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Posts Tagged ‘Picture Books’

 

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Happy Thanksgiving week.

As the holiday season approaches, perhaps you are beginning to think about what to do when your guests arrive. Perhaps you need non-political topics to discuss. Maybe you need some new inspiration in the kitchen for all the meals you will be sharing. Perhaps you need a cooking activity for a few people to tackle together. Maybe you need things to entertain kids while adults talk. Maybe you need items that spark intergenerational conversations. Maybe you are the one visiting others and need a perfect gift for your hosts. Lucky for any of you with any of these needs, or anyone who just need some great gift giving ideas, we found a few oversized books with fun illustrations, and a few cookbooks with mouth watering recipes that can help. We truly believe all of these books will provide hours of entertainment for anyone perusing their pages. Enjoy!

Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook Cover ImageOttolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi (2018). This new book helps home cooks to live a flavorful kitchen dream! Believe it or not, these are Ottolenghi recipes with ten ingredients or less, most of which can be made in under a 45 minutes. From spending time with Ottolenghi’s  newest brilliant book I’ve learned that: one can lightly grill grapes on skewers (in a stovetop grill pan!) to accompany a silky burrata hors d’oeuvre plate, that zucchini loves to be served with peas (in a soup, on a platter sprinkled with oregano), and that butternut soup can come alive with curry and harrissa, and sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds. Believes me, the list goes on and on and on with enough new exciting dishes to try for throughout next year. Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Green Tahini Dip? Wow. So many of of his 300 pages of recipes are plant-based, verdantly vibrant, and infused with flavorful vegetables that meat actually takes a backseat – though, don’t despair, there are still two juicy chapters full of succulent fish, lamb, and chicken dishes. Please note that “Papardelle with Rose Harissa, Black Olives and Capers” just many eek out our family’s go-to, classic Marcella Hazan Spaghetti Bolognese recipe. ~Lisa Cadow

Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way Cover ImageAperitif: Cocktail Hour the French Way by Rebekah Peppler (2018): If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining chez les francais, the first thing you will notice is the elegant simplicity of their appetizers. They favor small, salty bites that please the palette and interesting, bubbly drinks which don’t fill up guests before the main course arrives. This book is bursting with observations and ideas that author Rebekah Peppler collected during her time living and dining in France. It features fresh simple recipes low-alcohol  drinks and high-taste appetizers that anyone who entertains should have in their repertoire such as simply fried potato chips, zippy marinated olives, cheese puffs. This book makes for the perfect, sophisticated hostess gift this season – and the next.  ~Lisa Cadow

A World of Cities Cover ImageA World of Cities by James Brown (2018): The pictures in this oversized book remind us of vintage travel posters. Their bold graphics inspire.  The fun facts sprinkled over each page provide many points for interesting discussions. The pages also give fun tidbits for all the fact-obsessed people throughout the world to add to their repertoire. The 30 dazzling cities Mr. Brown highlights should inspire even the most reluctant arm-chair traveller. Truly a gorgeous conversation starter, and a great gift! ~ Lisa Christie

Everything & Everywhere: A Fact-Filled Adventure for Curious Globe-Trotters Cover ImageEverything and Everywhere: A fact filled adventure for curious globe trotters by Marc Martin (2018): This journey around the world is crammed with busy pictures and words that discuss the things and people that make the places depicted unique. The pages almost leap with exuberance into the readers’ imaginations. A superb way to discover, or be reminded how interesting this world can be. ~ Lisa Christie

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate that holiday this week; and, happy holidays to all.

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It is that time of year again. We’ve been making our lists and checking them twice; and well, it took a bit more time than we thought. And, while it is still Monday somewhere, this post is a wee bit late. So, here you have it — The Book Jam’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide.

We truly hope this list helps you find the perfect present for the loved ones in your  life. We also hope that you find some time to curl up with a few good books yourself. (OK, maybe that last part only happens after the relatives have left.)

To help you envision the perfect recipient for each book, we again assembled our selections in somewhat artificial categories (e.g., nonfiction for people who like to think and chat while sitting by the wood stove). Please use them as a guide, not as strict rules about who can and should read any of these picks. For your convenience, each of our picks is linked to the Norwich Bookstore’s web site. Thus, you do not have to leave your computer to check these items off your list. Finally, we hope our selections help take a bit of stress out of the shopping aspect of this whirlwind season.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Presents

ADULT FICTION: FOR ANYONE LOOKING FOR A GREAT BOOK

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (2015) – The author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon comes through again with a SUPERB book. This time he provides connected short stories about USSR and Russia from the Cold War through today. One of the best books of 2015. ~ Lisa Christie

God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (2015) – Yes, this is another book about WWII, but it is truly fabulous. History buffs will love the descriptions of British air raids over Germany and the Blitz in London. Fans of Life After Life will love another look at Ursula, Teddy and the family from Fox Corner.  This book focuses on Teddy, a fighter pilot who gets a life in a future he never expected to have.  His ability to navigate life’s changes as lover, father, husband, grandfather are lovingly portrayed.  This is basically a book about an ordinary, but lovely, man living an ordinary life in extraordinary times. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann (2015) – These shorts stories, although one is basically anovella, are GORGEOUSLY crafted and memorable.  Definitely one of the best books of 2015. ~ Lisa Christie


The Nature of the Beast
by Louise Penny (2015) – The latest Inspector Gamache novel does not disappoint. This one’s plot revolves around weapons of mass destruction and the true nature of evil. What we like most about this series is the loving relationship between Gamache and his wife.  Pick this up if you want a page turner full of wonderful characters, and something a bit lighter than the other picks in this category. ~Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie


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NON-FICTION/REFERENCE/POETRY: FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO THINK & CHAT WHILE SITTING BY THE WOOD STOVE

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (2015)I can think of no other book that offers readers such an ornithological “bird’s eye view”, the clear, laser-sharp perspective of being in a falcon’s brain and on the hunt. But it is so much more: this memoir is at once a lesson in being an austringer (a falconer) and training Mabel, a goshawk, while also being a psychological exploration of mourning as Macdonald comes to terms with the sudden loss of her father, her closest companion in her birding journey. This book is raw, honest and brilliant and leaves the reader feeling as if she has just come in from from a walk in the woods with her favorite goshawk — or as if she has been perched on a tree watching the fickle humans on the ground below. ~ Lisa Cadow

Ultimate Travel: The 500 Best Places by Lonely Planet (2015) The Perfect gift for aspirational and inspirational destinations. And if your budget does not allow travel, the pictures are gorgeous and the descriptions educational. ~ Lisa Christie

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COOKBOOKS: FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO COOK UP A CULINARY SNOW STORM

In A French Kitchen by Susan Herrmann Loomis (2015) – For the Francophile in your life, Loomis “cookbook” explores what it means to be a french home cook. Loomis, who has lived in France for most of her adult life, raised her children there and runs a cooking school from her home, attempts to distill great food for all. ~ Lisa Cadow

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BOOKS FOR YOUNGSTERS (AGES 8-12): THOSE BEYOND TONKA TRUCKS & TEA PARTIES BUT NOT YET READY FOR TEEN TOPICS

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (2015) – A plot influenced by magic realism and launched by a fairy tale about the fate of three princesses allows a harmonica to travel among three children in three different states/countries (Germany, Pennsylvania and California) during WWII. This harmonica unites their very different war experiences (rescuing a father from concentration camp, ensuring a brother does not go to an orphanage, helping a family hold on to their farm) into one lovely book. Uniquely crafted, this story of love, music and war will both educate and delight. ~Lisa Christie

Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko (2015) – I loved Lizzie, a young girl who wants to accompany her father on his doctor’s rounds in early 1900s San Francisco, but instead must attend a school for girls to learn how to serve tea and dance and become a “lady”. The influx of the plague in San Francisco’s Chinatown and then beyond, changes everything as Lizzie fights to save her family’s cook from the Chinatown quarantine. Ms. Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts) has once again crafted a great book for young lovers of historical fiction. ~Lisa Christie

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book One: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (2015) -Mr. Riordan does it again! I love this new series by Mr. Riordan. Same superb ear for teens, but with a Norse Myth Twist this series. Annabeth Chase from Mr. Riordan’s previous series has a cameo or two. ~Lisa Christie

Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper (2015) – A great book about depression-era North Carolina told from the perspective of a young African American girl. ~Lisa Christie

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YOUNG ADULT FICTION — FOR TEENS /TWEENS AND THE ADULTS WHO LOVE THEM

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall (2015) – This YA book combines juvenile delinqency, folk artist James Hampton, 1960s America in a lovely tale about redemption, friendship and learning to make your own way. ~Lisa Christie

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (2015) – A superb, superb book about love, life and suicide told from the perspective of two teens – Violet and Finch – living in Indiana, trying to figure out what senior year of HS means, what colleges to attend and how to play the hands they have been dealt by life (him – abusive father, indifferent mother; her – she survived a car wreck, her sister did not). I SOBBED at the end, but am glad I have this perspective on young adult life and the aftermath of death. I can not recommend it highly enough; but be warned you will be sad along with the happy. ~Lisa Christie

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PICTURE BOOKS: FOR FAMILIES TO READ TOGETHER DURING SNOW STORMS — (Yes, we selected the recent Pages in the Pub picks as they are so good)

Dewey Bob by Judy Schachner (2015). Adorable raccoon combines with very fun and quirky art for a fun tale about mischief. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie 

Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins  (2015). Three different views on life are expressed as three toys explore one very big snowstorm. Reading this would be a SUPERB way to introduce the concept that friends can be friends and like very different things or see the same thing in very different ways. Our local librarian used it in a unit about friendship. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie 

Job Wanted by Teresa Bateman (2015). As Katie Kitchel stated during her presentation, the moral of this story is that persistence, confidence, & hard work prevail.~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie 

 

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BOOKS FOR PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO CONTEMPLATE MORE DIFFICULT ISSUES — IN THIS CASE, RACE IN THE USA

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (2015) – Haunting. This novel can be read on so many levels — as a straight story of brothers in trouble in Nigeria, as a parable about Nigeria, as a tale of how our expectations shape our reality.  But on any level, it is good; and for me, what makes it even more amazing is that the author is only 29. ~Lisa Christie

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (2014) -Uniquely laid out and provocative; and wow, does this make you think about race in America. Read it to help you make sense of today’s headlines. ~Lisa Christie

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015) – Sad, thoughtful, angry, well-written and timely memoir written in the form of a letter to his son.  Won the National Book Award too. ~Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

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May brings Children’s Book Week, and The Book Jam failed to celebrate on time. However, since we believe in reading and honoring children’s books year round, we are extending the weekly celebration by highlighting a few of our favorite 2014 picture books (at least so far).  And, since the combination of illustrations and writing is key to this genre, we would like to point out that by coincidence, in each of our picks, the author and the illustrator are the same person.

The Girl and the Green Bicycle written and illustrated by Mark Peck (2014) – A lovely, lovely book, with enchanting pictures that wonderfully illustrate the virtues of love, hard work, and making the best of a situation. And, it does so without preaching. Prior to posting, we showed this to a few customers in the Norwich Bookstore and they were all a bit teary while they read.

This wordless picture book tells a moving story of a girl who wants a green bicycle she spots in a store window. When her piggy bank does not hold enough to purchase it immediately, she sets about to earn the necessary funds. Then, just when she earns enough to purchase the bike, it is gone.  Does she wallow?  Does she pout?  Nope – she uses her money to buy something for her brother instead.  Is she rewarded?  YES!  But, we will make you read it to discover the nature of this reward. Enjoy this yourself and then give to many others. (After reading this we discovered Mr. Peck also wrote and illustrated The Boy and The Airplane, and that the characters from that first book are subtle plot devices in this one.) ~ Lisa Christie

Two Speckled Eggs written and illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann (2014) – A great story for anyone who has ever been the odd person out. It uses a girl’s birthday party to show how hard being a friend can be, and how the “in” crowd is not always all it is cracked up to be. To sum, Ginger’s mom makes her invite ALL the girls in her class to her party, including Lyla Browning, who smells like old leaves and once brought a tarantula to school. Then, during the party, some of the girls change the rules to the games making Ginger feel badly, and no one likes her birthday cake — except Lyla. By the time Lyla gives Ginger her present, Ginger wonders, is “being different really such a bad thing?”. ~ Lisa Christie


How to Cheer Up Dad
 written and illustrate by Fred Koehler (2014) – A hilarious book that reverses the parent and child relationships, and makes you realize your kids really do have the power to make you feel better. In this tale, an elephant just can’t understand why his dad is having such a bad day. It couldn’t be the raisins he spit out at the ceiling or the bath he refused to take. Luckily, he has a plan to turn Dad’s day around —  doing some of his dad’s (wink wink) favorite things. HINT – This is perfect for Father’s Day. ~ Lisa Christie

 

BONUS — for children who are a little bit older — The WHO WAS…? WHAT WAS …? SERIES

Thanks to Liza at the Norwich Bookstore, my son discovered this series as a 2nd grader. He loved them so much he would ask for extra chores to earn money to purchase the new titles.  Each book in the series focuses on a specific personality or event in history. Some – Bill Gates, JK Rowling – feature people who are still living among us, but most do not. Each book has goofy illustrations that make the topic seem less daunting. But, the material is interesting enough to keep older elementary school (3rd-5th grade) kids interested. Pick one and enjoy getting hooked. ~ Lisa Christie

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