28 September 2007

Betsy-Tacy; Or, A New Fixation


A few weeks ago, my supervisor read about DC's Minx line in Library Journal and tried to pass the article along to me, but I explained I already knew all about it and had, indeed, read most of the line. Thereupon she told me how much she wanted to read Plain Janes and Re-Gifters and I said she could borrow my copy of Re-Gifters and she went *squee*.

Well, okay, not actually *squee*, but she was very keen. She loved it. She loved Clubbing and Plain Janes, too, and now we are the best of buds and get along like a house on fire. Or something.

Anyway, when we're alone together at the desk we talk about books we've especially loved or hated. Most recently we were talking about "girl series" and how there don't seem to be many new ones coming out. Oh, there are the Clique books and the Gossip Girls, the Babysitters Club and, yes, American Girls, but they seem lacking the richness of writing and overall quality we remember from series like Little House on the Prairie or the Anne books.

About this time, my supervisor started talking about the Betsy-Tacy series and lost me entirely. When she realized this, she seemed both appalled and gleeful. Appalled that I had never read such classics and gleeful, because now she had someone else to addict. I had, she told me, to read the Betsey-Tacy books. If we did not have them in our library, she would give me her copies. Either way, I must read them.

And I am. I admit that the first book, Betsy-Tacy, seemed a tad simplistic and left a variety of interesting possibilities undeveloped. But, then, it was a story about two very little girls (who probably wouldn't have grasped some of the more interesting/grownup things happening around them) written for other very little girls (who probably wouldn't have been interested). The series follows Betsy and Tacy (and Tib, I guess) all the way up to Betsy's wedding and the beginning of the Great War (WWI) so I can only hope the story will take on more depth over time. Regardless, I am enjoying the Betsy-Tacy books and, if I could find some nice hardcovers on eBay, I'd certainly buy them. The books are all pretty much still available from places like Amazon, but the cover art for the paperbacks is a bit too cute for me (but then I am extremely annoyed with the new Little House cover art and very choosy with my Anne covers, too, so I may just be Ms. Pickypants).

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace w/ illus. by Lois Lenski (HarperCollins, 2007)

14 September 2007

Too Many Pears? Bake!

One of my fellow librarians gave me a whole bunch of windfall pears and I didn't know what to do with them -- can only eat so many -- so I cast about on the Internet until I found a recipe at Allrecipes for "Fresh Pear Cake."

I made a few alterations to the recipe -- less sugar, walnuts for pecans, added ground ginger, and I only soaked the (very ripe) pears for about as long as it took me to preheat the oven and mix everything else together. I also ground the cloves myself so my half tsp was an approximation.

I'm really pleased that the pear chunks, while very tender, still kept their shape and didn't dissolve into the batter or fall to the bottom of the cake.

Oddly, this cake tastes better on the second or third day (as if it needs to mellow a bit?). This is true for other similar cakes I've made (zucchini, blueberry, tomato soup, etc) and I don't know why -- I just plan on making it an extra day ahead of time if I'm bringing it somewhere. (Or, you know, I could try wrapping it in cheesecloth soaked in pear brandy -- as if it were a fruitcake -- but that might make it too moist. Hmmm. Will have to think on that).

Also, I have no idea what kind of pears I used. My co-worker didn't know and the pears themselves just look, well, rather generic. I'm guessing they're "Yellow Bartlett" because they've come ripe at the right time for Bartletts and did turn a beautiful yellow as they ripened. Regardless of their variety, the windfall pears where delicious and almost make me wish we had a pear tree of our own.

Over the course of my childhood, my parents planted many fruit trees. Alas, they were all, over time, lost to deer or hurricanes or ice storms and this caused me to think fruit trees are not worth the fuss and effort. But, now, I look at the side yard (which is pretty wide open) and think about the number of trees we could plant. Pears and cherries. Apples and plums. Hmm.

01 September 2007

Reads & Listens, September 2007

Reads:

Alabaster by Caitlin R. Kiernan (illus. by Ted Naifeh)
I picked this up mainly for Naifeh's illustrations (he did Polly & the Pirates) as this book had been described to me as a graphic novel and, certainly, it was cataloged in my library system as such. Alas, it was not a graphic novel illustrated by Naifeh. Instead, it was a (bizarre and tiresome) short story collection scattered with a few (too few) of Naifeh's illustrations.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Haven't read this since high school. Even better than I remembered.

Rumspringa: To be or Not to be Amish by Tom Shachtman
Both fascinating and depressing.

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace Betsy, Tacy, and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
Rather charming stories about little girls in pre-WWI America.

Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara
Book Two of the Chronicles of Elantra. Less of a police procedural and more of fantasy/romance, but still a good read. Kaylin is a sarcastic and fiesty heroine and her world is a believable one.

52, Vol. 1 by Geoff Johns
Even Renee Montoya and lesbian Batwoman could not make this interesting.

Listens:

Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett (read by Nigel Planer) Jingo by Terry Pratchett (read by Nigel Planer) Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett (read by Nigel Planer)
Good job, as usual (there's really nothing I can say about these that I haven't said about the other Pratchett/Planer audiobooks).

Animal Farm by George Orwell (read by Richard Brown)
Brown does an excellent job providing voices for all the animals and I really enjoyed listening to this novel. Even when it cut too close to home.