I am trying to ignore the chapter on infestation and mold. I really hope our inspector did not miss anything there! Perhaps I should read it just in case.  

The grossest thing we encountered by far was the carpeting in the kitchen and laundry room.I found myself thinking, what if I dropped an egg? Or what if the washing machine overflowed? We immediately pulled the rug up when we moved in and yes, the rug was pretty gross. The floors underneath the rugs are pretty bad.  Old laminate flooring was unearthed.The floors are covered with scratches and some holes but this to me is better than the carpet! Ahh to dream of tiled kitchen flooring, nice clean lines without holes or scratches. A floor that actually looks clean after you wash it!  Sunset Tiling  by Josh Garskof is going to fulfill me in the home improvement daydream department.  It is all about tiling from floors, back splashes and countertops. It also shows you how to tile the bathroom and shower. Tile comes in so many beautiful shapes, textures and sizes. This book is a lot of fun to browse.   

I have taken home two books that are nothing but pure dreaming right now because we have too many basic repairs to be done but a girl can dream, can’t she? The two books are ¬†The Stone Primer by Charles McRaven and The Sourcebook of Decorative Stone by Monica T. Price. The Stone Primer¬†is great book with beautiful¬†and bold¬†plans for your outdoor living areas. It contains¬†nice pictorials for stone walkways, patios and walls. The¬†projects for backyard accents and waterways are very interesting. The craftsmanship in the Stone Primer was inspiring. I think I will leave¬†the yard designs¬†up to Geoff though.¬†¬†¬†

 

The Sourcebook of Decorative Stone is an illustrated identification guide of stones. The guide gives the reader information on the geological description, major usage, source and status of stones, rocks and minerals used for decorating. In addition to being very informative,the book is filled with beautiful illustrations of amazing works built with these materials. It gives the reader a history of working with stones from the¬†quarries to the structures built. My favorite was the panel of cipollino verde in Westminster Cathedral which is made from the stone obtained after William Brindley had reopened the ancient¬†quarries on Euboea. It is cut in the “open book” style.(pg 143)¬†¬†¬†

I guess I better get to work!¬† Just finished up looking at Handy Ma’am¬†by Beverly DeJulio,the¬†do it yourself book for moms and families.¬†I am armed with my tool belt ready to rock and roll.¬†¬†¬†

But really, I am in the mood to watch The Money Pit with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. This movie is absolutely hysterical. The best part of the movie is when Tom Hank’s character falls through the floor and gets stuck.¬†His fall¬†is the last straw¬†of his sanity and he begins to laugh hysterically.¬† I don’t want to¬†jinx myself but the movie is very funny as one thing after another happens to these new homeowners.¬†¬†¬†¬†

This post is written by Audra– who probably will have her nose in a book all vacation instead of using my tools :0)…hey isn’t that what a husband is for??¬†

*Picture of Westminster Cathedral was taken from www.westminstercathedral.org

Artist in Residence

        

For the past few years, my husband has done the extraordinary summer reading posters for the OWL. I love seeing his work hanging on the big windows and watching the children happily placing their stickers on them.        

However, living with a creative soul is quite the rollercoaster ride. Geoff has stalked around for three weeks with a dark cloud over his head while creating these works. You could just see his mind churning as the frustration mounted. He would trudge off to the shed with his mind a million miles away. Geoff is a perfectionist with his art; he has a vision and it must be accomplished.  My husband becomes consumed with his creation and he is very distracted. As I bid him off to work, I can see speckles of blue paint on his earsРhe scratches his head quite a bit when he paints. As he departs, I can also see that his elbows are covered with yellow paint. To make matters worse, while he was painting he wore his only decent pair of shorts; now they too are speckled with paint as are his shoes and t-shirts. (Hence why he only had one pair of shorts) One evening while preparing dinner, I noticed we were running out of dishes. Where are my dishes? I took a gander out in the shed. Guess what? There were my new dishes that I received as a Christmas gift. They were covered with gobs of wet paint. Geoff was using them as his paint palates. What is a wife to do?        

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A wife is to be proud, patient and happy that she has such a creative and talented husband. I have to reach deep into my patience reserve¬†but let’s face it– if you are married that is what¬†we all have to do. No two people are exactly alike.¬†And believe me, Geoff has to be a very patient man being married to me! But seriously, living with an artist keeps me grounded.¬†Through Geoff’s eyes and heart,¬†I have absorbed an education and an appreciation of art. We have plenty of¬†art books lying around the house for us to pick up and enjoy. I have my favorites and all are available at the OWL:¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Edward Hopper Modern Master by Ita G Berkow and Edward Hopper by Carol Troyen: I love the way Hopper captures the  isolation of the individual of the changing America. He captures the realism of American everyday life. I enjoy his works that encompass the cityscapes and middle class American homes the most.   

Vincent Van Gogh¬†text by Meyer Schapiro:¬†The intensity of¬†Van Gogh’s¬†work, his color sense and¬†his emotional expression has influenced many of the greatest artists. His numerous self-portraits,¬†bright sunflowers, and the swirling blues of the sky, are wonderful pieces.¬†¬†¬†¬†

George Tooker text by Robert Cozzolino:  I am not sure why I like George Tooker because most of his works are dismal and quite disturbing. However, I am drawn to his use of color and the way he captures the dreariness and banality of life. Painting with egg tempera, Tooker almost creates a soft glowing effect in his pictures.    

Andrew Wyeth introduction by David McCord and Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures with text by John Wilmerding: Andrew Wyeth captured American landscapes and lives over a 70 year period. Wyeth paints mostly New England backdrops and a handful of unconventional models. His images often display a deep emotional  isolation.       

The Waltzers by Jack Vettriano

Jack Vettriano  text by Anthony Quinn:  A self-taught painter and Scotsman, Vettriano creates very bold and romantic pieces. He is often rejected because of his lack of education but he is clearly one of best known painters of Scotland.        

This post is authored by Audra– wife of a zany artist

Property Virgins- Litchfield Style

I love watching the Home and Garden Network. My family and I are often found glued to the channel all weekend long. There is something mesmerizing about reality tv, isn’t there? Thankfully we are mesmerized by the “normal stuff” and not the wild and crazy reality tv. Well– I am the odd man out when it comes to GhostHunters— my husband and daughters love that show.

But I digress-

Our favorite HGTV shows are Property Virgins and My First Place. Property Virgins takes viewers inside the world of house hunting through the eyes of first-time buyers. The series focuses on the roller-coaster journey of property virgins’ first foray into real estate, offering tell-it-like-it-is entertainment and practical take-home advice. The show, My First Place also follows a set of first-time buyers and their realtor along the stress-filled, yet exciting, search for the perfect home.*

This past summer we decided to do our own personal version of Property Virgins and start shopping around for our first home. To prepare, I checked out Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home.(643.12 BRA) This book was absolutely phenomenal in addressing everything we needed to know about purchasing our first abode. The book is filled with advice from lawyers, real estate agents and mortgage experts.It has fifteen chapters stuffed full of information and guidance tools as well as a cd with downloadable checklists as you embark on a very stressful but exciting adventure.

Off we went, armed with the wonderful Nolo guide, our preconceived conceptions from HGTV and a local real estate guru. As with all things in life– the television show was not “really” reality but it offered some comical thoughts in my head while we were shopping: not all houses come equiped with granite counter tops, new hard wood floors and a pool?? And they really do not haggle over the prices too much. And yes, you really can live with one bathroom or live without¬†a master suite¬†. Moral of the story: you can be entertained by television but you better arm yourself with the facts.

As we settle in, as “virgin” home buyers, we have required a few purchases of appliances and tools. My husband has been bitten by the home improvement bug . Hence, the recently acquired combo pack of re-chargeable super duper power tools. We were able to research at length our expenditures with OWL’s new online tool, Consumer Reports. One purchase it really helped us with was our new energy efficient washing machine. If your contract reads “appliances included”, it may be that they do not work when you go to use them even when they worked at the inspection(and the final walk thru).
Consumer Reports is also available in print form at the OWL.

We were very successful and are happily getting settled into our new home. Now I will be checking out many home improvement and maintenance books!

Browse the OWL  home improvement sections. You will find great books such as:

Sunset Tiling (698) Learn the basics of tiling, from showers to back spashes. I found the outdoor tiling chapter interesting.

Plumbing and Heating by Popular Mechanics (696.1 JAC) This handy book covers household emergencies and regular home improvements. Avoid costly plumber bills with this book to guide you along with your plumbing needs.
 
This book caught my eye as I was browsing as it has easy to read diagrams and how to visual guides: ¬†How Things Work in Your Home(and what to do when they don’t) (643.7 TIM)

The House Always Wins by Marni Jameson(747 JAM)  Jameson guides the reader through the endless maze of choices and decisions every home owner faces with home improvements and design changes.

Get your list ready for the spring!

Please also take a look at the OWL’s great selection of Nolo Legal Guides¬†for help.¬†¬†Nolo¬†helps to make the¬†legal system accessible to everyone. They help individuals, businesses and nonprofits¬†navigate through¬†their various legal¬†needs .

 
Nolo Quicken WillMakerPlus(346.73 WIL) Create a will and protect your property and assets.

For guidance with Family Law :
Look at  Nolo Building a Parenting Agreement That Works(346.73 LYS) and Nolo Divorce without Court(346.73 STO)

and of course, For ¬†Real Estate¬†look at the guides such as Nolo Foreclosure Survival Guide (346.73 ELI) and the¬†¬†Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home.(643.12 BRA)

This post is authored by Audra, who is very happy to spending her first Christmas in her new home ūüôā

* excerpt from www.hgtv.com

Picky Readers

Picky Eater

Ahh, time for the holidays…and vast amounts of traditional foods. Everyone in my family always looks forward to the staples of casseroles, soups and meats this time of year. Everyone that is…except for me! I’m a picky eater. I’ve always been a picky eater.

My mom tried all the tricks on me when I was growing up. She tried the close your eyes, here comes the plane trick. My mouth closed faster than the speed of light. She tried hiding vegetables in meals. My x-ray vision would find them before my fork became contaminated. She even tried the ‘ol you’ll never leave the dinner table trick. My little sister grew bored playing all by herself and finished my plate so we could play. If Jen didn’t do that, I’d probably still be there!

My eating habits have improved since I got married. My husband no longer has to hide the ingredients in the trash before he serves dinner. Although, he would still prefer that I take a spoonful of everything passed on Thanksgiving and actually clean my plate. We both know that it’s never going to happen!

If you have a picky eater at home, you’ll enjoy these stories to share. Or, if you’re like me and want to relive your picky eating experiences, you’ll laugh out loud throughout these stories:

Bread and Jam

Bread and Jam for Frances (JP HOB) Frances refuses to eat anything except P.B. and J. I would have wasted away to nothing without Frances’ favorite school lunch!

Gregory the Terrible Eater Little Pea Rabbit Food

These characters go against nature when they don’t eat what they should. How can Gregory not eat garbage?! It’s the staple of every goat’s diet in Gregory, the Terrible Eater (JP SHA). Did you know that peas are supposed to eat candy to taste so good? Neither did I! But Little Pea (JP ROS) can’t have spinach for dessert until she finishes her candy for dinner. And, did you know Rabbit’s secret food enemy is…yep, you guessed it! Carrots! How can Rabbit not like carrots (Rabbit Food (JP GRE))?

I Will Never Eat a Tomato

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (JP CHI) Lola won’t eat anything until Charlie convinces her that mashed potatoes are clouds puffs and carrots are “twiglets” from Jupiter. My mom tried these tricks. I saw right through them! I didn’t care if the New Kids on the Block ate vegetables. Jordan Knight could have come into my kitchen and prepared my veggies for me. There was still no way I was going to eat them!

Never Leave Dinner Table

Now I Will Never Leave the Dinner Table (JP MAR) Patty Jane is forced to stay at the dinner table until she has swallowed a piece of spinach. She imagines herself a “woman with children of her own” still sitting at the dinner table trying to choke down a mouthful of spinach. (My battle was with lettuce, not spinach.) She didn’t have a little sister like mine to help her with the war.

Eat Your Peas

Eat Your Peas (JP GRA) Daisy’s mom tries bribery to make her eat her peas. Even my mom tried this one. She didn’t offer me a chocolate factory like Daisy’s mom, but she did offer me limitless amounts of dessert. But I was as stubborn as Daisy and wouldn’t fold. I didn’t taste chocolate ice cream throughout my seventh year of existence. I also wasn’t as clever as Daisy, though. She finds her mom’s weakness and offers her the same bribe to eat her arch enemy…Brussels sprouts!

What food will you avoid throughout this holiday season?

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who will be eating macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving…and Christmas…and New Year’s Eve…

Don‚Äôt Shoot Your Eye Out!

 

I‚Äôm one of those people who gives books no matter what the age, no matter what the occasion. I did this even before I had the title of ‚ÄúChildren‚Äôs Librarian‚ÄĚ after my name. Luckily, one of my roles in my marriage is gift shopper-wrapper extraordinaire. If my husband had it his way, we‚Äôd get all the kids we know a drum set and a collection of finger paints on a bi-yearly basis for every birthday and Christmas celebration. I gently remind him the payback we‚Äôll get if we ever have little ones.

 

I imagine Christmas morning of all the children in my life to be like that of Ralphie‚Äôs in A Christmas Story. My cousin sulking amidst a pile of wrapping paper and toys, wondering what horrible thing she did not to deserve a special bedtime story this year. But alas, what‚Äôs that hiding in the corner behind the tree? It‚Äôs not a Red Ryder BB gun, instead it‚Äôs the new Mo Willems book from Lisa and Don! ‚ÄúHow did they know?!‚ÄĚ I envision her asking her parents with a big smile, as she throws her new toys aside and demands to be read to. My husband thinks I‚Äôm delusional.

 

With the holidays ‚Äėround the corner, I guess I have to start thinking about gifts for my little cousins this year. I think I‚Äôm even going to mix it up a little this year, gifting CDs with books. I can see my husband rolling his eyes and shaking his head at me right now. Here‚Äôs what is on my holiday list for little ones big and small:

CDs for all ages:

Snacktime! by the Barenaked Ladies is witty, catchy, and funny. Your whole family will be singing along with “Allergies” and “A Word For That” before you know it.


If you’ve been around children at all, I’m sure you’re familiar with Laurie Berkner. She’s released her first album in six years, and Rocketship Run is worth the wait. Children will want to “Go On a Hunt” around the house, the car, and everywhere in between with these quick tunes.


 

Babies and Toddlers:

Any peek-a-boo or lift-the-flap book is a great choice for this age group. Give Peek-a-Who? by Nina Laden or any of the Spot books by Eric Hill a try.


 

Picture Books:

Cover ImageYou Can Do Anything, Daddy! by Michael Rex is one of my favorite picture books. Dad tucks in his son who continues to ask, ‚ÄúDaddy, would you save me if‚Ķ?‚ÄĚ Find out how Dad would save his son from snakes and tigers and robot gorilla pirates from Mars!


 

Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis is a girl power story! Follow the adventures of Lulu after her brother tells her she’s too little to play with him and his friends.


 

Easy Readers:

Any Mo Willems book is great for kids learning to read on their own. Read about the silly adventures of Elephant and Piggie as they fly, surprise, and party together.


 

Fiction for Children Reading on Their Own:

Capitalize on the popularity of the movie, and buy The Tale of Despereaux for a reader. The sweet story of a mouse hero will entertain both boys and girls.


 

Following the success of The Spiderwick Chronicles is a sequel series, Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. The scenic New England area is replaced with the hot, Florida sun as Nick, Laurie and Julian battle giants.


 

For the reluctant reader, try Jon Scieszka‚Äôs Knucklehead. He chronicles his childhood growing up with five brothers. Read how he ‚Äúlearned how to cook because I like to stir oatmeal more than I like to pick up dog poop,‚ÄĚ and how he ‚Äúwatched‚ÄĚ his brothers for his parents as they rolled off the couch and splashed in the toilet.


 

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For Teens:

If you’re looking for some recommendations that aren’t from the Twilight series, try these:

 

The following three stories follow marooned characters.

 

Nation by Terry Pratchett is about rebuilding a community after a tsunami destroys. 

 

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins¬†is a survival story that is intense and addicting.¬†Imagine a real life ‚ÄúSurvivor‚ÄĚ show being televised to the world where the weather and food can be manipulated. The author left the ending open for a sequel, and I‚Äôll be the first to read it!

 

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is an apocalyptic story. The moon collides with an asteroid and falls closer to Earth. Would your teenager survive without the Internet, a cell phone, or video games? How about if she had to be stuck in the house with your family for a year?!


 

Lisa Shaia is the children‚Äôs librarian who is humming ‚ÄúThe Ninjas‚ÄĚ as ponders the joy she will spread this holiday season.