On the blog:
- A celebration of the upcoming Slice of Life Story Challenge
- A curation of some of the best online reading from last week
I listened to Marcus Samuelsson’s memoir, Yes Chef, on audio, read by the author himself, and it’s well worth the listen. Samuelsson has had an incredibly interesting life, and he narrates it beautifully. I loved the Ethiopia connection (like Samuelsson, my son was adopted from Ethiopia), and Samuelsson has really smart things to say about adoption, family, and the loss of culture. He also has really smart things to say about food. There is clearly a strong philosophy of food and cooking behind everything he does, and I was fascinated by his thinking process as he “chases flavors” and builds businesses. The one part of this book where I really struggled was in his descriptions of Zoe, the daughter he didn’t have contact with for the first fourteen years of her life. Samuelsson seems so clear-sighted about himself in every other area, so balanced in his understanding of his strengths and flaws, but there are some definite blinders when it comes to Zoe and his absence from her life. The writing itself is wonderful (not every celebrity memoirist gets to work with a writer as talented as Veronica Chambers!). This book reminded me just how much I love reading about food and cooking.
The Good Life for Less is not the kind of book I usually read. I do read a lot of nonfiction, but not of the how-to variety, and this book is a how-to guide to frugal living. I felt like I got the most out of the first two chapters about budgeting and cutting food expenses (the budget item that busts the budget every single month for me!). In March, I’m planning to try paying for food with cash instead of credit to see if that helps me stick to a budget. There’s a chapter of recipes (most of which didn’t seem very appealing to me) as well as chapters on special occasions and holidays and keeping the house organized and clean.
I read aloud Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem to my Children’s Literature class before showing Mac Barnett’s wonderful TED Talk. I think I enjoy Billy Twitters a little more each time I read it aloud!
Emma Virjan’s What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig is a charming and goofy easy reader. It’s a cumulative story in rhyme–which, for me, means it’s not as engaging for adult readers as Elephant & Piggie or Ballet Cat. I won’t be rushing out to buy the rest of the series for myself. But I will be reading it aloud to my Children’s Lit students and recommending it to all teachers of developing readers.
In Growing Up Pedro, Matt Tavares gives readers another solid picture book sports biography, competently researched, engagingly illustrated, and effectively written. Tavares is always able to find an angle that gives his sports biographies heart: in this case, it’s the relationship between Pedro and his older brother, Ramon.
How Mirka Caught a Fish is the third graphic novel in Barry Deutsch’s Hereville series that blends magic with realistic stories about an Orthodox Jewish girl, Mirka, and her family. The cover caught my son’s eye, and he surprised me by asking me to read it aloud to him at breakfast. It’s the first graphic novel we’ve read aloud together! Of course it would have been much better to start with the first book in the series, but now we’ll just backtrack through Books 1 and 2. Reading the book aloud helped me appreciate just how strong Deutsch’s writing is. We never got confused about the action or who was speaking. Visually very appealing too. I do think the series should be read in order, and the first two books are stronger, plotwise, than this one, but if you’ve read the rest of the series, you’ll also enjoy this one, I think.