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Wondrous Words Wednesday

July 15, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found two new words in Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

1. humectant – “And while I acknowledge the absurdity of claiming a connection to that mythologized flashpoint. . . might not a lingering vibration, a quantum particle of rebellion, still have hung in the humectant air?”

The air here is very humectant this time of year – humectant means moist.

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2. deracinate – “My deracination was kindly abetted by various friends at college.”

Deracinate has several different meanings but, in this case, I think the author means to remove or separate from a native environment or culture.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: Dept. of Speculation

July 14, 2015

Dept of Spectulation“The wife” tells her story – of marriage and motherhood – in snippets forming a stream-of consciousness like narrative in Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill.  She starts out deliriously happy, but, like most people has her share of woes through the years so this story is one many can relate to.   And, most people have.  I picked this book up because I read so many great reviews of it but I have to admit, I struggled with the writing style.  Sure, it made for a fast, engrossing read, but I wanted more from it and didn’t feel satisfied at the end.  Don’t go by me, though, The New York Times Book Review called it one of the Top Ten Books of 2014.   If you want to try something different, give Dept. of Speculation a try.

Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

Mailbox Monday

July 13, 2015

Mailbox Monday July 13

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.  Whew, last week was so busy!  The store had its three year anniversary on Saturday and most of the week was spent working on that.  The event went well and we’re all exhausted now, but it’s a good exhausted, if that makes sense.  I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Monday

Wednesday

Thursday

What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Madame Martine

July 11, 2015

Madame Martine

Madame Martine has her routine and that’s just the way she likes it.  Even though she lives near the Eiffel Tower she’s never climbed it because “it’s a tourist thing.”  She comes across a wet, dirty dog and takes him home and names him Max because he looks like he needs her.  One day, Max dashes away and runs up the Eiffel Tower and Madame Martine runs after him.   When she gets to the top, she realizes she’s been missing out on something beautiful.  Afterward, Madame Martine and Max get back to their daily routine Monday through Friday and try something new each Saturday.

Madame Martine written and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen is an adorable picture book about taking chances and living life to its fullest.  Madame Martine is stuck in a rut, doing the same old thing week after week.  She’s not open to new ideas or adventures until cute little Max comes into her life and shows her how to take chances and have fun.

I thought Madame Martine and Max were adorable and loved the fact that this book encourages trying new things and I also enjoyed the Paris setting.  Young readers are sure to enjoy the adventurous nature of the story and delight in the charming illustrations.  Madame Martine is perfect for reserved 4 to 7 year olds!

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Albert Whitman & Company.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

 

Review: Fun Home

July 10, 2015

Fun Home

When I was in New York for BEA, someone suggested Julie and I see the Broadway show, Fun Home.  He predicted it would win lots of Tony Awards, and he was right, but we weren’t able to get tickets to see it so we decided to do the next best thing and read the book it’s based on.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel is a graphic memoir that focuses on Bechdel’s relationship with her father.  The third of three children, and the only girl, Bechdel was born to an English teacher father and an amateur actress mother.  Her father also ran the local funeral home but the town was small so business was slow.  She says,

And indeed, if our family was a sort of artists’ colony, could it not be even more accurately described as a mildly autistic colony?

The family lived in an old house that Bechdel’s father lovingly restored.  The house was his passion and he was very particular about it.  He was cold and distant and obsessed with appearances.  It wasn’t until years later that Bechdel realized he was hiding a secret and that the secret was the one thing they had in common.

Bechdel is a talented artist and obviously very intelligent.  Fun Home is very introspective and somewhat philosophical at times.  I enjoyed the book but admit that she lost me a time or two with her literary references.  It wasn’t too hard to follow, though, since this is a graphic memoir.  Parts of the book are explicit so I wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers.

I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Review: Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County

July 9, 2015

Something Must Be Done

Prince Edward County is a small, rural county in the middle of Virginia.  It’s about 63% white and has a poverty rate close to 20%.  In 1955, after the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education, the county board of supervisors voted to close the public schools rather than desegregate them.

White parents scrambled to start a private school, but the poor, uneducated, and mostly black residents of the county were left with little options.  Some sent their children to live with relatives while many others simply kept their children at home.  When the schools reopened years later, those students were woefully behind and unable to catch up.

As a youngster Kristen Green attended that white private school even though the public schools had been re-opened.  She didn’t give it much thought until years later.  When she discovered her grandparents were instrumental in closing the public schools and opening Prince Edward Academy she decided to research it to see if she could understand why.

Green describes Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle as “a hybrid of nonfiction and memoir” because she relates the story of her family along with the story of this county – a story that I found fascinating and relevant to today’s news.  Green says,

. . . many in Prince Edward and around the country, have effectively given up on public school education.  And the abandonment of Richmond’s public schools by white and middle-income parents creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of schools that continue to perform poorly.

Through meticulous research, Green tells the story in an unflinching and honest way, even when her family is cast in an unflattering light.  Closing the schools destroyed families and lives, most of which were never able to recover.  Attending an all white school affected her views on race – views she’s worked hard to shed.

I couldn’t put Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County down even as I was horrified by it.  I think part of the reason I was so drawn to this story was because I grew up in an urban area of Virginia when the schools in that state were being desegregated.   While the schools where I lived were never closed, I did witness “white flight”  by many, including some friends, to both the suburbs and private schools.   My sister and I remained in the public schools and I never gave it much thought until I read this book.  I spoke to my mom about it and asked her if she and my dad ever considered pulling us out of the public schools and she quickly replied no.  When I asked her why, she said there was nothing to run from and that made me feel good.

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County is a must read for many and would make a fantastic book club read because there’s a lot to discuss in it.  It will really make you think!

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

July 8, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found a few words in The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig.

1. genoise – “That’s when the classic genoise batter bloomed into the most beautiful, aromatic coral.”

Genoise is a sponge cake containing butter and leavened by stiffly beaten eggs.

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2. dimity – “I was about to ask ‘What’s dimity?’ but they settled back in, and I dashed out again before Mom could ask me any questions I’d rather not answer.”

Dimity is a sheer, usually corded, cotton fabric of plain weave in checks or stripes.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

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