See that? That's Simply Read's spring 2014 catalog, with an illustration from my first picture book, called If I Wrote A Book About You, on the cover! I'm so excited!
I can't wait to have this book in my hot little hands. It was illustrated by the talented Denise Holmes -- you can see more of her lovely work over at her blog. Many thanks to my dear, wise friend Sara O'Leary, who held my hand throughout the whole process, and to my lovely editor Kallie George at Simply Read.
Luke talked so much about the The Elf on the Shelf last year, I finally caved this year and bought one. The kids LOVE. IT. Thankfully, David is kind of into it, too, otherwise the thing would never move. I keep falling asleep whilst reading the kids their bedtime stories and forgetting all about it. So thank you, darling. Yet another reason I married the right man.
Browsing Pinterest just now, I stumbled upon this horrifying book:
At first I thought it was some sort of spoof, but no, it is a real book: Krampus: The Devil of Christmas. Apparently, Krampus was Saint Nick's helper in early European Christmas traditions. While Saint Nick would visit good children and reward them with presents, Krampus would visit the naughty ones. I see a direct line from Krampus to the Elf, don't you? He even looks a little like Krampus, minus the horns and tongue. Thankfully, my kids don't seem too worried about the reports the elf is making nightly about their behaviour although Luke does find it "freaky and just a little creepy, Mom" that the elf moves around the house at night. I'll just have to make sure he never finds out about Krampus...
These. The Cazelet Chronicles. Written by Elizabeth Jane Howard, who, at the age of 90, still gets up every morning to write them. Apparently there are now five in the series and I'm only in the middle of the second, which fills me with great joy. There's nothing better than the thought that you've still got a lot of a great story left to read. No matter what I have to slog through during the day, the thought of these waiting on my bedside table keep me going. Apparently, this family saga, which starts two years before the second world war, is based on Howard's own family. My beloved Hilary Mantel is a fan, too.
Although I've got them on my kindle, the covers are very pretty:
I don't know why I find reading about the second world war so comforting -- obviously it wasn't at all comfortable for those living through it...
Why, what is that, hanging above the mantle at legendary Milford House? Can it be?
Why, yes, it is. It is the infamous, elusive, antlered hoof! A beast hitherto considered fanastical, like the unicorn. Those antlers must be as sensitive as the whiskers of a cat, or the antennae of an insect, because they have to perform the functions of eyes, nose, and tongue. Or do you think that this unusual creature actually does have a more usual sort of head, and each of its hooves has a pair of antlers attached to it? If so, the beast must have a very broad stance. It is a mystery.
The kids' grandfather is just putting the finishing touches on the playhouse he built for the kids. It sits on the back deck, a tiny square cottage with three real windows and a dutch door. "Your grandfather is so awesome," says six-year-old Olivia, the big girl from across the street, to Sylvie, as they sit watching him attach that amazing door. Sylvie smiles proudly and seems to grow an inch taller.
Just imagine how impressed all the neighbourhood kids were by this gorgeous Victorian treehouse, photographed somewhere in Florida by Drew Perlmutter. He won't reveal the exact location, fearing more vandalism. What exactly happened to the place? And where are the kids who used to play in it?