Thursday, February 12, 2015


    I've been thinking about creating a character who is a picky eater. So it got me thinking about the foods I disliked as a child, like runny eggs and lima beans.

     Or the revolting foods my parents ate, Tripe, Calves' Liver, Limburger Cheese, Pickled Pigs' Feet, Sweetbreads, Tongue.

     With the exception of the eggs, I still wouldn't eat any of the above.

     When I was in high school I participated in a program called The Experiment In International Living. I stayed with a family in Limoges, France. The Experiment instilled in us the importance of using proper French table manners, and of eating everything we were served. Although I loved my French family dearly, there were certain foods I could not bring myself to even taste - ox brains (the texture), raw horsemeat (they loved it with buttered bread), pate tete de chochon (head of pig, 'nuff said), rabbit (sorry, but no).

     If I were served these foods today, I still wouldn't taste them. And I don't have a hankering for raw oysters or escargot either.

      I've always considered myself to be a person who is open to new foods and eats everything. But I now realize the truth.

     I am a picky eater!


Sunday, February 8, 2015


     The first book I remember loving was Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess. Long after I read it, whenever I went to the public library, I would walk by the shelf where it sat and look at it, as if I were visiting an old friend. I doubt many children read it nowadays, and even whether it is part of many library collections.

     It's the same with my mother's favorite childhood book. She loved The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. I read it at her insistence as a child, but not with the same passion for it that she had. My daughters didn't read it, and I'm certain modern children don't know much about it.

      I wonder if it will be the same with the favorite books of my daughters' childhoods. Stonewords by Pam Conrad was Rebecca's favorite, and Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson was Amy's.

      Fortunately certain classic books have survived, Peter Pan, Little Women, The Wind in the Willows, Mary Poppins. They are on the library's shelves, although I'm not certain they are read, even as a family read aloud. Just yesterday, a woman asked me for Peter Pan. I was so thrilled that she wanted to read it to her daughter I practically pranced to the shelf.

       Then I handed her the book.

       "Oh, no," she said, looking at it. "She's only five."

        "That will be fine," I said. "I think she will enjoy your reading it to her."

          "Don't you have a children's version?"

         "This is a book for children," I said, wanting to remind her that she was standing in the children's section of the library, after all!

           "Well, I mean like abridged, or like by Walt Disney or something."

           THAT WOULD NOT BE PETER PAN! Is what I wanted to scream at her. Of course, I couldn't.

           "No, we don't have anything like that," I said. I took the book back, giving it a little squeeze to remind it that it was still loved.

         Are old books like abandoned toys, desperately wanting a child to love them again?


Thursday, February 5, 2015


  I've been writing a series of early literacy tips for the library's facebook page. This week's was about having a Family Book Club, and it brought me back to a happy memory of my mother. Long before it was fashionable, back in my childhood, my mother and I had our own book club. I would read a book, she would read it too, then we would sit together to discuss it. It was fun, not only because I liked to read, but because she liked to read too. Her reading the same books as me let me know that they were important and good and they mattered.
      The book I remember us disagreeing about was called The Pink Maple House. I don't remember much about it, apart from the cover being pink, and the story being so sweet it made me gag. But my mother loved it and couldn't understand why I didn't.

      It's an old book, published in 1950, but available at ABE, and through World Cat, although not in our library system. Perhaps I'll get a copy to see if all of these years later I still find it too saccharine, or if I now agree with my mother about The Pink Maple House.

Hooray for Books!

Congratulations to the winners of all of the children's book awards. With so many wonderful titles this year, I'm sure it was hard to choose!