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I was in the mood for something light and funny the other day, so I went to see what the internet had to offer in the way of non-Charlie Chan novels by Earl Derr Biggers. I found Love Insurance, which was exactly what I was looking for, except in that it didn’t really thrill me in any way.
The premise is kind of excellent, to a point, and if the book had revolved around Owen Jephson, underwriter for Lloyd’s of London, I think I would have liked it more. Jephson specializes in insuring incedibly peculiar things: he’s insured an actor against losing weight, a duchess against rain at her garden party, etc. I want very badly for Herbert George Jenkins to have written a book about Jephson, but sadly the world doesn’t work that way. And Biggers is more concerned first with Allan, Lord Harrowby, who wants to insure his wedding date, and then, more centrally, with Dick Minot, who Lloyd’s sends to Florida and protect their assets by making sure that Harrowby’s wedding to the beautiful Cynthia Meyrick goes as planned. Minot, inevitably, falls in love with Cynthia almost at first sight, and that’s only the first of many complications — there are jewel thieves, long-lost relatives, blackmail, and a society matron who hires a guy to write bon mots for her. And that list barely scrapes the surface.
In general, I really, really like about the first 3/4 of any given Earl Derr Biggers book, but this one felt more consistent. I never liked it as much as the beginning of Seven Keys to Baldpate or The Agony Column, but I liked it pretty much equally all the way through. Possibly that was because it was pretty intensely predictable, but that was okay, beasue it was all pretty silly and fun, too.
This is one of those books I sort of vaguely like but can’t work up any enthusiasm about, and I don’t know whether that’s my fault, or if it’s that Biggers didn’t expend any effort on characterization, or that the most interesting character disappeared after the first few chapters or what. I suspect a lot of people will enjoy it more than I did.
By: Lizza Aiken,
It would be perfect if Joan herself were here to write this blog – with her many years of experience from her own early days of struggle and rejection slips, with her wide reading and appreciation of all kinds of life and literature, and her great sympathy for fellow writers, she would have had […]
From the same team that brought you The People’s Pennant comes a thought provoking and informative book on design entrepreneurship. Kern and Burn: Conversations With Design Entrepreneurs features candid conversations with 30 leading designers who have founded startups, channeled personal passions into self-made careers and taken risks to do what they love. Through insightful stories, quotes and quips they share their failures, successes, and perspectives.
The distinguished group of guests include: Armin Vit, Keenan Cummings, Ben Pieratt, Riley Cran, Don Clark, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Jessica Hische, Kyle Sollenberger, Tad Carpenter, Duane King, Joe Gebbia, Aaron Draplin, Mikey Burton, Katie Kirk and many more. Pick up a copy here.
Also worth viewing…
Jason Munn Interview
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However! It'll be a bit different this year:
MotherReader has decided to take a well-deserved break from hosting duties, so Ms. Yingling and Abby the Librarian have waded into the fray and TAKEN CHARGE.
Regardless! Start organizing your TBR pile, because June 7th will be here BEFORE YOU KNOW IT.
I'd better remind Joshua that he'll need to find something to do that weekend that DOESN'T involve standing in front of me and chanting, "PAY ATTENTION TO ME, PAY ATTENTION TO ME, PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEEEE!"
Huh. In retrospect, I realize that I should have hidden The 5th Wave from him until that weekend: then he could have participated, too! (He's LOVING it, by the way. Judging purely by his reaction to it—he's been going to bed EARLY every night so he can start reading SOONER—I'm really looking forward to my turn with it.)
By: Carmela Martino and 5 other authors
Blog: Teaching Authors
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, Hans Fischer
, Memorable Books
, April Halprin Wayland
, Poetry Friday
, picture books
, Add a tag
And Happy Children's Book Week
Jeanne Marie introduced our current topic
: In honor of Children’s Book Week, share the title of
the book we wish we still had or are sorry we loaned (and never got back) or
one we (god forbid) threw away.
Heavens to Betsy! The search for my cherished book turned into a detective story.
The first thing I did was to ask God...errr...Google for the title of the book about a surprise birthday party for an old woman named Lisette. Bello, her dog, directs the other animals while Lizette is at the market--he tells the goats to get apples, the ducks to get candles, etc. He and Lisette's two cats (Molly and...Ruly?) bake a bundt cake that burns on top, so they put powdered sugar on it at the last minute to hide the burned part.
But who was the marvelous author/illustrator and what was the name of the book????
In the course of my search, I found a site called Old Children's Books which has a page called "Looking for a Book?"
I searched and searched and searched...with binoculars, with a flashlight, with a light on my miner's helmet...
(me...but my search was not as grim as pictured)
Finally, I remembered that at the end of the book was a little kitten. And I remembered that the author/illustrator wrote another book about him. In fact, the cat's name was the title of the other book. So if I could just remember the name of the cat...it was...Pitchie!
But I couldn't find a book called Pitchie. Or Pitchy. Stumbling down the corridors of the internet, bumping into walls, I finally found the other book! It was called PITSCHI (published in 1948). I now knew the name of the author/illustrator: Hans Fischer. Which meant I was close to finding the book I was actually looking for!
But first, let's take a detour. Click here to enjoy Hans Fischer's fantastic lithographs in Pitschi "the kitten who always wanted to be something else. A sad story, but one which ends well."
All the same characters are in the book I have been looking for...and now I can plug in Hans' name and come up with THE BOOK--right?
Yes! On Worldcat.org I found it--The Birthday: a Merry Tale with Many Pictures (1954)! Worldcat summarizes the story:
"In a clearing in the forest lived old Lisette with her animals. On
her seventy-sixth birthday, Lisette went off to the village, and while
she was gone the animals prepared a wonderful birthday surprise for her."
This is the book from my childhood that still makes my heart sing.
With all the searching, I learned a few things about my good friend Hans
from Children's Books and Their Creators
, edited by Anita Silvey
. He was Swiss, he lived from 1909-1958 (only 49 years?). And he studied under the artist Paul Klee
who taught him how to use color. No wonder I fell in love with Fischer's style--I love Klee!
Klee said, "It is not my task to reproduce appearances...for that there is the photographic plate. I want to reach the heart."
And isn't that what we want from books we read...and those we create? (Actually, I wouldn't mind if large corporations took that as their company motto...)
Legendary editor Margaret McElderry discovered his work, bought the US rights to Pitschi, and went on to publish his other books, including The Birthday.
So here's my song to Hans Fischer and The Birthday.
poem & drawing © 2013 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved
What's the book you wish you still owned? Why not write a poem about it?
SEARCHING FOR A BOOK
by April Halprin Wayland
What's the title?
And the plot?
It was so tender…
Why is this your favorite book?
It lit a spark, it fanned an ember…
The book was in her skin, her cells,
she turned each page and oh! the smell…
At every page
I looked and listened,
the little kitten on a mission,
delicately, in pastel.
He was drawn and he was written
to cast a purring lifetime spell.
What's the title?
And the plot?
It was so tender…
Why is this your favorite book?
It lit a spark, it fanned an ember…
Remember that our blogiversary contest runs through May 19th--there's still time to be a winner!
See Carmela's post
for all the details.
by April Halprin Wayland, who is grateful that you've read to the end ~
There are several ways to celebrate Children’s Book Week – May 13-18 2013.
1. Take the children to your local library for story hour. Check the library to see what special programs are available during this special week.
2. Visit a local independent bookstore and browse the racks for the latest children’s books. Call ahead to see if you can co-ordinate your visit with those of authors who might be signing books.
3. Read, read, read your favorite children’s stories as well as some new ones you’ve never read. There are so many wonderful authors and picture books. Looking for a place to start? Try the Newbery and Caldacott winners for the best in writing and illustrating for children.
4. Have a book trading party. Bring books you’ve had for awhile and trade with other parents or children for some new stories. It’s a great way to expand your child’s reading on a tight budget.
4. Dress up as your favorite character from a book and spend the day pretending to BE that character. What would he/she/it eat, play with, etc?
Happy Book Week!
Filed under: flying
Oh good lord this is so adorable I just had to share it with you. I'm sure books by May Gibbs are very familiar in Australia, but we don't see that many of them in the UK. I've seen copies of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie and the Gum-Nut Babies in the past, but this is the first time I've seen Scotty in Gumnut Land. I'm a dog lover so anything about dogs always appeals, but this particular little dog is just wonderful! I'm sure you've already guessed that Scotty is a Scottish Terrier, but this is a terrier with attitude!
Scotty lives with his humans in a town in Australia. He’s happy enough but is bored with staying in one place, one day he manages to escape from the garden and set off on an adventure.
It’s not long before he’s set upon by two other dogs and ends up with an injured paw. Miles from home and lonely, Scotty meets a strange creature called Tiggy Touchwood who dresses in a conical black hat and scarf. Tiggy can conjure up spells that change the shape of things, bring them alive or turn them to stone. She has a friend called Mifrend (my friend), who works in a vast cavern filled with jewels. At one stage in the story, Mifrend, Tiggy and Scotty have to face a monster in the depths of the caves. But, as in all good stories the three friends end up living happily ever after!
Sometimes the covers are every bit as beautiful as the dust wrapper, and that is certainly true of this book.
Now that’s something you don’t see every day!
Further details about Scotty in Gumnut Land here
Have you read this, or anything else by May Gibbs?
This is the weekend of my favorite book sale. It’s held by a small library upstate, very few books are over a dollar, and if you buy a $10 tote bag, you can take home as many books as will fit in it. And that, of course, is what I did.
It's hard to tell in the picture, but this is a really big tote bag.
I usually limit myself to as many books as I can carry in my hands, so when my arms started to hurt, I went to check out. But once I’d gotten by books into my bag, the woman at the counter said, “you know, there are more books in the other building.” That was my downfall.
Anyway, here are the things I got, in reverse order as I unpack.
I didn’t by all the Nero Wolfe books–just the cuter, older paperbacks and In the Best Families because it’s In the Best Families. Apparently my cat likes Nero Wolfe too.
Not the Felix Salten one with the deer, but the Marjorie Benton Cooke one with the people. The woman who helped me check out said she heard it was pretty racy, which seems unlikely, but I told her I would be pleased if that turned out to be the case.
I keep meaning to try Mary Stewart. And at this point I had well over $10 worth of books, so these were basically free.
Some miscellaneous paperbacks–One Hundred and One Dalmatians because my copy is missing pages, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold because I can’t find my mom’s copy, and a romance by Meredith Duran for no reason at all.
This is the Mary Roberts Rinehart portion of the haul. All of these books are more battered than all of the other books, but who cares? I own a copy of K
This is the Ethel M. Dell portion of the haul. I…own a copy of The Way of an Eagle now. So, uh, that’s a thing.
The last few miscellaneous things: Rose in Bloom, my favorite Alcott bok I’ve never owned; Trustee from the Toolroom, which I buy whenever I find it so I can give it as a gift; and Brat Farrar, which I own a couple of times over, because this copy is super cute. I assume the girl in the sheet on the cover is Eleanor, but I don’t understand why.
By: Lizza Aiken,
Creating her own period of alternate history gave Joan Aiken the freedom to exercise her endless imagination, but also provided her with the opportunity to use a variety of stored information from her wide ranging reading and her life-long fascination with all kinds of study. These elements, combined with an absolutely riotous ear for dialogue […]
Will be at
Cape Elizabeth, ME
Saturday May 11th 2 -5 pm.
Fantastic line up of authors and illustrators! Check out this link...
If you are in the area, bring yourself, bring your children, bring your friend's children and come along for a fantastic afternoon!
PS - I will be doing a doodle for every child! Don't miss it.
I've been out and about buying lots of new stock over the last few days. When I buy new things, my first job is to check for any missing/torn pages, colouring, inscriptions and/or any other damage. This is not a hardship because I get to spend time looking at all the beautiful illustrations and reading the odd page or ten as I go along. But, having spent the entire winter huddled indoors the recent spring weather was too much of a temptation. So the whole 'checking for problems' operation moved outside. What could be nicer than sitting in the sun with a cup of coffee and a pile of new (old) books to enjoy?
Not all of these are listed on the website yet, but they will be over the next few weeks. If you would like to see what other delights we have in stock, you can do so here
Alicein Wonderland among the forget-me-nots. One of my favourite books with one of my favourite spring flowers.
The rockery has just started to wake up after the long cold winter
Popkyn the pedlar enjoying the sunshine with the daffodils and purple Aubrietia
The adventures of Perry Winkle by Jack Orr with the yellow flowers of Alyssum 'Basket of Gold’
Is this a crocodile or maybe an alligator? Either way it’s one of the illustrations from the adventures of Perry Winkle
I can do almost anything - so long as I have a garden table and a sheet of wrapping paper to protect the books!
Forget-me-nots and (I think) Armeria Maritima 'Splendens' or Phlox douglasii. I’m not at all sure on this one so if you know, please leave me a comment.
Jack Frost was particularly unkind this year. Not content with nipping "scores of noses and ears and toes" he also stole away with this little fairy’s wing. Can a fairy with only one wing still fly?
Great excitement here at Knuffle Manor as our preview copy of DON'T PIGEONHOLE ME! TWO DECADES OF THE MO WILLEMS SKETCHBOOK has arrived!
The project is a labor of love, compliling 20 editions of my annual sketchbooks that I've sent to clients and pals every year over the holidays.
Some of the sketchbooks are collections of gag cartoons, some are stories, some are funny, some are serious, some
Several years ago we featured the Philographics poster series by UK based Genis Carreras. We just received word that the popular series will soon be available as a book as well as a postcard set. Currently Genis is raising funds to being print production. You can support this effort here.
Also worth viewing…
Recently Received Books
Irving Harper:Works in Paper
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Featured Book: Irving Harper: Works in Paper
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There are 37 days left of my Lilly Badilly Literacy Project. Let’s make it happen!
So I was planning to try a new kind of post last Friday. And then Friday came and went. How does this happen? So right now, let’s just pretend it is Friday. Or… Read More
I'm sorry if you are all bored with looking at these, but I wanted to include them while I had the full set. These are the final eleven books in the series. You can see the first twenty in two previous posts here
Some of my favourite Little Grey Rabbit books are in this selection. Can you guess which ones they are?
No. 21 Little Grey Rabbit's Paint-Box. First published in 1958, this copy a first thus edition published in 1970. Hare found a sketch book filled with pictures and took it home to show Grey Rabbit. Then Wise Owl gave Grey rabbit a paint box and soon the animals were painting pictures for themselves.
No. 22 Grey Rabbit finds a shoe. First published in 1960, this copy a reprint published in 1962. Little Grey Rabbit finds a shoe in the meadow near her woodland home. A tiny red shoe that would only fit an elf or a fairy...
No.23 Grey Rabbit and the circus. This a 1st edition published in 1961. One morning Squirrel, Hare and Little Grey Rabbit see what looks like a striped toadstool in their field. On closer inspection, they realise it's a stripy tent - the circus has arrived!
No. 24 Grey Rabbit's May Day. This a 1st edition published in 1963. Little Grey Rabbit is busy preparing for May Day, there's going to be a procession, songs and dancing around the May Tree.
No. 25 Hare goes shopping. This a 1st edition published in 1965. Moldy Warp tells Hare about a bright red, roaring, snorting kind of house on wheels (a red bus) and now Hare wants to go for a ride.
No. 26 Little Grey Rabbit's pancake day. This a 1st edition published in 1967. Hare finds an old frying pan and Grey Rabbit, Squirrel and Hare decided to give a pancake party. When all the pancakes are finished Hare finds another use for the pan…
No. 27 Little Grey Rabbit goes to the North Pole. This a 1st edition published in 1970. Hare has always wanted to visit the North Pole, and so he persuades Little Grey Rabbit and Squirrel to join him on a Polar expedition.
No. 28 Fuzzypeg's brother. This a 1st edition published in 1971. There is great excitement in the Hedgehog family at the arrival of Little Urchin, and Fuzzypeg is very proud of his new baby brother. Mr Hedgehog makes him a hammock of rushes as a day-bed, and Little Grey Rabbit and all her friends come to visit the new baby..... Scarce and pretty Little Grey Rabbit book.
No. 29 Little Grey Rabbit's spring-cleaning party. This a 1st edition published in 1972. When Grey Rabbit discovers a cobweb in the corner of her neat little house, she decides its time to do some spring cleaning. She enlists the help of Squirrel and Hare, but they soon receive some surprises when they discover various creatures have made their homes in unexpected places. Tommy Dormouse is hiding up the chimney; there is a bat behind a picture, a ladybird behind the curtain and daddy-long-legs on the ceiling.
No. 30 Little Grey Rabbit and the snow-baby. This a 1st edition published in 1973. It’s Christmas time, and the ground is covered in deep drifts of snow. Little Grey Rabbit and her friends decide to make a snow-rabbit, and as a finishing touch Hare finds a big snowball for the snow-rabbit to hold in its paws. Suddenly, out of the snowball tumbles a tiny white rabbit.... Super copy of very scarce Little Grey Rabbit book.
No. 31 Hare and the rainbow. This is a 1st edition published in 1975. Have you ever wondered what's at the end of the rainbow? Well wonder no more; join Little Grey Rabbit and her friends as they journey to rainbows end.View or purchase these and other books at March House Books. Browsers are very welcome and there is no obligation to buy. Virtual cups of tea available on request!
Two illustrators were involved in the making of these little books. Margaret Tempest illustrated the first 26 books and Katherine Wigglesworth the last 5.
My favourites? The ones illustrated by Katherine Wigglesworth. Do you have a favourite?
Usually a novelization of a play retains a fair amount of the original structure. The author of the novel may add in new locations and stuff, but you can still tell that, say, one particular group of chapters used to be the second act and originally took place entirely on someone’s front porch, or that one lengthy bit of narration used to be a monologue, or something. The Strange Woman, adapted by Mary McNeil Fenollosa (writing as Sidney McCall) from a play by William Hurlbut, puzzled me because I couldn’t see the underlying structure of the play, and none of it seemed like it had come from a play — until more than halfway through the book, when John Hemingway returns from Paris with his fiancée. Or his sort of fiancée.
Now that I’ve read a couple of reviews of the play, though, everything makes sense. The last third or so of the book, the section full of unpleasant people and awkward situations that made me wonder why I had liked anyone or been invested in the book up to that point — that was the bulk of the play. The first half or so, in which John Hemingway goes to Paris and is desperately lonely until he meets and begins a relationship with American-born Inez de Pierrefond is apparently original to the book.
John is a nice but occasionally super depressed architect studying at the École des Beaux-Arts. Inez is from Louisiana, and is about as French as one can get while still being an American, and is technically a widow, although she left her horrible and possibly German husband before he died. They meet in a treehouse, which is kind of great. Their relationship is pretty interesting. There’s a lot of very trite bits, but John is pretty convincingly torn between his attraction for Inez and his morals. He’s also pretty convincingly a massive dork. And Inez is pretty awesome, and eventually wins him over to her way of thinking, including the idea that marriage is a prison.
That one, obviously, isn’t going to go over well in John’s hometown of Delphi, OH. And John’s transformation when they get back there makes sense, although it’s kind of disappointing. And I guess that’s how I feel about everything else that happens in Delphi, too. I keep wanting to say that everyone is out of character, but I can’t put my finger on any specific way in which that’s true. And it’s not terrible, but after the Paris section, which I was really enjoying, it’s disappointing.
Now that I know roughly what was in the play, I keep falling into the trap of thinking of the Delphi section as Hurlbut’s work and the Paris section as Fenollosa’s, which isn’t fair because Fenollosa wrote the whole book. Also, not having read the play, I don’t want to make assumptions. I guess I’ll have to try one of Fenollosa’s other books at some point, to see how she does on her own.
It's Tuesday!! Time for a Kids' Book Website.
Check out Grace Lin's website. Grace wrote Starry River of the Sky, which was a Battle of the Kids Book contestant. I loved it. But I have liked Grace's picture books and chapter books for several years. Her Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was a Newbery Honor Book.
Her website offers activities based on her books, Chinese lessons, a link to her blog and a bio.
And here is a book trailer for her novel for 3rd and 4th grades, Dumpling Days,
the third novel about a Chinese American girl named Pacy.
I am very excited about my interview with paper engineer extraordinaire, Bruce Foster. Read the interview here. If you love pop-up books like I do, you will be in awe of the painstaking process it takes to make a book like America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book.
© Bruce Fosster
Bruce Foster with a pop-up of Grand Canyon National Park
Rebecca Dart lives in Vancouver and works on animation productions as well as creating comics and drawings for personal projects.
A difficult subject for artists to draw well is the horse. Rebecca renders horses, warriors and all sorts of fantasy creatures in powerful, confidently inked brush strokes that make it seem effortless. Perhaps her horse drawing ability aided her in securing a job as part of the crew that recently rebooted the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television series, although you won’t see her art from the show on her blog where she has decided not to post any Pony-related concepts.
Instead, you’ll find her slice-of-life comics:
And various pieces from Rebecca’s art book, Battle Kittens, which features fearsome weapon-wielding ladies riding gigantic kittens into battle.
Many more mythical and original creatures are in Recca’s Flickr collection.
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I'm in the middle of deadlines at the moment, but popping in to say hello and to share:
* This review for The Glitter Trap
(by Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson, coming out May 14)
* And this review for Bella's Rules
(by Elissa Haden Guest, coming out May 16)
Both books were an absolute delight to illustrate and I'm thrilled to have worked with such wonderful authors. I'll post more about both titles coming up in the next week or two.
In the meantime, though, I think it's about time to power down this computer, clear off my desk and kick it into weekend mode. So happy Saturdays and Sundays and I'll see you on Monday.