Faites que le rêve dévore votre vie, afin que la vie ne dévore votre rêve … (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Yours Truly, Goldilocks

Title: Yours Truly, Goldilocks
Author: Alma Flor Ada
Illustrator: Leslie Tryon
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Edition: August 1, 2001
Language: English
40 pages
Ages 4 and up

Goldilocks, the Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Pigs, and other well-known fairy tales characters come to life in this enchanting little book.

The epistolary form used to tell the story  is imaginative and very well done. Each letter is written in a different typography (hand writing) and on a different stationery, details which add to the charm of this book. 

I read this book to 1st and 2nd grade students. They enjoyed the story and the illustrations very much and loved to look at the detailed map.

 It is a great way to teach student about letters. But the vocabulary can be very difficult for young readers. I understand that some letters were written by the wolves, aka the "older" characters in the story, but the story is meant for children and so the humor was totally lost on them.  It was however not lost on me as I had a good laugh about it.

So overall I would recommend this book, even to young children but an older audience would probably like it more. Just expect to explain quite a few words to children as they won't always understand the vocabulary.

Just Being Audrey

Title: Just Being Audrey
Author: Margaret Cardillo
Illustrator: Julia Denos
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
First edition: January 25, 2011
Language: English
32 pages
Ages 4 and up

“Just Being Audrey” by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos. A lovely and short biography of Audrey Hepburn’s life. The drawings are all amazing! It’s a very nice book to read to children!

The story starts when Audrey is very small.  A side of her life that not many know, especially if you have never read biographies about her.

The book talks about her dream of becoming a ballerina dancer.  I love this part because it shows that despite being teased at school, Audrey kept thinking about her dream and persevered in her work.

And how she became an actress. Gorgeous drawing by Denos!

The book also mentions her life outside the screen.  Despite being rich and famous, Audrey never forgot the poor and helpless and I think this is important to remember about her.

There are many more illustrations and they are wonderful to look at. The text is easy to read and the drawings complement the text perfectly. 

I would recommend this book without hesitation because it is so heartwarming and sweet.

Audrey Hepburn is a great model of kindness and grace for children to learn from.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yum Yum Bento Box

Title: Yum-Yum Bento Box
Authors: Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa
Publisher: Quirk Books (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
144 pages all in color

Beautiful recipe book with detailed lush pictures on each page.
Maybe not simple to reproduce if one is not familiar with Bento but it gives many ideas.

Apart from te recipes, there is a section about common ingredients and tools used in bento box making.

I cannot say anything bad about this book because it was so cute and colorful!

Double click on picture for full size image. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Lucky Shopping Manual

This Lucky Shopping Manual: building and improving your wardrobe piece by piece
By Kim France and Andrea Linett, editor in chief and creative director of Lucky magazine
Published by Gotham Books (October 2003)
320 pages in English, all in color

After I graduated and started working, I realized I could not longer wear my hoodies and sweat pants and had to switch to a more professional look. It was quite difficult to do so on a tight student budget and I really did not know what to buy either.  This book was really useful in that regards.  But I think it is also a very pretty book and anybody who wants to get a better closet could find it useful as well.

The Lucky Shopping Manual is divided into 14 chapters and some extras

Each chapter covers a type of clothing like Tops, Skirts, Pants, etc.

Each chapter has a section entitled Getting Dressed to show how to pair the clothing items

The Undergarment chapter's Getting Dressed section is very informative.

The Fit and Styling Tips section shows how to find the perfect fit for each clothing item.

There is a section about what is the best type of clothing for each body shape.

The Fashion Challenge section proposes daring or unusual pairing.

There is a section about what items to buy if you want to build a decent closet.

Apart from the 14 chapters, we also get a few extras like a peek into a celebrity's closet.

Another extra is a section about what to pack for a beach weekend, city weekend etc.

Some of the other extras are:
  • Streamline your wardrobe
  • Classics to collect
  • How to take care of your clothes
  • 10 Lucky Rules of Shopping
  • Cool stores around the country
I like this book very much because the pictures and colors are gorgeous and it is also informative.
The paper is glossy and each of the 320 pages are in color.  The pictures are displayed in a simple and elegant format.  Definitely a great present for yourself or for a friend.

Friday, January 14, 2011

La première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules

Title: La première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules
Author: Philippe Delerm
Publisher: L'Arpenteur / Gallimard (1997)
Language: French
91 pages

A collection of the little pleasures of life. If you have seen the French movie "Amélie" and remember how each character had a list of likes and dislikes; then this book can be viewed as a pleasant read of 34 "likes".  They may seem just like an everyday routine activity but some people take great joy in them and that idea is what the book is all about.

Each of the "likes" is described in a short story of about 2 or 3 pages.  Some of them are universal, but some are more typical of France and the French lifestyle.  Even if the situation was not something I was familiar with, I could still relate to the feeling it could stir in somebody because the writing was good enough to evoke those feelings in me.  For example, I have never played "La Pétanque" and have never met or seen anybody playing that game but reading about it was still very fun and I could totally relate to what the players of the game have experienced.

My favorite likes? The first sip of beer and the Agatha Christie novel! I won't spoil it for you and write all the other ones!  You will have to find out for yourself :) Enjoy!

The English translation is "The Small Pleasures of Life" with Sarah Hamp as translator. I have not read the translation so I can't really comment on it but I think it is worth reading in another language to see if all the subtleties of the French text and lifestyle could be adapted into English.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

35 kilos d'espoir

Title: 35 kilos d'espoir
Author: Anna Gavalda
Publisher: Bayard Jeunesse (2002)
Language: French
96 pages

The first novel I read from Anna Gavalda.  It's the touching story of Grégoire, a 13 year old boy who is not doing very well in school but this does not mean he is stupid or that he does not have any talent.

He is struggling but gets some help from his grand-father Léon until he fails so miserably at school that even his grand-father seems to have lost faith in him, or so he thinks.

This short novel is a page turner that I could not put down.   What I really like about Grégoire's story is the compassionate tone of the narrator.  I was expecting a lot of hardships for the young boy but he was surrounded by people who cared, people who loved him.

The author was very successful in making me root for her main character.  I despaired, and laughed, and cried along with little Grégoire.  That's quite a feat, considering the fact that she only had 96 pages to make it happen.

Gavalda's story filled me with so much hope and happiness.  I wished there were more novels like this one!

I did not read the English translation but I know it is entitled 95 Pounds of Hope (translator: Gill Rosner) and there is also a Spanish version 95 Libras de Esperanza (translator: Isabel Gonzalez-Gallarza).

Good read!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Les carnets d'une coquette raisonnable

Title: Les carnets d'une coquette raisonnable
Author: Hélène Millerand
Publisher: Editions du Seuil, 1992
Language: French
185 pages
"Les carnets d'une coquette raisonnable" is one of those books that you wished you could buy for each one of your girlfriends.  It is the ultimate beauty handbook but it encompasses much, much more than simple beauty tricks. 

The cover sets the tone for the whole book.  It is exquisite in its understated beauty and simplicity.  Delicately ribbed with a drawing of a lady sitting on what could be a Récamier, it seems to promise its reader a world of secret revelations within.  

The content did not disappoint me. It elevates the epicurean lifestyle to a whole new level of grace.

There are few illustrations and photos in the book, mostly from old French posters or adverts and they are only in black and white.  But they are all lovely and reflect the mood of the book perfectly.

 The book is divided in four main chapters:
1. Bath and Beauty
2. Clothes, Shoes and Accessories
3. Hygiene and Exercises
4. Love and Health

The first chapter is by far the best one in my opinion. The bath ritual becomes an art form in this book.  The author describes in extreme details the bath ritual and explains the care to be given for each part of the body.  It was marvelous to read through her step-by-step instructions as how to prepare oneself for a bath.

In the second chapter, Hélène Millerand details the perfect wardrobe any woman should have. You won't find the most recent fashion fad here.  She gives you a general overview of what makes an elegant woman.  What I like most was the section concerning undergarments. It was very informative.

Reading the third chapter felt like hearing my own mother and grandmother nag me constantly about protecting my skin from the sun.  Guess what? That advice is still good and all dermatologists will tell you to wear sunblock and wear your hat!   But the part where the author talks about old-wives medicine still has me wondering if it really does work.  Best way to find out is to try them out I suppose.

The fourth chapter is not so much a chapter as it is a Conclusion. It was only 2 pages long and the author shares her conservative views about marriage and having children.  This ending is a little abrupt as the reader goes from self-indulgent body care to family duties and obligations but it cannot really spoil the incredible feeling that the book had given me.