Rumor has it that a notorious killer, who committed a brutal crime as a child, has been living a new life under an assumed identity in Joanna’s seaside town. When she hears the shocking rumor outside her son’s school, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another… and now there’s no going back. A rollercoaster ride of a book, The Rumor will keep you hooked until the very end.
We have 5 copies of The Rumor by Lesley Kara to give away to 5 Riot readers! Just complete the form below to enter. This sweepstakes is open to residents of Canada (excluding the Province of Quebec). Entries will be accepted until 11:45pm, May 31, 2019. Winner will be randomly selected from entrants who successfully completed a skill-testing question as part of their entry. Complete rules and eligibility requirements available here.
Canadian-Only THE RUMOR Giveaway - May 2019
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Jamaica Kincaid is one of the most acclaimed modern Caribbean authors. When still a teenager, she was sent from her home country Antigua by her mother to become a nanny in New York City, where she eventually wrote for publications like The Village Voice and Ingenue. She soon landed a job as a staff writer for The New Yorker, contributing both columns and short fiction. Novels, nonfiction books, and a memoir followed in the coming decades, and these works earned Kincaid numerous awards, including the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and Lanaan Literary Award for fiction, as well as nominations from the National Book Critics Circle and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.
Here, presented the day of Kincaid’s 70th birthday, is a suggested reading order of some of her major books.
Start with the Novels and Memoir
Readers new to Kincaid would do best to start with Annie John, her debut novel. From ages 10 to 17, the title character falls in love, rebels in school, and experiences a drastic change in her relationship with her mother. This is familiar territory if you’ve read enough coming-of-age stories (Funny enough, Annie’s general restlessness reminded me of Larry McMurtry’s debut Horseman, Pass By, about a daydreamy teenager itching to leave his family’s North Texas ranch), but the book will strike a chord with any reader who’s ever had a desire to radically change their life and surroundings.
The one-two punch of The Autobiography of My Mother and My Brother, published in 1996 and 1997, respectively, represents the apex of Kincaid’s career. Interestingly, the books are near stylistic opposites. Mother, told in the voice of a woman resembling Kincaid’s mother, is a novel that strikes a balance between narrative drive and the intoxicating style of Kincaid’s early stories. The story barrels ahead at a pace I haven’t seen in any of her books before or since, and the prose, punctuated by repetitions indicating the narrator is constantly second-guessing herself, is classic Kincaid. This is her best book.
My Brother is pure, raw memoir, a stream of painful memories charting the final chapter of Kincaid’s brother Devon’s life before his death from AIDS at age 35. I won’t go into details; just know that the book is not for the faint of heart. The Autobiography of My Mother is Kincaid at her most refined, while My Brother is a torrent of sadness and confusion with no resolution in sight.
Move on to Short Stories and a Long Essay
Kincaid’s most famous work is A Small Place, an extended essay that sees her grappling with her attitude toward her home country, the Caribbean island Antigua. As both critics and casual readers have pointed out, Kincaid’s feelings aren’t set in stone or even immediately clear, and this is no doubt the intention. From what I read, Kincaid has affection for the country’s people but fears that years of British colonial influence have inflicted damage that cannot be undone. Sprinkled throughout are spot-on observations, most memorably about why natives dislike tourists. If general readership and critical analysis is any indication, A Small Place may end up being Kincaid’s most lasting book.
At the Bottom of the River, Kincaid’s debut, is the book of hers that lingers with me the most. It’s a short story collection, at least in that it’s a collection of self-contained, brief jottings bound together between a front and back cover. Basically, there isn’t much in the way of plot here, and apart from the opener, “Girl,” a much-anthologized three-page monologue by a mother to her daughter, none of the stories stand out, but reading them all in one sitting (The book is only 82 pages) will put you under the spell I think Kincaid intended to cast. The book is all simmering atmosphere, one cloistered, cramped sentence after another, with a moment of clarity coming at the very end.
For Those Curious About Kincaid’s Beginnings
Talk Stories is a collection of Kincaid’s “Talk of the Town” columns written for The New Yorker in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The book is a mixed bag, and being composed of over 70 individual pieces, there are plenty of both hits and misses. On one page, you feel like you’re reading one of the hidden gems of Kincaid’s career. On another page, you get dated, esoteric reportage. Nevertheless, the book will interest regular New Yorker readers or Kincaid fans curious about her early writing.
Hitchhiker’s Guide tells the story of Arthur Dent, who narrowly escapes Earth before it is destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass. With his alien friend Ford Prefect, Arthur unwillingly explores the galaxy, inevitably meeting a host of quirky characters along the way. Most notable among Arthur’s new acquaintances are Trillian, a human woman who abandoned Earth before its destruction; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the double-headed, triple-armed president of the galaxy (who has no power whatsoever); and Marvin, a depressed android with a brain the size of a planet (not that he ever brings it up, of course).
So, which Hitchhiker’s Guide character are you? Grab your towel and take our quiz to find out!
Back in my early 20s, when I moved to a larger town with a halfway decent comics shop and started at a university that had its own Anime Society, I read all the manga I could get my hands on. While I’m now hopelessly out of date (I’d make a crack about a modern manga series, but I genuinely have no frame of reference), I still have a lot of my old, cherished manga books. Sitting in pride of place on my comics shelf is the only manga I’ve read in its entirety, Natsuki Takaya’s fantasy romcom Fruits Basket.
Apologies for the dramatic lighting – it’s really not as ominous as it looks.
Fruits Basket is a little mix of everything in a long story centring an orphaned teenage girl, Tohru Honda, and the mysterious Sohma family who take her in. Tohru soon realises that the Sohma family are victims of a very specific curse – when they’re hugged by someone of a different gender, they turn into an animal from the Chinese zodiac. It’s an odd hook, and one that is, predictably, the source of many a gag – but as the series unfolds, Takaya teases out a bittersweet tragedy alongside the comedy. Many of the characters, like Tohru, are grappling with loss or grief, while others are dealing with the aftermath of various forms of abuse. As the Sohmas and Tohru adapt to their new situation, they bring out the best in each other, and many of the characters – particularly the two male leads, Yuki and Kyo, who regularly clash throughout the series – reach a mutual understanding and acceptance.
There are a few aspects of Fruits Basket that haven’t aged well in the 13 years since the series finished. The setup of the family curse is based around some pretty heteronormative ideas (each cursed Sohma family member is portrayed as romantically isolated because they can’t have close physical contact with someone of a different gender – the idea that they might love someone of the same gender is rarely addressed). There are also a couple of potentially transphobic character portrayals which, while not maliciously done, may be upsetting to some readers. Tohru, the main character, can be read as quite a traditionally self-sacrificing heroine, who often takes on the role of home-maker and mediator between a bunch of unruly men.
However, there are also many parts of Fruits Basket that have stood the test of time. Tohru isn’t simply a passive character – instead, she proactively sets out to break the Sohma curse. Alongside Tohru, there’s a large cast of other female characters, with a wide range of personalities, motivations and backstories of their own (my favourite being one of Tohru’s best friends, brash former gang member Arisa Uotani).
Fruits Basket is a series that I will always have a strong nostalgic fondness for. The magical realist background, with the hook of ‘characters transform into animals at inopportune moments’, allows Takaya to dig deep into some very realistic, very human dynamics. Over the series, Fruits Basket delves into the death of a parent, the process of getting over a lost love, and the resilience of anyone who’s survived an abusive relationship. Despite the seriousness of these themes, the silliness of the magical premise is never lost, and the overall tone of hopefulness and the power of friendship and chosen family connection resonates throughout. Plus, the animal versions of the characters are consistently adorable. (There’s also a lovely bonus in Natsuki Takaya’s notes throughout the paperback versions, where she talks about everything from the initial serial publication of the manga, to how she names her video game characters, and the satisfaction of eating a large bowl of food after a cathartic crying session).
Fruits Basket is a sweet, silly and often emotional story, with characters that I’m still fond of over a decade after I first picked up Volume 1. I love the story’s slow burn, and the way it often makes fun of its own tropes – and I think I’m due a re-read.
The first time I ever went into a comic book store was on Free Comic Book Day. It was crowded and I kept knocking over superhero figurines every time I turned a corner. There were little kids in costumes, and older men flipping through comic books in milk crates. They all seemed very confident and it was intimidating. At that time I didn’t even know the difference between Marvel and DC. I was a novice, but I’d read a few graphic novels, loved movies like The Dark Knight and Spider-Man, so I decided to persevere. I ended up buying a Hilda comic, because it felt less intimidating. Hilda quickly became one of my favorite comics.
My nearest comic book store is an hour’s drive from my house. I try to take my niece to Free Comic Book Day, but I missed it this year. Buying comics from an actual brick and mortar store is not an option for me. It’s not an option for most people (find your nearest comic book store here). So how do you get your hands on comic books if you don’t live near a comic book store?
Where Can I Find Comics?
I read most comics on my iPad. Mostly, I use Hoopla Digital, a free online streaming resource that is provided by most libraries. I have, ahem, two library cards. One is for a larger library system, so I use that card with Hoopla, because I have access to 12 items a month. Hoopla items are always available, so you won’t have to wait forever for a book to become available like with Overdrive and Libby. The only catch is that you’re quantitatively limited on what you can check out each month.
If you’re planning on becoming a prolific comic book reader, and plan on reading more than 5–15 comics a month, you’ll need to pick a different service for your comics. There are options. I use Amazon’s Comixology, because it’s convenient. The app is on my iPad, I buy the comics through Amazon (1-click buy, just like a Kindle), and it automatically downloads. It’s too easy, really, because I buy way too many comics. You can also use Marvel Unlimited for $9.99/month or DC Universe for $7.99/month if you’re interested in the superhero comics.
What if you don’t have a tablet, or prefer to have a physical copy of a book in your hand when you read? There’s always the option, if you’re able, to get single issues of comic books from a comic book store. There’s a nifty little website called ComicList that will help you figure out when single issues of comics will be released. But, if that’s not an option, instead of buying singles, which can run $5 an issue, you’ll probably want to buy trade paperbacks.
Trade paperbacks (or just trades) collect single comic book issues into a complete story. If you enjoy cliff hangers, unresolved story arcs, and paying $5 for fifteen pages of content, you’ll enjoy single issue comics. If you want a more complete story, you’ll want to find a trade paperback. Trades can be found at the library, most bookstores, or online. This is the only way I buy comics. It’s too expensive to buy the single issues.
If you’re used to reading books, it can be disorienting to start reading comic book panels. The biggest complaint I hear about comic books is that the type is too small to read. A solution to the “I can’t see the print; therefore, I can’t read this book” problem is to read the books on a tablet. That way you can read each panel zoomed in, and there’s no problem seeing the print.
Now that you know how to find and read comics, how do you decide which comics to read first?
A First Comic Book Reading Guide
I didn’t start with comics. I started reading graphic novels, loved them, and then decided to convert to comics. The first graphic novel I ever read was Maus by Art Spiegleman. This is where a lot of people start. Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and garnered critical acclaim for a medium that had been given little to no serious respect since its inception. Like Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is also very popular. It’s Satrapi’s graphic memoir of growing up in Iran. Graphic memoirs, in general, would be a great place to start if you’re used to reading prose, and you haven’t yet oriented yourself to reading thought bubbles and captions.
We have a couple guides if you’d like to get start with graphic memoirs:
Okay, now you’re hooked and you want to try something new. In fact, you’d like to try a superhero comic series or fantasy or just something great. Where do you go from here?
Well, that depends. If you’re looking for superheroes, Marvel and DC comics are a great place to start.
DC & Marvel Comics/Superheroes
If you like Batman, Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League, and Wonder Woman you’ll want to read DC comics. Some of the most popular DC comics have been Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. These are classics, and a great place to get started.
If you’re into Iron Man, Thor, Captain American, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man (and you enjoy all the Avengers movies) you’ll want to read Marvel comics. I read more Marvel comics than DC (probably because I’m inundated with the MCU everywhere I go, and I’ve just found it easier to give in than to fight it). I think the Marvel Universe is more varied and diverse, and a little more light-hearted. I generally don’t read the main Avengers’ stories (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man). I prefer the side characters like Kate Bishop’s Hawkeye, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Black Widow, Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel, The Vision, Black Panther, America Chavez, She-Hulk, or Squirrel Girl.
It’s completely up to you and your taste. Where you start reading comics is very subjective.
I enjoy superhero comics, but my first love is the quirky, odd ball comics that exist outside of the Marvel/DC Universe.
Red Sonja by Gail Simone, Walter Geovanni, and Jenny Frison
Archie comics are what their name portends: comics about Archie, Riverdale, and the side characters that exist within the Archie universe. Those side characters include: Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Sabrina Spellman, and Josie and the Pussycats.
If you want a better idea of where to start with Archie Comics, try this guide.
‘Tis the spirit of the season to fall deeply in love with all things nature. From flowers to plants, from bees to birds, it’s hard not to just feel that attachment to the natural world when the sun is shining, the grass is green, and spring/summer are upon us.
For those of you who love nature and want to bring that love into your reading life, how about some of these excellent bookish accessories? Let’s take a look at the cutest ways to add nature to your books.
Bookish Gifts and Accessories for Nature Lovers
The perfect new moon book plates. $15 with text options to choose from.
Keep your books covered, safe, and stylish with a bee book buddy. $16.30 and up.
Keep your precious and important things hidden with this floral hollow book safe. $35.
A friend of mine gave me one of those Faber & Faber Poetry Diaries for Christmas last year. Instead of putting my daily appointments in each slot, I decided to write out lines from my favourite poems instead. It’s been a wonderful experience – I’ve encountered many poems, and poets, I had no idea existed – and here I’ve brought together a selection of my favourite. I’m specifically focusing on Victorian poems, and I’ve divided them up into a number of categories.
In some cases, I’ve just put my favourite lines and linked to the entire work. I hope you enjoy! I’ve done my best to avoid the more famous Victorian poems, so hopefully you’ll discover a new love. With the time period in mind it must be noted that poets of colour were unfortunately very thin on the ground. Let us know in the comments if you know of any poems by diverse Victorian writers!
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
[These are the most famous lines in the poem Williams was most known for in her short life. They’re frequently chosen as an epitaph by astronomers.]
2. “The Sands of Dee” by Charles Kingsley (1819–75)
‘O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee;’
The western wind was wild and dank with foam,
And all alone went she.
The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o’er and o’er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land:
And never home came she.
‘Oh! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair,
A tress of golden hair,
A drownèd maiden’s hair
Above the nets at sea?
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
Among the stakes of Dee.’
They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel crawling foam,
The cruel hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea:
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home:
Across the sands of Dee.
3. “AN INVITE TO ETERNITY” BY JOHN CLARE (1793-1864)
Wilt thou go with me sweet maid
Say maiden wilt thou go with me
Through the valley depths of shade
Of night and dark obscurity
Where the path hath lost its way
Where the sun forgets the day
Where there’s nor life nor light to see
Sweet maiden wilt thou go with me
Where stones will turn to flooding streams,
Where plains will rise like ocean waves,
Where life will fade like visioned dreams
And mountains darken into caves.
Say maiden wilt thou go with me
Through this sad non-identity
Where parents live and are forgot
And sisters live and know us not
Say maiden wilt thou go with me
In this strange death of life to be
To live in death and be the same
Without this life, or home, or name
At once to be, and not to be
That was, and is not – yet to see
Things pass like shadows – and the sky
Above, below, around us lie
The land of shadows wilt thou trace
And look – nor know each other’s face
The present mixed with reasons gone
And past, and present all as one
Say maiden can thy life be led
To join the living to the dead
Then trace thy footsteps on with me
We’re wed to one eternity
4. “Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam” by Ernest Dowson (1867–1900)
(The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long —Horace)
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
[I adore Dowson’s poetry, so he pops up a lot in this article! I find his lines incredibly haunting. He’s written some of my favourite Victorian poems of all time.]
We fling up flowers and laugh, we laugh across the wine;
With wine we dull our souls and careful strains of art;
Our cups are polished skulls round which the roses twine:
None dares to look at Death who leers and lurks apart.
Clay lies still, but blood’s a rover;
Breath’s a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey’s over
There’ll be time enough to sleep.
7. “When I Last Came to Ludlow” by A.E. Housman
When I came last to Ludlow
Amidst the moonlight pale,
Two friends kept step beside me,
Two honest lads and hale.
Now Dick lies long in the churchyard,
And Ned lies long in jail,
And I come home to Ludlow
Amidst the moonlight pale.
[Housman’s poems are in some ways very typically Victorian poems, with the constant references to death, but I find that he often manages to do it so his writing is melancholy rather than morbid.]
Victorian Poems: Love
8. “The Memory” by Lord Dunsany (1878–1957)
I watch the doctors walking with the nurses to and fro
And I hear them softly talking in the garden where they go,
But I envy not their learning, nor their right of walking free,
For the emperor of Tartary has died for love of me.
I can see his face all golden beneath his night-black hair,
And the temples strange and olden in the gleaming eastern air,
Where he walked alone and sighing because I would not sail
To the lands where he was dying for a love of no avail.
He had seen my face by magic in a mirror that they make
For those rulers proud and tragic by their lotus-covered lake,
Where there hangs a pale-blue tiling on an alabaster wall.
And he loved my way of smiling, and loved nothing else at all.
There were peacocks there and peaches, and green monuments of jade,
Where macaws with sudden screeches made the little dogs afraid,
And the silver fountains sprinkled foreign flowers on the sward
As they rose and curved and tinkled for their listless yellow lord.
Ah well, he’s dead and rotten in his far magnolia grove,
But his love is unforgotten and I need no other love,
And with open eyes when sleeping, or closed eyes when awake,
I can see the fountains leaping by the borders of the lake.
They call it my delusion; they may call it what they will,
For the times are in confusion and are growing wilder still,
And there are no splendid memories in any face I see.
But an emperor of Tartary has died for love of me.
9. “Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae” by Ernest Dowson
(I am not as I was under the reign of the good Cynara —Horace)
Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.
All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:
I have been faithful to you, Cynara! in my fashion.
I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long;
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.
I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.
[This is my ALL-TIME FAVOURITE of the Victorian poems. If not for The Highwayman, it would be my all-time favourite poem full stop. It doesn’t hurt that my favourite book, Gone with the Wind, also took its title from here!]
Love is, yea, a great thing,
A great thing to me,
When, having drawn across the lawn
In darkness silently,
A figure flits like one-a-wing
Out from the nearest tree:
O love is, yes, a great thing,
A great thing to me!
11. from “Chimaera” by Rosamund Marriot Watson (1860–1911)
The spring sun shows me your shadow,
The spring wind bears me your breath,
You are mine for a passing moment,
But I am yours to the death.
What shall it profit me to know
Your heart holds many a Romeo?
Why should I grieve, though I forget
How many another Juliet?
Let us be glad to have forgot
That roses fade, and loves are not,
As dreams, immortal, though they seem
Almost as real as a dream.
It is for this I see you rise,
A wraith, with starlight in your eyes,
Where calm hours weave, for such a mood
Solitude out of solitude;
For this, for this, you come to me
Out of the night, out of the sea.
O Lady Kate, my cousin Kate,
You grow more fair than I:
He saw you at your father’s gate,
Chose you, and cast me by.
He watched your steps along the lane,
Your sport among the rye;
He lifted you from mean estate
To sit with him on high.
The luck of God is in two strangers meeting,
But the gates of Hell are in the city street
For him whose soul is not in his own keeping
And love a silver string upon his feet.
My heart is the seed of time, my veins are star-dust,
My spirit is the axle of God’s dream.
[I was unable to find a single shred of information about this poet, such as their gender or birth year, but I found these beautiful lines in an anthology of Victorian poems.]
15. “Sonnet 43” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
[Yes, this is one of the most famous Victorian poems, but I’ve included it anyway because it’s also one of the most beautiful!]
Victorian Poems: Magic
16.”The Night is Darkening Round Me” by Emily Brontë (1818–48)
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me,
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow;
The storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
17. “The Fairy Child” by Lord Dunsany
From the low white walls and the church’s steeple,
From our little fields under grass or grain,
I’m gone away to the fairy people
I shall not come to the town again.
You may see a girl with my face and tresses,
You may see one come to my mother’s door
Who may speak my words and may wear my dresses.
She will not be I, for I come no more.
I am gone, gone far, with the fairies roaming,
You may ask of me where the herons are
In the open marsh when the snipe are homing,
Or when no moon lights nor a single star.
On stormy nights when the streams are foaming
And a hint may come of my haunts afar,
With the reeds my floor and my roof the gloaming,
But I come no more to Ballynar.
Ask Father Ryan to read no verses
To call me back, for I am this day
From blessings far, and beyond curses.
No heaven shines where we ride away.
At speed unthought of in all your stables,
With the gods of old and the sons of Finn,
With the queens that reigned in the olden fables
And kings that won what a sword can win.
You may hear us streaming above your gables
On nights as still as a planet’s spin;
But never stir from your chairs and tables
To call my name. I shall not come in.
For I am gone to the fairy people.
Make the most of that other child
Who prays with you by the village steeple
I am gone away to the woods and wild.
I am gone away to the open spaces,
And whither riding no man may tell;
But I shall look upon all your faces
No more in Heaven or Earth or Hell.
[Isn’t this one amazing? It reminds me of Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince, and it’s everything I imagine a faerie poem to be!]
18. “The Warnings” by Alice Furlong (1866–1946)
I was milking in the meadow when I heard the Banshee keening:
Little birds were in the nest, lambs were on the lea,
Upon the brow o’ the Fairy-hill a round gold moon was leaning—
She parted from the esker as the Banshee keened for me.
I was weaving by the door-post, when I heard the Death-watch beating:
And I signed the Cross upon me, and I spoke the Name of Three.
High and fair, through cloud and air, a silver moon was fleeting—
But the night began to darken as the Death-watch beat for me.
I was sleepless on my pillow when I heard the Dead man calling,
The Dead man that lies drowned at the bottom of the sea.
Down in the West, in wind and mist, a dim white moon was falling—
Now must I rise and go to him, the Dead who calls on me.
Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
I met the Love-Talker one eve in the glen,
He was handsomer than any of our handsome young men,
His eyes were blacker than the sloe, his voice sweeter far
Than the crooning of old Kevin’s pipes beyond in Coolnagar.
I was bound for the milking with a heart fair and free —
My grief! my grief! that bitter hour drained the life from me;
I thought him human lover, though his lips on mine were cold,
And the breath of death blew keen on me within his hold.
I know not what way he came, no shadow fell behind,
But all the sighing rushes swayed beneath a faery wind
The thrush ceased its singing, a mist crept about,
We two clung together—with the world shut out.
They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves,
Watching till she wake.
I love reading about food in books (some of the best parts of the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton were the descriptions of food). It turns out this applies not only to the books I read for myself but also to the books I read with my 18-month-old toddler. I have discovered some wonderful, gorgeous children’s books (for a range of ages) about food and cooking. Here are some of my favourites. These are fabulous for introducing new types of food and cuisines to children, and getting them involved in cooking and food preparation. At the most basic level, these picture and board books about food teach them what IS food and therefore is acceptable to put in their mouths, and what should definitely stay far away from their mouths. Yes, child, I’m talking about that blue crayon. Not food.
This is an interactive recipe board book and I love and adore it. The book lets toddlers and young children ‘cook’ by themselves, without a stove or any mess. The book begins with the ingredients, the equipment needed, and then continues with step by step instructions. At each step, there are tabs to pull or wheels to spin so the young reader can really pretend cook. This book is part of the Cook in a Book interactive recipe series which also includes Pancakes!, Pizza!, and Cookies!.
I love everything in the touchthinklearn and touchwords series, and this might very well be my favourite simply because it’s about food. These board books are very tactile and encourage touching and exploring. This book shows the food as well as utensils or equipment commonly associated with the food — so the rice page has a pot showing rice cooking, as well as a wooden spoon and some cilantro. The best page is the pie page, because hey, who doesn’t love pie?
Can You Eat? By Joshua David Stein, Illustrated by Julia Rothman
A delightfully whimsical look at what is food and what isn’t: ‘A pea, a pear? A bee, a bear?’ The artwork is gorgeous enough to be reproduced as a print to be hung in a kitchen. A little silly, a lot fun, and very, very pretty.
With Patricelli’s distinctive style, this is a great board book that also contrasts foods with not-foods. Blueberries are yummy, but blue crayons are yucky. Sandwiches are yummy, sand is yucky. Soup is yummy, soap is yucky. This is one of my toddler’s favourites and I try to use that to my advantage: ‘Don’t put that crayon in your mouth! It’s yucky, remember? Like it says in your book!’
I love this book because it introduces kids to fruits that are a little more unusual than the typical apples, bananas, and oranges. There are nine exotic fruits covered in the book, and each fruit has a gorgeous illustration, a brief description, what other name it might be known as (and how to pronounce it), and where it comes from.
Picky Eaters by Ellen Jackson, Illustrated by Amy-Clare Barden
This one isn’t about human food, technically. It’s about animals and the special diets they have. In particularly, it is about picky eaters — the animals that only eat one specific thing. Like koalas and eucalyptus leaves, and pandas and bamboo. This is a lift-the-flap board book so I would suggest only showing it to toddlers who are gentle with flaps and books.
A cute board book about opposites that uses food to illustrate the concept. For example, the ‘hot’ page has drawings of a hot dog, a bucket of fried chicken, and a corn on the cob. On the opposite page, the ‘cold’ page shows lemonade, an ice block, and watermelon. I highly approve of using food to teach non-food concepts (my husband says I’m very food motivated).
Another interactive board book, this time with flaps. The pages of the book are split horizontally down the middle. Along the top pages are various animals, and along the bottom are different kinds of food. The goal is to flip back and forth and match the animal to its food. My favourite part of this book are the pictures, done in Carle’s distinctive style, recognisable to anyone with a passing familiarity to books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?
A young Chinese American girl wishes her mother grew pretty flowers like the rest of their neighbours in their garden, and not the ugly, twisty vines with fuzzy leaves and prickly stems. When it’s harvest time, though, and her mother turns those ugly vegetables into a delicious soup that attracts all the neighbours, she learns that beauty and purpose can come in all shapes.
A fun rhyming picture book about a little Korean girl who helps her mama make dinner. We see the process of grocery shopping, food preparation and cooking, and finally the whole family sitting down to eat. I love how it’s a celebration of the family meal, and it’s a great one to read aloud.
Another picture book that highlights a different culture and its food traditions, this time about India. This is about a young Indian American boy whose grandparents come to stay and he becomes inspired to make roti, an Indian bread. A lovely book about food, Indian culture, and the relationship between grandparents and grandkids.
This is the picture book version of the Can You Eat? board book (or rather, the board book is a simplified version of this book). Questions about food are posed and then answered, like, ‘can I eat a potato, a tomato, a tornado?’. No, you can’t eat a tornado but you can eat tonnato, an Italian sauce made from tuna; tournedos, a French steak; or a tostada, a Mexican dish. There is a lot of fun word play accompanied by bright, cheerful illustrations. A great book for those who love food, words, and learning new things.
Similar to Can I Eat That?, this book poses questions and offers answers that are quirky and whimsical. The focus here is more on food preparation: ‘If I fry a strip of potato, and a slice of tomato, can I fry a scoop of gelato?’ (The answer is yes, yes you can. Fried ice cream is delicious.) The book is full of interesting facts and philosophical food questions for kids. A truly delightful book.
A little girl is half Jewish, half Chinese, and her two grandmothers each make a version of chicken soup. Which is the ‘right’ chicken soup? I love this picture book for highlighting the tensions that can arise when two cultures and two traditions merge, but also shows how those tensions can be resolved. I also love this book because I think my daughter can easily be the protagonist in this story since she too has one Jewish grandmother and one Chinese grandmother (and both types of chicken soup are delicious, as I can attest).
Another soup book! What can I say? I like soup. This book follows the day of a little girl and her mother as they shop for the ingredients for soup, make the soup, and finally eat the soup. I love how this breaks down the process of making soup and shows how cooking and grocery shopping can be a simple pleasure. This is also now available in board book format.
This is a charming book about family, food, and Korean culture. Yoomi hates spicy, stinky kimchi, so her older brothers call her a baby. She decides to try and overcome her disgust of kimchi and tries to eat it with other things (like cookies and pizza) to no avail. Grandma comes to the rescue and together, Yoomi and Grandma make a kimchi pancake, which they ALL eat. The author also includes her mother’s kimchi pancake recipe in the end, which looks delicious.
A recipe/cookbook for kids, aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 8. There are instructions for the grown-up helping, simple and bright drawings that illustrate each step of the method for the kids, and these are all recipes that require minimal adult intervention. A great way for getting kids to participate in the kitchen.
Later Elementary (8–12)
Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad
This is a fictional picture book loosely based on Julia Child and it is a delightful celebration of food and childhood. Friends Julia and Simca create a feast for grown-ups that helps them rediscover the joy and innocence of childhood.
This is one of my favourite books of 2019. It is a stunningly beautiful book, the kind that makes you appreciate the book as an object: hardcover, heavy paper, beautiful illustrations and photographs throughout. Langholtz takes you on a journey through the 50 states of America, with a recipe from each state, as well as information and fun facts about food from each state (what kinds of foods are grown there, eaten there, by whom, and how it has changed over time). This books makes me want to travel all over the country, eating.
What are your favorite picture and board books about food?