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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Review: 'Wonderstruck'

Children's Fiction
September 2011
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-02789-2                                                     

Ben is a boy now living with his aunt, uncle and two cousins since his single mother died in an accident. His aunt and uncle talk about selling his mother's house next door on a Minnesota lakeshore. Lonely, he sneaks over to his old home one night when he sees a light. It's his cousin Janet, dressing in his mother's clothes and playing her old music. He talks his cousin into letting him stay in the house alone for a bit. Ben discovers a note in one of his mother's books that leads him to believe he might be able to talk to the father he's never met. Deaf in one ear, he dials the phone just as lightning strikes the house. He's now totally deaf. Ben is hospitalized, but sneaks out to take a bus to New York to see if he can find his father.

While this story in prose takes place in the 1970s, Selznick intersperses it with detailed drawings, in the same style as his Invention of Hugo Cabret, of a  young girl in the 1920s. She, too, is deaf and sneaks away from her house to watch a silent movie. The girl, Rose, runs away to take the ferry from Hoboken to New York City, where she tracks down the star of the silent movie to a stage, rehearsing a play. It's her mother, and she is ashamed of her deaf daughter.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: 'Essential Pepin'

ESSENTIAL PEPIN: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in FoodBy Jacques Pepin
October 2011
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 978-0547232799

Even with decades of being on television, writing cookbooks and serving thousands at his restaurants, Jacques Pepin may not have the same name recognition or star power as more recently arrived celebrity chefs. That should change, however, with the release of his Essential Pepin and an accompanying PBS series.

Essential Pepin is no quickly turned-out scrapbook filled with color photographs to capitalize on a TV program, even though there is a companion series. As the subtitle says, it's "More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food". This is a comprehensive reference work for home cooks from neophyte to foodie. Everything is written down simply and completely.

There was not a single recipe that I didn't think I couldn't tackle. For example, his Cranberry Bread is a rustic bread designed to go with meats for a hearty winter meal. As shown in the first photo, milk and butter are combined over low heat, then set aside.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: 'Also Known As Rowan Pohi'

By Ralph Fletcher
November 2011
Clarion Books
ISBN: 978-0547572086

In one memorable M*A*S*H episode, Hawkeye and the crew invented Captain John Tuttle, a remarkable man who had to “die” when a real officer wanted to honor him. Ralph Fletcher uses the same premise to explore how a teenage boy comes to terms with himself and his name in Also Known as Rowan Pohi.

Bobby Steele doesn't have the best life around – his mom left after his father did a horrific thing to her. Bobby's sophomore year is about to start, he has a younger brother starting kindergarten to watch out for, his father goes to AA meetings and work and that's about it. Bobby also has the burden of having the same name as his father, the name splashed across the local news.

One afternoon at IHOP, the snooty kids at a nearby booth leave an application for the esteemed private school they'll be attending. Whitestone has a new multi-million dollar planetarium; Bobby's high school can't afford to have the parking lot refinished. As a lark, the boys fill out the application. Rowan's last name is the name of the restaurant backwards. He's a go-getter from the extremely poor town of Pinon, New Mexico.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Liebster Blog Award

Many thanks to the wonderful Emma Hunneyball of In Potentia for nominating Ye Olde Humble Blog for the Liebster Blog Award! It's a lovely way to let fellow book lovers and bloggers know about other great blogs. As Emma wrote in her lovely note (found in the comments section of the review of The Mirador):

Hi Lynne                                                        

I was recently awarded the "Liebster Blog Award" and when prompted to share it with five other blogs I immediately thought of yours.

I'm a big fan of your book reviews, which are honest, varied and interesting.



I'm chuffed to be recognized by a fellow reader whose opinion I esteem as a discerning reader. In these days when niche markets and pigeonholes are the norm, it's a thrill to be recognized by a fellow blogger for refusing to stay in a pigeonhole or be stuck within the confines of a singular niche.

And when it comes to noting how lovely such recognition is, I cannot say better than Emma did at her blog, In Potentia:

Peer-to-peer awards are so important in this world: They let us support each other, reach out to each other and remind us that when we feel like our posts are disappearing into a vacuum of apathy, that someone out there is reading!

Check back in the next few days to see how I've chosen to pass this lovely award to in honoring more peers in this invigorating community.