Tag Archive: museum


Enterprise-Schematic-star-trek-the-next-generation

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. Last week got kinda crazy. My boss’s fiance gave birth the week before last so he was out of the office pretty much all of that week and most of this past week. We had just been slammed with work and on top of that, my son and I got either food poisoning or this one-day stomach bug that’s been going around the Phoenix area. Then my hubby got sick and had to see a doctor. Last weekend I got to see the new Star Trek movie, which was awesome. I saw it in 2D but I know it would’ve been pretty cool in 3D as well. I had heard pretty mixed reviews on it, so wasn’t sure it was going to be all that great. I must say though, Benedict Cumberbatch made a very interesting villain, most of all because of his deep gravelly voice (so sexy). Not to mention Chris Pine playing the hero Captain Kirk, with that roguish bad-boy charm, who has to make some incredibly hard choices to get the job done. The movie was full of male and female eye candy, but a good story and a lot of action and adventure to keep everyone entertained as well. I’m hoping they’ll continue making more of these movies. I’ve always been an on-again off-again Star Trek fan, but right now I’m definitely a fan. I grew up watching Star Trek: Next Generation and ST: Deep Space Nine, which I just loved. Probably one of the only reasons I have any idea who Wil Wheaton is today is because of that show. Well that and he now does some of the best teen audiobook narration ever. I watched a bit of Star Trek: Voyagerand think that Janeway was a pretty good captain. I know I’ve watched the movie Star Trek Generations, and the latest Star Trek movie (2009), but I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the other movies. I’m gonna try to watch the original Star Trek series with Kirk, Scotty, Dr. McCoy, Spock et al, but it’s so spectacularly bad (low budget), I’m not sure how long I’ll last. Then I was hoping to tackle 1-6 of the original Star Trek movies.

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This weekend was the Phoenix Comicon. For those who have never been to a comic convention, it is definitely an interesting experience. This was my third one, and it was definitely the biggest and craziest one I’ve ever been to. I went to my first one totally by accident. I had a friend who was interning at the Museum for Comic Book Art in NYC and they were having one at the museum, and I was visiting, so I got invited to it. I wanna say that was the summer of 2003. Even though it was small, it had some really big name people there. Frank Miller, who created/illustrated the series From Hell, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns300, and Sin City just to name a few. My friend had an art-gasm being that close to a legend and got him to sign his copy of From Hell and he did a little drawing too. I discovered a few really cool things like Edward Einhorn, who did an Oz spin-off book called Paradox in Ozwhich was illustrated by the now pretty famous Eric Shanower, who does Oz comics/graphic novels. I’ve read his 5 volume set Adventures in Oz. I also discovered the series Max Hamm: Fairy Tale Detective by Frank Cammuso. That first comicon really opened my eyes to comics, though I probably didn’t really start reading them till around graduate school. My second comicon was last year in Tempe, and it was a bit bigger. I saw a lot of creators/illustrators I had never heard of and some that I had. It was a fun event.

The one I went to yesterday was similar but about 5 times bigger. It took me three hours just to walk all the way through all the vendors/artists/famous folks. They had actors/actresses from many sci-fi and fantasy shows like Babylon 5 (apparently this year was the 20th Anniversary of the show so they had about 14 cast members plus the shows creator there), The Walking Dead stars Laurie Holden, Chandler Riggs, and Michael Rooker (and I was impressed how friendly the last guy looked, not at all like his TV persona), some anime voice over actors, Wil Wheaton, and John Barrowman (star of Torchlight and a frequent guest of David Tennant’s Doctor Who). I would’ve really liked to have met the last two but everyone was charging a minimum of $20-50 for pictures and signatures, so I just checked them out from a far. One of my current favorite writers was there, Adam Rex, but he just happened to be away from his table when I was over there and wouldn’t be back for a half hour. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic, as I have never seen so many people in one area. There must’ve been more than 1000 people in the giant halls they blended together to have one giant space for all the vendors and creator/illustrators. The Society for Creative Anachronisms was there, along with L.A.R.P. (Live Action Role Play – another friend of mine used to do that). I have never seen people in so many different costumes in my life. There were people dressed up like unicorns, any number of superhero and anime stars, Disney princesses, zombies (even saw a zombie Snow White), Catwoman, and there was a guy dressed up like a Tusken Raider from Star Wars and his son was dressed up like a Jawa. There was one random pair of girls in literally just heels, underwear with something written across the butt and a very short top. There was one whole section just for this Star Wars charity group, but they had Lego Star Wars models (Millenium Falcon, Death Star, Star Destroyer). There was this one guy who did these almost pin-up versions of sci fi girls like Princess Leia and others. They had a lot of steampunk jewelry for sale, which I liked, but most of it was out of my price range. Lots of guys and girls were dressed up like Doctor Who, which I was pretty surprised about, to be honest. I mean I know more and more people know about it, but I didn’t think it was that popular. For some reason, that kid’s cartoon show Adventure Time was also really popular and there were quite a few teenagers dressed up like those characters. From a people-watching perspective, it was a very interesting time. There were a ton of families there with small children, though I’m glad I went by myself as I know my son would not have been a happy camper for that long there. His toddler patience is shorter than mine. I didn’t manage to make to any of the panel discussions even though there were quite a few that I had wanted to attend. I think if I decided to do this again, or even better, go to the San Diego Comicon (my ultimate goal), I would buy a two day or weekend pass far in advance. That way I could hit all the vendors one day and then take another day to do panels.

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I know it’s been ages since I’ve done one of these posts, and I apologize. Part of the reason was because they take me forever to compose and my attention span has been a bit wonky lately due to taking care of my child at home, trying to find a job and keeping afloat financially. I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now, as I have hinted at in previous posts. The Northern Renaissance is my favorite time for art and was the first period that I got interested in when I decided to study art history. It is roughly the time between the 1400’s – 1600’s AD/CE. When I was 16, I had the opportunity to go to Europe for the first time since I was born. One of the coolest things I got to see while I was over there was at St. Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. It is an unassuming church but has, as I later found out, one of the most famous works of art of all time there. There was a separate chapel in the cathedral, where for a small fee, you could see The Ghent Altarpiece. Also known as The Mystic Lamb or The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the painting was completed in 1432 by Jan Van Eyck and his brother Hubert. The group I was traveling with, high schoolers and a couple of adult chaperones, had seen a couple of churches before so I knew what altarpieces were. I figured, what the heck. I was blown away when I walked inside, as the altarpiece took up the entire room, literally floor to ceiling. I ended up getting a poster of it, so I could remember all of the details. I believe that this work of art, plus the trip as a whole, was the reason I decided to study art in college.

This is the polyptych (panel paintings divided into scenes) of the open altarpiece.

This is the altarpiece closed.

The cool thing is that earlier this year, in February, the Getty Foundation teamed up with St Bavo’s Cathedral to “undertake comprehensive examination and documentation of the altarpiece”, by removing it from its glass exhibition case so that the polyptych could be conserved. While it was out of the glass, the Getty Foundation came in and digitally photographed every centimeter of the painting, so that it could be examined more closely on a website that they were creating for the project. The painting is so detailed that a lot of its components get ignored. That is no longer the case with this website, where you can literally zoom in on any aspect of the painting that you want. If you would like to learn more about how they did it, which is really pretty fascinating in and of itself, check out the Closer to Van Eyck website address listed above.

The painting itself is one of the high points of the Northern Renaissance style of new realism. As this article from the Met Museum on the painting states: “the astonishing realism of the altarpiece rests not only in the fidelity with which figures, plants, and animals are represented in a convincing space, but also in its ability to forge a sense of continuity between the pictorial and the real world. On the exterior, the frames between the painted panels of the Annunciation scene appear to cast shadows into the Virgin’s chamber, in accordance with the actual direction of light in the Vijd Chapel. On the lower level, the technique of grisaille is used to depict fictive statues of the two Saints John, possibly as a painterly challenge to the long-established convention of sculpted retables. More astonishing still are the near-life-size nudes of Adam and Eve on the interior, who appear to project out of the depths of their niches into real space.” The subject matter, as is the case with most Northern Renaissance artwork is religion. Most artwork created during this time period was to glorify God and the people who commissioned the painting, to get them one step closer to heaven. The patrons of this piece are depicted on the very bottom left and right of the closed altarpiece. The title The Mystic Lamb points to the central bottom open panel where the Lamb of God (Jesus) is standing on the altar and his blood pours into a chalice, which is reminiscent of the Eucharist that Christians celebrate in churches today.

Another painter I really like from this time period is Robert Campin, also known as the Master of Flemalle. His most famous work is the Annunciation Triptych (The Merode Altarpiece)Again the Met has one of the best descriptions of his work in the following article: Like Van Eyck, Campin (and especially this work), is known for “its detailed observation, rich imagery, and superb condition.” You can observe this in the way the two artists depict the drapery on the figures. In the Annunciation Triptych, the central panel is the focal point. We see the Virgin Mary calmly reading while the Angel Gabriel comes in and tells her that she is to be the mother of Jesus, the son of God. The left panel features the donors/patrons of the painting kneeling and listening into what is happening with Mary and the Angel. The right panel shows Joseph, Mary’s fiancée, hard at work in his carpentry workshop. According to the Met, the central and right panel were probably painted first and then the left panel was added at a later time.

The Merode Altarpiece, ca. 1427-32

A student of Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden (also known as the Great Master of Tournai), is another of my favorites. One of his most famous paintings is one that was intended for a chapel in Belgium, but ended up in the Prado Museum, in the Royal Collections, because of the Spanish occupation in the 1500s. This occupation is how so many fantastic works of Belgian/Dutch art ended up in the Prado, the most famous example being Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly DelightsIt is entitled The Deposition or the Descent from the Cross, and shows Christ’s body being taken down from the cross after the Crucifixion. Again, notice the color of his sumptuous textured fabrics (such as Mary’s blue dress, created by grinding lapis lazuli) and as this website puts it, “the way he puts so many people (10 in all) in the scene without making it seem crowded, but rather intimate”. Jesus is being taken down from the cross by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (the older bearded gentleman). His mother has fainted and collapsed due to her son’s death, and is being supported by Saint John the Evangelist. Mary Magdalene is depicted down by Christ’s feet. Despite the small size of the painting here, the actual piece is 7ft tall by 8 1/2 feet across.

The Deposition, ca. 1435

If you are interested in learning more about Northern Renaissance art and/or the Ghent Altarpiece, check out The Mirror of the Artist: Northern Renaissance Art in Its Historical Context by Craig Harbison and Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story about the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece by Noah Charney. I also found this series of videos on famous Northern Renaissance paintings such as The Ghent Altarpiece and The Deposition. 

I had known about this for a while and I knew I was going to write a post about it, as Julia Child is one of my culinary heroes, plus she was just an intriguing person to boot. I swore that I had written about her before, for this blog, but then I remembered that I had done a post on my previous blog for a short-lived group called Cookbook Lovers UniteMy first post for the group was about the first cookbook I ever loved (a 1950s black and white basic cookbook I found at a book sale in 5th grade), but it was also about another of my young adult favorite cookbooks, Julia Child’s Baking with Julia, and includes a recipe that I’ve still yet to try. One of the reasons she is so famous and beloved is because of her idea that anyone can cook and they should have fun doing it. I read her biography, My Life in France, which was co-authored by her nephew and for an average-looking young woman from Massachusetts, she led a varied and fascinating life and helped to impact generations of chefs and common folk alike. Today’s Google Doodle is a tribute to her, as well as this article by Julie Powell, who penned the novel Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which was later turned into a movie (which I only really liked for Stanley Tucci as Paul Child and Meryl Streep as Julia Child), although I did love the book. I particularly liked this quote from Ms. Powell’s article, “Julia was her own brand of feminist, one who saw the kitchen not as a symbol of drudgery and female oppression but as a place of opportunity, no less potent than a boardroom, a place where women – and men – can exhibit rigor and individual power.” The Smithsonian, in 2001, asked for and got the entirety of Julia Child’s kitchen, which is now a permanent exhibit at the Museum of American History. As I have said in a previous post, I love public television and watched a lot of it growing up (same goes for public radio) and still do today. I grew up watching episodes of The French ChefBaking with Julia, and Cooking with Master Chefs. PBS has a whole page of cool Julia Child stuff in celebration of her 100th Birthday, including videos, quotes, factoids, a Pinterest board, recipes and more.

My Crafty Book Club meeting was last Thursday and I was so much looking forward to it. Getting out of the house, even with my child, is a welcome relief. My son managed to charm all the ladies that attended (which is kinda crazy really as he was running around, bumping into things the entire time), and but we didn’t manage to get much book discussion done. I am still trying to read Hitler’s Piano Player: The Rise and Fall of Ernst Hanfstaengl: Confidant of Hitler, Ally of FDR, which is actually a really excellent biography. I’m just incredibly slow when it comes to reading nonfiction biographies. I discovered the subject matter, Ernst Hanfstaengl, when I was listening to Erik Larson’s book In the Garden of Beasts, which is about Hitler’s coming to power in the 1930s, as seen through the eyes of the American Ambassador to Germany and his family. I found it fascinating that this guy went to Harvard and lived in the States for awhile and yet was a German in Hitler’s Inner Circle, and then later betrayed him by becoming a spy for FDR. So I’m reading this biography, which as far as I know, is the only book written on the man, apart from his personal biography. I am also  finished with the audiobook version of Lirael (Abhorsen, #2) by Garth Nix.

Aside from that, I have been having some luck in the job search. I got an email about another position in a local library and interviewed for it last Tuesday. Still no word back, but I’m still hoping that good news will come out of it. I’ve also got an interview coming up with a local museum that I hope will pan out, if the library one doesn’t. I know it’s only been about 2 1/2 months, but I’m going stir-crazy in this house and we could use the extra income. Well anyways, on to the book reviews. As always, I rate things from 1 – 5 stars, one being the lowest and 5 being the highest. The Caldecott Challenge is my attempt to read all of the Caldecott Honors and Award winners from 1938 – the present.

Children

Bearskin by Howard Pyle, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

I found this book after looking up other Trina Schart Hyman illustrated books and it looked interesting. The storyline was predictable and seems like it had just borrowed elements from other tales. Basically the king wants to prevent a prophecy from coming true, so he pays off the miller and takes his son and tells his huntsman to get rid of it. The huntsman’s wife takes pity on the baby and they leave it in the woods and bring the king back a rabbit’s heart. The baby is then raised by a motherless she-bear, who later helps the man, called Bearskin, out on his quests. He prevents the princess from marrying a deceitful steward of the king after it is revealed that he, not the steward, actually slew the dragon. The illustrations were great and featured an African princess and wise man, as well as other characters scattered through the story who were from a variety of different cultures. This was a nice change to your traditional fairy tale. I also like that the illustrator included top of page illustrations, so it made it look like a much older book. Recommended for ages 5-10, 3 stars.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

I enjoyed this quick easy read from Mo Willems. I think the combination between the whiny slightly annoying Pigeon and the super cute Duckling is fantastic. Basically the Duckling asks for a cookie wit nuts(politely) and gets one, then the Pigeon rants and raves about how he always asks for things but never gets them. Then the Duckling gives him the cookie, and the Pigeon is blown away. Afterwards, the Duckling asks for a no-nut cookie. My son loved this book, I think mostly because I loved doing the voices for it! Recommended for ages 1-7, 5 stars.

Queen Esther Saves Her People retold by Rita Golden Gelman

I never really knew the story of Esther so I figured getting a children’s picture book would be one of the easiest ways to find out the story. Well that and I’m trying to find more books to put on my Biblical Children’s Book list. The story is basically this: The King of Persia (called Ahasuerus in the Bible but in actuality it is Xerxes) has banished his wife for refusing to dance, and a few months later, he is lonely. So his advisors look for a woman to replace the queen. Esther is a beautiful young Jewish woman who lives with her cousin Mordecai. She is soon found by soldiers and brought to the palace. She lives in the harem with the rest of the young women brought to see the king, and one day she meets him and she is named Queen. Mordecai stops a plot to kill the king. Now Hamen, was the king’s vizier and he demands that people bow down to him. Everyone but Mordecai does because he will not bow before another human, only God. Hamen vows to kill all the Jews because of this, and Mordecai finds out and tells Esther to talk to the King. So she does and saves not only Mordecai but all the Jewish people as well, so now Jews celebrate this victory in a celebration called Purim.

Now I enjoyed the overall story, but I didn’t like the way the author dumbed down the story because it was meant for children. You can always use the correct words (like harem instead of “special house” or vizier instead of “prime minister”) and have an index in the back of the book or put definitions in the book. The illustrations were really good too, and helped to put the story at a child’s level. I would recommend this book for ages 7-10, 3 stars.

Caldecott Challenge

Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin

This book won a 2001 Caldecott Honor. Like her other books I’ve read “Giggle, Giggle, Quack” and “Duck for President,” Betsy Lewin’s illustrations are what make Doreen Cronin’s books awesome for kids. Well that and the cutesy storyline about cows that borrow a typewriter from the barn and start making demands of Farmer Brown. The best one was when they promised to give back their typewriters for electric blankets, because the barn is too cold. Now if only he could stop those ducks from making demands. My son loved the pictures. Recommended for ages 1-7, 3 stars.

So Want to Be President? by Judith St. George

This book was the 2001 Caldecott Award winner, though I must preferred “Casey at the Bat” or “Olivia” to win that year as I thought they were much better done books. This was an interesting take on the US presidents, giving fun factual information like what kind of pets each president had, who was the tallest/shortest, thriftiest/spent the most money, and what kinds of sports they liked to do. It gets the most props for the illustrations, which were amusing and full of caricatures. The back of the book featured a list of the illustrations, in case you couldn’t figure them out from the descriptions and a list of all the presidents and their major achievements in office. Recommended for ages 5-8, 3 stars.

The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

This book won a 2000 Caldecott Honor award. It is a gorgeous nature-filled adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic  fairy tale, done in Jerry Pinkney’s glorious watercolor illustrations. The ugly duckling spends a year being bullied by all sorts of animals and birds before finally realizing that he is a beautiful swan that everyone now adores. I loved the paintings of the Canadian geese and the swans. Highly recommended for ages 5-8, 4 stars.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

This book won the 1999 Caldecott Award, and I must agree with some others that have said that it was nice that a non-fiction book won. I will say though that I waited forever to read this book as it was so touted as a good book that I tried to avoid reading it. Once again, I was proven wrong. Snowflake Bentley was the name of a man who lived in Jericho, Vermont and loved the winters there. He was so fascinated with the different shapes of snowflakes that he asked for and got a special camera that could photograph them. He became the world expert on snow and when he was 66 years old, with some help from fellow scientists, he finally got a book of his photographs published. The back of the book features a picture of Snowflake Bentley with his special camera, as well as some reproductions of some of his snowflake pictures.

I like how you have the main story in the middle of the page and the facts on the outskirts, for more information. I love the illustrations that are woodcuts that are hand-tinted by watercolors. They really make the story more awesome. Highly recommended for ages 5-10, 5 stars.

Olivia by Ian Falconer

I loved the diva Olivia and her zany adventures dressing up, building sandscrapers, going to the museum and unleashing her inner artist. My favorite lines are at the end where she is reading books with her mother before bed and her mother says “You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway.” I totally know how that mother feels, as I feel the same way about my son. This book was a 2001 Caldecott honor winner. Recommended for ages 1-7, 5 stars.

The Graphic Alphabet by David Pelletier

This book won a 1997 Caldecott Honor award. Now it is supposed to be for kids, but really I think adults will appreciate the graphic design of it more (after all, that is what the author/illustrator’s main job is). As a reviewer on Amazon said, this book would be great for art teacher to use in their classes. It is definitely not your traditional ABC book. Recommended for ages 4+, 3 stars.

Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra by Andrea Davis Pinkney

This book won a 1999 Caldecott Honor, but it would’ve been really hard to choose between this book and “Snowflake Bentley” for the Caldecott Award, because they are both excellent books in story and illustration. The author does a fantastic job in retelling the life of Edward Kennedy Ellington, otherwise known as Duke Ellington, jazz musician and composer, and his orchestra. The illustrator Brian Pinkney, who happens to be Jerry Pinkney’s son, did a fabulous job at making the pictures match the music. He did it in scratchboard renderings with dyes and paint, which makes the artwork look like it is in constant motion, just like a musician does when they feel the music flow through them. The back of the book contains a small biography of Duke, as well as the source materials used for the book, which included books, videos and a museum exhibit. Recommended for ages 7-11, 5 stars.

The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey

This was a 1997 Caldecott Honor award winner. I can see why for its lovely painted illustrations, which help depict the life of a paperboy. The young boy goes out and does his paper run in the dark and only returns to bed, just as light is about to dawn on the rest of the world. My favorite painting was the last one in the book where the boy and his dog are floating off into dreamland. Recommended for ages 1-7, 3 stars.

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

This book won the 1996 Caldecott Award, but I have been putting off reading it forever because there was so much press about it. It was actually a really cute book, and even my son liked it. Officer Buckle knows all there is to know about safety and regularly lectures about it at the local school. However, no one listens to him until he gets a new K-9 dog named Gloria who makes his lectures fun and everyone wants to see them. I especially liked the girl with the star-shaped paper. Cute story and good illustrations. Recommended for ages 1-7, 4 stars.

Adult

My Life As a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud by Kevin Clash

I found about this biography after I blogged about the Muppets yesterday and put a link to the Muppet Wikia, which listed this book. I had already seen the documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.” I absolutely loved the movie and it gave me a little more respect for Elmo, whereas before I just found him to be incredibly annoying. Kevin Clash has had a fascinating career and he is doing something that he loves doing (and it gets paid for it!). If only all of us were that lucky. In the book, he and his co-author give a short biography of himself and how he came to be working for Jim Henson and Sesame Street. By being Elmo’s puppeteer, he has learned love, joy, creativity, tolerance, courage, friendship, cooperation, learning and optimism. Some of the cool things I found out in this book include the following: Mo Willems (one of my favorite children’s author/illustrators) was a Sesame Street writer who came up with the concept of “Elmo’s World,” the mix of computer-generated and live action that brings out a child’s imagination. The Elmo’s World segment of the show was created in the late 90s to get to their new audience: two to four year olds. Originally the show’s audience was 5-8 yr olds. In the section on friendship, Kevin discusses Jim Henson, something I always find fascinating because he seems like he would be a really cool guy to work for, and apparently he was. I also found it interesting that in 2002, “Elmo and Kevin went to DC to testify in front of Congress at the Education Appropriations Subcommittee, to help prevent them from eliminating funding for school arts programs.” Kevin talked about his own experiences in music and drama in school, and how important he believes it is for children to be able to get the same opportunities he did. In the Tolerance section, he discussed the South African version of Sesame Street and how they had decided to put an AIDS-infected character on there to represent the thousands of infected Africans who had the disease. I thought that was a really cool thing they did to address issues of modern society that some people aren’t willing to deal with, but it’s okay to do it on Sesame Street because it is almost like it is in a neutral setting. Anyways, overall I really enjoyed the book and it was a nice quick read. 5 stars

Preacher, Vol 3: Proud Americans by Garth Ennis

Overall, didn’t like this one as much as the last one, but they did explain a lot more storyline in the second half of this volume. I guess the title is about Jesse being overly full of pride and an American, which is one of his downfalls. Continuing the storyline of the last volume, the Grail organization has control of Cassidy and they are slowly killing him. Jesse doesn’t want Tulip to get hurt, so he leaves her at a motel and asks to meet up in a couple weeks in NYC. He goes on to Masada alone. Starr’s mutiny plans aren’t quite working out as the Allfather decides to show up with the actual Grail (inbred offspring of Christ)and figures out that Starr is working against him. Oh yeah, and the Allfather is distantly related to the L’Angelle family, so he’s pissed that Jesse killed Aunt Marie (Jesse’s crazy grandmother). The Saint of all Killers finally catches up with Jesse and almost kills him, until they find out that Jesse knows the secret of what really happened to the Saint’s family. The only problem is he has to be able to access Genesis’s memory, which is currently locked up, according to the angel father of Genesis (who was cast out of heaven and has been imprisoned by the Grail organization). God appears to Cassidy and tells him to tell Jesse to back off and stop trying to find him. Jesse and Cassidy manage to escape and head to New York. The end of the volume we learn of Cassidy’s story, and turns out he’s not quite 100 yrs old. The funniest part was learning Cassidy’s first name. 4 stars.

Preacher, Vol 4: Ancient History by Garth Ennis

This was my least favorite volume of the Preacher series so far. It was solely about minor characters, in this case, the Saint of Killers, Arseface, and the rednecks Jody and T.C. who used to torment Jesse Custer. I will say that my favorite, though definitely the bloodiest/gun-riddled part of the story was about the Saint of Killers and how he got that title. I’m still not sure exactly what miraculous thing Jesse is going to reveal about him and his family, but we will have to wait and see. The Arseface section is where the son of Sheriff Root earns his name and appearance, and vows to hunt down and kill Jesse Custer for his role in his father’s death. You kind of feel sorry for the kid, even though he did it to himself. The Jody and T.C. section just explained how bad-ass they were, despite appearances, and how they took care of business. Overall, I give it 2 stars.

Preacher, Vol 5: Dixie Fried by Garth Ennis

This was much better than the last one as it actually involved storyline. In this volume, we see the less glamorous side of Cassidy. We see his past, where he meets up with another vampire in New Orleans, decides he’s a douche and kills him. Herr Starr goes back to San Francisco to meet up with Featherstone as the new Allfather and is pissed at Jesse for scarring his head, and vows to kill him. Tulip meets up with Jesse and Cassidy in New York and can’t decide whether she wants to stay with him or not, but a conversation with her friend Amy, helps her decide after Jesse swears that he will always trust her. Ever since Cassidy saved Tulip, he has developed feelings for her and finally tells her in NY, which she naturally gets really pissed off about (as she loves Jesse and Cassidy just swore a vow that he would stay with them till the end of this conflict). Arseface returns and eventually finds the gang (Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy) but the boys manage to convince him to stop and take him with them to New Orleans. They are going there to get a friend of Cassidy’s who can hypnotize Jesse and help him remember Genesis’s memories. Only things don’t go quite according to plan for anyone, and Cassidy’s stupidity/selfishness is partly to blame. The only major thing we find out is that God is responsible for the existence of the Saint of Killers and the death of the Devil, and that makes Jesse even more determined to find him. 5 stars.

Preacher, Vol 6: War in the Sun by Garth Ennis

This volume is like volume 3 as it is chocked full of storyline and action! It starts out with Herr Starr’s story of how he got into the Grail and worked his way up the ranks. The new Allfather enlists the help of the American military, via his connections to the President, to help kill the Saint of Killers, so he can get to Jesse Custer. Cassidy apologizes to Tulip for his behavior, then ends up hanging out with Jesse philosophizing about life. The gang (Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy) head to Monument Valley, where Jesse brings some peyote and plans on accessing Genesis this way, only things don’t go according to plan. They run into the Saint of Killers, and Jesse tells him that God is who made him what he is and the Saint swears that they’re even. Despite shooting him with a tank and about a million bullets, the Saint doesn’t die. The gang tries to escape on a plane, but the Allfather drops a nuclear bomb on the Saint (which still doesn’t kill him), and Jesse ends up falling out of the plane. Tulip goes into a horrible depression thinking Jesse is dead, but he miraculously survives and only loses his left eye. One of my favorite parts is when Jesse meets up with the guy out in the desert, Johnny Lee Wombat. After a month goes by and Jesse is healed (thanks to Johnny), they go out to drink beers and smoke in the desert. Johnny is explaining himself and his choices and says “See, you gotta remember, man…It doesn’t matter who you are, or how good you got things. Sooner or later, sh*t goes wrong for everybody. Sooner or later, there comes a time when all you want to do is shout f*** you to the world.” Jesse manages to make his way to Phoenix, where he believes Tulip is and finds her with Cassidy, and he is blown away. Can’t wait to see what happens next! 5 stars.

Preacher, Vol 8: All Hell’s A-Coming by Garth Ennis

So for whatever reason, someone decided to permanently borrow Preacher Vol 7 from the library and I’ve not been able to find it anywhere else in the area. So I had to skip it and go to Vol 8. From what I can tell, not much happens anyways, so there ya go. Tulip has had enough of Cassidy keeping her drugged and drunk, so she skedaddles outta there right quick. We finally get to see Tulip’s back story, how she was raised by her dad, met Amy and Jesse, and eventually meets up with Amy in the present. Amy informs her that Jesse isn’t dead, and that he’s coming to her house to get her help in finding Tulip. Jesse and Tulip reunite and she spills the beans on Cassidy and what he did to her. Jesse finds someone from Cassidy’s past that tells all his secrets and Jesse means to punish him for what he did. Meanwhile, Herr Starr is trying to get rid of the one person that can screw his plans up. Arseface has been disgraced and lost everything. It ends with an episode from Amy, Jesse and Tulip’s past that explains a bit more about Jesse’s cowboy tendencies. Overall, it was action-packed edition that explained a lot of storyline that was left out in the past. Highly recommended, 5 stars.

Preacher, Vol 9: Alamo by Garth Ennis

I enjoyed this volume, but the ending was a bit disappointing. Jesse teamed up with the Saint of Killers to give God his comeuppances for the havoc he’s caused. He plans to have his final showdown at the Alamo, which is rather fitting given that he is a Texan, with Cassidy. Herr Starr finds out his plans and plans an attack of his own. Arseface finds Salvation, Texas (where Jesse was in Vol 7) and meets the girl of his dreams there, and decides to settle down. Jesse tries to save Tulip again by drugging her, but she wakes up in time and reeks mayhem on Herr Starr and his men. Cassidy and Jesse beat the crap out of each other, and then they both pay for their crimes. Or do they? Can’t give away more because you’ll want to read it. 4 stars.

Anti-Inflammation Diet for Dummies by Artemis Morris

I picked up this book because I have joint issues and thought that this diet would help, as it is supposed to help those that suffer from asthma, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes due to inflammation. It very plainly outlines anti-inflammatory nutrition, how certain foods can be toxic for your body and cause allergies/sensitivities, and some really great recipes to use on the Anti-Inflammation diet. Anyways, they break down their food requirements like this: heavily dependent on fresh organic fruits and veggies, beans/nuts/seeds make up 3-4 servings per day, at least 3 servings of omega-3 rich seafood per week, only 1 dairy serving per day, 3-4 servings of whole grains per day, 2-4 servings of lean meat per week, anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to be used at least once per day, and anti-inflammatory oils (olive, sesame, sunflower or coconut) 2-4 Tbsp per day. So basically I need to cut out red meat and eat more whole grains, legumes, seafood, healthy oils and spices. Also stop eating so much professed food, white sugar/flour, and drink more water. While I may not be able to get my husband on the anti-inflammation bandwagon, I will try to be healthier and hopefully that’ll help with some of my issues. 4 stars.

The Inflammation Syndrome: Your Nutrition Plan for Great Health, Weight Loss, and Pain-Free Living by Jack Challem

A bit too technical/doctor-speak for my liking, this book was pretty much a much more in-depth look at what I previously read in “Anti-Inflammation Diet for Dummies.” Mr. Challem’s diet varies slightly from the Dummies version in that it follows more of the Paleolithic caveman diet that has become so popular lately. I get that organic is healthier for you, but it is also more expensive and with the cost of grocery products rising every day, it is sometimes hard to justify the cost. Also as much as I like fruit and veg, I don’t see myself getting 5-10 servings per day. Other than a couple good recipes, the only other good thing I got out of this was the section on fish oils improve mood, which detailed how “omega-3 fish oil supplements were helpful in treating depression, reducing impulsive behavior and hostility, and those that take it are less likely to develop cognitive problems and Alzheimer’s disease.” 2 stars.

Vegetarian Indian Food & Cooking: Explore the Very Best of Indian Vegetarian Cuisine with 150 Dishes from Around the Country, Shown Step by Step in more than 950 photographs by Mridula Baljekar

I found this one browsing the new cookbook section at the library. I have been looking for more vegetarian recipes since I started looking at starting the anti-inflammation diet, which expects you to eat 5-9 servings of veggies a day. I love Indian food, so I figured it was a good place to look. It is a well-done cookbook with a whole introduction section on every province of India and the type of food they cook before getting to the actual recipes, which all had gorgeous photos with every recipe. My biggest issue with the book was that most of the recipes were fried (shallow fried vs deep fried, but still), which I am trying to avoid. Aside from that, it had some really yummy-looking food, like Plantain Curry, Chickpeas in a spice-laced yogurt sauce, Masala Dosai (rice pancakes filled with spiced potato mixture) from South India, not to mention Wheat-flour flat bread with spiced greens, Cardamom-and rose-scented mango drink, and Soft mango fudge. 4 stars.

Vegetarian Entrees That Won’t Leave You Hungry: Nourishing, Flavorful Main Courses That Fill the Center of the Plate by Lukas Volger

I picked this up at the library this past weekend as I’m trying to eat more veggies/fruit, but have run out of ideas of what to do. This book caught my attention as it is frequently the problem I and my husband have with vegetarian food, i.e. it fills you up but you’re hungry afterwards. While I’m not a fan of squash, which the author is fond of in the book, overall I thought it was a great cookbook that definitely expanded the world of vegetarian cooking outside of pasta and pizza (though those are in there too). I found the vegetarian Kimchi to be intriguing, as well as dishes like Bulgur Salad with Kale and Feta, Pumpkin Risotto with Spinach and Chestnuts, and Soba Noodles in a Mushroom-Ginger Broth. He also had five marinades for tofu, which is excellent for me because I am no expert on it either but it is full of calcium and protein and a non-meat source, which I’ve been trying to eat more of. Plus I get bored with my traditional tofu marinade, i.e. soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar and chili-garlic sauce. I wouldn’t mind owning that book. Highly recommended, 5 stars.

Five-A-Day Cookbook: 200 Vegetable & Fruit Recipes by Kate Whiteman, Maggie Mayhew, and Christine Ingram

I’ve been looking for more veggie-themed recipes lately and thought this book would help, so I picked it up at the library yesterday while I was browsing. I definitely marked more desserts than entrees, but found a few good recipes like Spinach in Filo with Three Cheeses and Gnocchi with Oyster Mushrooms. I think the only reason I would give it three instead of two stars was because of the fruit and veg dictionary parts at the beginning of each section, as they were very thorough and I discovered some things I’ve never heard of or seen before. 3 stars.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer

I had no idea that this place or the cookbook existed until I saw it mentioned a couple times on one of my favorite food blogs, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Now I don’t have an ice cream maker, but this cookbook definitely makes me want to buy one right away. Jeni has such amazing and intriguing flavor combinations that I would’ve never thought to put together, like Sugar-Plumped Cherries and Earl Grey tea, Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries, Gorgonzola Dolce with Candied Walnuts, or Cucumber, Honeydew and Cayenne. I definitely would also want to try the Tuscan Sundae, which involves whipped cream, Salty Caramel Ice Cream, Honey/Vin Santo (a sweet Italian dessert wine) Sauce, and topped with a real cherry and Biscotti on the side. Yum, ’nuff said. Highly recommended, 5 stars.

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth and Other Useful Guides by Matthew Inman

I had looked at a few of “The Oatmeal” comics online via some of my friends, and thought they were pretty funny, so when I found this at the library the other day, I checked it out. I will say that most of the comics were definitely geared towards guys, and would probably be more funny to them. However, I did enjoy the grammar and other food-related guides, even if you learned totally useless facts, which I happen to enjoy. Like I learned that if you’re lactose intolerant (which I think I am), you can have cheddar and other aged cheeses because it doesn’t really contain that much lactose. I loved the section on Nikola Tesla, which just made me want to read a biography about him. 4 stars.

The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey by Janna Gur

I liked that new Israeli food is much more diverse than people think of as traditional Jewish food. There are so many different cultures and languages spoken in the country that the food can’t help but be changed by that. Israeli food has influences from Morocco, Yemen, Ethiopia, Russia, Poland, Spain, Austria, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Iraq. The cookbook recipes reflect these countries with dishes such as Shakshuka (traditional Israeli breakfast with eggs, tomatoes and hot sauce) with Spinach and Feta, Chreime-North African Hot Fish Stew, and Chicken Albondigas in Tomato Sauce (Sephardic chicken dumplings). I am very much looking forward to cooking items from this cookbook. 4 stars.

Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes by Joy Wilson

I’m pretty sure I’ve been on her blog before, to check out a recipe or two, but never really looked at it. This cookbook was awesome, full of not only amazing recipes like Chocolate Malted Buttercream Frosting and Oatmeal Raspberry Ginger Scones, but also it had a really personal funny family touch as well. I enjoy it when bloggers/cookbook writers tell you about family history and anecdotes and not just make it all about the food. It gives their story personality and makes you want to come back and read it again. This is one of those books. Can’t wait to try out the recipes! 5 stars.

Monday I came across an article on The 20 Most Beautiful Children’s Books of All Time, which one of my friends had posted on FB. I finally got a chance to look at it on Tuesday and for the most part I agree with their choices. Some of the best include The Arrival written & illustrated by Shaun Tan, Flotsam written & illustrated by David Wiesner, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale written by Verna Aardema and illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon and Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Tale from China written & illustrated by Ed Young. I’m not the only one to think so, but the Caldecott committee liked what they’ve seen to, as three out of the four books have been awarded the Caldecott Medal. These five illustrators are some of the best out there. I happen to love David Wiesner‘s wordless picture books: Flotsam, Sector 7, and Tuesday as they are some of the most imaginative picture books out these days. Leo & Diane Dillon have been an illustrating couple since the 1960s (though Leo started in 1957), and are the only couple to win the Caldecott Medal two years in a row for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears and Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions (which are both excellent books). I just found out today that they did the cover art illustrations for the Garth Nix Abhorsen series, i.e. Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. Sadly Leo Dillon passed away in May of this year. Shaun Tan is an Australian illustrator who creates picture books as well as traditional paintings. While his work tends to be for older children and young adults, I love his crazy Bosch-like drawings, like the ones in The Arrival or Tales from Outer Suburbia. Ed Young has won the Caldecott Award once and the Honor twice for his illustration work, although I think he should’ve won for Wabi Sabi as well. For more information on this artist, check out his website.

In addition to the five listed above, there are so many great illustrated Children’s books out there. Some of my favorite older illustrators (1900s to 1980s) include Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak (more about him in this post),  Kate Greenaway (more about her further on in the post), Randolph Caldecott, Beatrix Potter, Arnold Lobel of Frog and Toad are Friends fame, and Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey (my favorite being How the Sun Was Brought Back to the Sky, which I still own, pictured below).

How the Sun Was Brought Back to the Sky, 1975

I also enjoy Mercer Mayer (especially his Monster books and grew up with his Little Critter series that I’m sharing with my son) and Charles Mikolaycak. The last artist only did work from the 1970s-90s, as he died in 1993. The first book I saw of his was his illustrated version of the famous poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. Below are examples of his work.

Bess, The Landlord’s Daughter from The Highwayman, 1983

I bought the following book after I moved to Arizona, as I thought the artwork was beautiful. Definitely not a kid’s book, but it is gorgeous.

Orpheus, 1992

Some of my newer favorites are Tony DiTerlizzi, Jerry Pinkney, Paul O. Zelinsky, Sylvia Long, Lane Smith, Brian Selznick, Tom Murphy and Mo Willems. Tony DiTerlizzi’s work is just phenomenal and it’s an added bonus that his writing is great as well. I got into his work by reading the beginning of The Spiderwick Chronicles, then moved to Kenny and the Dragon, and now my favorite books of his are his Wondla series (2 books out so far and can’t wait for the third!). Jerry Pinkney has been illustrating books since the 1960s but I only recently discovered his work while doing my Caldecott Challenge. Now I am just in love with his work. He has won tons of awards, including two Caldecott honors and one Caldecott Award. My favorite book at the moment is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star which he wrote last year, pictured below.

Most people know who Lane Smith and Mo Willems are. Lane Smith classically teamed up with one of my favorite children’s writers and all-around crazy nice guy Jon Scieszka (sounds like “Fresca), for such works as The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and Science Verse. But he also produces his own author/illustrator books such as It’s A Book and Grandpa Green (which won a Caldecott Honor). He was also the Conceptual Designer for the Disney film James and the Giant Peach. For more info on Lane Smith, check out his website. Mo Willems has become incredibly popular with his Don’t Let the Pigeon… series and my personal favorite, the easy reader series Elephant and Piggie. I also love his book Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Willems drawings are simple but hilarious and so expressive, it’s no wonder kids love them. Brian Selznick is also pretty well known thanks to the fact that his Caldecott Award winning book The Invention of Hugo Cabret has recently been turned into a movie. Hugo and Selznick’s newest book Wonder Struck are my favorites and I’ve even managed to get my mother to read both of them, which she really enjoyed.

Now for the somewhat lesser known artists from my newer illustrators list, or more likely you have seen their work but had no idea it was from them. Paul O. Zelinsky has been illustrating children’s books since 1978, but I think really hit it big when he stared illustrated Beverly Cleary’s books. He did the artwork for Strider, Ralph S. Mouse, and Dear Mr. Henshaw. I am fascinated by these because I read them as kids, well two of the three at least, and never thought about the artwork until I got to graduate school and began studying it. I did have a chance to meet him in person a few years ago and get my copy of Rapunzel autographed, though I did act like a total nerd when I found out that he also studied art history in college. I find that book to be particularly amazing because it was done completely in Northern Renaissance style, which happens to be one of my favorite artistic periods, but also I would think, very hard to copy. I found an interesting blog post on this page, where I found the Rapunzel picture (personally I’ve always loved fairy tales, and my aunt used to read my cousin and me the real Grimm versions, even if they were scary – we loved them).

Rapunzel, 1997

Sylvia Long is the illustrator of the Dianna Hutts Aston’s gorgeous nonfiction picture books.  These books include A Seed is Sleepy, An Egg is Quiet, and A Butterfly is Patient. I can’t wait for the day when my son is old enough to read these books. Tom Murphy has illustrated four books with author Sean Bryan, including The Boy and His Bunny, The Girl and Her Gator and The Bear and His Boy. The illustrations and the text are so cute and funny.

An Egg is Quiet, 2006

If you ever want to check out some museums that feature children’s book illustrations, check out the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) in Abilene, Texas or a little bit better known is the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. The NCCIL has an exhibition on The Lorax on at the moment, and the Carle Museum has one on the art of Ezra Jack Keats and his book The Snowy Day, one on Lucy Cousins’ heroine Maisy, and The Art of Eric Carle and the Birth of a Museum (as the museum has been open 10 years in 2012). I was lucky enough to see a great collection of material including original copies of illustrations by Ezra Jack Keats, H.A. and Margaret Rey (creators of Curious George), Kate Greenaway, and Randolph Caldecott at the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi when I was down visiting family. I grew up with Kate Greenaway books when I was a kid, so I knew who she was even before I learned about the British Illustrator’s Award named after her. For any adult seriously interested in illustration and/or children’s literature, I highly recommend checking it out after making an appointment with the curator.  I would love to go to the Eric Carle Museum as they always have cool workshops going on plus I’m sure their collection is awesome (that’s the museum nerd in me coming out, lol). The Carle Museum has a number of book lists with tons of great picture books to recommend for the moms, dads and other caregivers out there.

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