Bored? Nothing to do? Jump into a cozy picture book on a winter night. Troublesome trolls and a beauty's Beast! Helpful hedgehogs and polite polar bears! Whether you find yourself surrounded by swirling snowflakes or a chilly blue twilight, there are no better companions for winter's frozen brightness than Jan Brett's tales from the European tradition.
Jan Brett knows all about the magical relationship between a book and a reader. "I remember the special quiet of rainy days when I felt that I could enter the pages of my beautiful picture books," she once recalled. "Now I try to recreate that feeling of believing that the imaginary place I'm drawing really exists."
How do the Sun and the Moon affect the Earth? Without the Sun, the Earth would be a big ball of frozen mud, just another asteroid, drifting in space with no gravity to anchor it here and nothing to give us heat and light. We could not be here without the Sun.
With a mother who tries to be prim and proper and a daddy who dreams big but has sorrowful, often hilarious runs of bad luck trying to make his way in the world, young Daisy Fay—with a chipped front tooth, brave heart, and clever mind—finds the 1950s a spectacularly exciting time to come of age. As in her other best-selling novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, Fannie Flagg’s Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man overlays its sometimes somber situations with such absurdities as to have readers laughing out loud.
Ivan Doig’s This House of Sky is a memoir set in the rugged, sheep-raising terrain of Montana. It was a time when the last of the small-town ranchers were on their way out, pushed along by the Great Depression and rich men buying up failed farms to add to their own.
The author’s people were not of the rich kind. They were scrappy, immigrant stock. Ivan’s grandfather came with family from Scotland. They ran sheep til their luck ran out. Then they worked for the big ranchers. Ivan’s father was a little guy, but he broke broncos—sometimes breaking his own bones doing it -- rode herd on sheep, bossed the other hands, and fell in love with a 16-year-old girl.
Fried chicken. Cornbread. Sunday morning bacon. Apple Brown Betty. All of these delicious, home-cooked foods traditionally come out of a cast-iron skillet. At my house, we have three or four of them that have been passed down through generations. While Ellen Brown’s New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook has takes on these basic things, it opens a wider range of flavors and techniques from around the country and around the world.
In Bobbie Pyron’s The Dogs of Winter, five-year-old Ivan doesn’t know where his mother went. Maybe she traveled to the City to find work. She had lost her job at the bakery, so they hadn’t had anything good to eat for a long time, and the house had no heat. The bad man who lived with them just said she was gone. Forever.
Gumdrops, lollipops, chocolate squares, jelly bears, and peppermint candies. The sky is the limit as far as decorating your own gingerbread house. They are a ton of fun to decorate, but first you need to make the house itself.
It ain't over 'til it's over! Every year kids and adults build up a head of steam for the Christmas holidays. Then the magical day comes and goes too quickly, leaving scraps of wrapping paper and half-munched cookies all around the house, as well as the nagging feeling that someone special has been left off the greeting and gifting list.
Sisters Maria and Giovanna are the daughters of one of Venice’s leading makers of artisan glass. They have trained to do certain tasks to help keep the business prosperous after their beloved father’s death. But a provision in his will demands that Maria—who wants nothing more than to help create beautiful things—must be married off to a nobleman while her gorgeous, sweet sister will have no such opportunity.
What was it like to live long ago when Virginia belonged to England? When there were no cars, no computers, few hospitals and no free public schools?
Without cars, trains or airplanes, people traveled by boat, horseback or on foot by "shank's mare". The reason so many colonial towns were located next to rivers is that often the roads were terrible seas of mud. It was so much easier to travel on the rivers!