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Must Read ’ Category
Friday, October 25th, 2013
If you’ve ever wondered where Fairy Godmothers come from, twin sisters Heather Fujikawa and Heidi Andrews are here to answer all of your questions. They’ve created a new children’s book series, Fairy Birds: Fairy Godmothers in Training. The book is adorbs. Your kids will love it, and you will appreciate the message, too. The twins explain it all in their essay below.
Thanks Heather and Heidi!
“What do you do when Nordstrom wants you to expand your fashion accessories brand into a clothing line and MTV calls you to meet for a potential TV opportunity all in one week? You decide to do neither and write a children’s book, of course. Well, that’s what we did anyway.
Over three years ago we made up our minds to create something that could encourage internal beauty instead of external beauty. The question that came to mind was ‘Where do Fairy Godmothers Come From?’ and we decided to answer it in an illustrated children’s book series called Fairy Birds: Fairy Godmothers in Training. Our goal is to teach children about positive attributes like giving, loving, and kindness. That stuff is true beauty.
In our six-book series, little Fairy Birds go to Fairy Godmother School to learn the secrets of how to become a Fairy Godmother. Each time the young Fairy Birds learn a quality of a Fairy Godmother, they grow a colorful feather. Lesson upon lesson, feather after feather, the little Fairy Birds’ wishes come true.
In the first book that just launched, the Fairy Birds go on a soaring adventure to grow their first colorful feather, the pink “Givie” feather that flourishes when they give to others. The book is full of infectious illustrations, delightful color, fashionable characters and a solid message—to just give a little–that we hope captivates children everywhere.
Our goal is to inspire little readers to not only read the message of the book but to run with it. At the end of each one is a package of Givie Heart confetti that the reader can sprinkle every time they give. These Givie Hearts have been seen sprinkled on a homemade card for a parent, sprinkled on a tea party created for a friend and sprinkled as a walking path to help a baby brother learn how to walk. We’ve had plenty of guinea pig readers join in on small acts of kindness from California to Texas and Paris to Italy.
We hope from the first book of the series that children get inspired to give and that they find out just how fun it is to do small acts of kindness in and around their own homes and communities.
Check out our Fairy Birds website to play with interactive ways to give with DIY giving blog posts and short giving videos. Real life Fairy Birds can make a difference. See what we’re talking about. Check out our video after the jump.”
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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
After I read Stephen King’s glowing review of the hotly anticipated new book, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, I was dying to get my hands on the thing. I bought it when it came out yesterday.
But then I read this ridiculously pompous story about book and author in the New York Times. Let me quote a few lines:
1. “Donna Tartt is the kind of writer who makes other writers, in the words of her fellow Southerner Scarlett O’Hara, pea green with envy.”
2. “She is so thoroughly well read that she is known to quote entire poems and passages from French novels at length in her slight Mississippi twang. In photos, she projects a ghostly mystery, her porcelain skin and black bob suggesting a cross between Anna Wintour and Oscar Wilde. ”
Pretentious literary articles like this make me barf in my mouth, crawl into the crate with my dog and not want to touch the book in the center of the hype. I don’t want that kind of arrogance to rub off on me. What I took from this piece is that Donna Tartt is better than the rest of us, and I doubt that’s the image she wishes to project. The writer is tooting her own ‘look-at-me-I’m-writing-for-the-New-York-Times” horn by writing ridiculous sentences that are completely unrelatable and totally unlikeable. The reporter must look in the mirror and believe the literati is staring back at her.
Maybe The Goldfinch really is that good. But right now, I’m turned off. I’ve tried to figure out what it’s about from various sources, but it sounds like Little Orphan Annie with some death and thrills. Here is the description of The Goldfinch from Amazon:
“It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. ”
Effusive, overindulgent writing about writing just gets to me. But don’t get me wrong. Of course, I downloaded this book on Audible. (Audible rocks for busy moms.) When I write about the novel soon, I promise not to mention anything about lengthy French novels or Anna Wintour.
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Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
You need Pilates! Wait, maybe that’s me I’m talking about. Anyway, Pilates celebrity expert Brooke Siler just came out with a hiptastic new book that will get you moving and toning in no time. I’ll just cut to the chase: The Women’s Health Big Book of Pilates is awesome. It has great moves and pretty pictures. Just flipping through it makes me feel automatically healthier. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Brooke Siler told me about her latest project. And check out her workout move photo at the end.
KK: How can a new mom (assuming she’s physically ready) make time to work out?
BS: Creating a Pilates home practice is a great way for a new mom to get started and since most Pilates matwork is done low to the ground, there are plenty of ways to stay close to baby during the routine. And since Pilates is about sound body mechanics, its principles can be practiced throughout the day simply by becoming aware of how you are sitting, standing, walking, etc.
KK: Can you suggest a new mom sequence or Pilates move to get started?
BS: Pelvic Lift! See below.
KK: How much time will it take every day to get back into a routine?
BS: Allowing yourself 20 to 30 minutes a day to get down on the mat and just move well is a great habit to get into. If you can change your thinking from “ugh, I have to workout” to “it feels great to move my body” a lot of the negative exercise connotation can be tossed out. In the end, the positions and habits developed in taking care of baby (carrying baby on one hip, poor posture during breast-feeding, increased bouts of sitting, etc) can all take a rough toll on your body. By allowing yourself time to undo the damage of these habits you can create a routine of self-care that might just last a lifetime.
KK: Why is Pilates so good for moms who’ve recently had babies?
BK: Besides the benefits of Pilates being non-impact and ab-centric, my teacher Romana liked to say that Pilates was about fighting gravity because we are always drawing our musculature “In and Up”. Pregnancy and birth are very gravity-heavy events in that everything is moving downward in order to accommodate the process. By employing Pilates moves and methodology new moms can work to bring everything back up to where they belong.
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Thursday, October 17th, 2013
I love the National Book Awards. They always give me great ideas for what to read next. I’m just bummed that two of my favorite young adult books on the longlist (that was new this year) didn’t make the shortlist! You simply must read Flora and Ulysses to your kids and Two Boys Kissing for you!
In the meantime, check out the NBA picks and stay tuned for the winners which will be announced Nov. 20.
Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA)
Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)
George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House)
- Tom Drury, Pacific (Grove Press)
- Elizabeth Graver, The End of the Point (Harper/HarperCollinsPublishers)
- Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth/Random House)
- Alice McDermott, Someone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Joan Silber, Fools (W.W. Norton & Company)
Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group USA)
Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)
- Kate DiCamillo, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Candlewick Press)
- Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots (Philomel, A division of Penguin Group USA)
- Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
- David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing (Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House)
- Anne Ursu, The Real Boy (Walden Pond Press/an Imprint HarperCollinsPublishers)
Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (W.W. Norton & Company)
Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
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- T.D. Allman, Finding Florida: The True Story of the Sunshine State (Atlantic Monthly Press)
- Gretel Ehrlich, Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami (Pantheon Book/Random House)
- Scott C. Johnson, The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son, and the CIA (W.W. Norton & Company)
- James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865
(W.W. Norton & Company)
- Terry Teachout, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington (Gotham Books)
Flora and Ulysses, National Book Awards, The Flamethrowers, The Good Lord Bird, The Lowland, Two Boys Kissing | Categories:
Best Of Lists, Best Sellers, Children's Books, Fiction, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Popular Books
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Author Ellen Stimson‘s memoir Mud Season recently hit shelves. It’s about her family’s move to gorgeous, rural Vermont after one magical vacation. Things pretty much go south from there in her witty and bittersweet book.
Ellen had a lot of ideas about parenthood that went south, and she shares them with us in this most excellent essay below. Find out what happens when well-meaning pacifist, gender-neutral parents come to blows with their feisty kids’ personalities. Would you let your kid have a Barbie? A toy gun? They didn’t think so until…
Parenting 101 by Ellen Stimson
“When our kids were little we had very definite ideas about what their raising was going to look like. There would be no gender biases in our toy purchases for one thing. We were not going to fall into the truck and gun or pink and purple trap. Our house would be free of the stereotyping messages that our culture bombards little boys and girls with on TV and on the playground. Our house would be a gender-neutral zone, where preferences and natural identity were respected and exploration of biases examined. Multiculturalism would be taught and thoughtful discourse would be encouraged. This was the way we made our way in the world, and it was the way we would raise our children, by golly.
We had spent lots of time thinking about these issues and planning our parenting styles. Our ideas had been long-considered, and we were going to wind up with balanced kids who treated everyone they met with kindness, dignity and respect. They would not be bound by society’s notions of male and female. Their lives would be fuller and richer as a result. I’m sure we saw them bringing peace to the Middle East and curing cancer while they were at it.
In the whole nature versus nurture debate we fell squarely on the nurture side. We figured if parents would just provide loving experiences and offer up ideas at the supper table, kids would gravitate toward tolerance. What debate? We had this whole thing figured out. Only then, we actually met the kids. We had forgotten that they might come to the party with their own ideas. (more…)
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