Monday, January 20, 2014

My Dad's Birthday

January 22nd, 1944, was the day my dad was born. The closest hospital to his parent's northeastern North Dakota farm was in Canada, so he was born a Canadian and naturalized as a U.S. citizen at age seven. There's much I could tell you about his life and his birthdays, but one birthday I clearly remember is the one when I was a second grader. I was sick. With the stomach flu. And my dad stayed home from work to take care of me. Not a great way for him to spend his birthday, but what a great dad.

Sadly, my dad died in 2010 shortly after his 66th birthday. Like many people, he died much too young, and because of his cancer, he suffered much too much before his death. And because he meant so much to me and my family and my kids, I used to make the lemon cake he loved -- every January 22nd.

In fact, I still do.

To remember who he was. To celebrate who he was. Because we miss him. Because we love him. And because we wish he was still with us. So this Wednesday, January 22nd, my family will eat lemon cake and remember.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace

Oh man. I adore this book. Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino was on my to-read list for a long time, but finally I got my hands on a copy and had the chance to read it. I now have a hardcover copy in my bookcase, too, so you know it's among my favorites--because only my favorites get purchased in hardcover and get to live in my prized bookcase.

The premise: Cecilia Wreel lives in Wares Grove, New Jersey--a not much of anything town. But then Elvis Ruby arrives--to hide out. He was supposed to win the reality show TweenStar, but he froze onstage, and now he just wants to hide from the paprazzi and make some pancakes at his aunt's restaurant. But then Cecilia finds out who he is . . .

What I loved: This is a story about so much more than just the plot. So much more. It's about finding yourself -- even if (and especially if) who you are is someone different than everyone always said you were. It's also about finding friends, finding what matters most to you, and finding your music.

I know that doesn't really tell you much about the story, but my goal with MMGMs isn't to tell you a story's details; it's to entice you to read the story or pass along the title to someone you know. I hope I've done my job.

Enjoy more middle grade recommendations from the list on
Happy middle grade reading,

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Hopeful New Year

Every year we get this thing called a New Year. It's all shiny, bright, unblemished, untarnished and . . . new. Brand new. Full of things yet to be discovered. Granted, some of these things might turn out unpleasant, even downright ugly, but some of these things might be what we've always dreamed.

And while I'm not one to set resolutions (probably because when I was in college and had a health club membership that I used all year round, I found it a little sad that every early January, the club was bursting with folks -- only to find that by the 20th or so, the club was back to its regular patrons) . . .  at any rate, I'm not a resolution setter. But I am a 'hope' setter. Meaning I have all sorts of hopes for each New Year.

Usually they aren't huge things. Sometimes they're even everyday things. Things like I hope I smile more this year, I hope I listen better, I hope I hug people when they need it most, I hope I help people without even knowing I did. And with no way of measuring such things, all I can hope is that I actually do them.