Monthly Archives: May 2010

We interrupt this program for a cookbook…

I know, I know, this is not a cookbook review blog, this is a kidslit review blog, but I am able to say that Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights has a slim connection to the world of children’s literature, given that Miss Dahl happens to be Sophie Dahl, grand-daughter to the legendary Mr. Roald Dahl. Those who know and love me know that I am a total sucker for a gorgeous cookbook and that I am always ready to expand my embarrassingly extensive collection, especially when the cookbook in question happens to be pink, and also happens to have a wonderfully narrative style.

I bought this book a few weekends back when I was feeling a shade blue. Upon seeing the pinkness of the cover and the beautiful interior photos, I decided that the best remedy for this case of the grumps was reading a cookbook in the tub with a cocktail and a crunchy snack (this is my cure for many ailments, in fact). If you are the type to be seduced by the sort of cookery book (look at me, going all Brit on you) where the writer introduces every recipe with a little anecdote, then you will fall for this collection of recipes in a heartbeat. I love this book for many of the same reasons I enjoy Nigella’s books. Sophie Dahl tells a story through these recipes, she makes food that is simple and satisfying and unpretentious and her prose is a pleasure to read. She doesn’t claim to be an expert. She writes, “I am not an authority on anything much, but I do feel qualified to talk about eating. I’ve done a lot of it.” The book focuses on freshness, and is divided up according to season, with sections in each on Breakfast, Lunch and Supper. Oh, and there is a separate part at the end on Desserts. Just as there should be.

I decided this afternoon on the way home from work that Friday would be much easier to cope with if I made a batch of Sophie’s Swiss Muesli. I ended up having some for a pre-dinner snack. Most yummy. I am thinking that my busy upcoming weekend can be improved with a little Cardamom Rice Pudding. For a glimpse inside the book, head here. To see Miss Dahl making soup, click here.

It doesn’t seem fair that someone can be this pretty, this intelligent and come from the same creative stock as the man who imagined Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but the recipes here are so enticing and Sophie Dahl’s writing style is so winsome that I’m willing to forgive her for her beauty and her talent and her seemingly perfect and blessed life.

And don’t you wonder if it is a coincidence that she is seated on the steps of a gypsy caravan on the cover? Sigh. Memories of Danny the Champion of the World.

This one is destined to become floury and smudgy and to open up automatically to the page for Eton Mess with Rhubarb.

Gimmee – Other Bloggers’ Recent Raves

I have such a stack of books to read that it is wrong, wrong, to be coveting even more books. And yet, I cannot stop myself. It is a problem that I am perpetually wishing for more books. Here are a few links to reviews that really make me want to keep adding to the stack:

The Carrie Diaries – by Candice Bushnell

Why? Because we all want to know Carrie Bradshaw in high school.

Reading Rants says, “I was beaming so broadly when I closed the cover that everyone on the subway must have thought I was nuts.” Read the full review here.

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets – by Danette Haworth

Why? Because it is set in a run-down hotel famous for Blueberry Pancakes.

A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cosy says, “The Summer of Moonlight Secrets is about finding friends, becoming confident in yourself as a person, and figuring out the right thing to do. It is also funny! Allie Jo and Chase share some very corny jokes, and some only work well when read out loud. It took me a while to figure out just what was so funny about cinnamon aluminum linoleum.” Read the full review here.

The Quiet Book – by Deborah Underwood

Why? Because the illustrations are so soft-looking that I’d like to hug this book.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast says, “What Underwood has managed to do in this title, which is stuffed with charm and humor and good cheer, is really tap into the emotions of children. There’s some misbehaving, followed by remorse (”Thinking of a good reason you were drawing on the wall quiet”); some awkwardness and humiliation (”Others telling secrets quiet”); some ungainliness (”Jelly side down quiet,” as a distraught rabbit realizes he’s lost his only chance at his piece of toast); some hushed contemplation (”Don’t scare the robin quiet” and “Best friends don’t need to talk quiet”); and much more.” Read the review and see beautiful artwork here.

Audrey Wait! – by Robin Benway

Why? Because every single thing I’ve heard / read about this book has been positive. So what am I waiting for?

Persnickety Snark says, “This is the debut novel from Robin Benway and I think she really hit the pool with a huge bombs-away. I loved how much life, vitality and kick-ass attitude is embedded in this book. I felt like I was chatting with a girlfriend as it was honestly, a really sparky (for lack of a better word) read.” Read everything here.

The Pickle King – by Rebecca Promitzer

Why? Because there is an eyeball in that pickle jar. Cra-zy-ness.

Chasing Ray says, “I have high hopes for this as my summer “bologna sandwich & potato chips” book – the one you sink into while hanging out in the backyard during one of those long extended days where you have NOTHING to do.” Read her full review here.

Poetry Friday: Parents & their Children

Though I’m not a parent, my job lets me see parents and their children on a daily basis. A day doesn’t pass that I don’t consider the mysterious and complicated and sometimes troubled relationship between parent and child.

This week at the hot docs film festival, I saw a lovely documentary about a parent letting his daughter go off into the world away from him for the first time. It’s called The Kids Grow Up. It was funny and touching and it made me think about how fast time goes, particularly when it comes to childhood. Here’s the trailer:

You must see it if you get the chance. Now here’s a poem about the holding-close of parenting, from a mother to her child:

To a Child
– by Sophie Jewett

The leaves talked in the twilight, dear;
Hearken the tale they told:
How in some far-off place and year,
Before the world grew old,

I was a dreaming forest tree,
You were a wild, sweet bird
Who sheltered at the heart of me
Because the north wind stirred;

How, when the chiding gale was still,
When peace fell soft on fear,
You stayed one golden hour to fill
My dream with singing, dear…

Read the rest here.

Ernest

Catherine Rayner’s moose-ily delightful picture book, Ernest, is all sweetness. It is about Ernest, a rather large moose, who cannot manage to display his whole self on the pages of this book. But he is determined, and he has a chipmunk assistant who keeps him company and comes up with a few ideas to get his big buddy portrayed from top to bottom.

I like the simple style of Rayner’s illustrations, and Ernest’s placid expression as he keeps on trying to get himself in there. It cracks me up that the background on each page has a teeny tiny graph paper design, all the better for measuring a giant-sized moose. The whole book is really a study in less is more, as so much of the tale rests on is the facial expressions of the two friends and their positions on the page. You’ll love the end.

This is the sort of picture book that makes you wonder how long it took the author/illustrator to work out the concept and develop the images. Though it seems simple in concept and design, I’ll bet it took far longer than one might think to make it this perfect.

Lovely indeed.

Ernest is published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

readergirlz May: Lisa Yee & Absolutely Maybe

This month at readergirlz, Lisa Yee is hanging out, chatting about her first YA novel, Absolutely Maybe (isn’t that the cleverest title?) Maybe is about a girl who heads to L.A. to escape some things and to find her dad. It’s funny and it’s got depth, like all of Lisa’s books. Head over to Reading Rants for the best/most enticing review of this book I’ve come across so far.

Lisa will be chatting on Wednesday May 19th at the blog. Join in!