Saturday, November 29, 2008

To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel
by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel

Published in 2006.
64 pages (according to, as the pages aren't numbered).
Robert F. Sibert Honor Book in 2007.

To Dance, a children's graphic novel recommended to me by my goodreads friend george, is a delightful look at the life of an aspiring ballerina.

(Cross-posted from my book blog.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lucky Man: Memoir by Michael J. Fox

Originally published in 2002.
Unabridged audio book read by Michael J. Fox and Scott Brick.

A big fan of Michael J. Fox back in the Family Ties days, I enjoyed reading an excerpt of his memoir in Reader's Digest a number of years ago. Recently I had to take a short road trip by myself, so I picked up a few audio books from the library to keep me occupied and entertained. One of those was Lucky Man.

The first of the nine CDs was read by Fox himself. As I started the second disc, at first I was disappointed to hear the new reader - but Fox's personality quickly came through. Smart, honest, and funny, this was a great read. Or perhaps I should say "great listen"?

For more about Fox's work to fight Parkinson's disease, visit The Michael J. Fox Foundation Website.

(Cross-posted from my book blog.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken (Jill)

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination
By Elizabeth McCracken
Completed November 5, 2008

I think there’s an old saying that you should never have to bury your child. Outliving my kids ranks number one in things “I don’t want to happen,” but sadly, there are parents who face this reality every day.

While some parents lose children days, months or years after their births, some parents lose their child before the baby is born, experiencing a stillborn birth. This happened to popular novelist Elizabeth McCracken and was the subject of her memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination.

I have never read a book like this before. As a mom, I am uncomfortable with the thought of losing a child, so I was not sure if I could read McCracken’s story. But with McCracken’s easy writing style, I finished her memoir in one day. Every page sucked me in. And while it’s filled with sadness, you get equal doses of hope and warm memories. She touched on so many important parts of the grieving process, and her reaction to other people’s reactions taught me a lot about how to support someone experiencing a loss.

There were touching moments too. Her chapters about her husband and best friend’s support made me teary-eyed. What a lovely tribute to them both.

McCracken took an uneasy subject and made it very human, very real and very approachable. While it will strike a familiar note with women who experienced the loss of a baby, I think all parents can learn from McCracken’s story. Having gotten to know her at this level, I hope to read her fictional books some day. ( )

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Negotiating With The Dead by Margaret Atwood (Jill)

Negotiating With The Dead
By Margaret Atwood
Completed November 5, 2008

Negotiating With The Dead: A Writer on Writing was a scholarly study about writers, readers and the stories that connect them, written by Margaret Atwood. A collection of six essays based on a series of lectures given by Atwood at Cambridge University, it’s an intelligent look into what makes writers tick and the challenges faced by the writer, especially female ones.

Each essay examined a different aspect of the writing process, such as dealing with fame, mingling with the dead and the conversation between the writer and his/her reader. Atwood added many stories from her past, which I found the most fascinating. She also included lots of references to other writers and poets, including Dante, Shakespeare, Alice Munro and Adrienne Rich – to help strengthen her many thoughts about writing.

This book reminded me Joyce Carol Oates’ The Faith of a Writer. Both books require concentration and offer provocative questions about the art of writing. Fans of Atwood may be turned off by her academic tone in Negotiating With The Dead, but if you can follow along and love to read about writers, then this collection by Atwood is a must-read. ( )