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Happy Birthday, Cupcake! by Terry Border

Source: I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Hardcover, 32 pgs.
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Happy Birthday, Cupcake! by Terry Border, which is for ages 5-8 and which my daughter received from Vicki, is a cute little picture book.  Kids have cupcakes for their own birthday parties, but what kind of birthday party would a cupcake have?  Cupcakes, muffins, and other food stuffs would have a tough time in certain party situations, and the photos are amusing.  Cupcakes and others with little bendable metal arms, and during a limbo, a cupcake could lose her frosting.

Cupcake and her friend muffin are contemplating carious birthday party adventures, and each time muffin brings up the reasons why certain parties might not be a good idea.   The puns are entertaining for adults as well, but its the visual fun that will keep younger readers engaged, along with the rhymes.  These photos are fantastic little art pieces that are whimsical and endearing.

Happy Birthday, Cupcake! by Terry Border was a great little book for my daughter to practice the sight words she’s learning in preschool.  My daughter loved the end of the book, but I loved the limbo party best.  We had a great time giggling and pointing out some great party fun and silly moments.

About the Author:

Terry Border has spent the vast majority of his life in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. He graduated from Ball State University with a B.S. in Fine Art Photography in 1988. Then, because he wanted to be practical and not be an artist (he is from Indiana after all), he worked as a commercial photographer for many years.  In 2006 he started what he calls his Bent Objects project, mainly because all the other blog names were already taken. Basically, the project concerns adding wire to ordinary objects to help pose them as living characters, usually telling a story, and then photographing them.

Mr. Border has two books containing collections of his Bent Objects published by Running Press, and is now working on a children’s book for Philomel (a footprint of Penguin Publishing). He has a contract with Universal Publishing to make 2013, and 2014 wall calendars, and supplies American Greetings with various greeting card images. There are also, supposedly,  several Bent Objects jigsaw puzzles for sale somewhere in the world, but he has never actually seen one in person.

Mailbox Monday #349

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North for review from Meryton Press.

In the autumn of 1948, young millionaire Will Darcy comes to the sleepy, backwater town of Meryton, South Carolina to visit his best friend, Charles Bingley. When Darcy becomes enchanted by a local beauty with a heavenly voice, his business dealings with Longbourn Farms may close the door to his romantic hopes before they are given a chance to thrive.

Still healing from heartbreak, Elizabeth Bennet takes solace in her family, home, and the tight-knit community of Meryton. That foundation is shaken when Will Darcy makes a successful offer to buy the family farm. Blinded by hurt, will Elizabeth miss the chance to find in him the peace and comfort her heart truly needs?

Confronting the racial, economic, and social inequalities of the times, Longbourn’s Songbird is an imaginative romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and told through the lens of postwar America, a story layered with betrayal and loss, love, and letting go.

Happy Birthday, Cupcake by Terry Border from Vicki at I’d Rather Be at the Beach for my daughter.  Thank you!

What’s a cupcake to do when she needs to plan her birthday party? In this hilarious, kid-friendly homage to food and birthdays, Cupcake runs through tons of ideas while her best friend, Blueberry Muffin, finds reasons why they won’t work: Soup gets seasick; Donut melts in the sun; someone might get squashed during musical chairs; and Cupcake is not very good at limbo (her icing might get sliced off!). Just as Cupcake is ready to crumble, Blueberry Muffin has one last idea that just might save the day.

With laugh-out-loud visual gags (like a band made up of beans–the musical fruit, of course), this book is sure to put a birthday smile on any kid’s face (and on adult faces as well).

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton for review from Penguin.

When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing.

What did you receive?

Small Damages by Beth Kephart

There are books that pump your adrenaline for you and there are books, like Small Damages by Beth Kephart, that seep deep into your being, settle there, making their mark on your emotions, your perceptions about other cultures, and your own world view.  Kephart has a skill unlike other young adult authors in that she never sees her younger readers as incapable of understanding or of deep emotion.  She trusts them to follow her characters in their unusual circumstances and settings and garner a deeper understanding of what it means to mature from a child into an adult and the responsibilities that weigh on them even now when they are so young in this modern world.

Kenzie Spitzer is an 18-year-old pregnant girl who struggles with the loss of her father and the silence of her mother every day, and she keeps secrets from her friends, her family, and herself.  Kevin Sullivan, the boyfriend, is on his way to Yale in the fall, and she had planned to attend Newhouse film school after a summer on the New Jersey shore in a rented house with her boyfriend and friends.  To say the least, her life is turned upside down by the pregnancy news, but what’s worse is the decision to have the child and give it up for adoption is taken out of her hands when her mother makes arrangements for her to go to Los Nietos (the granchildren) ranch in Spain where she will be cared for by her mother’s friends Miguel and Estela until the baby is born.

“We scatter the herd, break the bulls out of the shade until they are near, running beside us — fast in a straight line, awkward on the turns, annoyed.” (Page 14 ARC)

Like the scattering of the bulls when she arrives, Kenzie’s life has been derailed and those of her friends and of Kevin are moving parallel to her and from her point of view cased in blissful ignorance as her life is the only one changed.  She even ruminates on how even though a child conceived is the doing of man and woman, it is the woman’s life that is changes irrevocably.  Kenzie’s thoughts are very similar to teenage girls, vacillating between the past and what the future could have been — analyzing each moment over and over.  Unlike other novels on this topic, Kephart’s kind hand guides the narration without judgment allowing the character to reveal her own maternal love for the child and her confusion without the harsh lens of blame and resentment.

“I stay where I am, halfway in, halfway out, the moon and the stars bright behind me.”  (Page 172 ARC)

Forced into a decision that is not her own — but is in a roundabout way a compromise with her mother — Kenzie is left adrift in a foreign land with people she doesn’t know or understand, wondering through silences and asking endless questions that are unanswered more often than not.  She meets Esteban with whom a connection is born as they share a tragic parental past, even though for a long while all Kenzie wants is to be someone else, somewhere else.  Like the birds in Seville and at Los Nietos, they are there guiding Kenzie, showing her the color as Kevin had done when her father died.  She is alive, and they remind her.  There is one passage in the novel in which Esteban talks of how one particular bird always comes, but that he brings the others with him — reminiscent of The Conference of the Birds (my review) and the faith they need to find what they seek.

“‘Only to the earth do I tell my troubles,’ Arcadio sings softly, ‘for nowhere in the world do I find anyone to trust.’

‘If my heart had windowpanes of glass,’ Bruno sings the next line, ‘you’d look inside and see it crying drops of blood.’

‘These Gypsies, they are the famous,’ Miguel says.  ‘They are starting very young; they played for Lorca.  They had duende. Have duende. ?'”  (Page 165-6 ARC)

Small Damages by Beth Kephart is about the courage we must find within ourselves to face the past, our tragedies and losses, and our fears about the future.  Kenzie is a young woman on the verge of her new life when it is turned upside down, and while the decision to go to Spain is not her own, she finds the courage to make her own decisions for herself, her baby, and her future.  Through the chords and melodies of gypsy music, Kenzie must peel the tough, bumpy rubber skin of the orange in her journey through Spain to reveal the prized juice and supple pulp beneath the skin.  While damages may seem large and insurmountable when they are first scored through our hearts and skin, they heal and become the small scars that make us who we are and how we learn to be better than we were.

About the Author:

Beth Kephart is the author of 14 books, including the National Book Award finalist A Slant of Sun; the Book Sense pick Ghosts in the Garden; the autobiography of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River, Flow; the acclaimed business fable Zenobia; and the critically acclaimed novels for young adults, Undercover and House of Dance. A third YA novel, Nothing but Ghosts, is due out in June 2009. And a fourth young adult novel, The Heart Is Not a Size, will be released in March 2010. “The Longest Distance,” a short story, appears in the May 2009 HarperTeen anthology, No Such Thing as the Real World.

Kephart is a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize, among other honors. Kephart’s essays are frequently anthologized, she has judged numerous competitions, and she has taught workshops at many institutions, to all ages. Kephart teaches the advanced nonfiction workshop at the University of Pennsylvania. You can visit her blog and my interview with her.

My other Beth Kephart reviews:

Have you seen this book trailer?