Temps de l’Aventure

France is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child by Alex Prud’homme and Katie Pratt.  Thames & Hudson, 2017. 9780500519073. 208 pp.

Julia Child was a California girl who knew nothing about France and its cuisine when she and her new husband, Paul, took up residence there. She claimed she was astounded by the flavors of French food and was also shocked to be drinking wine during lunch. When Julia found out she and Paul were going to be living there a good while, she began cooking lessons to bridge her personal cultural divide. This anthology is filled with beautiful black and white photographs of the young couple, of French landmarks, and of course, of Julia teaching students how to master French cuisine. It is apparent through these pictures that Paul and Julia were very much in love with both one another and with their lifestyle.

Guest review by Murphy’s Mom.

Go East, Young Man

Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast. Bloomsbury, 2017. 978162040321.

This isn’t a guidebook or a history, warns cartoonist Roz Chast — it began as a booklet she made for her daughter when she left home to attend college in Manhattan. (Chast and her husband left Brooklyn, where she’d grown up and her parents lived (see Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?), in 1990.)

“I feel about Manhattan the way I feel about a book, a TV series, a movie, a play, an artist, a song, a food, a whatever that I love. I want to tell you about it so that maybe you will love it too…”

I just returned to Seattle from a trip to NYC with my wife, Silver, to meet my friend, Teo, and his wife, Krista, who were visiting from Finland. This book would have been great to read before the trip, but it’s perfect to read afterward, too, because it reminds me so much about the city. (In fact I just sent a copy to Teo and Krista.) Chast’s info on the layout of Manhatan will clarify my explanation of streets, avenues, and the east side vs west side. We walked everywhere (over 10 miles per day) and found lots of places like the shop that sells ribbon (Chast’s drawing is beautiful). I barely noticed the standpipes — Chast has photos of several, including one named Trixxxi — but I’m sure I will on my next trip. There are bits about the subway, stuff to do (including comics made from some of the paintings in the Met), parks, food, and more. Chast’s love for the city is both obvious and infectious. And even better, it makes me remember moments from our trip — Silver jumping at seeing a rat in Washington Square Park (I tried to convince her it was a leaf), our long wait at Russ & Daughters, and trekking to the Apple Store from Harlem.

Uprooted vs. Married to the Sea

I finally picked up Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin. This book was a National Book Award finalist and on several best-of lists for 2016. And on page 15, I saw this:

Page 15 of Uprooted

If you have spent any time looking at old newspapers or old medical ads, this looks nothing like an ad from the 1800s. If you pause for even a moment to read the text, you may wonder at a drug ad for something called “Placebo.” If you pause for two moments, you may be struck by how unlikely the phrase “drink it on the go” is for an ad of that time. Perhaps you suspect this this may instead be a joke.

Librarian powers activate! I flipped back to the picture credits to look for a source. The image was listed as PD-US: public domain in the United States, no original source listed. A quick Google search turned the image up on Pinterest, tagged as a Victorian advertisement. I put that image through the TinEye reverse image search engine and hey presto: a link to the original source. It’s a comic from the (awesome) webcomic by Drew Fairweather and Natalie Dee, Married to the Sea, which uses public domain clip art. The image in Uprooted and on Pinterest is trimmed to remove the URL of Married to the Sea, denying them credit as its source.

I really hope this was not the work of the author. I hope this was put into the book some underpaid intern charged with finding no-cost illustrations. But this really really really shouldn’t have made it into the final version of a serious work of history for young readers. This is absolutely going into my classroom presentation on finding reliable sources online. (Why not try the US National Library of Medicine Digital Collection? There you could find this actual public domain ad for a children’s medicine that contained morphine.)

Nice Package!

The Packaging Designer’s Book of Patterns, 2nd edition, Lászlo Roth and George L. Wybenga. John Wiley & Sons, 2000. 0471385042.

Folding Patterns for Display and Publicity, drawings by Laurence K. Withers. The Pepin Press/Agile Rabbit Editions, 2002. 9057680408.

Sarah: I looked up the addresses and hours… (thumps book on table)
Gene: You scared my cat!
S: I looked up the addresses and hours of all of the Powell’s Books locations in Portland recently and I probably knew but had forgotten that they had closed Powell’s Technical Books.
G: That was across the street from the big bookstore?
S: Yeah, it was all of their… not just computer stuff, but technical books in every field. If you need super-technical books about constructing drainage systems, they had those. Super specialized books in every field.
G: Do they have those books in the main bookstore now?
S: I believe so. Powell’s Technical is where I picked up this first book, The Packaging Designer’s Book of Patterns.
G: Wow!
S: I thought you’d really like it.
G: Oh my god!
S: Because it’s about how to die cut, where to fold, where to glue to make all of these different possible paper and cardboard packages. From really simple stuff, like a cereal box, to one that looks like a cathedral. You can make a box look like a specific famous building if you want to sell a souvenir whatever. This is aimed at people who are designing packaging and need some ideas.
G: You paid $65 for this???
Continue reading “Nice Package!”

How to tell if your cat is trying to kill you but your pit bull isn’t.

The American Pit Bull Terrier (An Owner’s Guide to a Happy, Healthy Pet) by Jacqueline O’Neil. Howell Book House, 1995. 9780876053836

Guest review by Murphy’s Mom

I am the proud owner of a shelter rescue dog named Murphy. Because Murphy is a Heinz 57 variety mutt with predominant pit bull, beagle, and basset hound features, he is very striking. As my seven-year-old niece, Hadley, says in her raspy Bette Davis-like lisp, “I wuv Moophy; he looks like a tiguh and I want to kith him.”

My husband is actually the one who found Murphy on our local shelter’s website. Murphy was listed as a “basset mix.” But when we were introduced to the dog, we realized the he definitely had some pit bull in his genetics. We had been told (wrongly) that pit bulls were angry, fighting dogs that would attack, maim, and even kill. But we realized early on that the only way Murphy would victimize someone would be to cuddle with them too much. Since adopting him we have proudly called ourselves Murphy’s Mom and Dad (hence, my pseudonym). My husband and I have become more educated and aware about pit bulls, and I even support local rescue groups whose objective is to find homes for pits. I decided to review this book by Jacqueline O’Neil because, honestly, I judged the book by the smiling, beautiful dog on its cover. When I realized this was an owner’s guide to raising a healthy dog, I was instantly smitten. It’s a great resource teaching the proper ways to take care of pit bulls and what makes the breed unique, plus info on the origins of the breed. And I found out pit bulls are mated with other breeds more than any kind of dog, which explains Murphy’s origins. (There are other books in the series about other breeds.)

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal. Andrews McMeel, 2012. 9781449410247
I am one of those who don’t really read graphic novels much, much to Gene’s and others’ chagrin. But when I saw this one I laughed out loud. Being a former cat mom, I know Mully (my late tuxedo feline) loved me and only me; he would pounce on guys that came over and bite their toes. I guess this was his way of protecting me or weeding out the weak? Mully eventually warmed up to my husband Neale after we had been dating for a while. It was great seeing the two guys in my life get along, finally.

Anyway, The Oatmeal penned this graphic novel about the Bobcats — two of the most unlovable, raunchy, and hilarious felines on the planet. Their sole desire is to torment their human coworkers at the engineering firm where they work. Their neckties are the perfect touch for their corporate environment. Each day, the Bobs get loaded up on coffee and make the cubicle mongers stressed and miserable. It really is funny since I had no preconceived notions about the artwork or the storyline. My favorite moment was when the Bobcats got into a crowded company elevator and played “Gas Chamber.” They pressed all the buttons and then farted in the nasty way only felines can. Because I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy, I thought was hysterical.

The book reminded me of the movie Office Space. (If you haven’t watched it already, that is sad and unfortunate — rent it today!)

Go Outside and Paint

Colors of the West: An Artist’s Guide to Nature’s Palette by Molly Hashimoto. Skipstone, 2017. 9781680510973.

Sarah: I got this book, Colors of the West, it’s a gorgeous book and the writing is wonderful but I realized I am the worst person to review this. I’m an indoor kid, I don’t go to a lot of state or national parks, I’m not a visual artist, and the author does a lot of amazing programs for my library so there’s no way I can be objective. So I gave it to my friend Bibi to review. You have a degree in art, right?
Bibi: Yes, a couple of them, actually.
S: And you actually go to national parks and camp and hike?
B: Yep.
S: So what did you think?
B: It’s fabulous. It really reminded me of places I’ve been. I would turn a page and say, “Oh, I’ve been to Olympic National Park!” Hashimoto really captures the feeling of the places she paints. There’s a painting of a pueblo in New Mexico and I remember being there and trying to take photographs and they just did not get the essence of the place. Her painting did, it caught the light and the feeling of it.
S: She’s got paintings of animals in the book, too, wild animals, and I know she sometimes uses stuffed specimens from Seattle’s Burke Museum and the Audubon Society as models.
B: I love how she will pick certain animals and not do a big background, just really make the animals the center of the paintings. She gets the character of their actions and how they live in their environment. It’s really sweet.
S: This book isn’t just her paintings and her views of these places, it also teaches how to use watercolors, techniques and materials.
Continue reading “Go Outside and Paint”

Glass Shark

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams. Roaring Brook Press, 2017. 9781626724136.

It says something about the power of art and storytelling (and a lot about Lily Williams) that she can make a complex idea like a trophic cascade (the drastic changes in an ecosystem resulting from the disappearance of an apex predator) clear and compelling to a young audience. As she shows, even though sharks can seem scary, they are absolutely necessary to the health of the oceans. They keep their prey populations in balance which in turn keeps their food sources in balance, and so on and so on, which extends to populations on land as well. The book ends with steps ordinary people can take to protect sharks that are vulnerable to extinction, from buying sustainably caught fish to creating their own shark art.