Friday Reads

Happy Friday, dear readers! Isn't this picture sad? I took it one week ago today, when Mr. B pulled down our wonderful fairy playhouse. Last Saturday, a guy came out to install the posts for our brand new chain link fence, and the fairy house was in the way. It was also attached to the big tree you see in the photo, which is actually in our neighbor's yard. Big Sis is still in mourning, despite the fact that her daddy has big ideas about how to make an even better fairy playhouse next year. He didn't help by declaring, "Goodbye, Fairy House. Hello, kindling!" Which he meant, by the way.

I don't have as many books to share with you this week. Only one week's worth, as opposed to a month's.

What Little Sis Read

 Once In A Wood: Ten Tales from Aesopadapted and illustrated by Eve Rice. Greenwillow, 1979.

I don't know if she read the entire book, but this is one she worked on with her daddy, earlier in the week. When I asked her about it, she shrugged it off, and the next day, she insisted on reading something else. Even though she picked this one out at the library, I don't think she cared for it.

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Candlewick Press, 2014.

And I picked this one. Score! She loved this book. She had some major giggle fits as we read this one together. I loved Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl, and Little Sis has been watching the four Ever After High episodes on Netflix over and over again, and Hale writes those books. She collaborated on this one with her husband, and the fabulous LeUyen Pham provides the illustrations. Princess Magnolia is having a very proper tea with a very proper but nosy duchess, when she receives a signal on her special ring. She finds an excuse to sneak to her broom closet, when she transforms into The Princess in Black! The Princess in Black is a superhero. Magnolia's pretty unicorn becomes a swift black horse, as she rushes into the countryside to save some goats from a hungry troll. Meanwhile, back at the castle, the nosy duchess is snooping around, trying to find any dirt she can on Princess Magnolia. Very funny, very cute stuff.

What I Read

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, illustrated by Kei Acedera. HarperCollins, 2011.

Okay, the big box bookstore where I worked for 11 years closed at the end of 2011. Sometime during that last year, I got a hold of the most beautifully packaged advanced reader's copy. It came in a lovely cardboard box, like a treasure waiting to be opened. I grabbed it, brought it home, and put it on the shelf with other "big kid books." (Big Sis was only in kindergarten at the time.) So early this week, I finally pulled the book out to read for myself. For all its fine packaging, my copy was definitely an Advanced Reader's Copy, missing some of the artwork, with the rest of the artwork having a sketchy, unfinished quality. But the story itself was wonderful. Liesl is a girl who recently lost her father. Her stepmother wouldn't even let her see him through his final illness, locking her in the attic. Then one night, a ghost and its pet appears to Liesl. The ghost cannot remember if it was male or female, but answers to the name Po. Its pet, Bundle, may have been a dog or a cat - there are no proper forms on the Other Side. Po is able to find her father on the Other Side, though, and with Po's help, Liesl escapes from her attic prison, determined to take her father's ashes home to the tree where her mother is buried. Meanwhile, a boy named Will has accidentally switched a box of powerful magic for a box of someone's ashes, and soon, he finds himself running for his life. I loved this book. I checked it out from the library a day or two later, just to be able to see the final artwork, which is much nicer than the sketches in my ARC. I've told Big Sis she should read it when she finally finishes Doll Bones, which should be soon. (She's already finished Loot at school.)

What I'm Reading Now

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann. Harper, 2014.

Look, Danzel's reading a grown-up book!  (It's been a while.) This is a nonfiction account of the murder of director William Desmond Taylor, in 1922. I love the Silent Era, and books about that time period. Because I'm a silent movie nerd, I already knew quite a bit about the Taylor case, and the suspects and stars mixed up in it. There is a 20-year-old website called Taylorology devoted to it, which was one of the first sites I bookmarked when my family got the internet in 1996. Taylor's murder is still considered an unsolved case, and Mann's book is hardly the first to claim to solve it. I've also read A Cast of Killers by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick, which made the case for a different killer. Mann's book is very novel-like in tone, despite all claims that any dialogue or emotional states are pulled from actual sources. For his Mabel Normand stuff, I noticed he lifts from Betty Fussell's biography quite a bit, which is interesting. I know her grand-nephew, Stephen Normand, disputes much of what was in that book, and has been on a tear lately, trying to restore his aunt's reputation. (I'm a huge Mabel Normand fan, but she did die in 1930, so it isn't like she can tell her own story. Oh, look, I found a review by the person who runs  Anyway, it's been a fast read, so far, and seeing as how it's been a very long time since I read a film history-ish book, I'm having fun with it, although who knows what is or isn't true at this point. I need to get it back to the library soon.

Tonight is the Fall Festival at school. It used to be called the School Carnival, and took place in the spring. Tomorrow morning, we're heading to Oklahoma to visit my mother. It will be a one day trip, and I'm getting an audio book or two for the car ride. Let's talk about that, shall we? As you know, we've been listening to A Series of Unfortunate Events on road trips (checked out from the library), and we love them very much. I've liked many of Daniel Handler/Lemony Snickett's books. So can I just say how truly disappointed I was to read about/watch his stupid watermelon joke at the National Book Awards presentation the other day? Jacqueline Woodson won for Brown Girl Dreaming, and her win has now been overshadowed by an idiotic racist joke. I'm sure he was just trying to be "edgy," but really now. How freakin' uncomfortable.  I thought his apology was rather hollow (a sorry, not sorry sort of thing), but I was glad to read this this morning. Because we do need diverse books. 

Anyway, outside of that, we're planning our little Thanksgiving. Big Sis is still in Nutcracker rehearsals. Little Sis keeps drawing pictures and making us laugh. We need to do a major housecleaning before next Thursday. Such is life.

Merry Weekend! Happy Reading!

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  1. Oh man I've been wanting to read Liesl and Po for ages, you read all the best stuff! I'm still in Emily of New Moon which is FAB. The Tinseltown murder book looks great!! What is Julia reading....not sure, I think a Bone book from the school library :)

    1. Liesl and Po is great! I recommend it to the 3rd graders in our lives. ;)

  2. I want to read Liesl and Po! And the Princess in Black looks great. I remember my dad reading some of Aesop's Fables to me when I was little, he liked them and I didn't! I remember very few, mostly those where terrible things happen and I think I found the rest quite boring. Sorry to hear about Lemony Snicket's joke (by the way I might be dumb, but I don't really get it), and so glad to hear that he made up for it by supporting diverse books. Hope you had a great weekend!

    1. There's a terrible stereotype about African-Americans that has survived since the 1800s involving fried chicken and watermelon. It's one of those things I wouldn't have understood as a kid, and my kids wouldn't understand now, but that's what he was referencing. UGH.

      I highly recommend Liesl and Po and Princess in Black! :)


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