Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Edgar Allan Poe's Pie by Patrick Lewis

Over the summer, how does a parent keep kids reading, improve math skills, and have fun all at the same time?  One suggestion is the new children’s book, Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: math puzzlers in classic poems by Patrick Lewis.  As the subtitle suggests, the author has taken classic poems and reworked them into math puzzlers.  The illustrations in the book, by Michael Slack, are wonderful and filled with clever details. This book is entertaining, funny, and a challenge.

Some of the reworked classic poems include, "the Raven", by Edgar Allen Poe; Robert Frost’s "Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening" becomes "Robert Frost’s Boxer Shorts"; and “The Termite” by Ogden Nash is the inspiration for “Ogden Nash’s buggy rugs.”

It’s a bit hard to get your head around this book, so the best thing I can do is give you an example.  I chose a short one, “Edward Lear’s Elephant with hot dog.  It was inspired by “There was an old man with a beard” by Edward Lear.

When an elephant sat down to order
A half of a third of a quarter
Of an eighty-foot bun
And a frankfurter, son,
Was it longer than three feet, or shorter?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dear Photograph by Taylor Jones

Every family has them: old photographs.  These contain our memories, and we can’t bear to part with them.

Taylor Jones has authored a new book, Dear Photograph, and it is a photography book like no other.  Taylor Jones conceived of the idea when he took an old photograph, held it up against the place where it was originally shot and took another picture.  After repeating this with several other pictures, he began a blog.  Each blog posting includes a caption that begins with “Dear Photograph”.   In a very short time a worldwide phenomenon was born and millions of submissions came from all over the world.  A number of these photographs are found in this book.  Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, but all are poignant.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case, a picture in a picture with an accompanying caption can express more than an entire volume of words.  This book will have you running for your old photo albums.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rather Outspoken by Dan Rather

I am doing something I don’t like doing … talk about a book I haven’t read, and don’t have in front of me.  The reason is, the book is out, and proving very popular, and my name hasn’t come up for it yet.  But, I’m not letting that stop me from telling you about an important new book, so here goes.  What I’m telling you is based on radio and television interviews with the author.

Dan Rather has been a fixture on television news longer than most of us can remember.  In his new book, Rather Outspoken, Dan Rather describes some of his experiences covering the most important news stories of the last half of the twentieth century, from the assassination of President Kennedy, the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the downfall of Richard Nixon, the Gulf War, the Bush presidencies and much more.  As you might guess, he also discusses how reporting the news has changed from the emergence of the television age to instantaneous coverage today.  He examines the role of corporations (and his participation) in the trivialization of the news in today’s world.

What came across in the interviews with Dan Rather, and I’m sure the book is no different, are his wealth of experience, his deep sense of honour, and most of all, his passion for the news.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Family Farm in Tuscany by Sarah Fioroni

This week I’ve turned to a new best-seller that is plain and simply, a feel-good book.  A Family Farm in Tuscany by Sarah Fioroni is a feast for the senses.  It is absolutely gorgeous to look through, regardless of how much of it you actually read.  This book is like listening to a friend tell you about a vacation spent with the locals in this enchanting part of Italy.

At first glance one notices the recipes, but it is much more.  This book has the feeling of a scrapbook, or a diary, and the sections are divided into months of the year.  Each month has family stories, and photographs of the countryside and its residents.  The surprising thing I found was how the recipes are presented.  I expected them to contain ingredients I had never heard of, and be very complicated to prepare; but they don’t seem so at all.  Most of the ingredients are common in our grocery stores and the instructions are easy to follow.  I find myself reading the recipe names over and over, and imagining what they must sound like when an Italian reads those very words.

This book will make you want to learn Italian, and travel to Italy.