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Pickle Me This

June 8, 2012

A bouquet of maple leaves

Taking these books back to the library today, and realizing that they do reveal a bit of a pattern in my borrowing habits.

July 15, 2011

No best books: our library haul this week was lacking

This month, we’ve been going to toddler movies at the Lillian H Smith Library on Tuesday mornings, watching 1980s film strip adaptations of picture books, which are wonderful. (A Boy, A Dog and A Frog is awesome and you can watch it here. We’ve also seen The Three Little Pigs, Paddington, Angus Lost, and Curious George.) Anyway, we didn’t get to the library before the movie on Tuesday in enough time to allow for our usual high level of book scouting, so we just threw a few into our bag and hoped for the best. Didn’t go so well.

Our books this week were some serious duds (save for the books we have out every week, like one from the Knuffle Bunny saga, and some Shirley Hughes, but these are our old standards, and to count them as Best Books would be cheating). And so no Best Books this week, though Harriet might tell you otherwise– she has fallen in love Curious George via a substandard Curious George post-Rey rip-off book.

Fortunately, we visited Spadina Road Library this morning to take part in their toddler program, and supplemented our crap books with a few others. I picked Curious George Goes to the Hospital so Harriet can see what that curious monkey is really about, and a few others that seem pretty good.

Should be enough to get us through the weekend…

July 7, 2011

Our Best Book from this week's library haul: The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky/Andrew Joyner

The Terrible Plop is The Gruffalo meets Chicken Little, the story of a strange sound that sends a whole forest running until one tiny bunny is brave enough face a scary reality, and find it not so scary at all. With its bouncy verse and tiny outsmarting creature, the story is a bit too Gruffalo derivative, but in the end manages its own particular charm. It’s got bunnies, rhymes, and chocolate cake, so what more could we ask for? And we’re still having fun reading it over and over again.

June 30, 2011

Our Best Book from this week's library haul: Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley

We had very good luck at the library this week, and so to determine a Best Book was difficult. We were delighted with Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine, which was so lovely that Harriet sat through the whole thing even though it was looong. We liked The House Book by Keith DuQuette, Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley, and An Evening at Alfie’s (but then we love all the Alfie books). Our favourite of all of them, however, has been Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley, about a brand new baby who cries and cries, until her mother (who is a baker) finally soothes her with the smell of cinnamon bread baking in the oven. A very good book for those in our family who remember a certain baby who once cried, and cried, and also for those of us who are absolutely obsessed with babies (hint: not the parents). And Janice Nadeau’s illustrations are as lovely as the prose, whimsical and yet grounded with familiar objects its readers will know. We particularly like the cat who is holding an umbrella…

June 22, 2011

Our Best Book from this week's library haul: Goldie and the Three Bears

Diane Stanley’s Goldie and the Three Bears gets this week’s nod mostly because while I think it’s a pretty good picture book, Harriet is absolutely obsessed with it. (This also makes 2/3 weeks where our best book has been one Harriet has randomly pulled off the shelf with no regard for anything except chaos.) I love the detailed illustrations, and that this twist on an old story stands up perfectly fine all on its own. Goldie is a very picky little girl (the swing is “too high”, the movie is “too scary”, her peanut butter sandwich is only “just right” when it’s on white bread, no jelly, with the crusts cut off), which makes it hard for her to make friends (because Penny is too boring, and Jenny is too rough). When one day she gets off the bus at the wrong stop, however, she stumbles into an empty house, and tries a few sandwiches, sits in a few chairs, falls asleep in somebody’s bed, and in the process, makes a friend–one she can love with all her heart. Which sounds cheesy, but it isn’t, and we like the pictures of the friends climbing trees, building block towers, and have an elaborate tea party. If there has to be a story I read 10 times a day for a week, I am awfully glad it is this one.

June 15, 2011

Our Best Book from this week's library haul: Oscar's Half Birthday by Bob Graham

This week, we asked our librarian to recommend books about “alternative” families, because Harriet is obsessed with the construction of family units and we thought now would be a good time to broaden her little mind a bit, so we took out And Tango Makes Three. The librarian also suggested Oscar’s Half-Birthday, whose family construction is fairly standard, but whose urban, hipster, inter-racial parents will help acclimatize Harriet to families way cooler than her own. And happily, these details (along with the urban scenery of abandoned shopping carts and graffiti) are pretty incidental to a lovely story celebrating baby Oscar’s half-birthday, which climaxes with the picnicking population of an entire hillside erupting into song. (The song is also “Happy Birthday”, which is currently Harriet’s favourite, so we liked that too.) My favourite part of the book is big sister Millie, however, with her coat-hanger fairy-wings and green dinosaur puppet– if my daughter is going to have a role model from a book, I’d hope it could be one like this.

Also, the writing is so good. Like this, “…the half-birthday boy, OSCAR, sits tilted at an angle, his fingers curled into Millie’s tuna sandwich. His shoulders are hunched, his head nods, and the light shines through his ears, illuminating them like little lanterns.” Exactly!

June 2, 2010

No kids

I was never brave enough to read this book before, particularly not in the past year during which I could have written this book myself 300 times over, but now that I’m pretty sure I could think of reasons to counter each of Corinne Maier’s 40 reasons not to have children, I feel ready to take it on. Certainly, Maier knows what she’s talking about, being a mother herself, and it will be interesting to reflect upon whether or not her reasons are valid. And why, even with there being at least 40 reasons not to have children, people keep having them anyway.

Don’t worry, this was a library book. But I did stop into Ten Editions to buy We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, because The Vicious Circle is going to be reading it at some point. And then I also had to get Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Elizabeth Bowen, as I loved her The House in Paris when I read it last autumn (upon the recommendation of Susan Hill). I wasn’t planning on the second book, but there it was on display, and I just couldn’t help myself. Of course. And I actually saved money, when you consider all the books in the store I didn’t buy.

It was basically the same as a paycheque.

March 4, 2010

Why I love the Toronto Public Library/ How the internet gets books read

I am an avid buyer, mostly because I can’t quit, but also because any person who loves books really should be. If I bought every book I wanted, however, I’d have to move to a warehouse and I’d be totally broke, so I am pleased to have the best public library system in the world at my disposal so I can eat its book-buying dust. In a good way.

Waiting for me at the library today was The Sixties by Jenny Diski (of the LRB blog, and many elsewheres), When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (which I read about on the The Guardian Books Blog), and Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Matsuki Mockett (because Maud Newton said so).

January 20, 2010

Book charm

On an ordinary day, Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion would have been the most interesting book of any stack I picked up from the library. (I found out about this book from the Louisa May Alcott bio. It has the best cover I have ever seen. And that I am excited about a book with such a cover really does catapult me into a new league of nurd. Fortunately, I’ll keep it to myself and no one will ever know…).

But today was the day I also came home from the library with the gorgeous Bothered by My Green Conscience, the less gorgeous might be stupid but it was sitting on a table so I picked it up Sleep is For the Weak: The best of the mommybloggers, and Sheree Fitch’s book of poetry for adult readers In this house are many women.

And just when you thought books couldn’t be anymore charming, I’ve just joined the league of people who’ve discovered Flavia de Luce. Now reading the Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, which I have a terrible suspicion might be a literary love letter only for me: literary Harriets, a nod to Harriet the Spy herself (perhaps not on purpose, but still…), references to tea, and to pie, and literary allusions, and libraries to get lost in, plus she has a bike called Gladys. When I used to have a bike called Gladys, pink with a basket when we lived in Japan. Anyway, the connections are uncanny, delightful, and maybe Alan Bradley and I are long-lost somethings. The book is wonderful. I’m zipping through it and will be posting a review in days to come.

August 27, 2009

The Mem Keeps Coming

Sometimes one thing leads to another, or else it just leads to the same thing over and over again. The latter in this case, which is the case of children’s author Mem Fox, beginning with her book finding its way into my house quite indirectly. From reader comments, I discover that everybody loves Mem Fox, and get some further Mem recommendations. The next week at the Library Story Time (which was incredible, incidently, are we ever lucky to have the Toronto Public Library system available to us!), the librarian pulls out Fox’s latest Hello Baby, as well as Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. (They are so good!) And then today I walked into a bookshop near my house and found a copy of Mem Fox’s Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. Naturally, I bought it. Tomorrow I expect I’ll run into Mem Fox in the grocery store, never mind that she lives in Australia…

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