Posts Tagged ‘Town Meeting Day’

Image result for images of vermont town meetingThe first Tuesday of March means Town Meeting Day all over Vermont. (Yes, some towns move it to other days to make it more convenient; but in theory, we meet and vote on Tuesday.) To us, it really is democracy live – everyone in every town is invited to attend, and many many people show up and discuss what is important for that town in the upcoming year. Town and school budgets are discussed and passed (or not), referendums are offered and passed (or not). You see people you normally do not pass during the course of your regular day. In some towns, eating together before or after all the town politics is essential. It truly is a reminder of an adage closely associated with former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill – “all politics are local.

So, in honor of this important Vermont tradition, we are reviewing a book about politics, a book about Vermont, and a Vermont-oriented cookbook.  We hope they all inspire you to have a discussion with your neighbor about needs in your town, to visit Vermont soon, and/or to cook a great meal.

Finally, if you are a Vermonter, VOTE! And by the way, Happy Birthday Vermont (March 4); you look good for something born in 1791.

In Sight Cover ImageSabra Field: In Sight by Sabra Field (2004). The art of Sabra Field captures what we like best about Vermont — the varied landscapes and its people — in colorful and simply complicated prints. We love her work and we think you will love this look at many of her pieces, enhanced with her explanations of how they came about. A perfect read for artists interested in someone’s process, for art lovers, and for people who love Vermont.

All the King's Men Cover ImageAll the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1974). If you somehow missed this until you, you can read this classic and be grateful your town is not run like mid twentieth century Louisiana. There are many reasons for this classic novel’s longevity and its Pulitzer Prize – great writing, intriguing and unique characters, and superb descriptions of the deep south. This tale of ambition and power set in the Depression is widely considered the finest novel ever written about American politics.

Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup Cover Image

Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup by Katie Webster (2015). One of the many perks of living in Vermont is being lucky enough to stash away a gallon or two of maple syrup after the annual February/March sugaring season. And mind you, we don’t just drizzle this sweet stuff over pancakes – we find ways to add it to everything including morning coffee, a cold glass of milk, spicy chili, savory soups, crisps, cobblers, and even salad dressings. This lovely book will add to the myriad of ways cooks know to use the nectar of the woods. Webster includes delicious, original recipes for delicacies such as Kale Skillet Salad with Walnuts and Maple, Sugar Season Hot Cocoa, Sap Baked Beans, Layered Beet and Carrot Salad, and Dutch Baby Pancakes with Maple and Rhubarb Compote. The only downside of adding this cookbook to a collection is that readers may run out of their syrup supply before being able to resupply in the spring.

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In Vermont, the beginning of March means town meeting day, and because we live near Dartmouth College it also heralds the birthday of one of the college’s most famous students and benefactors, Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss).  But in addition to our valley community, millions of people across the country also celebrate his books and birthday in early March as part of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day.

To honor the child in all of us, the ever-growing world of picture books, and as a shout out to one of the fathers of the genre on his special day, we’ve selected a few of our favorites from the crop of new picture books to share with you.  (Thank you Susan Voake, retired children’s librarian extraordinaire for getting us started in our selection.) Even if you don’t have kids – or if  you do and they are beyond picture books – you may have nieces and nephews in this age set, christenings to attend, or perhaps you just might want to make a spontaneous gift to your local public library, children’s hospital, and/or homeless shelter.

And because we couldn’t resist sharing something for our always hungry adult readers, a new book, an international best seller The Dinner by Herman Koch, is also reviewed below.

A Hen for Izzy Pippik by Aubrey Davis and Marie LaFrance (March 2012)- An old-fashioned fable, based upon Jewish and Islamic folklore.  We interpreted this story as a tale about being rewarded for doing the right thing even when the world is pressuring you to act differently.  You may have other interpretations.  Since the setting is a village facing hard economic times, many of the villagers’ arguments and situations might ring true for many readers.

Squeak, Rumble, Whomp !Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure by Wynton Marsalis and Paul Rogers (Oct. 2012) – The music of everyday items truly sings on every page in this funly (Yes, we are also making up words in honor of Dr. Seuss with this post.) illustrated book.

Oliver by Birgitta Sit (Oct. 2012) – This almost sparsely illustrated book shows you a boy who is a little bit different and slightly lonely.  Along the way you see his adventures, and his discovery that he is pretty OK.  And then, you smile as he embarks on the greatest adventure of all – friendship.

Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein (Sept. 2012) – A gorgeously illustrated book shows the power of a smile to charm.  It also demonstrates in a silly manner how interconnected the world is today.

Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist (Jan. 2013) – Yes, this goat is cranky, he’s hungry, and he’s never had a friend.  But, humorous illustrations show the power of positive thinking when growing something and making friends.

Now one pick for grown-ups.  At first, this may seem a bizarre fit in a post crafted as a tribute to a man who wrote books for children. However, we believe Geisel, who created biting cartoons for Dartmouth’s humor magazine Jack-O-Lantern and during his early career, would have appreciated the darkly satirical writing in this riveting book.

 The Dinner by Herman Koch (2012) – This page-turner kept me up all night as I raced to finish it.  Now, it will probably keep me up for many nights going forward as I think about the very disturbing traits and situations this plot unearths.  Amidst the dark, dark satire are very uncomfortable truths; it is these and to be honest – the entire premise  – that left me slightly reeling when I finished. (Of course I could be reeling from the lack of sleep reading this caused.)  The book’s plot poses the question – how far would you go for your family?, as it eavesdrops on a dinner between two couples in a trendy Amsterdam restaurant.  As their conversations turn from the mundane – what to order, to the ultimate situation that brought them together, you really do feel like a fly on a wall watching a disaster in the making.  I can’t say any more because revealing any plot items would be unfair to any future readers.  But note, this would be a GREAT book club book because you are going to need to talk with someone about it.  Plus, it is a very quick read – a bonus when cramming for book club discussions. ~ Lisa Christie

And one last thing, happy first day in her new job to Lisa Cadow.  She is turning her many talents to coaching people in an exciting new health care model.  Don’t worry, she will still review books and be the co-blogger for the Book Jam, she has just added a new aspect to her professional career starting today. So, please join me in wishing her well in her new endeavor. This new job seems especially appropriate in a post honoring a literary “Dr.”  ~ Lisa Christie

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