The death bell rings.
Everyone knows what
the death bell brings . . .
It’s time for class. You’re in the place
where goblins wail and zombies drool.
Welcome, you’re just in time.
Monster School is in session — come right in and meet the gang!
These just might be the scariest, spookiest students ever — a class where nobody blinks twice about the odd hairy eyeball on the floor or having a teacher who’s a screaming banshee.
Strangely enough, when you read about them, these spirited scholars seem to feel freakishly familiar. 🙂
In her newest children’s book Monster School (Chronicle Books, 2018),poetry wizard Kate Coombs has conjured up 18 fangtastic poems just perfect for some Halloweenish fun. Illustrated by Georgia cartoonist Lee Gatlin (who professes to love drawing monsters most of all), this cauldron of creepiness will cast you under its spell and tickle your skeletal funny bone.
Written in a variety of poetic forms, the mostly rhyming poems introduce us to some very interesting pupils, two weird teachers, and one voracious class pet.
Take “Fernanda Kabul” (please) — she has a way of instilling dread at the mere mention of her name. Part brat, part bully, and a vengeful liar, this “terrible, heartless” dressed-all-in-black “princess of hex” thrives on terrorizing her classmates:
One time Josh was laughing at something I said and she thought he was laughing at her. By the time she was finished he wasn’t a kid: He was three inches long. He was covered with fur.
Break out the marmalade, Paddington Bear turns 60 this year!
On October 13, 1958, Michael Bond published the first book about our favorite ursine from darkest Peru, A Bear Called Paddington.The novel was inspired by a stuffed bear Bond rescued from a department store shelf on Christmas Eve, and it took all of ten days to write.
Today, Paddington boasts an international following with some 70 titles translated into 30 languages, with 30 million copies sold. A beloved British institution, Paddington shows no signs of slowing down with two very successful feature films, oodles of merchandising, and commemorative coins issued by the Royal Mint.
We can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by chatting with award winning author/illustrator R.W. Alley, who’s been drawing Paddington since 1997. Though there have been several other Paddington artists through the years (Peggy Fortnum was the first), to my knowledge only Mr Alley has illustrated Paddington quite as long, and in all formats — novels, picture books, board books, and early readers. He’s also the only American among the Paddington artists.
I credit Gail with piquing my interest in Jewish culture and cuisine, and we used to joke about my wanting to find a nice Jewish grandmother to adopt me. Kind, generous, and very loving, Gail was devoted to her family and was especially proud of her grandchildren, whom she referred to as “my raison d’être.”
Gail’s death came as a complete shock to me. I learned about it on Facebook while casually scrolling through my newsfeed one day. I had no idea she had been battling cancer, and it was devastating to hear that she was gone. Not too long before that she had emailed a photo of her grandson’s bar mitzvah, so I assumed all was well.
“Bring on the Cake. We really want to Live.” ~ Maira Kalman
When a cake shows up, it’s party time.
Cakes enjoy stealing the show at our most important celebrations: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, graduations. Fancy and festive, they know how to have fun.
But cakes don’t have to be luscious, layered, and laden with buttercream to make a lasting impression. As Maira Kalman and Barbara Scott-Goodman suggest in Cake (Penguin Press, 2018),it’s more about whom we share our cakes with and why.
The true deliciousness of cake? Baked-in love. For celebrations, yes, but even sweeter for life’s everyday travails.
With warmth, wisdom and her signature panache, Maira serves up a series of short, delectable illustrated vignettes, most culled from cherished family memories. These are interspersed with 17 of Barbara’s scrumptious recipes, each with a delightful headnote, some with Maira’s gouache paintings alongside.
Maira begins with “The First Cake” she remembers, a chocolate cake with a side of grapes, an after beach treat she enjoyed on the “cool stone tiles” of Aunt Shoshana’s terrace in Tel Aviv.
There’s her “Ninth Birthday” cake, part of a stellar celebration where “all the girls wore fancy dresses” and she was easily “the happiest one there,” and “The Broken Heart Cake,” which Shoshana baked to soothe Maira’s teenage soul.