Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Like Home

A small boy named Henri decides to walk to Paris. Surprisingly, he finds that the parks, buses, and houses are exactly like the small town he has just left.

Whimsical and vibrant, Saul Bass' illustrations of Henri's Walk to Paris are a delight for the eye. Close your eyes; you too might dream in tangerine without even leaving home.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Maple Sugar Time

The Maple Sugar Farmer is a 1973 documentary of Sherman Graff. While demonstrating the extraction and distillation of maple sugar water, he tells stories of his old school house, the war, and the local dances where musicians literally sang for their supper. We recently went to a local nature center to watch this movie. Then a guide took us out in the woods and showed us how to tap a maple tree.

Although we have read the chapters of the Little House books where the characters do just that, my 6-year-old seemed to make no connection between the two events and was, as she succinctly put it, "bored."

Maybe we should have read one of these stories on the eve of the outing.

Sugaring Time by Kathryn Lasky

Maple Syrup Season by Ann Purmell

Sugar Snow by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I've been resistant to eReaders. This semester I've been teaching an online writing class that requires hours of screen time editing and critiquing student work. When I'm done, I'd rather curl up on the couch with a blanket, a mug of cereal, and a hardcover library book. Sure, I may splatter a little milk on page 15 or lose my place when the book falls on the floor when I nod off on page 136, but each page turn tells me how close I'm getting to the end.

However, one night while using my computer, my husband downloaded a free app. Since I hadn't made it to the library for a new real book, I decided to give it a try. I went to the library's list of eBooks. As someone who regularly comes home from the library with more than five titles, I was a little put out that I could only check out three. Accustomed to browsing, I browsed. Many books that looked interesting had a waiting list. I finally found three that said "use on Kindles and free Kindle apps" and not "use on Kindle devices via USB only." Here's what I ended up with:

Aftertaste Meredith Mileti

Girls in White Dresses Jennifer Close

The Writing Circle Corinne Demas

Once I got the things to transfer from the library to my Amazon account, I clicked on the first title. The font reminded me of large print books and I thought,"uh oh." I persisted and was soon engrossed in the story of a chef who has to attend anger management classes after she discovers her husband is having an affair. Then I discovered a passage that another reader had highlighted on page 162:

"My first assignment is to buy a “Life Notebook,” in which I’m to record my assignments, the first of which is to write down five things that would make me happy and to do at least two of them before next week."

"Hmmm," I thought. One thing that would make me happy would be to buy a portable Kindle. And a new box of cereal.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Habitual (insert negative activity here)

I've gotten out of the habit. But listening to this writer talk about his new book convinced me posting a little something might be worth trying again (instead of just trying).

It may have all started with this. Which turned into watching things like this. Which left me little spare time for anything else. In the past two weeks, turned off by TV, I've picked up two novels worth sharing.

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

After crashing his commercial jet, a pilot moves his family to a small town to start a new life. While fixing up his new home, he finds a strange door in the basement. Behind it lie dark secrets and even darker spirits. Although many authors use shifting points of view to tell their story, Bohjalian incorporates a rare (excepting this series) second person point of view. This familiarity makes the ensuing events even more chilling.

The Submission by Amy Waldman

A jury selecting a 9/11 memorial design discovers the architect is Muslim. The intersection between the jury's deliberation, the public's reaction, and the architect's vision is thought-provoking, tense, and shamefully realistic.

Maybe this writing-about-reading thing could be habit-forming after all.