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Category Archives: Fiction

Part 1 – Children’s Books: from the Good to the Banned

For some reason, I ordered Harold and The Purple Crayon from Amazon last week (my subconscious jonesing for a grandchild).  When I pulled the book out of the box I was struck by the welling up of emotion that came with just seeing the familiar bald and pajama-clad Harold holding his purple crayon.

“One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.”

And thus begins a journey and adventure, compliments of Harold’s imagination, as he maps his way using his purple crayon to draw him into the scene.  Sometimes his imagination gets him in trouble but it always comes up with a solution.  I love the independence and resourcefulness of Harold.

So this stroll down memory lane gave me an idea, and I reached out to some friends to see which books they remembered.

Chanelle Schneider:  I had so many favorite books as a child, but my favorite (that I remember) were the Create Your Own Adventure books. They played into my nature to see more than one side of a story. I haven’t shared the books with any children, but I would love to write a script one day that uses the same idea.

Apryl Hanson:  My favorite book as a child was Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

I actually didn’t have a copy of this book when I was little but I had a friend who did, and it was my favorite book to read. I believe this is what started my love for poetry. The way the poems would be clever and rhyme. Before my daughter could even read, I saw these books while on business book purchasing extravaganza at my local book store. I would read her the poems while she sit on my lap.

As an adult I still think the poems are clever and sweet. As my daughter has gotten older, she cherished the books as well, always reading different poems, and I too think it inspired her love for poetry.

We both write poetry, music and song lyrics. I think this book did its job of inspiring us to go the extra mile to find ways to put words together that others would enjoy.

Phil Simon:  For some reason, Judy Blume’s Superfudge was my favorite book as a kid. I must have read it ten times.

Looking back, I can’t exactly pinpoint why I was so drawn to that book. Perhaps it’s because the eponymous character was always getting into trouble. Perhaps I liked the fact that I had already learned about Fudgie in Blume’s previous book, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  I already felt a connection to the character and the book continued the narrative.

Storytelling is still very important to me and, even though I write non-fiction with a technology bent, I attempt to weave a good yarn in my books.

Ed Kless:  Although I am an avid reader, I have no recollection of being read to as a child. I have no favorite books from childhood that I can at all identify. However, as the father of five including a two-year old, I have read my fair of great children’s books. These would include, but not be limited to: Goodnight Moon, The Little Engine that Could, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and anything by Mo Willems.

That said, when Dawn asked me to write something I asked her if it would be OK if I provided a contrarian view. She, for some reason, agreed. My review will focus on a book that I have actually banned from my house, Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish.

The story concerns itself with a small fish with colorful scales. Other fish in the sea refuse to play with him so, he consults with the “wise” octopus. The wise one advises the fish to give away his colorful scales. The fish does so, and, of course, makes “friends” along the way.

The messages are awful: 1) Beauty is to be hated; 2) Give into peer pressure; and 3) Buy off your friends.

Please do not buy this book for your children or grandchildren. If you see it in their houses, I implore you to get rid of it.

More friends are going to be weighing in, so there will be a part 2 and maybe a part 3.

You can join in the fun either in the comments or shoot me an email dawn@dawnwesterberg.com

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell: Book Review

I am an Amazon affiliate and if you buy the book through the link below, I make some coinage. Ree Dolly is the 16 year old heroine living in the Ozarks with her mentally checked out mother and two younger brothers.  Her father is meth cook and has gone on the lam which is nothingContinue Reading

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I am an Amazon affiliate and if you buy the book through the link below, I make some coinage. Published nine years ago, the story takes place in unnamed South American country at the home of the Vice President, the diminutive Ruben Iglesias.  A large dinner party in honor of Japanese industrialist Katsumi Hosokawa, whoContinue Reading

Stone’s Fall – Book review

I am an Amazon affiliate and if you buy the book through the link below, I make some coinage. It’s been a while since I’ve indulged in fiction and Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears was a worthy diversion. This is the first time I’ve ever purchased a book based on a cover quote.  If IContinue Reading

The Believers

First a vocabulary list: Somatic Gnomically Proscenium Recumbent Cavil Scurf Macadam Juddering Minatory Obstreperous Palimpsests Termagant How did you do?  I had to look up every single one of those words.  But I don’t mind doing that.  The notion of “Why use a 25 cent word when a 5 cent word will do?” suggests thatContinue Reading

Exit Music

If I’m going to have to work for the rest of my life, the decent thing for Ian Rankin, author of Exit Music to do, is to make his misanthropic fictional hero Detective Inspector John Rebus work for the rest of his life.  http://is.gd/aMsaf Or at least keep cranking out the books until I amContinue Reading

The Junk Drawer 5

“That kind of sounds like the Heath Ledger cocktail,” commented Beloved Son yesterday  when I told him that I was on a diet of steroids, muscle relaxers, pain killers and alternating heat and cold packs to the lower back. Last weekend my back started to give me minor complaints.  Someone once told me that “yourContinue Reading

One Foot in Eden

One Foot in Eden, Ron Rash Not a murder “mystery” as we soon know who killed Holland Winchester in this beautifully written fiction set place in South Carolina (post Korean War), but murder and the secret that led to it, are the center of the book. There are five sections of the book, each writtenContinue Reading