What a wonderful introduction to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for the young (or a reminder of the message for the young at heart) to receive by watching A Muppet Christmas Carol with friends and family this holiday season. Muppet Gonzo the Great, as author Charles Dickens, and his friend Rizzo the Rat, as himself, narrate and add some Muppet mayhem to this classic tale. With music by Paul Williams and Michael Caine as a bemused Scrooge, this movie is sweet, funny, and heartwarming. I am a lifelong Muppet fan, and, like Jason Segal in his new Muppet Movie this year, want to save the Muppets from being forgotten. So suspend your disbelief and enjoy Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as the Cratchits!
Jacob and Robert Marley (Muppets Statler and Waldorf) are the ghosts who haunt and heckle Scrooge in song about his avarice and greed. The chains Marley & Marley show Scrooge, which he has forged in his life, rattle his black soul and he starts his journey of self-discovery. Scrooge, of course, is haunted by Muppet ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Gonzo and Rizzo go along for the ride and add a little slapstick humor. Mixing the classic Muppet repertoire with Charles Dickens’ story is done seamlessly, such as the party at Fozziwig’s (played by Fozzie Bear) Rubber Chicken Factory with Animal jamming on the drums--a delight.
Why red roses on Valentine’s Day? The language of flowers was invented for communication between lovers—a flower can send a coded message. Red roses represent passionate, romantic love. Pink roses are sent for friendship. Shakespeare uses the language of flowers when Ophelia gives Hamlet rosemary for remembrance before she ends her life.
Victoria Jones, in The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, is obsessed with the subject, but she uses it to spread animosity. Having aged out of the foster care system in California and facing imminent homelessness, her life reads like a series of unfortunate events.
When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die. In George R.R. Martin’s rich fantasy, King Robert of the House of Baratheon wins the game by defeating the Old Dynasty, the House of Tagaryen, but as his best friend, Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell’s family motto states, Winter is Coming, and things are changing. Robert was a better soldier than king so the House of Lannister threatens his power, and a civil war breaks out. Jaime Lannister fights with his brawn, and his brother, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, with his wit.
Martin’s characters are not black and white; he goes back to Sir Thomas Malory, where even Lancelot, the role model for chivalry, has deep, fatal flaws. Stark is an honest man, yet he does not know whom to trust and endangers himself and his family. If you love fantasy combined with the Arthurian legend of knights and chivalry and an added twist of Machiavellian political intrigue, this book is for you. The magical elements of the godswoods, the dragon eggs, and the evil beings lurking the wilds of the north add an air of mystery and the supernatural to the novel.
Grief is a love story told backwards.
Heidi is no strangers to loss. She almost lost her mother as a child; she lost a baby. Two years ago Heidi lost her husband Henry, and she has been lost ever since. She is a gifted pastry chef who cannot even bake a cake for her sister’s wedding. The world has moved on but she has not. She is literally grief-stricken. She cannot explain to her now anxious germ-phobic son Abbott how in one moment your safe world can change suddenly and irrevocably. In The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, Bridget Asher captures Heidi’s sadness and her path back to love with great empathy, gentle humor and vivid imagery. The novel is sweet without being sappy and great for the armchair traveler to Provence.
If you are a fan of House, MD and are tired of the summer’s reruns, give Doc Martin a try. This BBC series has a British version of a neurotic and tortured physician. He’s rude, socially awkward, and funny-looking – yet still lovable.
Lan Samantha Chang presents difficult questions in this thoughtful and provoking novel, All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost: Is a poet born or made? What happens to the poetic imagination as time passes? What is the role of poetry in our time?
I am a hopeless romantic, so of course I fell in love with Sarah Addison Allen’s charming books. She writes adult fairy tales where love is worth the risks. Pack her four novels in your beach bag and enjoy. The books are magical. The Peach Keeper, her latest work, is about what happens when secrets come out in the open. Walls of Water, North Carolina, has strange breezes that sound like whispers of secrets. Regret haunts the main characters and smells like lemons.
Twins Colin and Paxton Osgood, Willa Jackson, and Sebastian Rogers all went to high school together. They were known as the Princess, the Stick Man, the Joker and the Freak. Happiness has eluded all of them. Paxton Osgood is thirty years old, unmarried, and living at home, and president of the Women’s Society Club. Colin has run away from Walls of Water, his rigid ways, and his heritage. Willa has settled for a quiet life running a sporting goods store and doing laundry regularly every Friday night. Sebastian, now a dentist, has come back home but must face his difficult past.
The following is an email conversation between two CRRL library staff members, Craig and Mercy, about Audrey Niffenegger's graphic novel for adults, The Night Bookmobile. The Night Bookmobile "tells the story of a wistful woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing library on wheels that contains every book she has ever read. Seeing her history and most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile. But her search turns into an obsession, as she longs to be reunited with her own collection and memories." (Book summary)
From: Mercedes Sais
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 5:58 PM
To: Craig Graziano
Would you peruse The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger and tell me what you think? I am not a connoisseur of graphic novels, but this one disturbed me in its view of the reading life.
From: Craig Graziano
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 6:01 PM
To: Mercedes Sais
Subject: RE: Perusal
Sure Mercy, I put it on hold and will tell you what I think of it.
From: Mercedes Sais
Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 1:56 PM
To: Craig Graziano
Subject: RE: Perusal
Craig, let's do a duet blog with our email responses to The Night Bookmobile. What do you think?
The book says "dark" from the beginning with the title. Even the colors chosen are not primary colors often chosen for children's books so you know it's an adult novel. Plus no regular bookmobile comes late at night. Alexandra is a creature of the night.
Witch Diana Bishop and vampire Matthew Clairmont in A Discovery of Witches are the Romeo and Juliet of the supernatural world. This is a book about the powers of magic, books, and love. The novel is clever, well-written, and romantic.
The two meet in Oxford’s Bodeleian Library when Diana, a Yale historian, is doing research and accidently calls up an ancient, powerful manuscript which explains the origins of witches, vampires and demons—and may show how to destroy them, too. She has spent her life denying the magical side of her nature in favor of reason, but when dangerous undead characters start to harass her to get the manuscript, she needs help.
Fiona Goble makes a herd of fleece monsters that are cuddly and sweet in Make a Monster. She creates 15 easy-to-make toys out of fleece scraps. As a fabric addict, my goal this year is to use up my scraps, and this book helped. I fell in love with Toby, the sleeping bunny, and I had a scrap of bright yellow fleece in my stash so I made a herd of them to give as gifts. I love that she gives each toy a name; I think the devilishly red Leo will be my next project.
The sweet monster toys have step-by-step directions with pictures to follow of each step and full-size patterns in the back to copy and use. I love a craft book with color pictures of all the projects, and this one fits the bill. She also has explanations for all the embroidery stitches you will need and rates the difficulty of the sewing--and most projects are quite easy. Some toys have adorable clothes such as shorts and skirts and need a little more sewing experience. She adds a “Cool Idea” to each project where you can give a little twist to make your toy even more unique.
With a few buttons and stitches, you can give your monsters their own personalities!