Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hansel & Gretel (Holly Hobbie)

Hansel & Gretel by Holly Hobbie. Little, Brown and Company, 2015.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! We're having the first of two dinners this afternoon, and tonight is final dress rehearsal for our community theatre production of A Christmas Story, but I wanted to pop in and share a book. Little Sis received it from my dad for her birthday. If you've read this blog for a while, you'll know we love our fairy tales. We love creepiness, and we love "Hansel and Gretel." (See here and here, too.) I've also written about my childhood love for all things Holly Hobbie, so you know, we had to have this book in our collection! 

It seems fitting to blog this book today, because as a fairy tale, food figures so prominently in the story. First, it's the lack thereof, then there is the house. The house. (Yum.) And of course, there's the feast the witch plans...

Holly Hobbie keeps the text simple, in that she allows her gorgeous watercolors room to tell the story. By simple, I only mean lack of words. "Hansel and Gretel" is a creepy fairy tale, and this retelling is no exception.

The stepmother is as unpleasant as she should be.

The gingerbread house isn't the most elaborate, but the gingerbread people in front almost make up for it.

I think her witch may be one of the most unsettling I've seen in picture books. That pale face, and those eyes!

She puts Hansel in the cage, and forces Gretel to feed him. And yes, there's an illustration of the witch sharpening her knife, as she decides to eat both children!

Don't worry. Gretel still wins.

If you or your young one is a fairy tale fan, and not particularly disturbed by the darker elements of the story, I must highly recommend this one. Christmas is coming...

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mad Tea Party for an 8th (Un)Birthday

Little Sis turned 8 years old! Her actual birthday is on the first, and just like last year, the thought of throwing a birthday party on Halloween weekend was too much for us to fathom. (Someday, however, I'd love to throw a Halloween-themed party.) This year, she wanted a Mad Tea Party! The girls picked their Halloween costumes in order to wear them again for the party.  She has seen pictures of her sister's fifth birthday party, an Alice in Wonderland-themed party in our backyard. She wasn't quite three at the time, so she really doesn't remember it.

We opted to rent a quiet shelter at a beautiful park across town. The guest list was huge, and I must admit, a bit overwhelming. Mr. B got called to work soon after it began, but between my dad, grandma, sister, and the awesome parents who stayed (including a teacher and para from school), I had a lot of help! My camera wasn't working, and I was too busy to take pictures for the most part. I send buckets of gratitude to my sister, my grandmother, and especially my beautiful friend Tara for the photographs!

The cupcakes were our favorite vanilla cupcake recipe from The Joy of Baking. I purchased plain black cupcake picks from the craft store, then created my own circular pictures on the computer to glue to the picks.

It was a semi-proper tea party! We brought little tea sandwiches (pimento, cream cheese and cucumber, cream cheese and jelly, and PBJ), including a gluten-free trays for our guests with Celiac disease. Mr. B boiled tons of water and filled our big Thermos jug. We passed out tea bags and sugar cubes and milk. A few kids asked for juice in the end, but Mr. B made sure I had that on hand, too.

I read the Mad Tea Party chapter from The Nursery Alice and attempted to lead some games, which fell flat. When the kids first arrived, they decorated clip-on party hats made from paper cups and cardstock, an idea I found here. The party favors were Cheshire Cat grin photo props (I drew those!) and coloring pages.

Presents were hurried, because everyone really wanted to play on the playground! She received a ton of art supplies (YES!), some Ever After High and Monster High toys, and some movies and books.

At one point, a sheriff's car pulled up with its lights flashing. I was so nervous, wondering if I'd done something wrong! It turned out that a party guest's dad worked with her, and asked her to stop by the party. It was so funny! The kids loved it.

After the party, my family and I went further into the park for more pictures.

Click here for more Alice-inspired posts. The "Rabbit Holes" part of our blog name did come from our love for all things Alice!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday (on Tuesday): Gremlins (Read Along Adventure)

Gremlins (Read-Along Adventure), Warner Bros. Inc.
Buena Vista Records, 1984.

(This post should have run yesterday, but life got in the way. Big Sis came home sick. She's home again today, too.) 

So, Read-Along Adventures. As a kid in the '80s, I had more of these than I can remember. Some were on record, many were on cassette. I don't know what became of most of our collection. The books were cheaply-bound paperbacks that often fell apart, and tapes and records were left out and ruined over time. Kids are hard on stuff. 

Halloween morning, Big Sis was scrolling through the new releases on Amazon Prime Instant Video, while I was lying in bed, sick. Suddenly she cried, "Hey, Mom, Gremlins in on Amazon!"

You know those weird pop cultury things that pepper your everyday conversation? I've been known to react to bright sunlight or flashes with a high-pitched, "Bright light! Bright light!" That said, I hadn't seen Gremlins in years. It was released during the summer of 1984, two months before my seventh birthday. I remember seeing it in the movie theater, but only after all the neighborhood kids had already seen it. My dad was concerned about the violence. It was rated PG, but so was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and my folks were not about to let us see that. The PG-13 rating came into being soon after these movies came out. I was only 7 when I saw Gremlins, but the violence didn't bother me. It was pretty cartoonish.

Who can forget the rules? "Keep them away from light. Especially sunlight. Sunlight could kill them. Never get them wet. And above all, never, ever feed them after midnight."

Oh, what a silly little movie. Big Sis and I had an enjoyable time watching it. It was a nice way to start Halloween, with a comedy-thriller that takes place during Christmastime. Some of our thoughts:

[As Hoyt Axton appears on the screen.] "That guy wrote 'Joy to the World.' The rock song, not the Christmas song." (I proceed to sing the first verse and chorus of Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World.")
"That's a really weird song." - Big Sis
"His mom co-wrote 'Heartbreak Hotel.'" - me
"The Elvis song?" - Big Sis
"Good girl." - me

[During the Chinatown shop scene.] "Oh, the Chinese stereotypes!" - me (I kept thinking of this, for some reason.)

"After midnight? How long after midnight? What about morning or afternoon?" - Big Sis
"What about time zones?" - me

"I want a real Mogwai! I want a Gizmo!" - Big Sis
"Oh, it's so cute!!!" - Little Sis, wandering into the room.

"Oh, yeah, I forgot Corey Feldman was in this!" - me
"Who is he?" - Big Sis
"One of the two Coreys!" (silence) "Oh, well, you know him from The Goonies." - me
"Oh, yeah." - Big Sis

[After the mom's kitchen battle with the original Gremlins.]"The microwave thing was cool!" - Big Sis

[When mean Mrs. Deagle flies through the window.] "YEAH!" - Big Sis

[Gremlins in the pub scene] "Why doesn't she just leave? Why is she serving the gremlins?" - Big Sis

[As Kate relates the story of why she hates Christmas to Billy.] "Okay, this is my favorite speech. I think it's really funny because it's so over-the-top. Also, I still believed in Santa when I first saw this, so it wasn't funny to me back then." - me
"Is it supposed to be sad?" - Big Sis
"I think it's supposed to be 'so bad it's funny.' It's black comedy, baby." - me (Also, THIS.)

[Movie theatre scene.] "How do they know all the songs from Snow White? It makes no sense!!!" - Big Sis

It's a funny movie!

So, back to Read-Along Adventures. The girls found this at my grandma's house a few years ago. The tape is long gone, but someone uploaded the audio via YouTube.

I screwed up the collages a bit, so the page turns will be off after the stand-alone page 10, with the close-up of Stripe. Otherwise, have fun following along! 

"Let's begin now."

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Everyone Loves Bacon

Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Eric Wight.
FSG Books for Young Readers, 2015.

Hi, remember me? I blog here sometimes... Seriously, it's been a frustrating time for me on the blog front. I was sick over Halloween, but I had some posts read to go. I just needed the photos.

Then my camera died. I took it to the shop, just to find out the battery was kaput, but I had another battery at home. I charged it, but the camera still isn't right. I almost used my phone to put together one last big Halloween post - Pediaphobia 2015! - but being sick, I scrapped the idea. We have been very busy. I spent all last week volunteering at the school again, plus rehearsals for A Christmas Story in the evenings, then Little Sis's birthday party this past weekend. [I never even put together a post for the day she turned eight, the day after Halloween!] I hope to share pictures from her Mad Tea Party, once I get some. I didn't get to take many myself. Sigh.

BUT, I can share this book with you! Because today, my camera came back to life long enough for me to photograph this hilarious picture book, one of Little Sis's birthday presents.

Bacon endpapers!

 You may recall this post from May 2014, from the last days of her kindergarten year. She had just earned the nickname "Bacon" from her teacher. It was the start of things to come. In first grade, her nickname became "Baconator," and I became "Baconator's mom." She and her bestie wrote songs about bacon, drew pictures of bacon, and for Christmas, Santa gave them bacon best friend necklaces. Oh, and Little Sis got a stuffed bacon from Santa, too! She isn't quite as fanatical about the stuff this year, but when I read the title of this book, I knew she had to have it. Her grandpa got it for her, so it's extra-special.

Let us take a moment to laugh at the vegetarian who keeps getting roped into all things bacon.(That would be me.)

(Well, I don't. Ha!)

(I love French toast.)

Bacon is so popular! He's on posters! He's on t-shirts! He plays the ukulele and grows a mustache!

He's also a real jerk to his old friends. That's okay. He gets his in the end.

Because if everyone loves you, and you happen to be food...

Kelly DiPucchio is up there with Amy Krouse Rosenthal for picture book authors-who-are-not-illustrators we love. The Zombie in Love books, Gaston, Grace for President, The Sandwich Swap... We are fans. I wasn't familiar with Eric Wight until now, but his illustrations for this book are fabulous.

I hope everyone is well! I missed my first Thankful Thursday post for the year, so if nothing else, I will aim to have one this week.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

The Graveyard Book: Graphic Novel

Just in time for Halloween... I am sick. Big Sis and I caught Little Sis's coughing crud. It was inevitable. I spent much of last week snuggling with my little sickie. One of the things we did was read. Specifically, we read Volume One of The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel. 

Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Volume 1 and 2, adapted by P. Craig Russell, illustrated by Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill ThompsonStephen B. Scott, and David Lafuente.
HarperCollins, 2014.

I read Neil Gaiman's Newbery Medal-winning The Graveyard Book two years ago and loved it, of course. On vacation this summer, we listened to about half of the audiobook. If our trip had been longer, I'm sure we would have finished it. The audiobook is gorgeously produced, with Derek Jacobi narrating and a cast of awesome actors performing the dialogue.

I knew I wanted to check out a graphic novel or two this month. I looked at Coraline, but I must admit, I love the design of the movie too much. I prefer The Graveyard Book as a novel anyway, and when I saw both volumes of the graphic novel on the shelf, I made up my mind immediately.

Each chapter is illustrated by a different artist, yet the styles complement each other.

If you haven't read The Graveyard Book yet, I must warn you, the opening scene is gruesome. It opens with a triple homicide. An evil man named Jack has just killed a husband, wife, and their daughter. He is looking for the baby, a little boy.

The graphic novel doesn't flinch in its depiction of the event. It's a bit jarring, in fact.

The baby has climbed out of his crib and toddled out the open door. He wanders to the ancient graveyard-turned-nature preserve. An old ghost couple, Mr. and Mrs. Owens, finds the boy, just before the newly dead mother appears, begging the ghosts to protect him. In the end, the boy is given the freedom of the graveyard. He is named Nobody - Nobody Owens - because he looks like Nobody but himself.

And that is all I shall say. You must read the book for yourself.

We have only read the first volume, so far. It has been a very busy week. I like the adaptation, and it has kept Little Sis's attention, which is difficult at times.

Even though October is coming to an end, we plan to continue with Volume 2. Of course, I've peeked. It isn't like I don't know what's going to happen!

If you love books that give you shivers, be sure to check out Neil Gaiman's All Hallow's Read! Give someone you love a scary book for Halloween. I know I never mind a bookish gift. Check out the recommendations at the website, or click here to see what the girls and I have read for the season over the past three years.

Have a wonderful and safe Halloween, my friends!

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