Friday, December 14, 2007

A Yearly Trek to Snowy Wales

Every year at about this time, I try to reread Dylan Thomas's lovely piece, A Child's Christmas in Wales. It's a simple tale, written from the point of view of a young Welsh boy, and it makes me smile year after year. He remembers presents, good things to eat, friends, aunts, uncles, and, above all, the pleasures of snow. This tiny story seems to spell out joy in its simplest, humblest origins. Spend an evening with A Child's Christmas in Wales, and you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An epic adventure for the season!

Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher follows the journey of Mitra and her little brother, Babak, two beggars in the ancient city of Rhagae. But Mitra burns with hope and ambition, for she and Babak are not what they seem. They are of royal blood, but their father's ill-fated plot against the evil tyrant, King Phraates, has resulted in their father's death and their exile. Now disguised as a boy, Mitra has never given up believing they can rejoin what is left of their family and regain their rightful standing in the world.

Then they discover that Babak has a strange gift: If he sleeps with an item belonging to someone, he can know that person's dreams. Mitra believes that they can use this gift to find passage back to the city of Palmyra. But soon Babak and his abilities come to the attention of a powerful Magus-one who reads portents in the stars of the coming of a new king and the dawn of a new age. Soon Mitra and Babak find themselves on the road to Bethlehem.

And an epic adventure begins as acclaimed author of Shadow Spinner returns to ancient Persia in this spellbinding saga--a tale filled with the color of the caravansaries and the heat of the desert, a tale that reimagines the wonder and spirit of a lost age.

This book is found in the Teen Room and will be a great read for all ages!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Witty and Wise

Daniel Pecan Cambridge, the main character in comedian/actor/author Steve Martin's novella, The Pleasure of My Company, is a savant who cannot deal with the stresses of a job, can't cross a street unless one driveway is directly across from the opposing driveway, and cannot sleep unless the wattage in the overhead lights add up to a specific number. His world consists of his laborious trips to the Rite Aid, weekly visits from a student therapist named Clarissa, and an ongoing fascination with Elizabeth, a real-estate agent who he views from his apartment window. One day, the contained little world where this dysfunctional and very funny man lives, is thrown into chaos and the disorder, that Daniel fears, comes crashing in when he accidentally stumbles into the messy entanglements of Clarissa and her young son Teddy's life. Reluctantly, Daniel agrees to provide daycare for Teddy and finds Teddy the salve that draws Daniel, little by little, out of the neurotic niche he has made for himself. In this novella, Martin is far less manic than in his "wild and crazy" Saturday Night Live days. In The Pleasure of My Company, Martin is philosopher, poet and witty storyteller. For an additional bonus, this book is available in audio with Martin reading his own words.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Peculiar Family of Sorts

Haven Kimmel, an Indiana native, first humored and intrigued us with her memoir, A Girl Named Zippy. She is still going strong. Her newest novel, The Used World, is about a woman named Hazel who owns the Used World Emporium, a huge antique store, in the small town of Jonah, Indiana. Rebekah and Claudia are her two employees. Their lives become entangled through unusual circumstances, with Hazel's nudging, and they come to form a peculiar kind of family. Haven's characters are quirky, their thoughts are real and unsentimental, and you'd enjoy having them as friends. The author gives you first-person views from Rebekah and Claudia, so you can really get in their heads and try to figure them out. And Hazel, well, she is a trip! You learn about her childhood, her struggles, and discover what a truly admirable woman she is. If you like books that put you right into the lives of the characters, flaws and all, you'll love this one.