Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sat on the roof and picked at the moss

I need a palate cleanser, don't you? The baby on the slide, the 6-year old runner, and what happened in Blacksburg... oh, man. Today dawned warm and blue, and it's time to talk about celebrity boobs, or things it would be nice to be able to buy, or, or, I don't know... kittens. Or something.

Picture books: Seattle librarian and NPR rock star Nancy Pearl has published a new version of her popular reader advisory guide Book Lust. Called Book Crush, it contains lists of recommended reading for kids and teenagers. Needless to say, Your Neighborhood Librarian ran out and bought it, and, since I am pretty damn geeky even among librarians, I have begun annotating my copy. The margins are filled with miniscule notations of books that Miss Nancy either missed or doesn't like as much as I do, or that came out after the book went to press.

Here are a few:

Not a Box, Antoinette Portis. I like this book because it's one of those empowered-toddler books (like Mo Willems' pigeon books). It's the kid that gets to be the smart one - there's an offstage adult voice saying, "Are you still standing in that box?" and the kid, who is actually standing in a rocket ship, has to explain over and over that "It's NOT a BOX." Plus the book is styled like a box, with a rough brown cover and red ink indicating "This side up" and "Net wt. 11.5 oz."

Adele and Simon by Barbara McClintock. I wouldn't have given a damn whether or not my kids liked this book, which tracks big sister Adele and her careless little brother Simon as they journey home from school in late 19th century Paris, passing through the Paleontology Museum, the Louvre, etc. The illustrations are lovely and witty and detailed, and I just eat that stuff up. But part of the fun of this book is finding the items that Simon drops, and then retracing their path through the neighborhoods, and my kids did like it.

The Worm Family by Tony Johnston. They say things like, "We're Worm and we're proud!" and "Oh joy! We're worms!" Ordinarily this kind of 'up with people' stuff gives me hives, but I love this one. Probably because they're loud and the neighbors don't like them.

Bark, George! by Jules Feiffer. This is the first joke a little kid gets. George is a puppy who doesn't bark. Mom takes him to the vet. The vet asks George to bark, and George says, "Meow," whereupon the vet straps on a rubber glove and pulls a kitty out of George's mouth. Tells George to bark again, George quacks. Duck comes out. By the time the cow comes out, the mommy dog has passed out and the kid is in hysterics. I love the moment that the kid gets the joke. It's like this milestone welcome to our world moment.

The fox went out on a chilly night, Peter Spier. Peter Spier is Dutch, and so he traveled to New England and made millions of sketches before inking the illustrations for this adaptation of a traditional song. Pay no attention to the bloodthirsty shenanigans of the fox and the townspeople who are after him with guns, and drink in the beautiful details of a moonlit night in colonial New England. Plus the song is fun to sing.

Once upon a banana by Jennifer Armstrong. This largely wordless book tracks a Rube-Goldberg series of street catastrophes (slips, trips, skateboard mishaps) that are initiated and foreshadowed by street signs. God that makes it sound awful. But it's great. There's a monkey, and a garbage truck, and really that's enough to make a funny book.

Maxwell's Mountain by Shari Becker. Maxwell is a COC (Cherished Only Child) who wants to climb the big mountain beyond the playground. His parents think it's a bit beyond his grasp, but with careful preparation and planning, he achieves his goal. Maxwell is charming and stubborn, and the book details his preparation like a how-to manual. I love this book because it goes beyond that chirpy, "If you believe in yourself, you can do ANYthing!" and shows how a kid moves beyond his belief and takes action.

On a grownup level, may I recommend the useful web-based LibraryThing for keeping track of what you've read and what you want to read. That's the widget for it over there on the left right.

And hey! Movies! Movies are good for taking your mind off the news: we watched Happy Feet last night with the neighbors and their kids. The kids were laughing their heads off the whole time ("Dat penguin just called dat seal 'rubber butt'! Haw haw haw!") and we adults kept getting startled by the musical selections. I'm telling you, a huge choir of penguins singing Queen's Somebody to Love to the Northern Lights - I wish Freddie had lived long enough to see it.

Then Bob and I stayed up and watched Friends With Money. Eh. It sure is nice to see a movie that features actual natural-sounding dialogue (and Joan Cusack) (and Frances McDormand, you know she's my role model), but you know, Bobby and me, we likey the big splosions an stuff. Tonight we got an Almodovar movie, maybe somebody will get slapped at least.

Other things worth thinking about:

Who in Hollywood ever thought David Boreanaz was a big ol dreamboat?

Why aren't there more restaurants with outdoor decks on the water in this town?

Who plants barberry and why?

fuckin' ouch

Will you give me a massage?