Abbey Anclaude

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In 1998, The Diary of Bridget Jones allowed readers a peek at the not-so-private life of Bridget Jones, a 30-something, eternally dieting, single girl caught in the undertow of career ambition. Her half-hearted attempts at a worthwhile career consumed some of her time, but Bridget was more concerned with her personal life and at the end of Diary, it seemed her persistence paid off.

Well, Bridget is back, and ready to enter a new phase of life, one of spirituality and truth. Bridget Jones: The Age of Reason picks up about a month following Diary. Mark Darcy is still around (quite a coup for Bridget, who rarely hangs on to a boyfriend long enough to call him one) and while she is no longer a Singleton, she is fast becoming a Smug-Going-Out-With-Someone. But, guilty-pleasured Bridget fans, don’t despair: Trouble always finds Bridget, usually at her own invitation. It doesn’t take long for Bridget, Shaz, Jude, and their complete library of self-help books to convince Bridget that she is Mark’s Just for Now Girl, and once again our dear heroine is catapulted back into the familiar and dreaded world of Singletons.

Magda and Jeremy pop in and out from their Smug Married Life, and have Vile Richard and Pretentious Jerome mended their ways? Depends on who’s talking. Unfortunately, Tom does not happen ’round as much as we would like; well, after all, we were there for him during his nose job and musings about Pretentious Jerome in Diary, only to have him deliver most of his witticisms via telephone in Reason? How dare he? How dare Fielding? Instead, we get a large dose of Mum and Shaz, and they are annoying (thanks to Fielding’s clever writing). And Bridget, still being abused by her crazed boss Richard Finch (not to be confused with Jude’s Vile Richard), does manage a short-lived career high when she interviews Colin Firth in Italy. She also hits a new low when she is imprisoned in Thailand for drug trafficking. While prison life is often over the top (even for Bridget), most readers will empathize with her longing for a shower and a copy of Marie Claire.

I didn’t think it could be done, but Fielding has once again written a laugh out loud chronicle of Bridget Jones’s misadventures. And yes, someone does leave the ranks of Singleton permanently, but to become a Smug Married? Never! Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re too high-browed for this sort of fun, for Bridget is a case in point: Pride cometh before the fall.

Abbey Anclaude is a former teacher who writes from her home in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1998, The Diary of Bridget Jones allowed readers a peek at the not-so-private life of Bridget Jones, a 30-something, eternally dieting, single girl caught in the undertow of career ambition. Her half-hearted attempts at a worthwhile career consumed some of her time, but Bridget was more concerned with her personal life and at the […]
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McBoing Boing keeps going going It’s been nearly 50 years since Gerald McBoing Boing was introduced to audiences as an animated cartoon by United Productions of America. The story goes that Theodor Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss to booklovers young and old, ran into a friend who worked at UPA. The friend suggested that Geisel write a piece for them that was different from the animated shorts of the day. The end result won an Academy Award and was made available in book form briefly during 1951, and then vanished.

That is, until now. Random House Children’s Books has brought Gerald McBoing Boing back from oblivion. How does Gerald communicate with a word-speaking world? Does he make friends and attend school? A new generation will be introduced to the boy who spoke only in sounds and his harried father Mr. McCloy; they will also learn how a curse can become a gift. Don’t miss this treasure of Seussian verse!

McBoing Boing keeps going going It’s been nearly 50 years since Gerald McBoing Boing was introduced to audiences as an animated cartoon by United Productions of America. The story goes that Theodor Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss to booklovers young and old, ran into a friend who worked at UPA. The friend suggested that Geisel […]
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Most children would rather eat their lima beans than look up a word in the dictionary. Guide words, phonics, and varying word forms fall prey to well-meaning answer givers, computer spell-checks, and old-fashioned laziness. When a child is told to look it up, the response is often a resounding groan. The solution? Fight fire with fire. When the folks at Merriam-Webster sought to develop the first dictionary with attitude, they went right to the source: that feisty feline himself, Garfield.

Anyone who has read Jim Davis’s cartoons knows that Garfield is one cat who doesn’t have time to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable. Garfield and Merriam-Webster was a logical partnership, creating a dictionary for children that is not only easy to use, but fun to use. Unlike its counterparts, The Merriam-Webster and Garfield Dictionary does not include obsolete words, highly technical words, or rare meanings of certain words. Instead this volume focuses on words commonly used around the classroom or office.

Following the basic A-Z section, there are several listings of names, foreign words and phrases, documentation and style techniques, and other helpful tidbits that enable youngsters to work independently.

Garfield, of course, is prevalent throughout the entire book, with cartoon clips that demonstrate usage of various words found on the corresponding pages. Garfield even has his own Daffy Definitions section, with hilarious words that are defined with Garfield’s . . . er, unique spin.

A dictionary is one of the most important tools a student needs; a really good dictionary is invaluable. The Merriam-Webster and Garfield Dictionary is a great resource for a child who is reluctant to use a dictionary, or children who are learning basic dictionary usage. After all, spell-check isn’t foolproof.

Most children would rather eat their lima beans than look up a word in the dictionary. Guide words, phonics, and varying word forms fall prey to well-meaning answer givers, computer spell-checks, and old-fashioned laziness. When a child is told to look it up, the response is often a resounding groan. The solution? Fight fire with […]
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Porcine ponderings Bruce Lansky has done it again: created a book of poems that’ll make you cry. Cry from laughing so hard, that is.

It starts out innocently enough, this book called If Pigs Could Fly . . . and Other Deep Thoughts. Parents will snatch it up, thinking they have purchased a book of deep, meaningful philosophical Ðisms for children that will develop their minds and character. Well, okay. Whatever.

Don’t worry, kids. Embrace this book, thank your folks, and prepare to get the last laugh. Lansky covers a variety of relevant subjects, including “Sibling Madness,” “Parents and Other Geezers,” and “Love and Other Diseases.” Lansky knows the only things your brother is willing to share are his streptococcus germs; your sister’s feet stink; and that love can run a vicious circle.

The poems are short and to the point. Uh, and deep and all that.

Porcine ponderings Bruce Lansky has done it again: created a book of poems that’ll make you cry. Cry from laughing so hard, that is. It starts out innocently enough, this book called If Pigs Could Fly . . . and Other Deep Thoughts. Parents will snatch it up, thinking they have purchased a book of […]
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It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed since Sylvester held his magic pebble and turned himself into a rock. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, published in 1969, won the Caldecott Medal in 1970 and remains a favorite of children and adults. Author/illustrator William Steig, who has been in children’s book publishing for roughly 35 years, shows no signs of stopping. Steig has published over 30 children’s books, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble selling 500,000 copies alone. In fact, just last year Steig and his wife Jeanne worked together on A Handful of Beans, which was recognized by the New York Times as Best Illustrated Book.

Sylvester’s humorous illustrations of fully dressed farm animals conducting daily business upright are set against the simple and endearing text. Simon ∧ Schuster has issued special anniversary editions of Sylvester with a 30th Anniversary bellyband on the hardcover and 30th Anniversary burst on the paperback. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was recognized by the California Teachers’ Association as one of the 100 Best Books of the Century. The good news is that Sylvester will continue to delight young readers for centuries to come.

It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed since Sylvester held his magic pebble and turned himself into a rock. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, published in 1969, won the Caldecott Medal in 1970 and remains a favorite of children and adults. Author/illustrator William Steig, who has been in children’s book publishing for roughly […]
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Connie Green wasn’t bargaining for trouble when she arrived in Blackpool for a networking conference. In fact, she would have preferred to stay at home with her loving husband Luke and invite their equally loving friends over for dinner. So when she finds herself flirting with John Harding and they wind up at another conference in Paris, Connie finds the lines between adultery and fidelity blurring. It doesn’t take long before she can no longer tell the difference, nor does she care.

In the meantime, Connie’s friends Sam, Daisy, Rose, and Lucy are leading hit-or-miss lives of their own. Connie’s life is something of a fairytale: She left the carefree days of many lovers (which eludes the noncommittal, ruthless Lucy); found a wonderful husband (which eludes Daisy and Sam); and still manages to have fun (which eludes Rose, an ex-corporate up-and-comer now saddled with children). So why would Connie even look at another man? Connie isn’t sure of the whys either, but very quickly arrives at a point of obsession. John feeds this obsession, and soon discretion is dismissed as well. One by one, Connie’s friends uncover the truth, with varied opinions about her behavior: Lucy coaches her, Sam tolerates her, and Daisy is mortified. Then there’s Rose, who ultimately finds herself in the same vulnerable position as Luke. The most unlikely source of confrontation, Rose helps Connie reassess what is important to her and how far she’ll go to retrieve it. It is then that Connie finally realizes the magnitude of her sin.

Readers will find the first half of Playing Away disturbing; the idea that Connie is getting away with blatant adultery without repercussion is shocking. Ironically, readers will also like Connie; she truly is a likable character, making it very difficult to hate her or turn a deaf ear when she explains her actions and feelings. Wanting to hug her instead of thrash her is even more disturbing than Connie’s actions, but Connie does eventually pay, and she pays dearly. Adele Parks mingles humor with dark, realistic themes of boredom and isolation. Some may regard the ending as sappy, but after all the suffering, no other ending would suffice for such an endearing crew of friends.

Abbey Anclaude is a former schoolteacher.

Connie Green wasn’t bargaining for trouble when she arrived in Blackpool for a networking conference. In fact, she would have preferred to stay at home with her loving husband Luke and invite their equally loving friends over for dinner. So when she finds herself flirting with John Harding and they wind up at another conference […]
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Thirty-six-year-old Patty Murphy has waited patiently for her husband and children. Unfortunately her patience has not paid off. Patty is essentially a homemaker disguised as an unmarried real estate salesperson, a distinction she would not deny. As the narrator of Elizabeth Berg’s latest novel, Until the Real Thing Comes Along, Patty makes these points perfectly clear within the first few pages.

She readily admits that she has, in her two years at Rodman Real Estate, managed to sell one house (which happened to sell for $3.2 million). Despite her less-than-ambitious career, she enjoys the real estate business; her desire to be a wife and mother, however, overshadows any joy that she receives from showing houses. As Patty’s story unravels, the reader/confidante is taken through a maze of scenarios and reflections that center around a fictitious husband and a multitude of make-believe children.

Patty has known since the sixth grade who would make the perfect husband and father: Ethan Allen Gaines. She and Ethan are very close, and have even been engaged. Their engagement was broken when Ethan confessed that he is homosexual. The good news is, they have remained good friends, though the relationship is often frustrated by Patty’s lingering love and blind hope that Ethan is simply going through a phase.

Two things that both Patty and Ethan desire are the right man and many children. And since neither have any prospects in either area, they decide to have a child themselves. Though Patty’s pregnancy does not match the daydreams that had danced in her head for 36 years, she is happy with their decision . . . right? Factored into the Patty Murphy equation are an elderly couple whose days are numbered, a love her/hate her beautiful best friend, and two worried parents. And while Patty’s encounters with each character are amusing, there is an underlying, inexplicable sadness that tends to permeate each relationship. This sadness culminates when Patty discovers that her mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Amid these trials of life, Patty begins to focus on what the real thing actually is. A self-proclaimed runner-up in the pageant of life, Patty realizes that perhaps the real thing includes loving someone or something despite itself. Because of itself, actually. A warm-hearted story that gently offers insight rather than answers, Until the Real Thing Comes Along would especially appeal to those who have survived loss and crisis.

Thirty-six-year-old Patty Murphy has waited patiently for her husband and children. Unfortunately her patience has not paid off. Patty is essentially a homemaker disguised as an unmarried real estate salesperson, a distinction she would not deny. As the narrator of Elizabeth Berg’s latest novel, Until the Real Thing Comes Along, Patty makes these points perfectly […]
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Let’s just start by saying that the latest Eloise installment is NOT for grownups to read to children. So if you’re a grownup, stop reading this and hand it over to a child. Assuming this has made it into the hands of a child, the rest of this review is for your eyes only.

Now, dear children, you know that Eloise creates big fun in the grownup world that surrounds her. Eloise’s Guide to Life, complete with new Hilary Knight illustrations, will offer you no new revelations. I mean, you all know how to chew gum, keep a suitcase packed in case of a quick getaway, and that getting bored is simply not allowed. But take a good look at the grownups around you do they know these things? Have they ever? To help you reach the grownups in your life, our perennially six-year-old heroine tirelessly took on the task of starring in her own self-help book. Eloise’s Guide to Life is a must-have for any child trying to reach the post-pubescent. Adults may need some of the text and illustrations explained; for example, why are paper cups the best way to communicate with Martians? What good is a rubber band on the end of one’s nose? These are vital things to know if we (and they) are to remain six forever.

So when I say that the latest offering from Eloise is not intended for an adult to read to a child, it is simply because it is intended for a child to read to an adult. I mean, when it comes to self-help, why wouldn’t you turn to the best possible source? Abbey Anclaude is a former schoolteacher.

Let’s just start by saying that the latest Eloise installment is NOT for grownups to read to children. So if you’re a grownup, stop reading this and hand it over to a child. Assuming this has made it into the hands of a child, the rest of this review is for your eyes only. Now, […]
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Boo! Did we scare you? Little ghosts and goblins all over the country will spend this month getting ready for Halloween. To get into the spooky spirit of things, try some of these new releases. They register at different places on the scary scale, so please note the age preferences on each: A Beasty Story (Silver Whistle, $16, 015201683X, ages 3Ð7) is a much-anticipated collaborative effort of author Bill Martin Jr. and illustrator Steven Kellogg. The story consists of two levels: One is the narrative, the other commentary from four curious mice. The narrative tells a spooky story about a beast who is unleashed; however, the mice’s remarks provide a nice balance, indicating a not-so-spooky ending but not before the mice are frightened by the beast.

The Gargoyle on the Roof (Greenwillow, $16, 0688096433, ages 6 and up) is a series of funny, creepy poems by Jack Prelutsky. Prelutsky’s poetry explores the more philosophical side of eerieness: How does a werewolf barber feel about his life? How does a vampire groom himself? Why does a nice vampire girl have to change into a werewolf? Characters that normally make your skin crawl will tickle your ribs instead.

The New Young Oxford Book of Ghost Stories (edited by Dennis Pepper, Oxford University Press,$22.95, 0192781545, ages 9Ð12) isn’t quite as whimsical, however. Most of the stories are from the early 20th century, and a third of the stories are in print for the first time ever. The stories range from eerie to odd to funny. Mary Frances Zambreno’s The Ghost in the Summer Kitchen takes a gentle approach with a twisted ending, while Robert Scott’s The Opening Match will make you laugh. Older children will appreciate the diverse themes.

The Nightmare Hour: Time for Terror (ages 9-12) is a collection of ten new stories by the same author who brought us the Goosebumps series. Each story includes an introduction by Stine, and illustrations by ten talented artists. The illustration that accompanies The Dead Body, for example, is particularly gruesome. One particular favorite, Afraid of Clowns, confirms my long-held suspicions about what lurks behind those painted faces. And I’m Not Martin should not be read prior to a tonsillectomy! Definitely for children who think they’re too old for Halloween; after reading these chilling stories, they may just change their minds.

ÐAbbey Anclaude

Boo! Did we scare you? Little ghosts and goblins all over the country will spend this month getting ready for Halloween. To get into the spooky spirit of things, try some of these new releases. They register at different places on the scary scale, so please note the age preferences on each: A Beasty Story […]
Review by

Boo! Did we scare you? Little ghosts and goblins all over the country will spend this month getting ready for Halloween. To get into the spooky spirit of things, try some of these new releases. They register at different places on the scary scale, so please note the age preferences on each: A Beasty Story (Silver Whistle, $16, 015201683X, ages 3Ð7) is a much-anticipated collaborative effort of author Bill Martin Jr. and illustrator Steven Kellogg. The story consists of two levels: One is the narrative, the other commentary from four curious mice. The narrative tells a spooky story about a beast who is unleashed; however, the mice’s remarks provide a nice balance, indicating a not-so-spooky ending but not before the mice are frightened by the beast.

The Gargoyle on the Roof (Greenwillow, $16, 0688096433, ages 6 and up) is a series of funny, creepy poems by Jack Prelutsky. Prelutsky’s poetry explores the more philosophical side of eerieness: How does a werewolf barber feel about his life? How does a vampire groom himself? Why does a nice vampire girl have to change into a werewolf? Characters that normally make your skin crawl will tickle your ribs instead.

The New Young Oxford Book of Ghost Stories (ages 9Ð12) isn’t quite as whimsical, however. Most of the stories are from the early 20th century, and a third of the stories are in print for the first time ever. The stories range from eerie to odd to funny. Mary Frances Zambreno’s The Ghost in the Summer Kitchen takes a gentle approach with a twisted ending, while Robert Scott’s The Opening Match will make you laugh. Older children will appreciate the diverse themes.

The Nightmare Hour: Time for Terror (by R.L. Stine, HarperCollins, $9.95, 0060286881, ages 9-12) is a collection of ten new stories by the same author who brought us the Goosebumps series. Each story includes an introduction by Stine, and illustrations by ten talented artists. The illustration that accompanies The Dead Body, for example, is particularly gruesome. One particular favorite, Afraid of Clowns, confirms my long-held suspicions about what lurks behind those painted faces. And I’m Not Martin should not be read prior to a tonsillectomy! Definitely for children who think they’re too old for Halloween; after reading these chilling stories, they may just change their minds. ¦ ÐAbbey Anclaude

Boo! Did we scare you? Little ghosts and goblins all over the country will spend this month getting ready for Halloween. To get into the spooky spirit of things, try some of these new releases. They register at different places on the scary scale, so please note the age preferences on each: A Beasty Story […]
Review by

Boo! Did we scare you? Little ghosts and goblins all over the country will spend this month getting ready for Halloween. To get into the spooky spirit of things, try some of these new releases. They register at different places on the scary scale, so please note the age preferences on each: A Beasty Story (Silver Whistle, $16, 015201683X, ages 3Ð7) is a much-anticipated collaborative effort of author Bill Martin Jr. and illustrator Steven Kellogg. The story consists of two levels: One is the narrative, the other commentary from four curious mice. The narrative tells a spooky story about a beast who is unleashed; however, the mice’s remarks provide a nice balance, indicating a not-so-spooky ending but not before the mice are frightened by the beast.

The Gargoyle on the Roof (ages 6 and up) is a series of funny, creepy poems by Jack Prelutsky. Prelutsky’s poetry explores the more philosophical side of eerieness: How does a werewolf barber feel about his life? How does a vampire groom himself? Why does a nice vampire girl have to change into a werewolf? Characters that normally make your skin crawl will tickle your ribs instead.

The New Young Oxford Book of Ghost Stories (edited by Dennis Pepper, Oxford University Press,$22.95, 0192781545, ages 9Ð12) isn’t quite as whimsical, however. Most of the stories are from the early 20th century, and a third of the stories are in print for the first time ever. The stories range from eerie to odd to funny. Mary Frances Zambreno’s The Ghost in the Summer Kitchen takes a gentle approach with a twisted ending, while Robert Scott’s The Opening Match will make you laugh. Older children will appreciate the diverse themes.

The Nightmare Hour: Time for Terror (by R.L. Stine, HarperCollins, $9.95, 0060286881, ages 9-12) is a collection of ten new stories by the same author who brought us the Goosebumps series. Each story includes an introduction by Stine, and illustrations by ten talented artists. The illustration that accompanies The Dead Body, for example, is particularly gruesome. One particular favorite, Afraid of Clowns, confirms my long-held suspicions about what lurks behind those painted faces. And I’m Not Martin should not be read prior to a tonsillectomy! Definitely for children who think they’re too old for Halloween; after reading these chilling stories, they may just change their minds. ¦ ÐAbbey Anclaude

Boo! Did we scare you? Little ghosts and goblins all over the country will spend this month getting ready for Halloween. To get into the spooky spirit of things, try some of these new releases. They register at different places on the scary scale, so please note the age preferences on each: A Beasty Story […]

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