Sydney Taylor Book Awards

The 2012 Sydney Taylor Book Awards have been announced! “The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All- of-a-Kind Family series.”

From the Association of Jewish Libraries website:

Sydney Taylor Book Award, Younger Readers: Michael J. Rosen and Robert Sabuda, author and artist of Chanukah Lights, Candlewick Press.

Honor Books, Younger Readers:

Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti with illustrations by Holly Meade (Candlewick Press)

Around the World in One Shabbat written and illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard (Jewish Lights Publishing)

Sydney Taylor Book Award, Older Readers: Susan Goldman Rubin, author of Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein, Charlesbridge Publishing.

Honor Books, Older Readers: 

Lily Renee, Escape Artist: from Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer by Trina Robbins with illustrations by Anne Timmons and Mo Oh (Graphic Universe, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.)

Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg: Baseball Pioneer by Shelley Sommer (Calkins Creek, an imprint Boyds Mills Press)

Irena’s Jars of Secrets by Marcia Vaughan with illustrations by Ron Mazellan (Lee & Low Books)

Sydney Taylor Book Award, Teen ReadersRobert Sharenow, author of The Berlin Boxing Club, HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishing.

Honor Books, Teen Readers:

Then by Morris Gleitzman (Henry Holt and Company)

The Blood Lie by Shirley Reva Vernick (Cinco Puntos Press).

The Award Committee also had eighteen Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2012.

Notable Books for Younger Readers:

  • Picnic at Camp Shalom by Jacqueline Jules with illustrations by Debbie Melmon (Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
  • The Golem’s Latkes by Eric A. Kimmel with illustrations by Aaron Jasinski (Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books)
  • Joseph and the Sabbath Fish by Eric A. Kimmel with illustrations by Martina Peluso (Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
  • Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast by Jamie Korngold with illustrations by Julie Fortenberry (Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
  • The Shabbat Princess by Amy Meltzer with illustrations by Martha Aviles (Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
  • Lipman Pike: America’s First Home Run King by Richard Michelson with illustrations by Zachary Pullen (Sleeping Bear Press, an imprint of Gale)
  • The Littlest Mountain by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Melanie Hall (Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
  • I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding during World War II by Marisabina Russo (Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House)
  • Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime by Gloria Spielman with illustrations by Manon Gauthtier (Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
  • One Little Chicken by Elka Weber with illustrations by Elisa Kleven (Tricycle Press, an imprint of Random House)

Notable Books for Older Readers:

  • The Mishkan: Its Structure and Its Sacred Vessels by Rabbi Avrohom Biderman (Artscroll/Mesorah Publication)
  • Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House)
  • The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough with illustrations by Heather Maione (Viking, an imprint of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc.)
  • When Life Gives You OJ by Erica S. Perl (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin with illustrations by Bill Fransworth (Holiday House)
  • Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson (Candlewick Press)

Notable Books for Teens:

  • OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy (Walker & Company)
  • Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul Janeczko (Candlewick Press)

2012 Printz Award

The 2012 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature was particularly exciting for me because I’d read 4 of the 5 honored titles!

Here is the award winner and the honor titles, from the YALSA website. Please click through to the YALSA website for full information about the award, including the annotations from the committee:

The 2012 Winner

Where Things Come Back, By John Corey Whaley, Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. From my review: “Where Things Come Back starts in a morgue, with seventeen year old Cullen identifying the body of his older cousin, Oslo. Cullen’s family and friends are introduced, a small circle of people in a small town. This is, at first, what Where Things Come Back seems to be about: small town boy coming of age. Strangely, another story is introduced, about a young man, Benton Sage, on a mission in Ethiopia a story that seems to have nothing to do with Cullen. On page 55, Where Things Come Back shifts: Cullen’s younger brother, Gabriel, disappears. It becomes a story of the loss of Gabriel, the search for him, but is also the story of how Cullen’s life goes on, because that is what happens. It is not just that the clocks don’t stop; it is that life is not so uncluttered that all else fades away and disappears along with the lost one. This is the first reason I love this book: Cullen’s life is full and messy and complicated. His reactions, his parents, are jagged and not linear.” One of my Favorite Books Read in 2011.

 The 2012 Honor Books:

Why We Broke Up, written by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. From my review:”This is Min’s story, her long, glorious, honest letter to Ed about how and why they got together, and fell in love, despite — or maybe because of — being so different. Ed, a jock, popular; Min, who loves old films and coffee with friends. Min sends a box of objects to Ed; and I love that Min does this, that she is the girl who holds onto these items and then sends them Ed and I wonder — will Ed read the letter? Will he go through the box and match the things to the letter, remember as she remembers? Or will the box go into the closet, under the stairs, in the trash?” One of my Favorite Books Read in 2011.

The Returning, written by Christine Hinwood and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group Young Readers Group USA. From my review: “I had to stop putting expectations on this book, about what it would or would not be, and just let it enfold me. Just let myself sink into Cam’s world without worrying about who was a main character and who wasn’t, and whether this world was European or Asian or something else. And I realized that what The Returning was about, was not Cam, or Pin, or Graceful, but was about war, and the impact of war on regular people and regular lives. The people who stay in the same village, well, as Cam’s mother wisely says, “there’ve always been taxes, new Lord or old.” Their losses are in the generation of men that did not come home; Cam alone returned. For others, those displaced, like young Diido, the loss is of home and comfort and security. There are families like Graceful’s that now have opportunities they would not have had before.” One of my Favorite Books Read in 2011. Also one of my Top 5 Books of 2011.

Jasper Jones, written by Craig Silvey and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc. The lone title I didn’t review! Review forthcoming.

The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc. From my review: “Killer horses. There are some reader who just need to know “killer horses.” I am not one of those people. Sorry, but I was never one of those girls who went through a horse phase. So, in other words, for me, Stiefvater had to work for it to make me fall for The Scorpio Races, and fall I did. What made me fall: the setting of Thisby. A small, isolated island except for the tourists who come for the Scorpio races and come to buy horses. The world where capaill uisce are real, and iron and bells and salt and circles can help tame them. A world where water horses kill and people view it as tragic and sad, but not unexpected. Thisby and the capaill uisce are from Stiefvater’s imagination (though based on the myths and stories of man-eating water horses), and so, too, is the time. It’s a world of cars but no Internet. It’s familiar, but slanted. Thisby is so real that midway through I began to wonder, half seriously, if I could visit.” One of my Favorite Books Read in 2011.

Yes, you read that right: not only did I read 4 of the 5 books, all four made my Favorite Books Read in 2011!

 Thank you to the committee, for all their hard work!

Megan Whalen Turner

My love of Megan Whalen Turner’s books is well documented.

What is almost as wonderful as a MWT book is finding other people who adore her books. It’s pure giddyness and giggles and “I KNOW.”

Chachic’s Book Nook has dedicated an entire week to the wonderfulness of the Queen’s Thief series. No, really.

If you love these books, go and read and have fun.

If you haven’t read these books, go, now — read The Thief. Don’t read anything else, don’t read any of theses posts, don’t read any reviews. Just, read The Thief. Then read the other books in the series. Then, read the posts at Chachic’s Book Nook so you won’t be spoiled.

Also? The Queen’s Thief Week is all that is good and true and powerful about book bloggers. It is about the books we love, and sharing them, and the joy they bring us.

The 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction For Young Adults

And the winner is . . . .

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery written by Steve Sheinkin, published by Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

From the ALA Website:  “Treating history as mystery, Sheinkin takes readers through means, motive, and opportunity as he outlines Arnold’s path towards treason. This well researched (with liberal use of primary sources) cradle to grave biography emphasizes the political, social, and military issues within the Colonial army and how Arnold ambitiously maneuvered his own career through grit and determination. “In this illuminating biography, Sheinkin proves that spoilers don’t matter—it’s not whether or not Arnold betrayed his country, but why,” said YALSA Nonfiction Award Chair Jennifer Hubert.”

The finalists:

Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos, published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal, published by Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy, published by National Geographic Children’s Books.

Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin, published by Charlesbridge.

Full annotations are at the YALSA website.

I had a terrific time being on this year’s committee, I loved getting to know my fellow committee members, and wow, what an amazing year for nonfiction!

You’ll never guess what committee I am on now . . .

Review: Finding Somewhere

Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House. 2011. Reviewed from copy from publisher.

The Plot: Two girls, a horse, and the open road. The horse is old and it’s owners want to put it out down. Hattie, sixteen, wants to give Speed, a work horse all his life, a chance to “be a horse,” to live his last days as a free horse on the open range. Delores, eighteen, is happy for an excuse to leave home. Together, they hope to find — somewhere.

The Good: Oh, the writing! Hattie is telling the story: “My note didn’t include a whole catalog of things. I didn’t say, for instance, that I hoped to let Speed be a horse for once. That I took Speed so that he could have a chance to live, and prairie for a season, one fall, and that I’d love him and protect him.” Of course, Hattie is talking as much about herself and Delores as she is about Speed. Hattie and Delores tell each other, “we’re women going west.” They are women, making a choice, going.

At sixteen and eighteen, there are, of course, parents who are less than thrilled about their leaving, even if Hattie and Delores say they’ll return. Family that, almost, notices them more when they are gone then when they are there.

I love a good road trip novel: and this delivers, as the three make their way from New Hampshire to New York State and Indiana and beyond. Looking for somewhere for Speed. Looking, of course, for themselves. You know what else I like? There are no artificial love triangles; there is a romance, organic to the story, but there is no conflict just to have a conflict.

Another thing: two teenage girls go on a road trip, and there is no text or subtext that this is something dangerous that girls shouldn’t do; that the girls need to do x, y, or z to ward off dangers, as if it’s the responsibility of the girls not to be victims. When I got to the end of Finding Somewhere and realized this — that Hattie and Delores are not victims, are never victims, are not victimized to make a point or to show their power, I was overjoyed. It may be silly to be happy about what a book is not, but there it is — this is about two girls who are strong and funny and beautiful. And they are that way from start to finish.

Hattie and Delores both love horses, have grown up around horses, taking care of them and riding them, so for those readers who love horses, this is a book they will love and appreciate. Hattie and Delores are the type of girls who love horses, yes, but not the rich girls who love horses: rather, the girls who muck out the stalls of those who can afford to own the horses to be near the horses they love. They are workers, working class girls who met and became friends in a GED class, and I mention it because such teens are not usually found in teen books, especially not teen books that are primarily about friendship, freedom, love and a road trip.

One last quote, to show you why I so love the writing: “She had good lines around her eyes. Happy lines. She had the ghost of a long laugh in her face.”

As an FYI, what brought this to the top of my TBR pile was my friend Carlie suggesting it to me, and then getting a review copy from the publisher. Carlie works at the agent who represents the author.

Review: Strings Attached

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell. Scholastic 2011. Reviewed from ARC from publisher at ALA Midwinter.

The Plot: October, 1950. Kit has left Providence, Rhode Island for New York City. Kit, 17, is lucky — she’s found a job dancing in a Broadway musical. It’s not a great musical, it’s not a great job, it’s not great pay: she’s paying ten dollars a week to sleep on a couch in the Bronx. But it’s the start of her dream to be an actress, and it’s away from her home and the bad memories and her ex. Not as far away as she thinks, because there in the audience is Billy’s father, Nate Benedict.

Billy has joined the Army and he’s not speaking with his parents. Mr. Benedict has a plan: he happens to own an apartment in New York City. Kit can stay there rent-free, all she has to do is reach out to Billy. Other than that, says Mr. Benedict, no strings attached. Kit should know better — she knows Mr. Benedict. Knows the rumors that he’s more than an attorney for gangsters, that he’s a gangster himself.

An apartment of her own. All for her. In Manhattan. Kit, who as a child shared a mattress in a closet with her brother and sister, Kit, who has put up with bedbugs and worse in her struggle in New York, says “yes.” Kit finds out there are always strings attached.

The Good: After reading Strings Attached, you’re going to want to some of the great films from the late 40s and early 50s. Blundell recreates that New York world, so well you think you can open a door and step into it. It’s in the little details, of the clothes, the food, the hair. Kit manages to be of her time, but also “modern” enough to be identifiable to the modern reader. She has a dream, she’s chasing that dream, but she also loves a boy. As for the dream chasing, it’s not like she’s doing something unthinkable at the time; many young women went to New York with similar dreams of fame and success.

Strings Attached reads like a mystery; not a traditional whodunit, but there are many questions raised from the start that are gradually revealed throughout the book. Why is Kit in New York? What happened between her and Billy? Why did she leave her family? The use of flashbacks is well done. Yes, there are a lot of them; yes, they are not linear (that is, at different points Kit thinks back to events in her life at different ages). As Karyn points out at Someday My Printz Will Come, it can sometimes be confusing for the reader, including figuring out what Kit knows when. (I confess, while I was tempted to write down the timeline of Kit’s life, I didn’t).

Part of that mystery is a constant sense of dread, from the deeply personal (what will Mr. Benedict ask of her next) to the global (the Cold War, communists, the bomb.)

Kit has an aunt, Delia; part of the mystery concerns Delia. I found Delia the most fascinating person in the story. Kit is young, Kit is discovering things about herself, Kit is making mistakes. Delia, on the other hand — Delia is a mix of contradictions. To not give too much away, it’s her decisions as an adult, the face she puts on for the world versus the person she is inside, which fascinate me. Because Kit is telling this story, we only see glimpses of Delia, and those glimpses are always colored by Kit’s own knowledge (or lack of knowledge) and emotions. I connected some of the dots that Blundell gave, but I wanted more.

Another character that Kit only gives tantalizing glimpses of is Da. Is he really just another weak man, whose weaknesses are excused because he is a loving father? Kit paints a picture of childhood poverty, but when Delia and her paycheck disappear, the family does not move into a smaller apartment. I don’t doubt the tough times or the poverty, but I’m just not sure that Kit always shares everything she sees. Then again, much as it personally frustrates me, the hard working mother (and Delia is a mother figure) who cares for the practical never seems to get either the love or respect as the loving but irresponsible father.

I liked Strings Attached best when the focus was on the “now”: Kit in New York, Kit trying to make it, Kit wondering if she should call Billy, Kit trying to sort out her emotions and feelings for Billy. The details of Kit in the past were as strong as Kit in New York — I loved Kit talking about her clothes, or sleeping on the mattress in a closet, finding herself at summer stock theatre. But, it’s the almost adult Kit, falling down the slippery slope of “strings attached” that attracts me the most.

Review: Across The Universe

Across the  Universe by Beth Revis. RazorBill, an imprint of Penguin. 2011. Reviewed from ARC from publisher.

The Plot: Amy Martin, 17, is frozen and placed on a spaceship with her parents and others. Three hundred years from now, the settlers will be unfrozen to settle a planet. Amy’s parents are important to the mission. Amy is going along because she is 17 and they are her parents.

Elder, 16, was born and raised to become the leader of the ship Godspeed. He’s been raised a bit apart from those on the ship, as the leader Eldest teaches and trains Elder to be the leader teh ship needs. Elder’s generation may one day even see the planet they are headed towards — they are only 50 years from the scheduled landing. 

Amy sleeps, Amy dreams, while Elder questions Eldest’s iron rule and grows frustrated at the secrets Eldest keeps. How can Elder become Eldest and rule if he doesn’t know all that Eldest does?

Amy awakens, unplugged and unfrozen before her time. If Elder hadn’t discovered her, she’d be dead from the forced, premature awakening. The world of Godspeed is nothing like Amy knows. It’s strange, it’s new, it’s different, and Amy is convinced there is something wrong. It’s not just the knowledge that she is inside a ship, with no sky or fresh air. It’s not just the genetically created sameness in everyone she meets. It’s the books and learning and history that people aren’t allowed to access, and that no one cares at what they don’t know.

Amy is the first person woken prematurely, but not the last. The next person isn’t as lucky as Amy and dies. There is  murderer on board, targeting the frozen settlers. Who would want them dead? 

The Good: Talk about world-building! Literally, world building: the ship Godspeed is a world of its own, both as a physical place and as an entirely new culture. While Amy, her parents, and others are sleeping through centuries of travel, others take care of the ship and prepare for the colonization. Amy awakens into this world, a world radically different from the world she (or the reader) knows. She is alone, awake fifty years before she should. It turns out, she cannot be refrozen: instead of waking up with her parents, she will wait, alone, and when they wake she will be older than her parents. Both her mother and father are needed for when the the ship arrives at the planet, so neither can be unfrozen now. Ironically, Amy did not have to go with her parents; she could have stayed back on Earth with family. Instead, she gave up her life as she knew it to stay with her family. Now, Amy doesn’t have them. She is alone; and only Elder offers friendship and understanding.

Using someone new to a culture is a typical way to introduce the world to the reader: here, as Amy learns, so does the reader. Elder, as the second narrator, allows the reader to see the world from the view of an insider. At times the reader believes they understand what Elder means when he says something, only to realize later that words may be the same but have new meanings. It’s clever, because it places the reader in two places: inside and outside, seeing the world through three sets of eyes: Amy, Elder, and reader.

I’m the type of reader who loves this type of brave new world and society and government, especially the details of the ship, the blueprints, how it all works. The strange world Amy finds herself in is not just the result of generations passing, it’s also the result of a disaster. Years before, a Plague killed most of the population, drastic measures were taken to ensure survival, and the ship still hasn’t totally recovered. Part of that survival is a system of government with a benevolent dictator “Eldest” who trains a selected heir, “Elder.” The names are always the same; the selected leader is always older than the generation he’ll lead.

What’s terrific about all this detail is it’s related naturally as part of the mystery, with details unraveling as the mystery unravels. Who unfroze Amy? Who unfroze and killed the others? There is a murderer on board, complicated by Eldest’s total rule and his concern that what is best for the people on the Godspeed is for there to be no murder investigation. Most mysteries involve the reader trying to guess “who did it,” something complicated here because there is so much about the Godspeed’s culture that is different. And that, too, is also a mystery for the reader and Amy to solve:  What, exactly, was the Plague? What really happened? What secrets are Eldest keeping from his people and from Elder? All these threads and questions come together in one resolution.

Arizona and Ethnic Studies

I’m sorry for the brevity of this post.

I want to post something in detail about Arizona, but instead I’ll quote Salon as a quick introduction: “As part of the state-mandated termination of its ethnic studies  program, the Tucson Unified School District released an initial list of books to be banned from its schools today.  According to district spokeperson Cara Rene, the books “will be cleared from all classrooms, boxed up and sent to the Textbook Depository for storage.”” (Links as they were in the Salon article, Who’s Afraid of The Tempest.)

Lucky for me, Debbie Reese of American Indians in Children’s Literature has been reporting up a storm on this, both on her blog and twitter.

Here are the links, so far, at AICN:

Teaching critical thinking in Arizona: NOT ALLOWED, Jan 15. “The Mexican American Studies program was built on critical thinking. Students learned how to think critically, to question texts, to look at moments in history and portrayals of Latino Americans and American Indians from more than one perspective.”

Mexican American Studies Department Reading List, Jan 15. Very detailed, and Reese has updated this multiple times. This also contains a link to the May 2011 curriculum audit.

Authors banned in Tucson Unified School District respond, Jan 16

From Karen Healey: Save Ethnic Studies in Tucson

If you have a post to add, please leave it in the comments.

Review: Under the Mesquite

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. Lee & Low. 2011. Morris Award Finalist.

The Plot: At the beginning of Lupita’s freshman year at high school, her mother is diagnosed with cancer. Mami has always been the one who held their large family together. Lupita, as the oldest, has always been responsible. Now even more falls on her shoulders. Like the mesquite, Lupita will survive and grow stronger.

The Good: Under the Mesquite is told by Lupita, using free verse. The reader is pulled into Lupita’s world: the eldest of eight children, born in Mexico and raised in the United States. Her father works hard, her mother holds the family together. Lupita figures out her mother is ill:

My heart aches

beause I have heard the word

that she keeps tucked away

behind closed doors.

“What do you know?” Mami asks.

We lock eyes,

and she knows I know.

“Don’t tell the others,” she begs,

and I hold her while she cries.

School becomes an escape for Lupita, even if sometimes her friends say something thoughtless. In acting, she can channel her emotions. In writing, she can express her feelings. While, at home, she worries about her mother, her father, her siblings.

Under the Mesquite is a window into a family dealing with cancer; but it is also more than that. It’s the look at an immigrant family, balancing traditions and cultures. It’s parents saving money for their children’s future until medical bills eat up the savings. It’s a family whose life is full. It’s the story of Lupita, as she balances her roles of sister and daughter, of caretaker and child.

Review: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn. Viking. 2011. Review copy from publisher via NetGalley. Holiday reads. Here at Tea Cozy, holiday reads aren’t books about holidays; they’re grown up books for grown up readers to indulge in over the holidays

It’s About: Cooking! Flinn, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu, sees a woman in the foodstore stocking up on preprocessed and frozen meals and convinces her to try a few easy, simple substitutes. This leads her to wondering people don’t cook more and why they rely on prepackaged food; Flinn then puts together a group of people who don’t cook, for various reasons, and conducts a series of lessons starting with the right way to use a knife. Will they be transformed into fearless home cooks? Will the reader be?

The Good: I like reading about cooking much more than I like to actual cook. As I once said to someone, I shelve my cookbooks next to my fantasy books. (No, not really. I sometimes exaggerate, but you get the point.)

Flinn’s book is part memoir, part how-to, part recipe, part history. Yes, she wants to know why people don’t want to cook when it’s just as easy to cook; but she is also wondering what she’ll do next with her life.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School didn’t insult me. Sometimes, when people talk about the benefits of home cooking over store bought or preprocessed, they include the opinion that baking or cooking is morally superior than store-bought or packaged. Flinn did not do that; her argument is that it is just as easy to do it yourself, with the additional bonus of being cheaper and healthier and tasting better. These are the things that sway me.

I mentioned history: the history of prepackaged food is fascinating. Reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School makes me want to find out more about the history of food and cooking;

Will this turn me into a fearless home cook? Well, I don’t always agree with some of Flinn’s conclusions. Fear isn’t a reason I don’t cook; time and energy is. Familiarity, too; something is “easy” once you’ve seen it done, and do it yourself, which is why Flinn’s lessons were successful. Following a recipe for the first time adds time and lessons the “this is easy” element.

Did this book inspire me? Heck, yes! I want to go get some good (yet not terribly expensive) knives. I want to experiment with the simple pasta sauce and salad dressing recipes in the book.

Any recommendations for other books about food and cooking?