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Archive for February, 2012

Our town, Norwich, Vermont – home to 3,400 hearty souls- has a great many things to recommend it. Chief among them is our superb library, full of well-chosen titles, as well as some interesting, little recognized historical buildings.  On March 4th, 2012  these will all be celebrated with a tribute to Dr. Seuss.  Yes, Dr. Seuss is uniting books, libraries and historical preservation.

But how? You mean you didn’t know? As Dr. Seuss says, “You’ll miss the best things if you have your eyes shut!” So open them up wide and come to Seusstival - a Dr. Seuss read-a-thon combined with a children’s production (kids over age 8 need not apply) of The Lorax- being held on Sunday, March 4 at Tracy Hall.  Seussian readers include Norwich’s own Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Kearney , our town’s volunteer fire fighters, police chief Doug Robinson, and Tracy Smith, art teacher extraordinaire, who will be retiring in June after 25 years of working with our elementary school students. What a special afternoon! From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!

All proceeds from this event will benefit the Norwich Public Library’s  Children’s Room (which happens to be housed in a historic building) and two historic one room schoolhouses – the Root District School and the Beaver Meadow Schoolhouse – both of which are in need of some serious renovations.  For details visit the event’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/seusstival. Historical footnote : Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Seuss Geisel, attended our neighboring college –  Dartmouth - and began his cartooning career there when he edited Jack-O-Lantern, the College’s humor periodical.

In an effort to salute this meaningful collaboration and to support Read Across America, whose efforts inspired Norwich’s “Seusstival”, The Book Jam has reviewed some Dr. Seuss titles below.  A few were  new to us but others are  perennial favorites. For anyone needing Dr. Seuss tales and also wishing to support Seusstival, the Norwich Bookstore will donate 20% of all Dr. Seuss sales between now and March 4th to Seusstival. Remember, the Norwich Bookstore  will ship anywhere in the world.

Those new to us:

Scrambled Eggs Super by Dr. Seuss (1953) – A local 6-year-old was laughing so hard at the names in this book that he literally fell off the couch while being read aloud to by his mom.  Ha, you think not? Well, you try to say -Mop-Noodled Finch, Zummzian Zuks, Ham-ikka-Schnim-ikka-Schnam-ikka Schnopp, or Mt. Struckoo Cockoo - with a straight face. “I dare you to try it, I dare you to your face.” This story about making a batch of scrambled eggs from a bunch of CRAZY bird eggs will have you laughing, too, and wondering why you ever settled for the normal, hen-based kind. With its colorful egg theme, this book would make a great addition to an Easter Basket!

McElligot’s Pool by Dr. Seuss (1947) – The optimists in us love this one.  An oldie but goodie Dr. Suessian tale, this one is narrated by a boy sitting above an unlikely fishing hole. He fishes and fishes and firmly believes, not only that he will he catch one, but that he will catch maybe three.  And to top that off, he believes that they will all be quite rare and special for him by swimming straight to his lair. It may be a kid day-dreaming and wishing very hard who tells this story but it is an excellent reminder for the middle-aged adult that faith and persistence in face of the odds really can pay off…. and also that it might be time to clean up our fishing holes!

Gerald McBoing Boing by Dr. Seuss (1950) – First seen as an academy award-winning cartoon. It is less subtle than most in reminding kids that all people have talent and all kids have worth. Meet Gerald who may not be able to talk but can make the greatest sound effects of all time. With great illustrations and superb silly words to be loved from here to New Perth.

Thidwick The Big Hearted Moose (1948) New to one Lisa but not to the other, Thidwick is a fun, funny story about what happens when you say yes to everything and everyone – including a bobcat, a turtle, four squirrels, a bear and 362 bees. A not-so-subtle poke at Harvard (a collegiate  rival of Dr. Seuss’ beloved Dartmouth) is included in this tale about how a generous moose finally saves himself from the demands of his fellow forest creatures  - all of whom want to live in his antlers! A timeless message about taking care of yourself and a lovely book for anyone living in the north country, near their own version of “Lake Winna-Bango,” to have on their shelves.

Now for the classics:

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (1971) – An environmental tale told by the now remorseful Once-ler who, bewitched by the Truffula Tree tufts, greedily chops them down to produce and mass-market Thneeds.  As the trees disappear, the Lorax, speaks for the trees “for the trees have no tongues”, and warns them all – but for his words the Once-ler has no needs. A message that never loses its power or importance, read this aloud and inspire the next generation to access its inner  Lorax.

The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss (1961) – A story of haves and have-nots in which access to goodies is determined by whether you have a star on your belly, or not.  But then one day, the scheming Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes to town and shakes everything up with his very peculiar machine that gives the plain bellied sneetches, gasp, stars on thars!!! Chaos and confusion ensue and soon nobody can tell who  is who. Arbitrary and constructed criteria? Yes!  But, that is the point is it not?

And though those of us at the Book Jam have not yet read it, for those of you needing a more serious take on Dr. Seuss, we note Theodor Seuss Geisel(2010) a biography of Dr. Seuss written by Dartmouth professor Donald Pease.

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “Three Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam in the week leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.

We’re thrilled to welcome New York Times Best Selling Author Jodi Picoult, author of the new novel Lone Wolf , to the Book Jam’s “Three Questions”.

As part of the Norwich Bookstore’s author visits, Jodi will kick off her latest book tour at Simon Pierce in Quechee, Vermont  on February 28th at 9 am.  She will read from and discuss her newest book, Lone Wolf, a story about an estranged brother and a sister who must decide the fate of their father -a wildlife biologist famous for living with a pack of wolves – who lies in a coma in a New Hampshire hospital. This book explores the bonds of family love, the protection and strength they are meant to offer, and the intersection between medicine and moral choices.

For more information about the bookstore, upcoming speaker engagements or to reserve a seat, simply click on the following link for The Norwich Bookstore. But hurry because seats for this event are almost full! And this one’s a little different than usual: the $36.00 fee includes entry to the event, a signed copy of Lone Wolf, and light refreshments. We hope many of you are able to make it to this exciting book launch party!

Now, Jodi’s responses to our three questions.

 

 

1. What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

Gone with the Wind- made me want to be a writer and create a world out of words;  The Great Gatsby - my first experience with an unreliable narrator, and ever since then, I’ve loved exploring the discrepancy between what the reader knows and what the narrator knows; The Sun Also Rises - the parity of language that is Hemingway’s hallmark always reminds me that less is more; and that there are times words fail us when we try to describe moments of great emotion.

 

 

2. What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Shakespeare.  I swear, I sometimes think that man created all the stories in the world.  We just recycle them.  Plus – getting Romeo and Juliet to speak for the first time in a sonnet…?  BRILLIANT.

 

 

 

 

3. What books are currently on your bedside table?

The Good Father by Noah Hawley (an advance reader’s copy as the book is due in March 2012), and Amy Hatvany’s Outside the Lines.

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Ahhhhh, Valentine’s Day – a date in February that seems to elicit extreme reactions. You either LOVE it or cringe at the very thought.  Since we would never dream of telling you how to react to this annual event, instead we thought we’d recommend what to read if you’re searching for some romantic prose.

Our twist: a focus on love stories either inspired by or written by the ultimate cupid-with-a-quill, the Bard himself, William Shakespeare.  The publication dates of the books span a period of  more than 400 years – from 1596 to 2011- but all are relevant and fresh and most are full of fun. One, upon reading, you might question how we call it a love story, but we stand by this classification.

So here we go, Shakespeare-inspired love stories for Valentine’s Day.  We hope you like them, whether you’re a fan of Valentine’s Day or not. Here at the Book Jam we like to say, “If books be the music of love, read on”.

1) For those of you who know that the back story for a love affair is often extremely interesting:

Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike (2000). Yes, Hamlet, that tortured prince receives a lot of time in High School and College English Lit classes, but did you ever think about his story from the perspective of his mother and her lover/second husband?  Well luckily for us, John Updike did. The result is a well written novel that forces you to rethink the Bard’s popular tale of a Danish Prince and his doomed lover Ophelia. This is different from most of Mr. Updike’s novels – try it, you might love it. ~ Lisa Christie

 

 

2) For those of you finding love later in life, with all the complications that brings:

Julie and Romeo (2001) by Jeanne Ray  (2001). We both find this a funny, sexy, and endearingly charming book. Each of us read it years ago thinking it would make the perfect mother-in-law or mother’s gift.  Funny thing though, in trying to pick a book for women older than ourselves, we actually found a book that appealed to us and have since given or recommended it to many readers, regardless of  their age.  In this twist on Romeo and Juliet, Julie, a divorced “60 something” woman, meets Romeo a widower and well, they fall in love.  The conflict? Their families have feuded with each other for years and their kids truly truly hate the idea of their parents dating. The humor? What they go through to actually “date”.  Is this something you would discuss in a English Lit Class? Probably not, but read it anyway and enjoy. Great for a quick Sunday read, the beach or a carry-on bag. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

3) For those of you whose love life needs a bit of fantasy and humor and wonderful prose:

Midsummer Nights Dream  by Shakespeare (1596).  One by the Bard himself.  Great language, humorous and ridiculous plot twists as Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Hermia try to find their true loves.  Throw in a Fairy Queen and King who are feuding and a mischievous fairy named Puck and well, you have all the makings of a truly romantic comedy. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

 

 

4) For those looking for a smart but light modern day romp through grown-up sisterly love, its requisite bickering, and some budding romance – with a lot of Shakespearean references thrown in:

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011). While the title refers to the sisters in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, this story is actually about three very modern-day siblings, Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia (who grew up with a Shakesperean professor for a father, hence their names). The tale begins with them all returning home to Ohio from their rather messy adult lives to help care for their ailing mother. Their uncanny ability to qoute the Bard at every twist and turn makes for fun, smart dialogue but it is their very present day struggles that make this story relevant. There is some romance, as promised in the intoduction to this post. But most of all it is the sisters love for and understanding of each other that makes this book endearing.  ~Lisa Cadow

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