Jul 31, 2010

Book Review: Keys to the City by Joel Kostman

Sorry, all, for the long hiatus, and for leaving you with urban fantasy mass markets as the last few posts. I've been reading up a storm in the non-urban-fantasy part of the adult market (okay, and a few U.F. in there, too) and finally have made the time to sit down and tell you about them. One at a time. Over the next few days/weeks. Brace yourself.

Keys to the City: Tales of a New York City Locksmith
by Joel Kostman
Hardcover: 9780789424617
Paperback: 9780140279474
Dorling Kindersley (Penguin)

Sadly out-of-print, those are the ISBNs you can have your local independent bookstore look up for you, or check out abebooks.com yourself for a copy.

This is a non-fiction work of short vignettes by an actual locksmith about the places he's seen and the people he's met during the course of his time serving New York City. The stories are charmingly real, in that they give the reader brief glimpses into the human experience, both good and bad, and both of the author and of his clients. Simultaneously "very New York" and accessible to people who've never even seen the city, all of the stories will touch your heart and/or make you consider your own life for a brief moment.

Highly enjoyable, this was the perfect book when I was on a roadtrip - I could quickly read a story or two and then put it down to take a nap. This doesn't have to be devoured in the first sitting, but I guarantee you'll go back for the rest.

The hardcover edition is worth getting for the retro jacket design alone, as well as the unique tall, skinny, apartment building-like shape of the actual book. My only complaint is that I want to read more.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Book of the Day: King Bidgood's in the Bathtub & Heckedy Peg by Audrey & Don Wood

Today will actually be a mini-ode to the author/illustrator genius of husband-and-wife team Audrey and Don Wood who publish a lot of work with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub
Hardcover: 9780152427306, $17
Paperback: 9780152054359, $7.99

A Caldecott Honor-winner, this book is a true delight to both read and look through, as there is so much happening in the illustrations that you'll want to spend forever discussing each page. Quirky rhyming at its best, this story is about King Bidgood who won't get out of the bathtub.

"Help! Help!" cried the Page when the sun came up.
"King Bidgood's in the bathtub, and he won't get out!
Oh, who knows what to do?"

The people of the court including the Queen, a Knight, and a Duke suggest various amusements to tempt the King out of the tub, but none of them work. All of the suggestions are adapted to working within the tub. Much hilarity for the readers ensue, while the poor Page has to run around not knowing what to do until FINALLY at the end of the day, he figures out a way to force the King out.

Heckedy Peg
Hardcover: 9780152336783, $17
Paperback: 9780152336790, $7

You'll find a similar depth of illustration in this picturebook, but a little less light-hearted story. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are seven children told by their mother to not let any strangers in and don't touch fire while she goes to the market. She intends to bring back something for each one of them, but while she is gone, a clever witch convinces the children to open the door, light her pipe with sticks from the fire, and then turns them into food. When their mother gets back, she must rely on how well she knows her children in order to save them from being eaten by the witch. The illustrations are too bright to really be scary, and the mother is a tremendously loving force to be reckoned with at the end.

Jul 28, 2010

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Book of the Day: Guyku by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Introducing the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Book of the Day series!

This series is pretty self-indulgent for me, as it combines my intern life at HMH and one of my favorite blogging exercises - a picturebook series.

First up in the series is a book coming out this fall:

Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys
by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
9780547240039, $14.99, Pub. Date: October 2010

Whimsical and kid-friendly, these haikus speak to the little guys about favorite seasonal activities. Acclaimed illustrator Peter H. Reynolds (probably known best for his books Dot and Ish) brings his signature charm to these illustrations, using a muted color-palate of shades of one color per season - greens for spring, yellows for summer, browns for fall, and blues for winter. Children of all races and sizes fly kites, pound cattails to make pretend snow, skip rocks, and play in the stream. My favorite aspect of this book is that almost every scene takes place outside. This is a true celebration of outdoor fun during all four seasons.

Proving these activities can be enjoyed just as much by girls as guys, one of my favorite haikus reminds me of summer nights from my own childhood when my father used to take my sister and me out to tell us about the stars:

"Lying on the lawn,
we study the blackboard sky,
connecting the dots."

This is a perfect book to share on the first day of each new season, and then write your own seasonal haikus. Encouraging notes by the author and the illustrator at the end will help the reader connect with the creators of such a poignant, inspiring book.

Jul 23, 2010

I'd like to thank the Academy (Part 2)...

Thank you to The Fourth Musketeer for this great honor!

I apologize to you, Fourth Musketeer, and everyone else for being MIA. I'm still trying to figure out how to fit blogging into my new Boston life. I think I'm finally figuring it out, though, and today will be the start of my Boston blogging phase.

In accordance with The Versatile Blogger Award rules, I must do these things in acceptance of this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.

Done above, but will also link to The Fourth Musketeer now.

2. Share 7 things about yourself. 

Here goes nothin':
a. I like lowercase letters better than uppercase letters.
b. Garamond is my favorite "everyday" font. Cool Garamond fact: it uses less ink to print than other fonts. Don't believe me? Check it out here.
c. I have about 60% of my body mapped out for tattoos; 3 already on my body. Now I just have to save the money to get the rest.
d. The next three places on my travel list: New Zealand, Australia, & Ireland.
e. Children's book editing is my dream job. Still working on making it full time.
f.  Skydiving is on my bucket list.
g. If I had to pick a favorite color, it would probably be orange.

3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...) 

Okay, problem with this - not only have I not had time to blog, I haven't had time to read (and thus discover new) blogs. So, I only have 2 new blogs to share, but please see the blog roll in the side panel for other favorites:

a. SlushPile Hell: A grumpy literary agent wades through query fails.

HILARIOUS blog, and today's post is a compilation of Twitter responses to the question: Worse Children's Book...Ever.

b. Catalog Living: A look into the exciting lives of the people who live in your catalogs.

A daily laugh, I guarantee it.

4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.


With this taken care of, I'm officially back in blogger mode! Stay tuned for my new series:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Book of the Day


Found this little man here.