Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nick & Robbyn van Frankenhuyzen

If you'll be in the Petoskey area over the extended holiday weekend, you might like to know that Nick and Robbyn van Frankenhuyzen will be at McLean & Eakin on Tuesday, July 5 from 1 to 3 PM.

They'll be signing books, and Nick (Gijsbert) will be doing a drawing demonstration for kids.  The event is free, but reservations are requested and space is limited. Call McLean & Eakin, at (231) 347-1180, for all the details.

The van Frankenhuyzens did a Michigander Monday Q&A on this blog a while back.  To read it, click here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How To Really Fool Yourself

If you’ve got kids, and if a bit of summer boredom might be setting in by this time, I have a book recommendation for you.

My kids recently checked out from the library the book How to Really Fool Yourself by Vicki Cobb, illustrated by Leslie Morrill.  Published in 1981 and reissued in 1999, the book is full of fun, kid-friendly, do-it-yourself demonstrations of illusions along with explanations of how our senses work and why they aren’t entirely infallible.

Great hands-on fun (and science education) for summer!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Poetry Friday: "Intersection"


Five fifteen AM and the road says,
“It was not a good night for cats.”
“So I noticed,” I say.  I accelerate gently
along the familiar route.
“But better than usual for raccoons,”
says the road.
I push the pedal a little further down.
“Hmmmm,” I say, noncommittally.
For I do not care for raccoons.

“You do realize,” says the road, after a time,
“that I don’t really like them either.”

One of us sighs.  Deeply.

“But try wearing a dead one all day.  And eventually,
well, you start rooting for them.”

I lift my travel mug to my lips.
I swallow, then nod slowly.
Set the mug back in its holder.
“I guess I can see that,” I say.

We sink into companionable silence.  I drive on.
Soon, the traffic signals will return to their daytime cycles.
The sun will rise up
and some of its rays will shine down
upon the carcasses left by darkness’s casual collisions.
I grip the wheel.
I think of my own cat back home, safe and sound.
Perhaps some creatures
are just not meant
to be let out
into the night.

“I can take it, though,” says the road.
“Whatever’s dished upon me, believe me, I can take.
I’m tough.  Hard as rock.  No worries here.”

“Hmmmm,” I say, one last time.
Still noncommittally.

Then I straighten my spine.
Push my middle-aged shoulders back and down.
And without a glance in my rearview mirror,
I drive on, incautiously,

under the blinking amber.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday Workout Review: Denise Austin's "Blast Away 10 lbs"

I'm not really a big Denise Austin fan.

I say this with no disrespect, as I recognize that she's a hugely popular and inspiring fitness person, with loads of exercise DVDs to her credit, plus television shows, articles, on and on.  Her success speaks for itself.  But the thing about using exercise DVDs is that it's important to find folks who mesh with your own personal style, as it increases the likelihood that you'll stick with your good intentions of exercising regularly.  For me, I find Denise's onscreen persona to be a bit much.  She talks Non Stop, with Great Enthusiasm, and a Huge Smile.  It's just Too Much for the Eeyoresque amongst us!

So given all this, I don't know what possessed me to check out from the library her "Blast Away 10 lbs" DVD.

I further don't know what possessed me to stick the thing in my DVD player.  I mean, what was I thinking?  And sure enough, same scene:  annoyingly perky and excessive over-the-top chatter.  Ack!

And yet...

The first of the two twenty-minute workouts (the only one I've done enough to review; I'll abstain on the other one until I've done it more times) is incredibly effective and, well, fun!  Lots of kicking (something I've come to truly enjoy) and punching (also fun, even if my hooks, jabs, and crosses all pretty much look the same: think random flailing limb ((yes, I do sometimes get my legs and my arms mixed up)) and you've pretty much got the picture) delivered in a nonstop but doable package that will get your heart pumping in a hurry and make you feel great by the end of it.

Bottom line:  If you're looking for a short but intense cardio workout, and happen to enjoy kickboxing, this may just be for you.

(But if you watch it, I suggest you do like I do, and turn the volume Way Down.)

Other reviews here, herehere, and here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ann Arbor Book Festival

This Saturday, the Ann Arbor Book Festival has a Breakfast With Authors (at 8 AM) and a Writer's Conference (10AM to 2:40).  There are a dozen guest authors, including children's book author Cynthia Furlong-Reynolds and young adult novelist Lara Zielin

Space is limited, and registration is required, so if you're interested in either event, head directly over the the Ann Arbor Book Festival web site for details and registration info.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

For you writer and illustrator types...

Some news that may be of interest to those of you who write or illustrate for children:  Abigail Samoun (who was my editor for The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade back when Tricycle Press still had wheels...) and Karen Grencik have founded a new literary agency called Red Fox Literary.

Read more about Red Fox Literary by clicking here; and if you'd like submissions info, click here.

Great congratulations to Abi on this exciting news!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday Workout Review: "A New You Coming - Body Sculpting Workout" by Kelly Coffey-Meyer

Those of you who tune in regularly for my periodic workout DVD reviews may recall that, back in January, I reviewed Kelly Coffey-Meyer's "30 Minutes To Fitness:  Weights."  That DVD continues to be one of my all-time favorites and has been responsible for the little bit of upper body strength that this upper body wimp has managed to acquire.  In it, Kelly Coffey-Meyer encourages use of the heavier end of free weights, and you push your way through steady sets.

"A New You Coming: Body Sculpting Workout" takes a somewhat different approach.  The overall pace is faster, and the weights are lighter.  The 55-minute workout moves back and forth between upper body and lower body, with an abs section at the end.  If you do the full workout, it genuinely doesn't feel like nearly an hour as it moves rapidly and has a great deal of variety.  But if you don't have a 55-minute time slot available, you can also do one of the shorter premixes and focus on just one part of the body.

Weight amounts aren't specified, but though I can use 10s and 12s for "Weights," when I do "NYC" I top out at 5s for the light set and 8s for the heavy pair.  Even then, I can't make it through the triceps section without collapsing onto the floor in a pathetic heap.

Kelly Coffey-Meyer has numerous workout DVDs available, including a couple of new ones out just this spring.  You can find more information about her and her DVDs over on her web site.

Other reviews of "NYC:  Body Sculpting Workout" available here, here, and here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Authors to See This Week

A couple of children's book author events this week you might want to know about:

On Tuesday, Nicola's in Ann Arbor will welcome Shutta Crum for the launch of her new picture book, Mine.  For more information, click here.

Up in Petoskey on Saturday, bestselling children's book author Gloria Whelan will have a book discussion and signing of her latest titles, Small Acts of Amazing Courage and See What I See.  Reservations and tickets are required; for more info, click here, or call McLean and Eakin at (231)347-1180 or (800) 968-1910.

Great authors and great bookstores - what a great combination!

In other news, don't forget that there's still plenty of time to get in on the summer session of the Lazy Person's Book Group.  Discussion not required; good reading guaranteed.