Caroline Richardson

Best-selling fantasy author Neil Gaiman has become a household name to fans of the genre, with books and graphic novels such as The Sandman, Coraline and Anansi Boys. As a child, Gaiman found that short stories were ideally suited to how he read, offering potent mouthfuls of other worlds, just the right size to be swallowed whole before lights-out. Another benefit of story collections is their diversity if one tale doesn't suit, the reader can always skip ahead to the next. Both of these elements make Gaiman's inventive new collection, M Is for Magic, a particularly good choice for summer reading.

One of my favorite stories is "Chivalry," in which an elderly widow purchases the Holy Grail from her neighborhood thrift shop. An errant knight appears and attempts to win the Grail from her, only to be put to work on delightfully mundane tasks, his offers staunchly refused. A favorite of a different sort, "The Price" leaves readers with an unsettled chill. A devoted rescuer-of-cats learns that a favorite stray is actually rescuing him, fighting a losing battle with the devil, who is stalking the narrator's family. And then there's the dreamy, utterly terrifying "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," where two would-be Romeos crash the wrong party in search of some action and end up angering a universe.

"Horror stays with you hardest," Gaiman says. "Fantasy gets into your bones." Stories can terrify or entrance; in M Is for Magic, they do both at once.

Best-selling fantasy author Neil Gaiman has become a household name to fans of the genre, with books and graphic novels such as The Sandman, Coraline and Anansi Boys. As a child, Gaiman found that short stories were ideally suited to how he read, offering potent mouthfuls of other worlds, just the right size to be swallowed […]

On holidays, Jackie Kennedy told her children that rather than buying presents or cards, they should illustrate a poem to give to family members. Later, these hand-decorated poems were pasted into a special family scrapbook. Now an adult with children of her own, Caroline Kennedy presents A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, her loving gift to poetry readers of all ages, but especially those young enough to prefer sitting in a loved one's lap to reading on their own, splashing in puddles to carefully treading the sidewalk and making mud pies to baking the real thing. Though Kennedy selected these poems for children, you'll find no Dr. Seuss here; this is classic poetry, timeless poetry, great poetry. Both famous and little-known poems by Alexander Pope, Ted Hughes, Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Walt Whitman, and many others are carefully arranged in sections that speak to a child's view of the world: About Me, That's So Silly!, Animals, The Seasons, The Seashore, Adventure and Bedtime. Jon J. Muth's rich watercolors draw the reader in, adding insight and suggesting parallels between poems. A Family of Poems is a collection to be cherished by young readers and savored in the company of the ones they love.

On holidays, Jackie Kennedy told her children that rather than buying presents or cards, they should illustrate a poem to give to family members. Later, these hand-decorated poems were pasted into a special family scrapbook. Now an adult with children of her own, Caroline Kennedy presents A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, […]

No one knows when Chaucer died (don't be fooled by the date on his tomb in Westminster Abbey). Despite the immense popularity of Chaucer's poetry during his lifetime and the important offices he held in the court of King Richard II, his name disappears from all public record in the year 1400, with no mention of his death at all. This is odd imagine if Stephen King or John Grisham were to simply disappear without a trace today. Who Murdered Chaucer? A Medieval Mystery, written by Terry Jones with Robert Yeager, Terry Dolan, Alan Fletcher and Juliette Dor, explores Geoffrey Chaucer's mysterious disappearance.

Terry Jones, you ask? Wasn't he one of the guys in Monty Python? He was, but he also happens to be a famed expert on the Middle Ages whose academic work on the period has garnered significant critical acclaim. Who Murdered Chaucer? is not a biography; Jones describes it as “less of a whodunit? than a Wasitdunnatall?” Unlike Ackroyd, Jones delights, much as Chaucer himself did, in stirring the quiet pond of beliefs scholars have accepted for centuries. Jones explores Chaucer's relationship to King Richard II and his successor, Henry IV, as well as Chaucer's vitriolic criticism of the church in The Canterbury Tales, to examine and support the hypothesis that Chaucer's disappearance owes far more to dissident political opinions and a change in regime brought by a usurper king than the fault of time and incomplete record-keeping. Jones is not unbiased; he has clear opinions of people such as Henry IV and Archbishop Arundel, yet these opinions and his controversial conclusions are supported with meticulous research of a myriad of texts from the Middle Ages, ultimately creating a terrific piece of revisionist history that offers a highly plausible explanation for the death of Geoffrey Chaucer. Who Murdered Chaucer? is a riveting and engrossing read for anyone from the medievalist to the average reader seeking entertainment.

No one knows when Chaucer died (don't be fooled by the date on his tomb in Westminster Abbey). Despite the immense popularity of Chaucer's poetry during his lifetime and the important offices he held in the court of King Richard II, his name disappears from all public record in the year 1400, with no mention […]

<B>In the poet's corner</B> Peter Ackroyd is well known on both sides of the Atlantic as a master of both history and biography, for works such as <I>London: The Biography</I> and the novel <I>The Clerkenwell Tales</I>. Ackroyd's new project is a biography series entitled Ackroyd Brief Lives, appropriately beginning with <B>Chaucer</B>. In this short biography, Ackroyd elucidates Chaucer's work and times and also reveals how significant a public figure Chaucer was, serving as a diplomat and courtier for a number of monarchs.

<B>Chaucer</B> is a small volume, the perfect size to keep at hand for quick and easy fact checking. This is the book you pick up when you need someone to simply and concisely explain exactly what Chaucer did (or rather, might have been doing) that summer in 1370 when he was sent by the king to Italy with special letters of protection against the Italian government. Chaucer is old-school biography, focusing on the deep religiosity of Chaucer's works and the years spent in the service of the Crown, only speculating outside the standard and academically approved facts of Chaucer's life when absolutely necessary to maintain the cherished image of a poet who is worldly yet innocent of the vices and human flaws he lambasted so successfully in his writing.

<B>In the poet's corner</B> Peter Ackroyd is well known on both sides of the Atlantic as a master of both history and biography, for works such as <I>London: The Biography</I> and the novel <I>The Clerkenwell Tales</I>. Ackroyd's new project is a biography series entitled Ackroyd Brief Lives, appropriately beginning with <B>Chaucer</B>. In this short biography, […]

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