Category: Books

I’ll Write It Up


Today’s “Cabin Fever” column is on best picture books for the holidays. This was a fun one to research and write. Like giving me candy. Hand this mama a book, and she’s practically drooling.

ParentDish will be running approximately two “Cabin Fever” columns each week, plus an additional Q&A every other week with someone who is in some way creatively involved with children. My first three interviews have been with: Nicole Dueck, songwriter and musician and teacher, whose kids’ CD is titled Lucky Dog; Elisabeth de Mariaffi, children’s cookbook author, who writes recipes for Owl and Chickadee, and whose brightly-illustrated and easy-to-use book is called Eat It Up!; and Jirina Marton, who just won the Governor General’s Award for illustration for the truly beautiful holiday book called Bella’s Tree.

I am loving my conversations with these creative and thoughtful people.
Anyone know of someone who should be sought out and questioned (in the most polite way possible) for their expertise? I’m thinking an interview with a children’s yoga or dance teacher would be great. Who would you want to talk to? Whose brain would you want to pick?
I plan to use my column to celebrate, explore, and suggest creative, more-with-less family activities that don’t involve screen time.
(Which is ironic, because Albus is beyond desperate to play on the computer, and in fact told me last night that it had been a “bad” day because I hadn’t let him do so. This, after we’d rushed to eat supper by 5, so we could go to the school concert to watch him perform as an elf–AppleApple sang, too–after which we came home famished, ate a second meal, and discovered it was already quarter to bedtime. “Albus sad,” he kept muttering, reverting to baby talk, as he crouched on his floor surrounded by his oceans of Lego. Though, come to think of it, as soon as I found a spare moment to give him a snuggle, and then we all read together on the couch before bed: “Albus happy.” So there you go. I’ll write it up as a column.)

Nice Lid, Kid

Someone likes getting his hair brushed. But is he going to declare us the meanest parents ever, somewhere down the road, for dressing his gorgeous toddler self in a pink sleeper? And photographing him wearing it? And posting said photograph online? After this photo was taken, he asked to “see! see!” and when shown, he stabbed with his finger at the little person on the tiny screen and yelled out his own name, for the first time ever, to the insane delight of his entire family, who happened to be gathered ’round for bedtime snack (Kevin’s least favourite “meal” of the day).
:::
My friend Tricia has joined a challenge to read 100 books this month–children’s books. That got me thinking that it might be interesting to keep track of what I’ve read on a given day … say, yesterday. I know that I read a lot every day, but it’s not the reading I used to do when I would sit down and devour a book for hours at a time. It’s endless little bits that add up to … not sure, really. Broader knowledge? Or shallower knowledge? Less about more?
:::
So, here’s what I read on Wednesday, though not in any particular order …
Front section (news) of the Globe and Mail newspaper (on actual newsprint–we get it delivered). Online first-person piece by Diana Athill, from the National Post’s website. A blog about the Bookstravaganza reading I attended on Monday. Caught up on the Globe and Mail’s online book blog. An interview with Annabel Lyon on the Toronto Star’s website. A bunch of emails. Facebook content provided by Facebook friends (thanks, friends!). Dooce. Several assigned articles in a textbook called Open Boundaries, which, truth be told, glazed my eyeballs. The obituary of a famous anthropologist in the Globe and Mail. Something from Nothing (a children’s book), and Pancakes! Pancakes! (another children’s book). Part of Attack of the Giant Mutant Snow Goons, or somesuch, a Calvin & Hobbes comic book. Several recipes. A couple of my own stories, for editing purposes. My women’s studies essay, for proofing purposes. Various sheets of paper carried home in the bags of my school-going children.
There may be more that I’m forgetting now.

Looking for The Golden Mean

Before and after. I’m surprised every time I see her with that gap. She looks so different, and it reminds me that she’s growing up. Once again, I pulled the tooth. She is crazy brave; or else has superior pain tolerance; or both. Because, seriously, she made not a peep during the removal, except when piping up to offer suggestions and advice.
:::
I’m working on some writing news, but it’s not quite ready to unveil yet. Don’t get too excited. It’s nothing to do with the Nica stories, or any fiction or poetry or literary writing at all, actually. Not my usual writing news, she says, and thusly leaves her reader in suspense …
Meantime, I’m looking forward to a couple of writing mornings this week, and wondering where they will take me. And I actually managed to finish chapter one of Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean, which would hardly be considered a feat (it’s an amazing book, so far), except that I succeeded in reading it while babysitting this morning (parents of said babysat child: please don’t dock my pay). My usually cheerful threesome of Tuesday children went all Tuesday-ish on me last week, and there was much grumpiness and butting of heads, so I decided to stay right on top of the situation today. But soon discovered that just sitting quietly on the couch or rocking chair in the same room, being available to jump in when the tone changed from convivial to bossy, was enough supervision. So I added the book to the mix. It turned out to be a good morning. Read this book, too! Then we can chat about it, perhaps over coffee, while our children boss each other around. Just a thought.

Book Publishing: A Different View

Must direct anyone interested in the book biz to my friend Deanna’s blog post on the brave new digital future/present. Deanna was one of the first people I knew to start blogging, years before the rest of us caught on; she’s also an accomplished writer, reads at an amazing pace, and has worked in the publishing industry for years. Her enthusiasm and optimism is refreshing.

Hogwarts in Our Living-Room

She’s on the fifth Harry Potter book, reading on her own; and she’s entered whole-self into that world. She ran through the door after school yesterday, clad herself in cape and hat (plus a plush duck that stands in for her owl, named “Tweet”), and began practicing the piano. I love that she’s not pretending to be Hermoine or Harry, she’s herself, Hogwarts student, wholly integrated into that magical world. Kevin and I have been replying to notes sent via her owl, rubber-banding messages onto the owl’s leg. The piano practice was spontaneous, which I must say happens rarely, though both kids were greatly more enthusiastic when I suggested they try writing their own songs. (Still, they need the practice to gain the skills to write songs; can I persuade them of this?) Albus’s made-up song had a catchy tune, with the words “Turkeys running everywhere-ere / and the sun is shi-i-i-ning / Turkeys running every which way / Turkeys running every which way.” Apple-Apple’s had a more complicated melody and made much use of the sustain pedal. If you’re around and would like a performance in person, just ask. As far as I can tell, all four children enjoy being on stage and performing for an audience. Hmm.
Page 18 of 19« First...10...1516171819