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Posts Tagged ‘Moonlight in Vermont’

“Princesses” – The Book’s Eye View From Vermont: Just because we wear clogs and flannel shirts doesn’t mean that we’re not interested in royal wedding dresses being worn across the pond! Both Lisas watched from a clapboard house on a dirt road as William and Kate tied the knot in Westminster Abbey and then kissed at Buckingham Palace. These are the books that then came to mind. 

Listen Now to Princesses or download http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_765741554

The recent royal nuptials (what a fun phrase to write and say – royal nuptials – try it), got us thinking about life as a royal personage.  And we started to think, as we tend to do, about books to help us empathize/fantasize about royalty.  Our conclusion? — even with the best books, there is no way to truly relate to the royal treatment other than to actually be in a royal family.

So we decided to focus on a former commoner like us – the newly crowned Princess Kate. Then we turned to stories about princesses. And once we started along this line of thought, the titles kept on coming.  We edited a bit, and the books we dicussed on the BookJam podcast are:

Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch  In this classic picture book, Princess Elizabeth wears fancy clothes and is to marry Prince Ronald. Then a dragon abducts Ronald.  So she dons a paper bag, tracks and tricks the dragon, and rescues Prince Ronald.  When Ronald says “You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess,”  well let’s say they do not live happily ever after. But she does save the prince.

The Light Princess by George Macdonald – a tale from the 19th century – really. We surmise that Gail Carson Levine read it somewhere along the way (see next entry).  The Light Princess is a simple tale, written for children. A princess is cursed by a wicked witch with lightness and thus is condemed to float blissfully about the castle all day long, missing gravity, weight, sorrow, suffering and love. The tale relates how she finds her own gravity — and how she saves the prince, too.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – This Newberry Honor Award winner has a cursed princess too.  At birth, Ella is given the gift of obedience by a fairy named Lucinda. Thus, anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. As with many fairy tales her mother dies, her father remarries a wicked woman and her life is not so great.  But Ella decides to solver her problems herself. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this version of Cinderella sticks with you with twists and deviations from the original.

The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine- As in Ella Enchanted, Carson Levine turns fairy tales upside down and inside out.  We enjoyed her versions of a sleeping beauty who wakes covered in dirt and cobwebs and a Rapunzel who chooses her own entrapment.

Other titles of interest that we mention on the podcast include:

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman – Takes all the elements of a classic fairy tale and up ends them a bit.  This is a great book that also made an excellent movie.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – Mia Thermopolis, your average urban ninth grader, discovers her father is prince of a small country and that she is now considered the crown princess! She doesn’t even know how to begin to cope, but we enjoy watching her try. (Good movie as well.)

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory  – Sisterly rivalry drives this vivid retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn.

And since most of this podcast focussed on books that are often downright silly, we end with a more serious recommendation – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel provides a fantastic well written look at life in the court of King Henry the VIII.

Musical selections to bookend this podcast include Margaret Whitman’s original recording of “Moonlight in Vermont”  and “Dig a Little Deeper” performed by Jenifer Lewis (Mama Odie).

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“Don’t Lie” – The Books Eye View from Vermont: Our local elementary school teaches second graders about proverbs. To wrap up the unit, students put on theatrical productions of their own. At the end of staging the plays, J Lisa’s son said he’d learned “Never trust a liar!” Hmmm, true enough! This recent proverbs unit coincided with the publication of several new books focusing on virtues. It’s good to have lots of reminders, even if you’re a grownup and if you live in such a virtuous state! These are the books that caught the BookJam’s attention.

Listen Now to Virtues or Download http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_745975870

This week we’ve put together a specially themed show dealing with subject of “Virtues” – or perhaps the lack thereof.  Over recent weeks, J Lisa took notice of several new releases hitting bookstands that deal with morality in its many forms – some even got play time on National Public Radio. Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Bernie Madoff to Martha Stewart was discussed in early May on the Diane Rehm Show. It focuses on what author Stewart sees as an epidemic of perjury in our culture — and when the original crime is only made worse when the perpetrator lies about it.

Next we take a brief look at another new release entitled Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue by Eric Felten. An erudite and scholarly work which is also as thoughtful as it is entertaining,  Felten explores the history of loyalty — from the way it was understood by the ancient Greeks to our now modern society in the age of Twitter and Facebook. Fascinating, but not entirely surprising considering that the author is a prize-winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He was also interviewed on the Diane Rehm Show this spring — maybe she should also get a little credit for noticing this trend in non-fiction releases!

But the majority of our Bookjam conversation focused on the Ian McEwan’s fictional masterpiece, Atonement. This gracefully, perceptively written book examines the the events of a spring day in 1935 that has life changing effects for all involved.  J Lisa commented that “this is the only book I’ve ever read where I wanted to reach into the book on a certain page and tell the child to stop!” It deals with perspective, lying, misconception, love and, of course, atonement. Sounds heavy, right? So why would anyone want to read it? The Lisas offer a few opinions: for one,  it takes the sedentary act of reading and makes readers want to take a physical action. And, it is helpful exercise in reminding us to challenge our assumptions and to assume other perspectives before judging anyone.

Here at The BookJam we always try to end our discussions on  light, positive note. So for the “Virtues Episode”,  we close by taking a brief look at Jon Sciezka’s’ humorous book The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! A picture book for all ages, Sciezka deconstructs this famous fable by presenting us with the big bad wolf’s perspective. Did you ever stop to consider that perhaps the falsely accused wolf didn’t mean to cause any harm – maybe he just wanted to borrow a cup of sugar! Read it and laugh…and challenge your assumptions.

The musical selection at the end of our podcast is Annie Lenox’s “Why.” And, we’ve inserted a new tune to welcome listeners: a snippet from Margaret Whiting’s original recording of “Moonlight in Vermont”. It seemed only just a little perfect considering we’re a couple of gals who spend their moonlight hours in Vermont reading up a storm. Happy reading.

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