One-Minute Book Reviews

October 26, 2008

Late Night With Jan Harayda – Literary Halloween Costumes for Children

Bandicoot-Lapin Lancelot

Not long ago the New York Times ran a story that described a $156 French-made Lancelot costume that you could buy for a baby and hang as a decoration until a future Halloween. My first reaction to the article was: A three-figure outfit for trick-or-treating? During a worldwide financial crisis? The idea might make some people want to impale the author of the Times story on Excalibur.

Then I started thinking about what children tend to own instead: superhero gear. Some parents clearly have spent far more than $156 on, say, Spider-man toys, games, sheets, pillowcases, T-shirts and more. And didn’t the greatest Knight of the Round Table en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancelot deserve as much respect as Spidey? Something to think about, isn’t it? The costumes are made by Banticoot-Lapin web.tiscali.it/bandicootlapinparis/english/indexuk.htm and sold at John Derian in New York (which inexplicably has mislabed Lancelot’s hood and suit as a Camen outfit on its site www.johnderian.com/index_home.html). Bandicoot-Lapin makes more than a dozen other costumes based on fairy-tale or mythological characters, so its site could inspire your homemade literary costumes, too.

© 2008 Janice Harayda All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

March 2, 2008

Diary: David Brooks’s ‘On Paradise Drive’

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Looking in on price clubs where the shopping carts are so big, they practically need airbags

Is David Brooks miscast as a political columnist? Since 2003 he’s been the embedded conservative on the op-ed page of the New York Times. But his books often give the impression that he’d rather be Dave Barry than William Safire. He says this about price clubs in On Paradise Drive (Simon & Schuster, 2004), the sequel to his Bobos in Paradise:

“ … what’s truly amazing is that wherever you go in a price club, everybody in every aisle is having the same conversation, which is about how much they are saving by buying in bulk. Sometimes you overhear ‘If you use a lot, it really does pay’ or ‘They never go bad, so you can keep them forever’ or ‘It’s nice to have 15,000 Popsicles, since someday we plan on having kids anyway …” All the people in the aisles feel such profound satisfaction over their good deals that they pile the stuff into their shopping carts – which are practically the size of 18-wheelers, with safety airbags for the drivers – so that by the time they head toward the checkout, they look like the supply lines for the Allied invasion of Normandy.”

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

December 15, 2007

Good Gift Books for Children and Teenagers — What to Wrap Up for Everyone From Babies and Toddlers Through College-Bound High School Students

Season’s readings for ages 1-to-16 and up

Source: http://www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com

New books don’t always make the best gifts for children and teenagers. These suggestions include 2007 books and classics that young readers have enjoyed for years or generations

By Janice Harayda

Ages 1–2
Nobody does board books better than Helen Oxenbury, who has twice won the Kate Greenaway Medal, Britain’s equivalent of the Caldecott. Oxenbury’s great gift is her ability to create faces that are simple yet expressive and never dull or cloying, which is just what young children need. You see her skill clearly in her engaging series of board books about babies at play, which includes Clap Hands, All Fall Down, Say Goodnight and Tickle, Tickle. (Simon & Schuster, about $6.99 each) www.simonsayskids.com. Any infant or toddler would be lucky to have one of these as a first book.

Ages 3–5
Children’s poet Jack Prelutsky pays homage to Lewis Carroll’s “The Crocodile” in Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant: And Other Poems (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, 32 pp., $16.99, 3 and up) www.jackprelutsky.com, a collection of brief rhyming poems about imaginary animals. But this picture book stands on its own with amusing poems about fanciful creatures such as an “umbrellaphant” (an elephant with an umbrella for a trunk) and sparkling illustrations by Carin Berger.

Ages 6–8
Elizabeth Matthews makes a stylish debut in Different Like Coco (Candlewick, 40 pp., $16.99, ages 6–8) www.candlewick.com, a witty and spirited picture-book biography of Coco Chanel. Matthews focuses on the early years of the designer who learned to sew at a convent school, then revolutionized 20th century fashion with clothes that reflected and fostered the emancipation of women. The result makes clear that Chanel owed her success not just to hard work but to boldness and staying true to herself and her artistic vision.

Ages 9–12
Brian Selznick has had one of the year’s biggest hits for tweens of both sexes in The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures (Scholastic, 533 pp., $22.99) www.scholastic.com, a cross between a picture book and a chapter book. Selznick’s novel involves a 12-year-old orphan and thief who lives in a Paris train station and, in the days of silent movies, tries to complete work on a mechanical man started by his father. The beautiful packaging of this book helps to offset the so-so writing and unresolved moral issues it raises (including that Hugo rationalizes his thievery and mostly gets away with it) www.theinventionofhugocabret.com.

Ages 13-15
Three-time Caldecott Medal winner David Wiesner says in The Art of Reading (Dutton, $19.99) that as teenager he was captivated by Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (Roc, $7.99, paperback) us.penguingroup.com. And that modern classic might still delight a teenager who likes science fiction (with or without a companion gift of the Stanley Kubrick’s great movie version). Or consider Mindy Schneider’s Not a Happy Camper (Grove, $24) www.not-a-happy-camper.com, an adult book being cross-marketed to teens. Schneider remembers her eight weeks at an off-the-wall kosher summer camp at the age of 13 in this light and lively memoir. (Sample experience: A bunkhouse burned down when a group of boys put candles under their beds to see if they could warm them up by nightfall.) This book is about wanting to fit in and never quite achieving it — in others, about the essence of being a teenager.

Ages 16 and up
Finally, a book for the college-bound, especially for the sort of high school student who might like to join a sorority or other all-female group: Marjorie Hart’s charming Summer at Tiffany (Morrow, $14.94) www.harpercollins.com, a book for adults that many teenagers might also enjoy. In this warm and upbeat memoir, Hart looks back on the summer of 1945, when she and a sorority sister at the University of Iowa became the first female pages at Tiffany’s, the Fifth Avenue jewelry store. They arrived just in time to watch the city erupt with joy when the Japanese surrender ended World War II and to have a much larger experience than they had expected. Hart’s account of all of it has none of the cynicism that infects so many books for teenagers, and that’s partly what makes it so refreshing.

Reviews of books for children or teenagers appear every Saturday on One-Minute Book Reviews. You can read others by clicking on the “Children’s Books” and “Young Adult” categories under the “Top Posts” list at right.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

 

December 13, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Sterling Silver ‘Cat in the Hat’ and Beatrix Potter Ornaments From Hand & Hammer

[This week I'm running extra posts, in addition to reviews, on suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from the sellers. These are just gifts I like. Museums sell these ornaments, but I couldn't find any in the U.S. that had them in stock, so I'm listing other suppliers.]

My favorite Christmas decorations include these sterling silver Cat in the Hat and Peter Rabbit ornaments. Each is part of a series with scenes or characters from books by Dr. Seuss or Beatrix Potter (also available as charms and, in some cases, brooches). I first saw the Peter Rabbit ornaments in the gift shop at Hilltop, Potter’s home in the English Lake District, part of the Britain’s National Trust. In the U.S., you can order them for about $45 each from the venerable Hand & Hammer Silversmiths www.handandhammer.com, which also has the Seuss ornaments. This venerable Virginia company has made presentation silver for every president since John F.Kennedy, who received copies of Paul Revere’s lanterns for the Oval Office. I’ve ordered from its vast selection of sterling silver ornaments without problems. If you’re interested in a Seuss ornament, you might also try Seussland www.seussland.com, which has a good selection.

The ornaments shown are “The Cat in the Hat,” left, and “Mrs.Rabbit and Her children,” right, both from the Hand & Hammer Silversmiths online catalog.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

December 12, 2007

Gifts for Readers – Pillow With Thomas Jefferson Quote ‘I Cannot Live Without Books’ From the Library of Congress Shop

[This week I’m tossing in extra posts, in addition to the usual reviews, on suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from sellers. These are just gifts I like and will help to support libraries or other friends of books.]

Know someone who defines the necessities of life as “food, clothing, shelter and books”? Here’s a possible gift: a small pillow that shows a comment Thomas Jefferson made to his friend John Adams in 1815: “I cannot live without books.” (A few books stand to the right of the legend.) The pillow is a 12” x 14” cotton-and-polyester blend that sells for $34 the Library of Congress Shop www.loc.gov/shop/. I can’t link directly to the picture in its online catalog, but you can find it by clicking on the “Home Accessories” page or searching for “pillow” on the site. The catalog says the pillow is navy blue, though it looks burgundy, and usually ships in 3–4 business days. The shop also sells mugs, T-shirts and tote bags with the quote. The Library of Congress has more than 3,000 books from the collection of the third president.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

December 11, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Hobbit Poster From the Bodleian Library at Oxford

[I’m tossing in a few extra posts this week with suggested gifts for readers. Again, no kickbacks from their sellers. These are just gifts that I like and help to support libraries or other friends of books. Today’s review appears in the post below this one.]

Most book posters are artless enough to appeal only to fans of the titles they promote. Not this handsome poster published by the Bodleian Library at Oxford University for an exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit in 1987. The poster shows one of Tolkien’s drawings for the first edition of the novel, depicting the scene “Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves.” It has the dates of the exhibit and sells for 5.95 pounds (about $12) at Bodleian Library Shop Online shop.bodley.ox.ac.uk/acatalog/index.html. The shop has other Hobbit posters and literary gifts, including cards imprinted with quotations from Shakespeare or reproductions of the covers of Victorian gardening books owned by the library. A related gift: The Hobbit: 70th Anniversary Edition (Houghton Mifflin, $25) www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com, just published in the U.S., which has Tolkien’s original drawings and an introduction by Christopher Tolkien.

Drawing: (c) The Trustees of the Tolkien Estate 2005.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

December 10, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Men’s Tie With a Book Design From the Los Angeles Public Library

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[I’m tossing in a few extra posts this week with suggested gifts for readers. Again, no kickbacks from their sellers. These are just gifts that I like and help to support libraries or other friends of books. Today’s review appears in the post below this one.]

Men’s club ties can get kitschy, but the book design on this one is as discreet as you would expect from a library. It’s 100 percent silk, designed by the architect-turned-art-director Josh Bach and sells for $38 at the online Library Store at the Los Angeles Public Library www.lfla.org/cgi-bin/store/0943.htm. And it might delight that teacher, tutor, librarian or parent who’s always encouraging children to read. The Josh Bach Book Tie will allow a man to keep books – literally as well as figuratively – close to his heart.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

December 9, 2007

Gifts for Readers – ‘The Reading Woman Boxed Notecards’ Set From the New York Public Library Gift Shop

Filed under: Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:38 pm
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[I’m going to toss in a few extra posts this week, in addition the usual reviews, with suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from the sellers. These are just gifts that I like and will help to support libraries or other friends of books. Jan]

Want to say thank-you to that hostess who always bakes her famous Irish Coffee Cheesecake for book-club meetings instead of picking up few packages of Milanos like everybody else? Consider giving her “The Reading Woman Boxed Notecards” set, which costs $14.95 at the online Library Shop at the New York Public Library www.libraryshop.org/notstat.html. It has twenty 5” x 7” blank notecards with five copies of each of four paintings of a woman reading, one of which you see here. The deadline for UPS ground shipments is Thursday, Dec. 13, but you might find the cards at another library or museum shop with a looser time frame.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

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