Friday, December 28, 2007

The Ugly Duckling, by A. A. Milne

I naively started reading this play thinking that it was a version of the children's story of a young duckling who grew up into a beautiful swan. Instead, this is the clever original Ugly Duckling story of a cursed young princess whose most beautiful characteristic is her strength of character, a young prince intimidated by the rumors of the young woman he is to marry, and a creaky drawbridge. It's sweet, short, and a nice bedtime story. It also encourages you to like yourself, no matter what other people think of you.

Persuasion, by Jane Austen

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen book. Don't get me wrong, I love Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park and all the rest...her other books are probably better written, or more interesting to everyone else. The fact remains that Persuasion holds my greatest interest. There is really nothing more romantic than a couple of lovers separated by financial situation, friends and family who give bad advice, and eight or so years of miscommunication and awkwardness. There is something in the character of Anne Elliot that reminds me of Jane Austen as well-as though the author patterned the character and all the ridiculousness that surrounds poor Anne after herself. The intimate way that Austen describes the shame felt by an unmarried (and supposedly unpretty) woman in that day and age makes me like her even more; as though Austen recognizes the social stigma that she herself was given, but has enough courage to put those same feelings out for the world to judge.

Then again, maybe I'm a little biased, because in some way I feel intimately connected with Anne myself. My favorite quote from the book speaks the reason why. It is in chapter 19 when, speaking Anne's thoughts, the narrator says "One half of her should not be always so much wiser than the other half, or always suspecting the other of being worse than it was." What luck to find a friend who knows how I feel! Please read, and fall in love with Frederick and Anne like I did.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld

Question: Does adding avocado or pumpkin puree make something healthier? I took a look at this book while I was waiting for the customer service guy in Borders earlier this evening, and pureed pumpkin, avocado, and potato seemed to be the main "deception." Carrots were also in there, which, I agree, would seem like a healthy deception to add to brownies or something, but pumpkin? Avocado? Potatoes? Really? I guess she did have some with cauliflower, which you would have to hide if you were going to serve it to me. If you find a recipe with broccoli or green peas or something hidden, let me know. Please don't think I'm discrediting the recipes, though. I haven't tried them. So if you try it and like it, again, let me know.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Flotsam, by David Wiesner

There are no words in this book, just pictures, and I think that is what makes it even more magical. The story is about a little boy at the beach. He’s a very scientific lad, and he’s brought with him magnifying glass, microscope, and whatever other little gadgets he needs to explore the shores. As he is looking for interesting little creatures to examine, he finds an old-fashioned waterproof camera in the sand. He develops the film and begins to examine the picture. What he discovers in the picture is the most thrilling part.

It was clever, imaginative, and even a little heart-warming. I won’t say “read it,” because it’s just pictures. Instead, find it, take the pictures in, and enjoy your own little trip to the beach.