Not long ago, I was introduced to Rapunzel Reads, a fresh, charming blog dedicated to reviewing books for middle readers and young adults.
According to the blurb on the blog, here is how Rapunzel Reads was named:
Everyone knows that Rapunzel spent her early years locked up in a tower. We’d like to think she had plenty of books to while away the time, and that she’d appreciate our own favorites.
The blog is written “by & for kids.” The two young reviewers—“Piranha T.” and “Super Kitty”— are sisters who are twelve and fourteen. In the About section, Piranha T. and Super Kitty explain why they started Rapunzel Reads:
We…love to read, and to share what we read with our friends and family. With the help of our mother (who is also happiest when curled up somewhere with a stack of great books) we’ve decided to start this blog as a way to never lose sight of our absolute favorites, and to get a conversation going with people we know (and those we don’t!), who also might want to share their favorites with us on this site….
A few weeks ago Piranha T. reviewed Maya and the Book of Everything for Rapunzel Reads. What an honor! While positive reviews are always welcome, it is especially gratifying to have a good review written by a young person. Piranha T. concluded:
Maya and the Book of Everything was an excellent fantasy. Laurie Graves wrote a well-rounded plot which kept surprising me with twists I never would have anticipated. Maya was a clever and interesting heroine who I absolutely loved. The themes on books and reading were also fun, reminding me (although slightly younger than this book) of Finding Serendipity. I would highly recommend Maya and the Book of Everything to lovers of fantasy and complex plots ages twelve and up.
Many, many thanks, Piranha T., for this wonderful review. And readers, do check out Rapunzel Reads when you have a chance. The reviews are short and snappy, and those who love children’s literature will want to add many of the featured books to their TBR pile.
On yesterday’s post, I featured this picture of my husband, Clif, and his friend John.
My blogging friend Tialys—who, by the way, has a wonderful blog—asked, “But why are they standing in the naughty corner?” (Clif and I had a good giggle over this question.)
I had never thought of the portrait that way, but I can see Tialys’s point. John and Clif are, after all, standing in a corner. After thinking about the question, I decided that further explanation was needed.
The corner is a backdrop at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, and is part of an exhibit called I Am Not a Stranger: Portraits by Séan Alonzo Harris.
Here is an explanation of the exhibit from the museum’s website:
Presented by Waterville Creates! in partnership with the Colby Museum, I Am Not a Stranger: Portraits by Séan Alonzo Harris will include approximately fifty new studio photographs of Waterville residents….This major new work by Harris, an accomplished photographer who is new to Waterville but has lived and worked in Maine for over twenty years, aims to represent the people of Waterville, build bridges across difference, and create a platform for storytelling and community reflection rooted in our shared space.
I Am Not a Stranger includes some of Harris’s portraits of Waterville residents, and if you click here, you will see selected works from the exhibit.
The gray corner was also part of the exhibit, and I asked a woman working at the reception desk if museum goers were allowed to have their pictures taken against the backdrop.
“Oh, yes!” the woman answered. “Snap away!”
Hence the portrait of John and Clif, two very photogenic guys.
The corner backdrop can be interpreted in a number of humorous ways. But it seems to me that the gray background frames the Waterville residents—and John and Clif and anyone else—in a way that gives them dignity and attention that everyday folks don’t normally receive. The backdrop guides your gaze and encourages you to look, really look, at the people in the photographs. The black and white only serves to heighten the mood.
Here is the same picture in color.
Better in black and white, don’t you think?
For someone who doesn’t stray far from home, I seem to have quite the busy little life. I suppose no matter where you live there is always something going on, and observant writers, photographers, and artists try to catch as much of it as possible.
Last week, our daughter Dee came to visit, and we celebrated our birthdays. Hers is in October, and Clif and I have birthdays in September. What a time we had! We went to three movies; ate dinners at a Thai and Mexican restaurant (not the same place); had fires in our fire pit, where we made S’mores; got together with friends; and went to two terrific art exhibits at Colby College and Bates College. Have I left anything out? I don’t thinks so.
Dee left yesterday, and now it’s time to hunker down and work on my fantasy novel Out of Time. I am at 70,000 words, and I might have been a wee bit optimistic about when I would finish. I had hoped it would be by the end of September, but now it looks like it won’t be until some time in October. (Still ahead of schedule. My original goal was to finish by December.) Therefore, I’m going to resume blogging—yes, I have missed it—albeit on a somewhat limited scale with more images than words and perhaps featuring posts from other blogs.
Anyway, here is today’s image, taken at the fabulous Colby College Museum of Art.
Yes, yes, and yes!
Out of Time
Book Three in the Great Library Series
by Laurie Graves
Time, time, time. Maya is back in New York City, where she catches a glimpse of her younger self. But as usual, Maya is too busy to worry about disturbing the space-time continuum.
She must find someone called the Accumulator, who will help her defeat her adversary Cinnial. Find him she does, and with a new team—Will, Jay, and Lexie—Maya goes to a place called Elferterre, where magic rules and danger lurks…
Although I haven’t been blogging, I have been working diligently on my YA fantasy novel, Out of Time. I am about three-quarters done. The end is in sight, and I can definitely see land now. This galloping toward the finish line is the exciting part of writing a book, and thoughts of editing and revision are pushed firmly to the side. All that matters now is the story, and there will be time enough for the really picky work when I am finished.
While I have been feverishly working—six days a week, with Sundays off—late summer has begun its slide into early fall. A bittersweet time. Fall, with its blaze of orange, red, and yellow, is magnificent in Maine. The cool, crisp days are invigorating, and the bounty of apples, squash, and potatoes reminds us of all the good things that come from Earth. Simmering soups and fresh biscuits or muffins make this a cozy season.
But—somehow there is always a but—the days are shorter, and we no longer have long nights on the patio. The nights have become cool enough that we have begun thinking about turning on the heat, a cost that is a burden for those of us who live on a shoestring budget.
In this part of the world, fall is also hurricane season, and right now there is a brute of a storm named Dorian that is smashing the Bahamas and heading toward Florida. We mourn for the destruction in the Bahamas and wait apprehensively as Dorian approaches Florida. “Go out to sea, go out to sea,” we pray, but the storm runs by its own rules and will hit wherever it wants.
While hurricanes usually don’t make it as far north as Maine, we have nevertheless begun thinking of stocking up on canned beans, canned soup, peanut butter, and batteries. Winter is coming, and we want to be prepared. Yesterday I emptied, scrubbed, and refilled the big covered buckets we use for storing water. That way, if a storm knocks out our power, we have water. We have a well, and no power means no water. This scrubbing and refilling is a yearly fall ritual, another reminder that summer is coming to an end.
The gardens are yet another reminder. As my blogging friend Tootlepedal might put it, our gardens are no longer at their best. Their midsummer glory is a thing of the past, and now a faded, slightly regretful air hangs over everything. And the shrubs, neglected last year, are in desperate need of a trimming.
Fortunately, we have black-eyed Susans to brighten the yard.
And the promising blush of pink from the sedums.
Farewell, Summer. Sometimes, especially in July, you are too hot, but I still love you.
And now it’s back to work on Out of Time. I am hoping that my next post—probably the end of September—will have the title Finished.