Abbey Anclaude

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 […]

Why is it that as children, we can't seem to grow fast enough? And when exactly do we "get big"? Beloved children's author Margaret Park Bridges asks the same question in her latest book, Am I Big or Little?. A young child is trying to understand how she can be big and little at the same time. She asks her mother, who gives her practical answers; for example, she is still young enough to "want dessert all day long," but big enough to be willing to "wait for it." On and on, Tracy Dockray's gentle, playful watercolors show the happy bond between parent and child as they explore this abstract idea in concrete ways. For parents with little ones "growing" impatient, this is a wonderful book to share.

The central character in another new book is also impatient about growing, and learns that growing is not always a physical action. Andrea Shavick's You'll Grow Soon, Alex (Walker &and Co., $15.95, ISBN 0802787363) helps children understand that when the spurts aren't showing on the outside, let them shine through from the inside. Alex was fed up with folks patting him on the head and calling him Shorty. He dreamed about growing tall; he tried to eat right, get some exercise, and stretch himself every day. He sought advice from everyone his father, his mother, his teacher and finally, his very tall Uncle Danny.

Uncle Danny knew that being tall wasn't always a great thing, either. Cars and doorways simply aren't conducive to the exceptionally tall (which definitely explains Danny's lumpy forehead). So Uncle Danny decided that Alex should shift his focus a little, and concentrate on getting the most from life. There's no comparing such wonderful experiences as eating a popsicle in a bubble bath, or telling a good joke, or even smiling. So while Alex remained among the un-tall, he discovered something else about himself instead.

Now there's a couple for good measure.

Why is it that as children, we can't seem to grow fast enough? And when exactly do we "get big"? Beloved children's author Margaret Park Bridges asks the same question in her latest book, Am I Big or Little?. A young child is trying to understand how she can be big and little at the […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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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