As struggling early readers, they demanded skinny, picture-filled books. They progressed into thin, chapter-filled volumes. Now, neither of them will touch a book unless it’s three inches thick and heavy enough to wield as a weapon against anyone who tries to get them to turn out their lights at a reasonable bedtime.
These are some of their favorites. Check content for age appropriateness – at times maturity level and weight are unrelated. I’ll be updating this list from time to time. Find a printable pdf of this list here.Read More
In the Persian classic 1001 NIGHTS, a ruthless king chooses a new wife each day and beheads her the next morning. When Scheheradaze learns that she is chosen to be the next doomed queen, she does not despair. Instead, in the dark hours of her wedding night she weaves a brilliant, but unfinished story.Read More
Ernest Vincent Wright wrote GADSBY, a 50,000 word novel without a single E. His characters are as interesting as cardboard, and the plot is nostalgically meandering (think Thornton Wilder’s Our Town without the profundity). But his achievement is nothing less than astonishing, accomplished by tying down the “E” key on his typewriter for the final copy. For five months he shunned the simple past tense of most words and created a plot that required a sparse use of numbers and no definite articles.Read More
One chilly morning in March of 1835, a chambermaid used a stack of scrap paper to kindle a nice cozy fire. Unfortunately, that stack of scrap paper was Thomas Carlyle’s handwritten first volume of THE FRENCH REVOLUTION that he had lent to John Stuart Mill for review. (It’s current paperback edition contains 380 small-print pages crammed with Carlyle’s feverish prose, in case you were wondering how many pages of work went up in flames that day).
How could Mill explain to Carlyle that months of his life now lay in a heap of ashes in his grate? He did what seemed right in that courageous century (lacking the convenience and cowardice of instant text messaging). He visited Carlyle in person, bringing the burned scraps with him.Read More
Beyond the shallows, into the deep
Just one more thing before we sleep
For Marco Polo’s been lost and found
And lost again, then somehow drowned
In games of sharks and minnows
(If someone won, no one knows).Read More
When nine-year-old Milton Sirotta’s uncle asked him to come up with a name for a number that had a hundred zeros after it, he left oodles of possible words ending in “-illion” behind, and coined the word “Googol.” In case you’re wondering, the number looks like this:
While grading his students’ papers in the early 1930s, J.R.R.Tolkien came upon a blank sheet of paper and scribbled “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” The rest is well-known history. Tolkien’s beloved tales about Middle Earth became so revered that every scrap of paper found in his file drawers after his death in 1973 has been nudged into publishable form. Browsing through a bookstore the other day, I found one of the last Tolkien stories to be published, the very charming ROVERANDOM (Houghton Mifflin, 1998).
Epic journeys are not usually made by mistake. But on July 17, 1938 an unusually thick bank of fog rolled off the Atlantic to provide one man of high hopes and questionable judgement the chance to accidentally achieve his dream.
Remember when Hedwig the owl flew through the window on Privet Drive, braving the awful Dursleys to bring Harry Potter his pile of letters from Hogwarts? I wasn’t just intrigued. I was envious.
“Cake Girl” Sheridan finds a lot in her life to be dissatisfied with: a mother who’s abandoned her, a father who is emotionally detached and wrapped up in his own success, and the prosepect of an unwanted move. Written with an authentic teen voice, Sheridan makes the journey we all have to make as we grow up– from being absorbed in her own issues to understanding and appreciating the others around her. Mandelski artfully draws a whole cast of memorable characters: best friends, her wise grandmother, the loveable and loving Mr. Roz, and the quirky and funny “Suits” who come and threaten her small town existence. By the end of the book, Sheridan feels like a good friend you want to keep up with.
The descriptions of Sheridan’s signature cake creations are sure to be a hit with any foodies and closet-carb lovers!Read More