Archive: May 2008

I’ve sung the praises of Lane Smith before, and now here are two of his collaborations with Jon Scieszka that are pretty neat. Math Curse is my favorite of the two books in this nonfiction series about school subjects. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more in this series in the future; Science Verse hints at an art class book.

Read more on Math Curse and Science Verse…

Silent Music is a beautiful book. Ali is a young boy living in Baghdad in 2003. He tells us how much he loves soccer and loud music, but what he really loves is Arabic calligraphy. The long sentences, the easy words and the hard words are all laid out magnificently, and his explanations of how it feels to draw the letters is excellent. The design of this book, the illustrations, the text are all just stunning. The book ends with the war in Iraq beginning and life changing for Ali. He tells us it’s easy to write the word “war,” but writing the word “peace” takes much more practice for him. The change in his lifestyle is subtle but definitely there, so it keeps the focus on the written Arabic language and not a heavy-handed political message. Very elegant and lyrical, a great title for a lesson on life in Iraq.

Read more on Silent Music by James Rumford…

I’m a little obsessed with Giada De Laurentiis’s cookbooks. She’s one of those TV cooking show hosts that for years I tried to resist until I realized that I actually adore her. I admit that I also have some Rachel Ray cookbooks, but the thing with those is that I always end up tweaking the recipes like crazy until I find a version I like. The Rachel Ray books were things I relied on a few years ago when I was first really learning how to cook, but I quickly outgrew them when my tastes evolved and I wanted more challenges. Giada is a relatively new cookbook discovery for me, and I cannot resist her or her shows anymore! Her recipes are just delicious and easy to follow. It’s like finding out the untouchable head cheerleader/valedictorian is also really nice and likes Nina Simone as much as you do.

Anyway, I stocked up on a couple more of her books recently, including Everyday Pasta. Tonight I tried it out for the first time with her Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne. It was a hit, Adam told me to put it in the regular recipe rotation. I have my own made-up recipe for Spaghetti with Lemon and Chicken, and this is a more elaborate and created-by-an-actual-professional version. It was really creamy and subtle, the kind of meal that’s hearty but perfect in hot weather.


UPDATE 6/8/08: Here is the actual recipe:

1 pound penne pasta
3 tbs olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp herbes de Provence
Pinch of salt, plus 1/2 tsp
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
Zest of 1 lemon
Read more on Giada’s Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne…

Here are this week’s obsessions:

These Pencil Coasters from HKExpressions are pretty witty. I thought about buying them to use as gift tags or cards for my writer, librarian, and teacher friends. Or just for a Naughty Librarians party or something. They also have these very kitschy patriotic coasters that would be fun to give as a sort of ironic gift, too. Or for a July 4th cookout.

Read more on Friday Etsy Shops IV…

Everybody Bonjours is the story of a little girl who goes to France. Everyone is incredibly friendly, the language is different, and there are so many things to see. It’s a neat story about language differences, all the things to see in Paris, and the friendliness of people in other places. Everything is one big adventure. It’s sweet, and the illustrations by Sarah McMenemy are reminiscent of Bemelmans’s Madeleine.

Read more on Everybody Bonjours! by Leslie Kimmelman…

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