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Owl Diaries: Eva’s Treetop Festival by Rebecca Elliott

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 72 pgs.
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Owl Diaries: Eva’s Treetop Festival by Rebecca Elliott is a series of books for first and second graders that my daughter was not initially sure she wanted to read.  I bought her a couple books in the series at her book fair after she picked out two books she really wanted.  First, I picked these books because teachers had been talking about how engaging they were, and second, I picked this because it is written in diary form — something my daughter has started doing in her own notebook. It’s a format that she can easily recognize and connect with.

We read a chapter an evening before bed, and sometimes she would read along, and at other times, she sat back and let me read to her.  It was a good experience to see how Eva’s big idea for a festival came into being — not as a solo project but as a team effort from the entire class. Eva is like any kid my daughter’s age, she has best friends and sometimes friends, and there is the one kid that she thinks is mean.

Elliott has a vivid and childlike imagination that kids will immediately connect with, and there are even reading comprehension questions in the back to help young, developing readers think about what they’ve been reading in terms of plot and characterization. Owl Diaries: Eva’s Treetop Festival by Rebecca Elliott is a wonderful series of books that will foster imagination, teamwork, and more. My daughter was eager to read each chapter and she cannot wait to start book 2.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

A school project from when Rebecca was 6 reads, ‘when I grow up I want to be an artist and a writer’. After a brief detour from this career plan involving a degree in philosophy and a dull office job she fulfilled her plan in 2001 when she became a full time children’s book illustrator and has since written and illustrated hundreds of picture books published worldwide including the award-winning Just Because, Zoo Girl, Naked Trevor, Mr Super Poopy Pants, Missing Jack and the very popular Owl Diaries series.

She lives in Suffolk in the UK with her husband, a history teacher and children, all professional monkeys.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 52 pgs.
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We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, our book club pick for May 2018, is an adaptation of the author’s TEDxEuston talk in Africa. To talk about gender is often uncomfortable, and it is often met with platitudes, like things are so much better for women now and what’s the big deal if someone greeted the man you’re with but not you. These are statements of dismissal and an attempt to nullify the validity of the discussion about equal rights for all sexes/genders.

Adichie is from Nigeria, but the situations she speaks about are from all over the globe, including the United States.  These are situations in which women (through socialization) feel that they must dress or act a certain way when in the workplace in order to be respected.  However, assertive behaviors in male co-workers are still rewarded but not favorable in women of the same position.  Adichie uses examples from her own life and her interactions with friends to illustrate her points about culture and its need to evolve in order to meet the needs of modern society, as well as the needs of humanity as it continues to evolve.

“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.” (pg. 46)

Her discussion of how many American women strive to be “likeable” demonstrates how women are groomed over time to view their worth as only as a man would perceive them to be.  There are notions of pretending and how women often must pretend that they like something or act a certain way because marriage is the ultimate goal. Because what would women be without marriage? “The language of marriage is often a language of ownership, not a language of partnership.” (pg. 30)

While men and women are biologically different, Adichie explains that today’s society is not as it was when men hunted and women made the home — strength was necessary to lead. Intelligence, creativity, and more are needed in today’s society to keep productive, efficient, and creating a new world in which we can be happier and fulfilled.  When women thank their husbands for doing one chore after both have come home from work but a man does not thank his wife for all the housework she does daily, what does that signify? Shouldn’t we be grateful when either spouse shares the housework load and works a job outside the home? Shouldn’t we equally share the load in family life?

“But by far the worst thing we do to males – by making them feel they have to be hard – is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.” (pg. 27)

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, our book club pick for May 2018, is thought-provoking and a conversation starter. We cannot pretend that gender discrimination and expectations do not exist any longer. It must be acknowledged before it can be fixed by teaching both boys and girls to be who they are and not to pretend to be a particularly “gender” assigned to them by an out-of-date culture and society.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Inspired by Nigerian history and tragedies all but forgotten by recent generations of westerners, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels and stories are jewels in the crown of diasporan literature.

The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 400 pgs.
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The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert is a historical fiction novel that is told from both Letti and Marco’s points of view as their lives take different turns than they expect with the rise of Nazism, WWII, and its aftermath. But at its heart it is a romantic novel Lettie finds her soulmate in the most unexpected place.  Joubert’s detail in describing Italy and South Africa create a vivid world in which Letti and Marco live, and these characters face some tough trials.

Marco was a strong character filled with integrity and love and his determination and hope filled these pages from beginning to end.  He infused each character he encountered with a strength they did not know they possessed, and he makes the pages turn.  From his love of history and Da Vinci to his ability to go on even after he loses his childhood sweetheart.

Letti, on the other hand, is weaker, living in the shadow of her friends and feeling out of place next to the beauty of the village and the one from the richer family.  Like her father, she yearns to be a doctor and to care for others, even as she realizes her childhood crush is not meant to be anything more.

“The war seeped into the homes. The lowing winds blew it in through the front door when someone came in from outside. It oozed through the floorboards and the closed shutters.” (pg. 39 ARC)

Lettie’s strength comes later when she leaves for medical school and is on her own, away from the pressures of her friends and family. She’s able to see her goal and reach for it with both hands. Her hard work and thirst for knowledge make her the dedicated village doctor she becomes. But like all of us, even knowledge can take a back seat to fear and loss.

Although the ending for Lettie seemed a bit too convenient, it was understandable given her early years in her home village. The quick resolution so many years after WWII may have been truncated, but The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert is a journey worth taking and it reminds us that life is not a straight line and is very unpredictable. But love and happiness are possibilities that emerge from the ashes of our best laid plans.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She’s the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels. Connect with Irma on Facebook.

Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly

Source: the author
Ebook, 352 pgs.
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Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly is clever and fun, just as George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, aka My Fair Lady the movie, but also witty and romantic like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Everly strikes a perfect balance between the two works and creates her own story for Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet that not only defies convention and societal norms of the time, but also demonstrates how aristocrats and their peers can achieve the ends they seek with a little scheming.

Her Darcy is a bit more Shaw than Austen, but it is what we need in this tale to believe what transpires between Lizzy and himself. When Elizabeth and Professor Darcy meet it is after Charles Bingley has already decided on who his bride will be. He must merely ask her, and in this, Bingley is a stronger character than in Austen. I applaud Everly for giving us a stronger Bingley, even if he is still pleasant and easy-going in most things.

Once the tutoring of Miss Bennet begins and the scheme is agreed to, there is little room for turning back, and Elizabeth laments about her decision to enter into this scheme: “Oh, I find myself dreading a headache which will last six months.” But despite her misgivings, she finds that she enjoys the challenge of transforming her speech and manner as much as Professor Darcy. But like all great creations, they often disagree with their creators, and this makes for entertaining sparring between the two.

Everly clearly knows both of these classics well, and it shows, and while readers will need to be a little flexible in their notion of Regency behavior and expectations, it is well worth the effort to do so. The challenge lies in how Lizzy will overcome her dislike of Darcy when he selfishly pats himself on the back and whether she will see his more endearing nature beneath the cold facade he uses in London. Readers will love her determination and her ability to forgive, and they will certainly challenge this Darcy’s character as Lizzy does.

Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly is a variation I did not want to put down. I was delighted by every twist that brought Darcy and Elizabeth together and enjoyed the entertaining paths they took when they were parted. Darcy has more to learn in this variation but Lizzy also has to make some hard choices that could affect the rest of her life.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading! Visit her website and on Facebook.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 225 pgs.
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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which was our October book club selection, is a deeply emotional book about loss and guilt and letting go. Conor O’Malley is 13, but his burdens are great as he cares for himself the best he can while his mother clearly ill from chemotherapy. She is barely able to wake up and move about. At school, his life is gray and the only color he finds is in his encounters with the bullies at school because they provide him what he wants — punishment.

“It swung him out of his room and into the night, high above his backyard, holding him up against the circle of the moon, its fingers clenching so hard against Conor’s ribs he could barely breathe. Conor could see raggedy teeth made of hard, knotted wood in the monster’s open mouth, and he felt warm breath rushing up toward him.” (pg. 8)

It is a deeply atmospheric novel in which the gray and black emotions of Conor permeate all that goes on.  The Monster who visits him each evening tells him three stories, and Conor expects them to teach him something, but what Conor must learn is something he can only teach himself through experience.  The Monster, however, is not his recurring nightmare.  And the Monster, though fearsome, seems to be the darkness inside him and not an actual monster.  We all carry monstrous emotions and we try to keep them hidden — sometimes even from ourselves.  Through magical realism, Ness has created a tale for teens and adults alike that will ensure they look inward and assess their own pain, guilt, and loss in a new way.

Sometimes people need to lie to themselves most of all.” (pg. 67)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is deeply affecting.  Readers will long feel the sorrow and the heaviness of this one, but it is darkly humorous in parts.  While one of the monster’s tales is a bit muddled, it could be attributed to the 13-year-old’s imagination in how it fails to fully parallel the other tales.  Ness is a crafty storyteller, and his Conor is every boy ever deeply impacted by loss, abandonment, and other dark emotions.

RATING: Quatrain

What book club thought?

Everyone at the meeting liked the book very well and really felt engaged with the narrative and Conor’s emotions.  The biggest debate was whether the monster was a real entity or in Conor’s mind.  It was interesting to listen to the theories that members had about the individual tales the monster told and how they paralleled Conor’s predicament.

About the Author:

Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman (giveaway)

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 352 pgs.
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The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman offers a platter of new characters set in Detroit, which is beginning its renaissance. Cousins Addie and Samantha risk everything to buy a nearly hollowed out diner and a crumbling home that they divide into two livable spaces. They hope that through the meals they serve, using organic ingredients, they can make a successful eatery. However, they fail to take into account how their new venture will be received by the community.  As pressures mount, their relationship begins to fray and readers will see just how the past and present influence their future.

Through alternating points of view between Samantha and Addie, readers are able to see the quirky characters that make up their diner family. But through the atmosphere built by Lampman, it is clear something ominous is on the horizon, especially after an unexpected letter arrives. The author has drawn not only the main characters well, but also the secondary characters, creating a well rounded meal on which to chew. Some of the best parts of this book involve food and those recipes are in the back of the book, and I loved the material about WWII polish immigrants like Addie’s grandparents.

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman is a succulent dish served in the evening with wine and a good dose of humor.  Readers will have watering mouths as they work their way through this renaissance for Detroit, Addie, and Samantha.

RATING: Quatrain

GIVEAWAY:  U.S. residents age 18+ Enter by leaving a comment about this review and book by Oct. 31. Good Luck.

About the Author:

Peggy Lampman was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications—summa cum laude—from the University of Michigan, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for a public-relations firm. When she returned to Ann Arbor, her college town, she opened a specialty foods store, the Back Alley Gourmet. Years later, she sold the store and started writing a weekly food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive. Lampman’s first novel, The Promise Kitchen, published in 2016, garnered several awards and accolades. She is married and has two children. She also writes the popular blog www.dinnerfeed.com.

Mom & Me: An Art Journal to Share, Create and Connect, Side by Side by Lacy Mucklow and Bethany Robertson

Source: QuartoKnows
Paperback, 128 pgs.
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Mom & Me: An Art Journal to Share, Create and Connect, Side by Side by Lacy Mucklow and Bethany Robertson is a way to foster greater communication with young children, especially those who are just learning how to cope with their feelings and address issues in their school lives or at home.  For a mother and daughter or even a father and son, this journal could be a jumping off point for deeper conversations about what may be causing a child to act out or cause trouble. However, parents should be careful in using it and make sure that it remains a stress-free and fun activity and not something the child feels pressured to do.

Each 2-page section includes a prompt for both the parent and child to draw or even write how they feel on their own page, and when they are done, they can share those pages aloud or in silence with a few questions to clarify. Parents also will need to remember this is a journal to foster greater communication and that the quality of the art inside created by themselves or their child is irrelevant to its purpose.  If you both become better doodlers, all the better.

From drawing out our feelings to creating a coat of arms for the family and depicting yourself with the best animal qualities, these activities will have parents and their children laughing together and sharing quality time, as well as communicating. One of the best activities in the book is drawing your inside self and drawing your outside self, which can not only be enlightening for the child, but also the parent when they contemplate how they view themselves.

Mom & Me: An Art Journal to Share, Create and Connect, Side by Side by Lacy Mucklow and Bethany Robertson includes activities to reflect on the past, on emotions of the moment, self-image, qualities we want to have and do have, and much more. Once this journal is filled, it could give way to more activities together and greater communication as well as the creation of your own personalized journals that you can share together.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Lacy Mucklow (MA, ATR-BC, LPAT, LCPAT) is a registered, board certified, and licensed art therapist who has been practicing art therapy in the Washington, DC area since 1999. She has experience working with a variety of mental health populations and settings, including schools, home-based counseling, and hospitals with adolescents, families, and adults. Lacy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art from Oklahoma State University, and a Master of Arts degree in Art Therapy from The George Washington University.

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis

Source: Meryton Press
Ebook, 424 pgs.
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Mistaken by Jessie Lewis is a Pride & Prejudice variation that will take Mr. Bingley to task for his easy-going manners that allow others to influence his decisions and will demonstrate how mistaking another’s actions can lead to disaster.  Misunderstandings in Jane Austen are nothing readers are unused to by now, but Lewis amps up the miscues and the drama in her variation.

“Life was muted in her absence.” (from Mistaken)

Much of the story from Austen remains intact here and Lewis shows readers what may have happened behind Austen’s scenes.  She also engages Austen’s characters in new ways and creates her own subplots. What worked well was the main love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and his demonstrable grief and her anger are tangible in Lewis’ deft hands.  Their romance is believable, despite the obstacles, and his fierce protection of Lizzy rings true.

“‘Cease hiding behind the Titan and admit it. You agreed with him.’

‘I did?’

‘Aye! He did not make you leave. You chose to do it.'” (from Mistaken)

However, in ramping up the misunderstandings, we see a side of Jane, Lizzy’s sister, that is less than pleasant as jealousy and resentment consume her to the point where her relationship with Lizzy appears altered forever. As Jane’s behavior dragged on and worsened to the point where this reader no longer liked her, it was hard to watch Lizzy deal with not only her new responsibilities, but also the absence of her best friend and sister and the repeated flirtations of men she had no interest in.  It read a little too much like a daytime drama in some instances, but the scenes where the ton are gossiping was exactly as readers would imagine it to be and demonstrates how fragile a woman’s reputation was in those times.

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis is unique in the number of misunderstandings that occur and how they are resolved in a series of puzzles that are laid out in pieces for the reader.  Lizzy is still headstrong and lively, but it is clear that this personality could get her in loads of trouble among upper society.  Readers of Pride & Prejudice will recognize various differences in their beloved characters, and the lack of resolution at the end for one plot may leave the door open for another part to come. Lewis’ novel is engaging and terrifying all at once, especially if you’ve grown attached to the Bennets and their new husbands.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.

That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son, and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.

The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author, or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.

It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability by Kelly Davio

Source: purchased
Paperback; 144 pgs.
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It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability by Kelly Davio, on tour with Poetic Book Tours, is a candid collection of essays and vignettes that illustrate how having an autoimmune disease not only affects how you live, but also sharpens your perspective on pop culture, healthcare systems, advertising, trite statements from well-meaning people, and much more.  Her writing is precise and sharp, forcing readers to reassess their views on disability and how to engage with those whose bodies are not “healthy.”  Even the term “healthy” takes on new meaning in these essays.

Davio is serious and funny, and what she has to say is something that we all need to listen to.  All people deserve respect and compassion, and no one should be made to feel like they are worthless or not who they once were should disease strike.  Compassion is a tough business, but we have a duty to defend it and to engage with it head on.  Stories like hers will make you yelp in shock, and make you angry that others treated her as they did.  But what’s even more telling is how Davio views herself.  Has society played a role in how we view ourselves and aren’t those lenses just a little bit too cloudy with other people’s judgments?  I think so.

It’s time to be real with one another and with ourselves.  Davio does nothing less in this essay collection. A stunning read and one you won’t want to put down once you get started. I know I didn’t. I read it in one sitting. It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability by Kelly Davio is a memoir and essay collection in one.

Don’t forget to enter to win:

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY (3 copies up for grabs for U.S. residents, age 18+; ends Oct. 31, 2017)

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Kelly Davio is the author of Burn This House (Red Hen Press, 2013) and the forthcoming The Book of the Unreal Woman. She is the founding editor of Tahoma Literary Review and the former Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review. While in England, she served as the Senior Editor of Eyewear Publishing. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, The Rumpus, and others. She earned her MFA in poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Today, she works as a medical editor in New Jersey.

Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight (Audio)

Source: publicist
Audible; 8+ hrs.
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Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight, narrated by Alison Larkin, is a memoir of one of the last people to live in Chawton House — the home of Jane Austen — as part of a family.  Knight peppers her family stories with historical notes from the ancestors, the letters, and the stories she heard as a child, but she also incorporates the words of Jane Austen from her novels at the most opportune moments.  Readers will be delighted to learn how elements from her books were taken straight from her family’s experiences.

From the beginning readers know that Knight was forced from her home at age 17 due to financial distress.  You can imagine how being forced from an ancestral home would be disconcerting and lead her to distance herself from Jane Austen. But readers will want to learn how her life comes full circle and leads to the creation of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.

Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight, narrated by Alison Larkin, provides a unique look at Jane Austen’s ancestors and explores how family members many years removed can carry some of the same traits and interests.  Knight is a curious woman who loves to weave stories about her family members with those of Austen’s novels and real life.  She mirrors Jane’s streak of independence, which readers have found so compelling about Elizabeth Bennet.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Caroline Jane Knight shares more than Jane Austen’s name and DNA. As a direct descendant of Jane’s brother, Edward Knight, Caroline is the last of the Austen Knight family to grow up at Chawton House on the estate where her fifth great-aunt Jane Austen lived and enjoyed the most productive period of her writing career. Caroline explored the same places around Chawton House and its grounds as Jane did, dined at the same table in the same dining room, read in the same library and shared the same dream of independence.

Killing Summer by Sarah Browning

Source: the poet
Paperback, 100 pgs.
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Killing Summer by Sarah Browning begins in the heat of summer in which a woman walks her neighborhood and does not cross the street because there is a black man there and there is a man stabbing women on the loose.  But look closer at “Pentworth, Early Evening” and you see a narrator who thinks about doing just that, who has fear deep down that she’ll be a victim of violence by a black man.  Like her, we want “to tear history” from us, free ourselves from that ingrained habit that those unlike us are something to fear.

From “Flag of No Walls” (pg. 93)

I want the flag of talking,
of sitting on the disintegrating
wall and gabbing, gossiping,
negotiating, waving that flag
of no walls. That flag.

Through Browning’s open endings, her poems seek change and there is a glimmer of hope that changes are coming and that transformation could be for the better (at least for those who come after us).  Her poems are ripped from the headlines, but they also are reflective of the past — a societal angst that was gone and has returned.  From an adolescent student seeking the courage to be seen by the boys in the courtyard to the pull between the ingrained fear and the inability to reconcile an ancestry of slave owners, there is a tension throughout the collection that simmers, wearing us down.

From “The Blueberry Seasons” (pg. 77)

I can’t stop admiring you, how you run
like that, bring your bucket now to show me.

Summer is often referenced as a time of being carefree, and there is some of that here in poems such as “The Blueberry Seasons,” but Browning is quick to remind us that life is not carefree for everyone — not the amputee, not those touched by foreclosure, and not those falsely imprisoned.  Her poems ask us to view ourselves and our actions through the eyes of others, to see how we are perceived and to begin again and become better, more compassionate, and connected.

Killing Summer by Sarah Browning reminds us that even in the most turbulent political times, we should not be blind to our roles and we should not passively watch or read. We must act if we hope to make change.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Sarah Browning is co-founder and Executive Director of Split This Rock. She is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and a featured writer for Other Words. Author of Killing Summer (Sibling Rivalry Press, forthcoming 2017) and Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007), and coeditor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology (Argonne House Press, 2004), she is the recipient of artist fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, a Creative Communities Initiative grant, and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. Browning has been guest editor or co-edited special issues of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, and POETRY magazine. Since 2006, she has co-hosted the Sunday Kind of Love poetry series at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC. She previously worked supporting socially engaged women artists with WomenArts and developing creative writing workshops with low-income women and youth with Amherst Writers & Artists. She has been a community organizer in Boston public housing and a grassroots political organizer on a host of social and political issues.

The Art of Drawing Dangles: Creating Decorative Letters and Art with Charms by Olivia A. Kneibler

Source: QuartoKnows
Paperback, 144 pgs.
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The Art of Drawing Dangles: Creating Decorative Letters and Art with Charms by Olivia A. Kneibler has a colorful cover and it is clear from the drawings that your lettering will never be plain Jane again.  When kids doodle adding things to their letters or words, they are often told to write the letters as they should be written.  But this book allows their imaginations to run free, adding all sorts of designs to the dangles hanging from their letters.  There are chapters in the book to guide them through the process of drawing them, and there is no limit to how many dangles or what types of items can be made into dangles.

The introduction explains what dangles are and how different strings on which the charms hang can determine the mood of the lettering — evoking different emotions and reactions from the reader.  This type of lettering is great for stationary, artwork, and other creations.  Create wedding invitations with dangles, create monogrammed stationary, and use a variety of materials and styles.  There is a recommended list of materials in the beginning, including watercolor paints, colored pencils, markers, and more.  This is the perfect companion for Hand Lettering A to Z, which would enable you to create even more elaborate designs.

I loved that there are faint outlines for kids to practice creating some of the designs they see in the book. The Art of Drawing Dangles: Creating Decorative Letters and Art with Charms by Olivia A. Kneibler can help kids slow down and be creative, while providing parents with some quiet time. It also can help parents recharge by having them step away from their day-to-day stresses to create art with their children.

RATING: Quatrain

Find out more about the Author:

“Art has been my bliss since I was a very young girl, so much so that I majored in fine art in college with a minor in psychology. I have been producing and selling my art for many years using mostly watercolor as my main medium. When I began focusing solely on art as my career I freelanced for various companies and continued on that path for years creating illustrations for greeting cards, invitations, promotional materials, fabric, figurines and plush teddy bears. Some of the companies I freelanced for were pcCrafter, Bradford Exchange, Gibson Greetings, Paper Magic Group, Annette Funicello Collectible Bear Company (exclusive artist), Leisure Arts, Gooseberry Patch, Walter Drake and more. I was the in house Senior Designer at DecoArt and worked in all aspects of the creative department and extensively on the Liquid Rainbow product, completing four books and numerous projects. After years of working with different companies I decided I would start working for myself so I opened my site, Olivia and Company.”