Act Three: Frank McCourt

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt author of Angela's Ashes passed away today.
He said once: "F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives. I think I've proven him wrong, and all because I refused to settle for a one-act existence, the 30 years I taught English in various New York City high schools."

I want to go a step further and challenge that, I think for some people you don't get one or two acts but three. the first act is the path you begin on mostly whatever path your station and family have put you on, then act two begins at the point in your life when you take charge and become who you want to be and act three is not death but what happens after. I don't mean spiritually I mean here on Earth, how you are remembered and the mystery of how your memory changes over time. Frank McCourt will have a long third act.

I read Angela's Ashes for fun but they read it in a lot of schools now, as they should. It is an amazing book, It sounds cliche but I laughed out loud and I cried real tears when I read that book. Definitely a book you should make time to read.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - Parents July issue
Book - Poemcrazy

Thomas The Tank Engine LIVE!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

That's right we went to see Thomas the Tank Engine live and in person. It was great, I loved it and so did the little guy. I wasn't sure how he would handle it since this is the first time I have ever taken him to anything like this but he was very well behaved and out seats were wonderful. We were in the first row of the lower balcony so there wasn't anyone in front of us, perfect.
We are big fans of the DVD's and the books so when we were given the opportunity to see the live show we couldn't pass it up. Coming from a theater background I was very impressed with the way they maneuvered all those motorized train engines on that stage without a single bump (at least as far as I could tell). I am so glad that I took my little man to see this show, I used to think these live kids shows were a bunch of hooey, but that isn't true at all. They are full on theatrical productions and if used properly these early experiences with live theater and parlay into a life long love of theater. I am hoping to expose my little guy to enough live productions that he appreciates the live experience and how it can be as much or more rewarding than sitting in front of a TV screen. Shows like this wonderful Thomas show can put him on the right path for just that. Plus this show was great because it was a musical. When do people start hating the musical? Kids sure love them, every kid in the arena was totally engaged in every song. See if Thomas and Friends a Circus Comes to Town is coming to a town near you by visiting this website. If they are you should definitely go and see it.

Book Review - Too Many People for One Little House

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I recently received Too Many Visitors For One Little House written by Susan Chodakiewitz and illustrated by Veronica Walsh for review.

I have one thing to say about this book by way of a review. I have received a few children's books for review in my time and this is the first one my son, who is two and a half, has liked. Sure, it's important for the parents to appreciate the books that they read to their children but the bottom line is, if the child doesn't enjoy it then it might as well stay on the bookstore shelf and not on your bookshelf at home.

When a new family moves in on El Camino Street the crabby neighbors are not very happy. They don't like pets, they don't like kids and they don't like big families. So, when cousins, aunts, uncles, and grannies arrive for a big noisy reunion at the new family's house the neighbors are just beside themselves until the family invites them to join the party. All it takes is a simple invitation for the fussy neighbors to change their tune, finally they decide there are NEVER too many visitor for one little house.

My son sat through this book the first time I read it to him, he was interested from the first page actually he was interested from the moment he saw the front cover when I removed it from the envelope in which it arrived. Even though he had never heard the story before, he was drawn in by the colorful illustrations eagerly pointing out the dog who stops by the little house following the sent of good food and the guitar played by one of the teenage cousins. About five minutes after setting Too Many Visitors For One Little House on top of the bookshelf after our first read my son came running out of his bedroom waving the book in his hand and asking me to read it again.

It's a wonderful, warm, family story and my son absolutely loves it, there is nothing more to say.

About The Author:
Susan Chodakiewitz is a writer, composer and producer. She is the founder of Booksicals Children’s Books- Encouraging the love of reading through the arts. She lives in Los Angeles in a lively household filled with music, three sons, a husband, a Dalmatian and lots of visitors. Susan loves picture books and she wrote a musical based on one of her favorites. She realized it was time to start writing her own picture books. Too Many Visitors for One Little House is Susan’s debut book. If you happen to see Susan sitting in the children’s section of the library reading picture books with a big smile on her face, do say hello.

With a sense of humor and identification to the characters,Veronica Walsh created the illustrations for Too Many Visitors for One Little House. Veronica studied art and design at California State University, Long Beach, and worked as a graphic designer for many years. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three cats.

The Particulars:
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (February 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1419654705
ISBN-13: 978-1419654701

More information on this book and other projects by this meet visit Booksicals.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

File Readercon under places I wish I were right now.something I wish I were doing right now.

From the Readercon website:

Readercon is, depending on your point of view, either an annual literary conference (except it's infinitely more fun than that) or an annual science fiction convention (except we've stripped away virtually everything except talking about and buying books). In the course of its twenty years, it has become the standard bearer and role model for conventions that focus on the literature. A typical Readercon features well over 100 writers, editors, and critics (attracting prominent figures from Canada, the U.K., and occasionally even Australia) and more than 400 of their readers. Readercon is the only small convention regularly attended by such giants of literary sf as Samuel R. Delany, John Crowley, Barry N. Malzberg, and Jonathan Lethem.

It is running from July 9th to the 12th this year, I know a few people who are going and it sounds like fun.

My favorite Book Trailer So far

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This one makes me want more, and that means it did a good job.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - Budget Travel July issue
Book - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Audio - Touch and Go

Book Review - Every Day Deserves a Chance by Max Lucado

Monday, July 6, 2009

When I finished Every Day Deserves a Chance: Wake Up to the Gift of 24 Hours
by Max Lucado I made tweeted this:

It is amazing how Christianity when done unselfishly and without bigotry has so much in common with other world religions

and I am sticking by that review. When I picked up this audio book in Florida for my drive home a few days ago I knew Max Lucado was a religious author but I didn't know to what extent and when he started spouting off Bible verses after just a few minutes of listening I wasn't sure I would make it through the whole thing. I respect all religions and are genuinely interested in how they work and what the people on the ground actually believe but I do not like to be preached to, I have spent my days in the pews of a church and have had my share of blind following, as an adult I will have no more of that. I was pleasantly surprised however to find that although Lucado was using Bible verses to back up his ideas his ideas weren't narrow minded or derogatory.
The message in Every Day Deserves a Chance is smart, uplifting and realistic. People do not wake up with a smile on their face they wake up and decide to smile. Max Lucado presents the case that we should decide to smile because God made this wonderful world to live in and gave us each the opportunity to make that choice in the first place. This is by far the best openly Christian book I have ever read, if all Christians acted the way this book suggests the world would be a better place.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - July Budget Travel
Book - Too Many Visitors For One Little House
Audio - Touch and Go: A Memoir

Book Review - The Adventures of Snip in Oregon

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Adventures of Snip in Oregon by Betty S. Moir with illustrations by Yumi V. Vong is full of potential. This is the product description from Amazon:

"The Adventures of Snip in Oregon recounts the tale of a lovable shaggy dog as he wanders into the hearts of the Moir Family and their daily lives in the peaceful countryside. Betty S. Moir paints a colorful portrait of "home life" in the Northwest during the 70's in these first five chapters introducing Snip."

As I read these stories all featuring Snip, a dog obviously loved deeply by his family, I picture myself on a porch listening to a grandmother tell me tales of a former life when her own children were small and the days were filled with chores around the farm. Unfortunately, I am not on that porch, I am sitting in my own living room trying desperately to read through the grammar mistakes and general non congruence of each chapter.
It is clear that the author has very fond memories of her family and the time they spent on their almost 9 acre farm in Oregon. The author has trouble separating herself from the characters in her book no matter how hard she tries. Throughout the book she refers to herself as the Mom character flowing freely in and out of first person narrative in one paragraph she says

The bark aroused the whole family, Father, Jim, Heather and Mom continued watching...

One paragraph later she says:

I was sure our nearest neighbor who lived over half a mile away could hear all the goings-on!

Seemingly referring to the same person, this happens again and again.
Another blatantly obvious example of the authors attempt to blend her real live past with some level of fiction is in the illustrations. Vong's simple but descriptive drawings and watercolors are scattered throughout the book along with photographs of Mior's family that look as though they were fished out of a shoebox. The connection between these stories and the author are understood but the photographs do nothing to add to Snip's Adventures. I would much rather see more page adornments by Vong.

I am sure these stories are fun and exciting tales when told face-to-face by someone who lived them but to turning them into a book that is expected to engage complete strangers takes a little more work. The potential is there in each chapter but The Adventures of Snip in Oregon just doesn't pull it together.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - The article on Billy Mayes in Playboy July/August issue
Book - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery
Audio - Touch and Go: A Memoir

Book Trailer - . Being a Pig Is Nice A Child's-Eye View of Manners

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I did not even know they made trailers for books but now that I do I will be sharing them here with you. Being a Pig Is Nice: A Child's-Eye View of Manners, I love the idea of this book. It is a great way to introduce manners at a young age in a cute way that is understandable by the very young.

Currently "Reading":
Magazine - Playboy July/August Issue
Book - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery
Audio - Touch and Go: A Memoir

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