Turning The Page
It's functional, beautiful, inexpensive, and earth-friendly - what could be better? The traditional Japanese art of wrapping gifts with fabric - called furoshiki - has been re-discovered and is easily demonstrated for you in Wrapagami by Jennifer Playford and in Gift Wrapping with Textiles by Chizuko Morita.
No tape, no scissors, no wasted paper - just a few simple twists and tucks, and it is oh so impressive. Your giftees will be stunned by your cleverness.
Connie Willis returns to the time travel premise of her science fiction classic Doomsday Book and award-winning short story “Firewatch” in this year’s pair of novels, Blackout and All Clear. Blackout and All Clear started as one novel, but kept growing. Now the whole story is ready for those of you who couldn’t bear cliffhanging between publications.
In the mid twenty-first century, a group of Oxford scholars time travels back to observe historical events like the great plague (Doomsday Book) or the firebombing of St. Paul’s Cathedral (“Firewatch”). They plan their trips carefully so as not to tip off the “contemps” to what they are doing, but as long as they’re cautious, history is pretty safe from their interference.
That’s the theory, anyway. But several young researchers in London during World War II are noticing odd slippages. None of them has landed quite where they were supposed to, and they have to scramble to get to their posts. Worse, their portals back to their own time won’t open.
Baby, it’s cold outside! The snow on the ground brings back fond memories of one of my favorite winter books as a kid:
Snow by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman (1962).
Simple rhyming text ("I want to know if you like snow. Do you like it? Yes or no?") and word repetition (“Snow! Snow! Just look at the snow! Come out! Come out! Come out in the snow.”) make this book the perfect choice for beginning readers. Illustrations by McKie and Eastman (Are You My Mother? (1960) and Go, Dog, Go! (1961) celebrate the fun and wonders of snow, and all the snow angels, sled rides, snowball fights, igloos, and snowmen that come along with it.
Your child might also like these other winter-themed Easy Reader books:
Snow Day! by Pat Lakin
Here Comes The Snow by Angela Shelf Medearis
Annie and Snowball and the Wintry Freeze by Cynthia Rylant
Henry and Mudge and the Snowman Plan by Cynthia Rylant
My favorite local annual Christmas tradition opens today at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park: A Christmas Carol, based on the story by Charles Dickens. I really could see this wonderful play every year (with Kleenex in hand, of course).
A Christmas Carol was published on December 17, 1843 by a debt-ridden Charles Dickens, who hoped the sale of his small book would help support his large family and keep his creditors at bay. Its publication immediately caused a sensation, revived his writing career, and sparked a renewed interest in Christmas and its traditions that continues to this day.
In the spirit of the holiday season, curl up by the fire with one of these Dickens books, CDs, or DVDs!
Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson are known as the Ghost Hunters from SyFy television, but their fans know that they are also authors. Their latest book, Ghost Hunt: Chilling Tales of the Unknown (2010), is a juvenile fiction book with stories based on real-life cases. Written with tweens in mind, the stories revolve around young people facing and solving paranormal mysteries, but the book certainly appeals to adults as well.
Following the stories is "The Ghost Hunt Guide". It's a very thorough instructive guide to paranormal investigation, not just for kids but for anyone interested in the subject.
There is a companion web site for the book, full of real-life evidence and instructions for paranormal investigating. It's lots of fun, and will serve to feed the interests of anyone already into the paranormal and also tame the fears of those who are afraid of it.
One of the library customers I email with regularly about books recommended the works of Elizabeth Cadell to me, and I can already tell, halfway through The Lark Shall Sing, the first one I picked up, that they're going to be my new cozy reads. Cadell is one of those mid-century minor English novelists whose works are such quirky, small delights. Gently comic romances are sometimes just the right cup of tea.
I believe some of Cadell's works are set in Spain and Portugal (she herself was born in India), but Lark is set in the English countryside in the classic manner. The oldest sister of a scattered family decides to sell the family home, and the clan converges by train, bicycle, motorcycle-with-doddery-sidecar, and the Rolls Royce of a passing film star, to protest. You and I can both guess how it's going to turn out.
So if you're stressed out by the holidays, or if you just love Flavia de Luce and Cassandra Mortmain try Cadell. And let me know your favorites, since I'll be working my way through!
Sorry, no cover illustration for this one--they seem to have mostly lapsed out of print, so I couldn't pull an illustration from my usual sources. Such a good thing the books are still in libraries!
Southern Indiana's French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs, with their famed 'healing' waters, provide the perfect setting for a deliciously creepy Midwestern Gothic novel by Michael Koryta. (I first spotted this title on the miraculously clever blog of our own Mercantile Library over on Walnut St.)
So Cold the River contains the essential aspects of a gothic novel: a flawed hero, a beautiful and mysterious woman, a family fortune, an element of the supernatural, and some really loathsome bad guys. Add an impending tornado and a wise old woman who is ready to meet her maker, and the set is complete. Koryta creates an icy, eerie atmosphere that amounts to storytelling at its best.
I think that my book club is going to love it.
Adam Langer's The Thieves of Manhattan is a clever and funny satire of the contemporary publishing business, with its blockbuster mania, celebrity scandals, and Oprah-annointed titles.
Ian Minot is a writer-wannabe, whose minor, character-driven tales of life as a coffeehouse waiter and writer wannabe have just not caught the imagination of any agents or publishers. His Romanian girlfriend is doing better than he is on the literary reading circuit, and even totally pretentious fakes like Blade Markham are raking in big bucks and getting booked on all the talk shows.
So when a coffeehouse customer who turns out to be another unpublished author proposes a slightly shady trick on the publishing industry, Ian eventually agrees.
Ian will rewrite Jed Roth’s adventure novel about a valuable copy of The Tale of Genji stolen from a burned-out library, and he will then sell the novel to a publisher as his own memoir. Then, after the whole world has fallen for the fake (they fell for Blade Markham’s ridiculous memoir, after all), he will reveal that it’s fiction.
The only problem is, Roth's story has uncomfortable truths in it--uncomfortable for Ian, who finds himself attacked by vengeful criminals who think he has the priceless Japanese book.