New Year, New Reads and Rory Gilmore

In the interest of recognizing where I’ve been, and where I want to go in the world of books. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of books I’ve read and those I’ve not yet perused.

Holiday Reads:

  • The Hunger Games series {Collins}
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower {Chbosky}
  • See Jane Win {Rimm}
  • 1984  {Orewell}
  • The Catcher in the Rye {Salinger}
  • Wonderstruck {Selznick}
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) {Kaling}

Next up:

  • Reviving Ophelia {Pipher}–in progress
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  • East of Eden {Steinbeck}
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West {Maguire}

Rory Gilmore Book Challenge (taken from THIS forum)–this is definitely a long-term project, but I think actually a great collection of books. I crossed off the ones I’ve already read.

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR) – read
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – read
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – on my book pile
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling – 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling –
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inferno by Dante
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – started and not finished
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – on my book pile
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby – read
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers 
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Hotels of Europe
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy – on my book pile
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – read
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee – read
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – started and not finished
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

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Ralph, Gracie and Granola

Silly kitty gets out for doing a victory dance during his dash to homebase.

Present occupation: constructing curriculum for the Texas Reading Rockstars. I’m getting to know Rotten Ralph, a red kitty with a serious ego problem.  He’s no Madeline, but not everyone can be as adorable as she–well, except for this missus below.  Gracie rivals Madeline in capacity for mischievous acts.

Girlfriend here is obsessed with granola. She's been dirt-deviling the the floor beneath the oven all evening.

Today I made a first attempt at granola. Recently I’ve been enjoying granola for breakfast with some yogurt, but the other day I glanced at the nutrition info and HOLY moley. I might as well have been eating gummy bears and ice cream for breakfast. So I turned to my go-to food geek: Alton Brown. But you know what, I had to get all tweaky with his recipe!  I’m sure the granola tastes fab with all that syrup, brown sugar, sweetened coconut and maple syrup but I was nervous about getting such a mad sugar high from my “healthy” granola.  So I dropped some of the sugar, used agave (thanks, HEB coupon) to sweeten it, and for kicks cut out half the oil and replaced it with water–I’d read that some people successfully did that. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite good.  Just ask the Gracie and Reid.

I’m learning that even though I could spend all my time schooling and recovering from schooling,  I need to make time to use my fabulous bakeware and wee kitchen. Small domestic victories taste better than “Parks and Recreation” and pleasure reading.

Kids at ACL.

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me, a man and Mademoiselle Madeline

One of my current assignments is to do a biographical sketch on a recipient of the Caldecott Medal (awarded for excellence in children’s illustration).  I hurried to choose Ludwig Bemelman’s because I remembered how much I adored  irrepressible Madeline. Thus far into my research, I’m so into Bemelmans. His life, his honesty and joie de vivre–I can’t get enough. Although it is good to enjoy the subject of an assignment, it’s not exactly helping me quickly finish my work.

Bemelmans’ speech is definitely worth the read; it will surprise you.


[(essay date 22 June 1954) In his acceptance speech for the Caldecott Medal awarded to him for Madeline’s Rescue, Bemelmans discusses his inspiration for the first two Madeline books.]

“My deep gratitude to the members of the American Library Association for the Caldecott Medal.

Now we shall talk about art.

There is one life that is more difficult than that of the policeman’s and that is the life of the artist.

I have repeatedly said two things that no one takes seriously, and they are that first of all I am not a writer but a painter, and secondly that I have no imagination. It is very curious that, with my lack of these important essentials, the character of Madeline came to be. It accounts perhaps for her strength; she insisted on being born. Before she came into the world, I painted. That is, I placed canvas or paper on an easel before me and made pictures. I found in this complete happiness and satisfaction.

The unfortunate thing about painting is that the artist must exhibit, and at exhibitions, along with his work, exhibit himself; that he has to see his work, which is as his children, sold; see it wrapped up and taken away. I felt sorry for many of my pictures and those of other painters. I wish that there were a way of acquiring dogs or paintings other than by walking into a store and paying for them. The art market, then, the faces of the people who come and look at pictures, the methods of arriving at success, which entail self-advertisement and the kissing of hands, were not my dish.

I looked for another way of painting, for privacy; for a fresh audience, vast and critical and remote, to whom I could address myself with complete freedom. I wanted to do what seemed self-evident–to avoid sweet pictures, the eternal still lifes, the pretty portraits that sell well, arty abstractions, pastoral fireplace pictures, calendar art, and surrealist nightmares.

I wanted to paint purely that which gave me pleasure, scenes that interested me; and one day I found that the audience for that kind of painting was a vast reservoir of impressionists who did very good work themselves, who were very clear-eyed and capable of enthusiasm. I addressed myself to children.

You will notice in Madeline that there is very little text and there is a lot of picture. The text allows me the most varied type of illustration: there is the use of flowers, of the night, of all of Paris, and such varied detail as the cemetery of Père la Chaiseand the Restaurant of the Deux Magots. All this was there waiting to be used, but as yet Madeline herself hovered about as an unborn spirit.

Her beginnings can be traced to stories my mother told me of her life as a little girl in the convent of Altoetting in Bavaria. I visited this convent with her and saw the little beds in straight rows, and the long table with the washbasins at which the girls had brushed their teeth. I myself, as a small boy, had been sent to a boarding school in Rothenburg. We walked through that ancient town in two straight lines. I was the smallest one, but our arrangement was reversed. I walked ahead in the first row, not on the hand of Mademoiselle Clavel at the end of the column.

All this, as I said, for many years hung in the air and was at the back of my mind. Madeline finally began to take shape in France, where I had gone to paint. My daughter Barbara was about Madeline’s age when we went to the Isle d’Yeu for a summer vacation. This was then an island without any pretensions, and has since become famous as the place of detainment of Marshal Pétain. There was the usualHôtel des Voyageurs and the Café de la Marine. The house we rented was twenty-five dollars for the season. It had its own private beach and the beds were always full of sand. A few miles away lived a man who owned a few lobsterpots and a fishing boat, and I bicycled there regularly to buy the makings of a bouillabaisse or a fish stew.

One day, pedaling along the road home with the sack of sea-food over my shoulder, both hands in my pockets, and tracing fancy curves in the roadbed, I came to a bend which was hidden by some pine trees. Around this turn, coming the other way, raced the island’s only automobile–a four horsepower Super Rosengart belonging to the baker of Saint Sauveur, the capital village on the island. This car was a fragrant, flour-covered breadbasket on wheels. I collided with it, and it threw me in a wide curve off the bicycle into a bramble bush. I had taken the car’s doorhandle off with my arm and I was bleeding. I asked the baker to take me to the hospital in Saint Sauveur, but he said that according to French law, a car that has been involved in an accident has to remain exactly where it was when the crash occurred so that the gendarmes can make their proper deductions and see who was on the wrong side of the road. I tried to change his mind, but he said: “Permit me alors, Monsieur; if you use language like that it is no use at all to go on with this conversation.”

Having spoken, he went to pick up his pain de ménage and some croissants that were scattered on the road, and then he spread the branches of the thicket to look for the handle of his Super Rosengart. I took my lobsters and went to the hospital on foot.

After I had waited for a time, an old doctor came, with a cigarette stub sticking to his lower lip. He examined my wound, cleaned it, and then with a blunt needle he wobbled into my arm. “Excusez moi,” he said, “but your skin is very, very tough.” I was put into a small, white, carbolicky bed, and it took a while for my arm to heal. Here were the stout sister that you see bringing the tray to Madeline, and the crank on the bed. In the room across the hall was a little girl who had had an appendix operation, and, standing up in bed, with great pride she showed her scar to me. Over my bed was the crack in the ceiling “That had the habit, of sometimes looking like a rabbit.” It all began to arrange itself. And after I got back to Paris I started to paint the scenery for the book. I looked up telephone numbers to rhyme with appendix. One day I had a meeting with Léon Blum, and if you take a look at the book, you will see that the doctor who runs to Madeline’s bed is the great patriot and humanitarian Léon Blum.

And so Madeline was born, or rather appeared by her own decision.

Now we come to the sequel, which is the bearer of this medal and the reason why I am here tonight. …

In this story Madeline shares the pages with a dog. This dog came about in a strange way. My wife’s parents live in Larchmont, and in a house next door to them is a family of outwardly respectable folk–that is, no one in that solid community would suspect that this quiet and respectable suburban house was occupied by a poet. Her name is Phyllis McGinley and she writes for The New Yorker.

She has two little girls, and they said, “Why don’t you write another Madeline?” So I offered them fifty cents apiece if they would give me an Idea, for I was paralyzed with lack of imagination. The children did not even go out of the room. They came with hands held out, and after I paid them they stated the plot:

“There’s a dog, see–Madeline has a dog. And then the dog is taken away but it comes back again, maybe with puppies so all the girls can have dogs.”

That was tight and clever dramatic construction, and now there remained the dog to find. I said, “What kind of a dog?”

“Oh, any kind of a dog.”

I went back to Paris and started to look for any kind of a dog. And of that breed Genevieve is a member.

I had a studio at the time in a house on the Seine at number one Git de Coeur, and I walked down to the quay and promenaded along there. Under one of the bridges there lived an old man with his dog. He loved it very much and he combed its fur with the same comb he did his own hair, and they sat together watching the fishermen and the passing boats. I started to draw that dog, and observed it. It loved to swim.

I now had the dog and I sat along the Seine, and thought about the new book. But as yet there wasn’t a plot I could use, and the little girls who might have done it for me were in America.

Then one day something happened. An object was floating down the Seine, and little boys ran along the quay, and as the object came near it turned out to be an artificial leg. One of the little boys pointed at it and said, “Ah, la jambe de mon Grandpère!”

At that same moment a long line of little girls passed over the bridge des Arts,followed by their teacher. They stopped and looked, holding onto the iron rails with their white-gloved hands. The leg was now very close, and the dog jumped into the Seine and retrieved it, struggling ashore and pulling it from the water by backing up the stones.

There suddenly was a great vision before me. The plot was perfect.

There are many problems ahead. Who are Madeline’s parents? Who are the other girls, what are their names, what new disaster shall Mademoiselle Clavel rush to? The next Madeline on which I have been working for two years concerns a boy called Pepito, the son of the Spanish Ambassador who lives next door to the little girls and is a very bad hat.

I’m looking for him now. That is, I’ve been to Spain three times and searched for him and for his house. As yet, nothing has come up, but with patience it always does, for somewhere he is, lives and breathes. The portrait of life is the most important work of the artist and it is good only when you’ve seen it, when you’ve touched it, when you know it. Then you can breathe life onto canvas and paper.”

Source Citation

Bemelmans, Ludwig. “Caldecott Award Acceptance.” Horn Book Magazine 30.4 (22 June 1954): 270-276. Rpt. in Children’s Literature Review. Ed. Scot Peacock and Allison Marion. Vol. 93. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Literature Resource Center. Web. 11 Sep. 2011.
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PS: for the wedding obsessed

For more of this check out and click on Emily and Reid. THANK you sweet Wassers for everything you did for us that weekend. I'm so glad my brother married your daughter.


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Home Improvement: Flooring Edition

We were thrilled to find our little treehouse of an apartment.  After touring many, many smelly caves that the realtors insisted to us were living spaces, Reid and I were feeling down and out about the whole apartment quest. When we finally discovered this place we knew it was perfect for us.  Our Owlery, as we’re calling it, is tucked away in a cute historic downtown neighborhood, and just blocks from my new school.  I love that it features two balconies and is drenched in much natural light that bulbs aren’t needed until after the sun is way, way down.  However, someone committed a grave travesty against the Owlery, they carpeted it with thick, dingy old carpet. Le gasp, I know!

This little Miss is a hardened criminal when it comes to perpetrating atrocities against carpet. The dirtier the easier it is for her to make her getaway.

So we did what we know how to do best.

Carpet mostly annihilated. It was unbelievable how much dust and debris were lurking beneath that preposterously plush carpet. I'm just glad to have about 3,000,000 fewer dust bunny roommates.

Drywall bits clinging to the concrete, beware! Apologies for my insane expression--our electricity wasn't turned on, hence no AC + sleep deprived Emily = well, that.

And how does it look now? Glad you asked, because I’ll tell but I won’t show until we finish cutifying this place up a bit more. It looks good, we stained and treated the concrete with 3+ layers of sealer and have visited the Home Depot at least 6 times–because oh yes, we painted too. More on all of this later though, it’s early, I’ve had no coffee and just realized that we lack creamer–and about 5 million other domestic things–but in this dangerously uncaffeinated state all I give a Gracie-dog about is some half and half.

Happy Sunday!

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