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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Love Drugged by James Klise

Love DruggedHigh school can be a tricky four years to navigate under the best of circumstances.  For 15-year-old Jamie, there is an added complication: he is gay.  We’re living in 2011, when acceptance of the LGBT community is continually reaching new highs, but coming out to family and friends can still be a very difficult and terrifying step, especially for a teenager.  Jamie doesn’t want to wave flags or march in parades; he just wants to feel “normal” and make it through high school intact.

When a classmate discovers Jamie’s identity on a website for gay teens, he decides to preemptively dispel all rumors.  To protect the secret of his sexuality, Jamie begins seeing a girl named Celia Gamez, who is rich, beautiful, and popular.  Celia’s father happens to be in the business of developing new pharmaceutical drugs and lets slip one day that he is testing a new pill that can “cure” homosexuality.  Jamie thinks this is the perfect opportunity to finally become “normal” and carry his relationship with Celia to its expected result.  He steals some of the pills and secretly begins taking them before hanging out with Celia.

As you can guess, this plan doesn’t work out exactly as Jamie had imagined.  The exact downward spiral is best read firsthand, so go get yourself a copy.  I’ll wait…

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Patience, Dear Readers

Go Away.  I'm Reading.It has been a slow week here at our humble blog, but we would like to take this opportunity to assure you that new reviews will resume within the next few days.  We have been working on developing some exciting new features, creating a personalized logo, lining up author interviews, and doing some general blog maintenance that is probably incredibly boring to read about.  Our blog has been live for less than three months, but the support from readers and authors has been phenomenal, for which we are endlessly grateful.  Now we are working on building up an infrastructure that can showcase the bigger and better things that we hope to accomplish in the near future.

In the meantime, if you are a reader with an idea for a feature, review, or interview you would like to see on our blog, let us know!  We are always open to feedback and get some of our best suggestions from other readers.

Many thanks for your patience as we shift into higher gear.  And, as always, thank you for stopping by and looking around!  Don’t forget to tell all your friends about us.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Updates

 

MUD PIES and OTHER RECIPES: A COOKBOOK FOR DOLLS by Marjorie Winslow

In honor of summer vacation, this is a “slow down” book that inspires outside play. We should never hear the word “bored” from our children. There are always BOOKS to read, things to make with sticks and boxes, or, as I say, laundry to fold.

“This is a cookbook for dolls. It is written for kind climates and summertime. It is an outdoor cookbook, because dolls dote on mud, when properly prepared. They love the crunch of pine needles and the sweet feel of seaweed on the tongue.”

“The sea makes a nice sink; so does a puddle at the end of a hose. For a stove there is the sun, or a  flat stone.”

Originally published in 1961, Marjorie Winslow’s clever recipes are timeless. This little gem creates everything a doll (or bear) might like to eat during a good day of outside play. No need to purchase plastic play food, this book inspires children to make their own creations. I have fond memories of the beautiful plastic necklace “cakes” my daughter made for her dolls. I highly recommend this book; it reflects a kind of play that is mandatory but often neglected for electronic entertainment.  It’s time to turn off  the TV and go outside.

SILKY SPAGHETTI

“…Collect enough corn silk to fill a big bowl. Add 2 cups of fresh air and leave in the sun until just tender. If a sauce is desired, the following may be poured over each serving: to 1 melted ice cube, add 1 teaspoon of minced grass and a dash of white sand.”

MUD PUDDLE SOUP

“…Find a mud puddle after a rainstorm and seat your dolls around it. Serve.”

PINE NEEDLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

“…Using the square cake pan, cover the bottom with a layer of pine needles. Then mix moist earth from the foot of a pine tree with pine needles and pack the mixture tightly into the pan on top of the layer of pine needles. Place in a hot sun to bake, turning upside down to unmold. “

 

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Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Go the F**k to SleepA friend and loyal reader of our blog requested that I review this book, and what a great suggestion that was.  Timely and certainly a fun book to review!  Her reasoning was:  “Because if you like it, I’m buying it for all my friends who have kids.”

With that kind of endorsement, who could resist?  That is what we’re here for, after all.

If you live under a rock and haven’t heard about this new picture book, it started as a joke.  Author Adam Mansbach posted the following status update on his Facebook profile one night: “Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, ‘Go the F**k to Sleep.’”  It received an overwhelming response, so he began to draft some actual verses.  Originally scheduled to be released in October, the release date was moved up several times due to demand and insane levels of pre-ordering.  It was finally released June 14th.  And it gets better: Samuel L. Jackson narrated the audio version, which is available for free on Audible.

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A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

A Sick Day for Amos McGeeConsidering this is book won the 2011 Caldecott Medal, I’m hardly the first person to sing its praises.  If you are not familiar with it, you’ll be wanting to find a copy at a bookstore in your area.

The story involves a zoo keeper named Amos McGee, who is attuned to the personalities of the animals in his charge and works to accommodate them.  He runs races with a tortoise, for instance, and the tortoise always wins.  The owl is afraid of the dark, so he reads stories to him.  The penguin is shy, so they just sit together in companionable silence.

Then one morning Amos wakes up sick and can’t go in to work at the zoo.  The animals take it upon themselves to visit him and return the kindness he has always shown them.  They play games with him, read books to him, and generally keep him company until he feels better.

I like how this book shows a loving relationship between a caretaker and his charges.  It also sends a strong message that if you treat others kindly, they will return the favor, without sounding the least bit preachy.  The illustrations are done in pencil and woodblock, giving the book an old-fashioned feeling, though it is brand new.  Every page features animals big and small – look for the hidden mice and birds throughout the story.  Even his bedspread at home has an animal theme, decorated with a peacock feather pattern.

Great read for an afternoon home sick or as a bedtime story!

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in Book Reviews, Children's

 

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Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems

EdwinaI am declaring this week Children’s Book Review Week here at BwoB, both because I’m a little behind on my other reading and because it’s nice to try writing outside my usual realm of YA, genre, and select non-fiction.  It should be noted that many of the titles I review this week were first recommended to me by fellow blogger hardboundandgagged, our outstanding kids’ bookseller in another life, when they let all of us, y’know, sell books.  She’s helped me stock the libraries of my first niece and nephew, who are my current excuses for reading picture books.

Presumably everyone reading this blog has heard of Mo Willems, best known for his Pigeon and Knuffle  Bunny series.  Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, is a bit off the beaten path of his other work, but still retains his signature wit in both the text and illustrations.  It stars Edwina, a dinosaur who didn’t get the memo about her species’ extinction and continues to help everyone in town and bake cookies.  A young boy named Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie (and you have to love that name) sets out to convince everyone in his class that dinosaurs truly are extinct, thinking it will make Edwina – obvious proof to the contrary – disappear.  Eventually Edwina hears him out, is convinced that she is extinct, but decides she just doesn’t care.  The book ends with Edwina and Reginald sharing some fresh-baked cookies.

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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Book Reviews, Children's

 

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Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner

Vaclav & LenaAfter reading quite a few glowing reviews of this debut novel, I decided I had to give it a shot.

The general synopsis is: two young immigrants from Russia who are in the same ESL class at school become, well, not ‘unlikely’ friends.  More like inevitable friends, once they are thrown together on a play date and go to Coney Island together.  Starting at the age of five, Lena becomes a fixture in Vaclav’s house, coming over every day after school and staying for dinner.  She is living with her aunt, who is a stripper/prostitute and fails to take basic care of her.  Rasia, Vaclav’s mother, takes Lena under wing and becomes her protector.

Then one day, just after Vaclav’s 10th birthday, Lena doesn’t come to school.  Lena disappears entirely, actually, for seven years.  In this time, Vaclav never forgets his friend and the magic show they had planned to perform together.  He says goodnight to her every night without fail, hoping that it will keep her safe, wherever she is.

The two are reunited after seven years and it serves to help them delve into the time before they met, the time they were apart, and any future they might have together.

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