Books Read in September 2023

Picture Books

Grandma’s Tipi
S. D. Nelson
RFLBG

A summer visit to grandma and hanging out in a tipi is also a learning point for people not familiar with tipis. It was interesting information, and I enjoyed the consistent use of profiles in the illustrations.

In the Night Garden
Carin Berger
RFLBG

Dark blue palette evokes a feeling of night. It includes a black cat, so I’m a fan.

Our Pool
Lucy Ruth Cummins
RFLBG

Summertime in a big city pool. It felt as familiar as my summertimes spent in a small city pool. The illustrations are from the point of view of the narrator, rather than depicting the narrator.

Middle Grade

Parachute Kids
Betty C. Tang
RFLBG

Feng-Li and her siblings and parents come to visit the USA. She’s excited to see Disneyland and other things. Little does she know the trip is to set the kids up as parachute kids. From there, we see how her and her siblings pass their first year in the US.

Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir
Pedro Martín
RFLBG

Martin did a great job of evoking his 70s childhood and giving his large family distinct personalities. This is a road trip book with a lot of funny happenings, though I had to skip several pages with the deer.

You Are Here: Connecting Flights
Ellen Oh
RFLBG

The short stories were interconnected, but only on the most basic level, as befitting characters passing through an airport. The conclusion reached in the final story was not well supported by the many examples that came before it.

On the plus side, it’s a good intro to some Asian-American authors that might be unfamiliar.

Young Adult

I am Not Alone
Francisco X. Stork
RFLBG

Stork did a great job of getting me to feel for Alberto’s conundrum. His passages of descriptions are great. However, the dialogue was so stilted it detracted from the rest of the story.

Sunshine: A Graphic Novel
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
RFLBG

A graphic novel memoir that did a great job showing the anxieties and rewards of volunteering at a camp for sick kids. The cover is sunny, but the overall palette is darker, probably to reflect the situation.

The Silent Stars Go By
Sally Nicholls

Margot has complex feelings because she gave her child to her parents to raise when her WWI soldier fiancé was believed dead. Then he resurfaced. The historical fiction details included great descriptions of social structures and use of slang. The story itself was a bit overwrought.

Just One Day
Gail Forman

I ran out of physical books I hadn’t read and turned to this old friend. I’ve been mentally escaping from work all week by thinking about future vacations, so why not escape with Allyson and Willem?

Just One Year
Gail Forman

And the escape from reality continues with a re-reading of this second in the duology (with novella stinger). I still think this book sags in the middle–it takes Willem much longer to get himself together, but it’s worth it to get these two on the right path.

Just One Night
Gail Forman

And now, the ending, completing my escape from reality. If read right after Just One Day/Year, the background information designed to remind readers what has been going on feels overly repetitive, but also: Allyson and Willem together at last!

Just One Day/Year/Night
Gail Forman

Back in the day, I mapped out how to read the two stories chronologically. Having just finished the straight-through re-read, I started again and did the chronological version.

Grownup Fiction

Nettle and Bone
T. Kingfisher

A princess story with three impossible tasks and a quest. I didn’t love this at the beginning, but the good writing and enjoyable characters won me over.

Rough Around the Hedges
Lish McBride

Continuing on with the household clan (O! how McBride can write found families!), we follow Vanessa as she attempts to get her terrible father to sign off that she has basic skills. Plus, there’s Will. He’s great. I’m looking forward to the next one.

The Neighbors We Want
Tim Lane

A multi-perspective thriller with some fun twists and turns (The number of times I said, “Oh!” as I figured things out was three) and a great Portland setting. I gobbled it up in one day.

Mobility
Lydia Kiesling

Kiesling takes her lyrical focus on small details and applies it to one summer with a girl whose father is in the diplomatic corps. She then picks up once the girl has become an adult.

The description of the first job out of college was a perfect mirror to my current employment. So much so it was kind of spooky.

Young Nonfiction

How to Count to One
Caspar Salmon and Matt Hunt
RFLBG

This included many clever ways to keep people to counting to one and no higher.

Men of the 65th: The Borinqueneers of the Korean War
Talia Aikens-Nunez
RFLBG

A brief book about the Borinquenners. It might be a little too short. Some of the text included details and didn’t explain them. It also would have benefited from a list of people.

Still. There’s a lot to be said for a short read.

Grownup Nonfiction

Rebecca Ringquist’s Embroidery Workshops: A Bend-the-Rules Primer
Rebecca Ringquist

The great strengths of this book were the tutorials about adding embroidery to vintage embroidery and using a sewing machine to embroider and enhance hand-done work. I love the idea of creating your own patches.

The Gilmore Girls Companion
A.S. Berman

This book includes some insight behind the scenes of the beloved (though not by me) series. It also has an episode by episode breakdown. There are spoilers throughout the book, so this is aimed at people already familiar with the series rather than newbies. I waited until I was done watching to start reading, and I was glad I did.

Opening My Eyes Underwater: Essays on Hope, Humanity, and Our Hero Michelle Obama
Ashley Woodfolk

Woodfolk’s short essays springboard from quotes by Michelle Obama. They give insight to a highly motivated and smart woman (in this case Woodfolk admiring another highly motivated and smarter woman) and the advantages and disadvantages that come with being so.

I Spy in this Little Free Library

It’s a LFL with an attic! And what caught my eye?

It’s one of the tools of my trade!

It’s the Chicago Manual of Style, one of the two major stylebooks copy editors consult. What a good find.

It is, however, the previous edition, so it will be slightly different than today’s version. But for a person who is CMOS curious, they will avoid the rather large cost of the book.

SKS: Oz Quote

Let’s see if the internet will tell me who said this quote. My guess is Glinda the good witch.

Answer: the internet returned a result from the book (I was thinking movie, even though I’ve read the books) and identified the speaker as “the old woman” After skimming back several clicks—the site I was looking at only had about two paragraphs at at time per page—I see that she identifies as a good witch and the Witch of the North. No mention that her name is Glenda. I wonder if that’s a movie thing? How could I ever find the answer to THAT question????

(says the person who is 250+ days behind and has run through the research time alloted for this post clicking through the ad-heavy Wizard of Oz page)

Sara reports that she has submitted her file for early tenure! Also that on a Tuesday, the week has already felt like it was six months long.

Ole Bolle Troll

Someone at work clued me into this delightful public art project brought to us by the Scan Design Foundation: six trolls built by Thomas Dambo scattered throughout the Pacific Northwest. Here is the Portland one: Ole Bolle

As you can see, Ole Bolle is quite popular

The trolls are built from recycled materials, and you can see how nicely those recycled materials came together.

Look at that foot!

And that hand with fingernails.

Once you look in the door, you can see what the troll is after. I don’t blame him, especially that delicious looking cake.

They did a great job of making his face very kind.

Here is an attempt at a mom-and-me self portrait. No dice though. It was just me.

So here is mom with the troll.

Postcard from Oakland

Zoe sent me this postcard from Oakland, where she and Nick have recently moved. It’s not far from their place in Berkeley, but has a nicer landlord (and, according to her, a backyard with very aggressive squirrels).

She also included her return address on the card, but the post office barcode obliterated everything but the city and the zip code. I had to text her for the rest.