Category Archives: United States

Discovering Fred Harvey

The time has long since passed for me to expect surprises beneath the Christmas tree.  Not only do I select most of my presents, I wrap them too.  Which, in all honesty, is absolutely fine with me.  But this year there were two unexpected gifts bearing tags addressed to me.  What wonders would they behold?  The first, an insert for my Nalgene bottle, was the practical gift.   Apparently I missed the lesson in preschool about not dribbling down the front of yourself when drinking.  It’s an embarrassing habit and one which has long inhibited my quest for hydration.  This insert makes it more likely I’ll ingest the water, rather than wear it.  The second gift was, of course, a book.

During our cross-country adventure I discovered a fascinating piece of history – Harvey Houses.   Fred Harvey revolutionized the hospitality industry during the late 1800’s by developing restaurants and lodging along the Atchiscon, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.  Fred Harvey was a person, but also a company and a brand.   He brought refinement and quality to the West – changing the face of travel and setting standards that are still emulated to this day in customer service.  One particular aspect of his methodology really captured my attention.  Fred Harvey needed a work force that would uphold his strict requirements for quality service, consistency, and respectability.  His answer was to hire responsible, unmarried women.  Harvey found himself a reliable staff, and the Harvey Girls had respectable jobs and financial independence.  This mutually beneficial arrangement was quite progressive – and successful.  How had this morsel of American Women’s History eluded me for so long?

To remedy the gap in my knowledge I purchased several books on our trip and read with enthusiasm.  But it is my Christmas present, The Harvey House Cookbook, that is the crowning jewel.  The Cookbook provides an overview history of Fred Harvey, Harvey Girls, and Harvey Houses.  It also provides recipes from restaurants along the Santa Fe line.  Although my children aren’t clamoring for me to make “Jellied Chicken” anytime soon, I delighted in reading about the delicacies offered more than a century ago to weary West bound travelers.

Several Harvey Houses, under different management, are still in operation.  Stay on the edge of the Grand Canyon at El Tovar Hotel and enjoy a meal at Bright Angel Restaurant (we did) where you’ll find several authentic historic Harvey House items still on the menu.  In Santa Fe, New Mexico you can stay at La Fonda and in Winslow, Arizona spend a night at La Posada.  Take an hour while traveling historic Route 66 to see the Painted Desert Inn for a glimpse into the glory days of Harvey Houses.  Barstow, California is home to the Casa Del Desierto, a former Harvey House converted into multi-use space including museums, offices, and event rooms.  If you can’t get away, but want to know more about this delightful piece of history check out some great books about Fred Harvey.  You may even want to try your hand at making “Albondigas Soup” or “Lobster Americaine”!

Diary of a Waitress: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Harvey Girl by Carolyn Meyer – The fictionalized diary of young Kitty Evans an aspiring journalist who, due to unfair and unfortunate circumstances, has to find a job instead of going to college.  Follow Kitty as she journeys West finding adventure as a Harvey Girl during the 1920’s.  MR/YA -6/8

Appetite For America by Stephen Fried  – This comprehensive history of Fred Harvey the man, the company, and the brand is engaging and entertaining.  Reading like a novel, with clear benchmarks of well-researched historical documentation, it is a must for anyone interested in Harvey, the American West, and rail travel. Author Fried gives a presentation on the history of Fred Harvey at La Fonda which you can check out HERE.  Learn more about the later years of the Fred Harvey company in a Q&A session with Fried and Daggett Harvey Jr.  HERE.

The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West by Lesley Poling-Kempes –  A history of the Harvey Girls combining oral history and well researched details.   This book acknowledges the long overlooked contributions of the women who, in search of respectable employment and independence, were influential in altering the fabric of life throughout the American Southwest.   For more about women who, against convention, braved the West read Poling-Kempes Ladies of the Canyon.

The Harvey House Cookbook by George H. Foster & Peter C. Weiglin – As stated above, a delightful overview of Fred Harvey the man and the company, as well as Harvey Girls, the changing landscape of the American West, and the rise and decline of rail travel in the U.S.   Plus many delicious and entertaining recipes sure to whet your appetite or possibly cause revulsion to your modern dining sensibilities (anything with the word aspic is nausea inducing for me).  A great complement to the Harvey history and a wonderful addition for any food historian!

Fred Harvey Houses of the Southwest by Richard Melzer – Harvey House history told through remarkable photographs of the people and places that made up this groundbreaking brand.  A wonderful visual documentation of the history and diversity of the Harvey Houses across the Southwest. (Images of America series)

PBP note: Fred Harvey, at the turn of the 20th century, made another extremely progressive move hiring Mary Colter, a schoolteacher and untrained architect, to design and develop many of the Harvey House locations.  For nearly 50 years. she worked in a male dominated field as the chief architect and decorator for Fred Harvey.  Read more about her remarkable spirit, her building and design philosophy, and her legacy in Mary Colter: Builder Upon the Red Earth  by Virginia L. Grattan

 

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Filed under cooking, cross country, History, hotel, North America, United States

Philadelphia Freedom

We are taking a road-trip to Philadelphia!  The agenda includes the standard sights: Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Rocky Steps, and Reading Terminal Market.  While that’s all fantastic, the best part of this trip isn’t the sightseeing or even the food (gasp!) – it’s the people.  We are meeting up with a group of my dearest friends from college and their families.  There will be 34 of us – nearly half of whom are children ranging in age from 6 months to 14 years old – reuniting with the main goal of just hanging out together.   I’m not sure what to expect, except it will be amazing.  Ahead of us are two days filled with friends, food, history, laughter, beer, and ax throwing.   There may be a slight possibility of disaster, but I am choosing to only see the potential for greatness in this trip.

As a planner, organizer, and schedule keeper it is often a challenge to travel with others.   It’s a delicate balance juggling a large group, with different priorities and agendas.  In the past I’ve been so focused on my travel goals, while simultaneously trying to accommodate everyone,  that I’ve found group experiences often result in frustration and disappointment.   Whose disappointment? Usually just mine, since I’m the one with rigid expectations.  So thankfully, over time, I have learned to ease up a bit and embrace the journey rather than just the destination.   An important key to happy travel is determining the real purpose of your trip, and keeping it in mind as events transpire.   The purpose of this weekend is about the company we keep, and less about the sights.   For the first time, maybe ever, I have only a loose idea of what this weekend will involve – and all of that comes courtesy of the amazing Philly locals who are hosting this “jawn”.    Embracing the true purpose of this trip, and trusting others to guide the planning, was actually quite liberating.  Overall this weekend feels like exactly what it is supposed to be -an opportunity for my own version of Philadelphia freedom.

Check out the Philadelphia page in locations – if you simply must plan ahead!

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Filed under American Revolution, History, North America, United States

Go West, Pigeon!

“What had seemed a wonderful idea –une grande aventure, as my friends put it- began to feel like an ill-conceived fantasy that should have provided fifteen minutes of amusement before being discarded.”

~Alice Steinbach, Without Reservations

The above quote, from my absolute favorite travel memoir, is the perfect description for how I feel right at this moment.  In less than two weeks my family is setting off on our very own une grande aventure -and I have reached the point where I am officially certain this was the worst possible idea ever.  The long winter days entertaining the fantasy of cross-country travel, exploring each region with enthusiasm and wonder, has given way to visions of disaster at every turn.  My nightmare version makes Clark Griswold’s trek to Walley World look like a dream vacation.

However, despite my nerves and last minute anxiety fueled regret, we are actually going to visit 24 states across the U.S.A.   I’m nothing if not a planner.  We have reservations, tickets, meal ideas.   We have packing lists, travel companions, and an endless supply of hard copy and audio books.  We’ve paid the bills, hired the lawn boy, and found loving dogsitters.  I’ve covered everything – I think.  And still I feel extremely unprepared for this leap into such a long vacation with so many unknowns.

In order to keep a handle on this trip and my insanity I’ve done two things – look to others who have tackled extended travel and read books.   I keep referring back to a post from January, 2015 – Of Phileas Fogg and other world travelers – which highlights the amazing travel adventures of several families.   When I feel a panic attack about to strike I grab my copy of 360 Degrees Longitude or log on to Taking On The World and find comfort in those that have gone before me – and on a much grander scale.  Through their stories I am reminded of the reasons we are taking this adventure – and comforted that, although challenges will find their way into our carefully planned itinerary, when they arise we will handle it.  That’s my story, and for now I’m sticking to it.  From the mountains to the prairie, to the oceans…..we are doing this.   Check out the next post for the books we are all reading, how each of my children intend to chronicle this adventure, and check back to follow us on the Pigeon’s Cross-Country Journal page.

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Filed under cross country, RV travel, travel, United States

Classic Disney

I’m going to DisneyWorld – tomorrow!  I pretty much love all things Disney, but in true Paperback Pigeon form, my absolute favorite Disney films, rides, and attractions come by way of classic literature.  Which also means that many of my favorites harken back to the 60’s and 70’s.  These adaptations were some of my mother’s childhood favorites, which she lovingly introduced to me.   I’m super excited to continue the tradition and share my “classic” favorites with my girls – visiting the attractions and meeting the characters that first entered the world via storybooks.

Check our some of my favorite novels that became Disney films and attractions.  Planning a visit to DisneyWorld?  Read your favorite before you visit.  Not traveling anytime soon?  Grab one of the stories below for a virtual trip to the classic Disney universe.

mary poppinsMary Poppins by P.L. Travers  – The Banks house will never be the same after Mary Poppins arrives to take care of Jane, Michael & the twins.  She’s a most unusual nanny who, with a little magic and make believe, changes the Banks family forever.

Brought to life in the 1964 musical starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition is a true Disney classic.  Looking for the story behind the making of the film?  Check out Saving Mr. Banks, with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, which tells the story of Disney’s quest to adapt the novel for movie audiences.

Looking to meet Mary Poppins?  Enjoy the Supercalifragilistic breakfast at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel & Spa where she regularly makes an appearance.  Or if you are heading to EPCOT make sure to stop at the United Kingdom Pavilion where Mary Poppins makes multiple visits each day.

swissfamilyrobinsonThe Swiss Family Robinson by Johann D. Wyss – When the Robinson family is shipwrecked on a tropical island they must create a new life for themselves in this uninhabited paradise by creatively using the items they salvaged from the wreck of their vessel.

Disney’s 1960 live action Swiss Family Robinson brings this remarkable adventure to the screen.  With an amazing treehouse, an ostrich and elephant race, and pirates, this relic from the Disney vault is worth a watch.

Who wouldn’t love to live in a treehouse, if just for a day?  Visit the Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom Park to walk through the treetops and see how the Robinson Family used some ingenuity and innovation to make their shipwrecked life spectacular.

tomsawyerThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – The classic tale of boyhood uses humor and wit to evoke a simpler time, highlighting memorable adventures of a 19th century childhood.

Disney translated the novel to film in 1995’s Tom and Huck.

Enjoy your own adventure on Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom Park.  The original attraction was designed in 1956 for Disneyland by Walt Disney himself!  Want to get up close and personal with author Mark Twain?  He is the animatronic host of the American Adventure, along with Benjamin Franklin, at the America Pavilion in EPCOT.  This 30 minute show highlights events in American History.

peter panPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie – The story of a boy who never grows up, but spends his days having adventures in Neverland, leading his band of Lost Boys, and cavorting with fairies and mermaids.  However, when Wendy and her brothers join Peter he questions his path, and Wendy must face difficult decisions that will determine her future.

Disney’s animated Peter Pan is a warmer version of the classic tale, charming and lighthearted without the dark undertones in the original story.  Once they’ve seen this movie every child can’t help but wish for a little pixie dust and membership in the Lost Boys.

Take a trip to Neverland when you visit Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom Park – a ride on Peter Pan’s Flight is a must!  Just around the corner you can meet Peter and Wendy.  Pixie dust more your style?  Head to the Town Square theater where you can shrink down to fairy size and meet Tinkerbell.

aliceinwonderlandAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – A trip down the rabbit hole takes Alice to a nonsensical universe where nothing is quite as it seems and with each turn of the page things get “curiouser and curiouser”.   From the Mad Hatter to the Cheshire Cat, everyone Alice meets introduces her to a wacky, wonderful world

Alice in Wonderland, Disney’s 1951 animated version plays on the whimsy of Carroll’s original and brings the iconic characters to life.  Everyone is here  – from Tweedledee & Tweedledum to the Queen of Hearts!  The 2010 live action Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp is a more sophisticated take on the surreal world of Wonderland.  Nothing is as it seems for a more grown-up Alice, except the creative influence of director Tim Burton is evident in every aspect of this magical adaptation.

Ready to take a whirl into your own Wonderland?  Join the Mad Tea Party and spin yourself silly in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom Park.  When you are done, if you’re not too dizzy, you can meet characters from Wonderland just outside the ride.  Or if you happen to find yourself in United Kingdom Pavilion at EPCOT you can find Alice in the gardens, perhaps recalling her time in Wonderland.

poohThe Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne – Everyone loves the endearing, charming, sweet chubby bear that is Winnie-the-Pooh.  He’s charmed children for generations and his dear companions in the Hundred Acre Wood, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore and Christopher Robin, provide enduring friendship and endless adventures.

Even the young, or young at heart, can embrace classic literature through Disney adapted films and attractions. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s 1977 animated film is a wonderful introduction to Pooh and friends.  Many additional films followed, but start with the original to keep close to the storybook’s classic tales.

Enjoy the Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh in ride form, as you travel via honey-pot through the Hundred Acre Wood, in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park.  After the ride stop in for a delicious buffet meal at the Crystal Palace, where Pooh and friends can be found making the rounds at every meal.  No time to stop and eat?  No worries, you can also meet Pooh & Friends just outside the attraction entrance.  Pooh also makes an appearance in the United Kingdom Pavilion at EPCOT. He can be found, often with one of his friends, in Christopher Robin’s room.

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Filed under classics, Disney, History, Uncategorized

U is for….

A dying man’s cryptic last words are…

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

undertheeggTheodora Tenpenny’s grandfather was her world, and his tragic and unexpected death leaves her devastated and more than a little worried.  Her mother is eccentric and flighty, her 200 year old home is crumbling around her, and she has little more than $400 in inheritance to keep them afloat.  Worse, her grandfather’s dying words leave her with a mystery surrounding the painting hanging above the mantle, her grandfather’s job as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a secret dating back to World War II.  With some new friends, and creative detective work, Theo discovers that her grandfather wasn’t the man she thought he was, he was much more.  (MR-5/6)

This creative and touching story is a Paperback Pigeon All-Time Top 10 Favorite.

 

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Filed under A to Z, Art, military history, museum, mystery, New York City

Q is for….

It wasn’t enough that his mom remarried, started a rock band, and is spending a year traveling the U.S. on a mega-tour – turns out his new stepsister has skeletons in her past that are threatening their new life just as they were settling in.  Another day on tour with..

I, Q by Roland Smith

Quest, known as Q, is glad his mom, Blaze, finally found happiness and love with Roger.  He isn’t quite so sure about the new lifestyle though.  Not only did Blaze and Roger get married they also collaborated musically and spawned a huge hit record.  Now Q, and his stepsister Angela (whom he is even less sure of), are spending a year off from school traveling the United States on a concert tour.  Unbeknownst to their parents, who are consumed by the tour, Angela and Q are being threatened by some mysterious characters from Angela’s past.  Adventure and intrigue are at every turn, and every mystery has Q and Angela exploring the coolest spots in each city they visit! (MR-5/6)

Qindependance HallI,Q: Independence Hall – Getting settled into his new lifestyle begins with a cross-country drive from California to Philadelphia in the luxury camper that Blaze and Roger have chosen as their family home for the next year.  Early in the trip things get strange. Are they being followed?  How did Boone, and old roadie friend of Blazes’, find them in the middle of the desert?  Who is he really?  Philadelphia has history at every turn, but it is Angela’s history that is the biggest mystery!  The first book in the series sets the scene for adventure to come across the country!

QwhitehouseThe White House– 24 hours in Washington, DC at the home of the President.  The intrigue and mystery just gets more exciting for Q and Angela, but so does the danger!

 

 

QkittyhawkKitty Hawk– The president’s daughter has been kidnapped and Q and Angela are part of the team working to save her.  They follow the trail to the Outer Banks -but will a freak storm ruin their chances?

 

 

QalamoThe Alamo – With a huge concert planned at the Alamo Q and Angela find themselves in the heart of Texas, and a the heart of another Ghost Cell attack.   Are they being chased across the country?  Or are they doing the chasing?  All is not as it seems as Q and Angela try to find out if they are the hunted or the hunters!

 

QWindycityThe Windy City – Q and Angela may have been thwarting international terrorism, but all their parents see is a lack of attention to their studies.  With the threat of boarding school, Q and Angela hit the books when they get to Chicago in order to avoid leaving the tour -which would mean leaving Boone and their work against the Ghost Cell.  But when Boone and the crew don’t make it to Chicago as planned Q and Angela know that there is a mole feeding information to the Ghost Cell.  Who is it?  And how do they stop the Ghost Cell’s next plot – a chemical attack on the Windy City?

QAlcatrazAlcatraz – Things have just become too intense and, although they plan to continue the tour, Blaze and Roger think it is time for Q and Angela to return home to San Francisco and attend boarding school.  It’s a race against time to find the leader of the terrorist cell before Q and Angela find themselves removed from the team hunting the Ghost Cell.

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Filed under A to Z, History, Middle Reader, mystery, North America, travel, United States

M is for…

Two ordinary kids, a tree-house in the woods, and books about every subject imaginable.  Add a little magic, mystery, and adventure and you’ve got the classic early-reader series that transports every kid to places they’ve only dreamed of!

Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osbourne

Jack and Annie, siblings from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, are transported through time and space to help the mythical Morgan LeFay save the library at Camelot.  Along the way they meet dinosaurs, visit ancient Egypt, tackle ninjas, sail on the Titanic, immerse themselves in American History, and more!   Each book is its own stand-alone adventure, but the books connect in groups of 4 to solve larger mysteries. There is a Magic Treehouse story to complement just about any trip, holiday, or historical event.

These are great stories for those ready to tackle chapter books.  However, they are perfect for older Pre-K and Kindergarten readers who are ready for a complex read-aloud.   Suitable for a wide range of readers, Magic Treehouse books address a variety of experiences in an age appropriate way.  And for more inquisitive readers, the Magic Treehouse Fact-Trackers are fantastic non-fiction companions to the series.  For even more check out magictreehouse.com to play and learn with Jack & Annie.

*A Paperback Pigeon All-Time Top 10 Favorite*

mth1-4Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, and Pirates Past Noon – Real dinosaurs?  Medieval Knights?  Ancient Egypt? Swashbuckling Pirates?   Adventure is just a turn of the page as Jack & Annie begin to discover the magic in their treehouse! (ER-K-3)

mth5-8Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 5-8: Night of the Ninjas, Afternoon on the Amazon, Sunset of the Sabertooth, and Midnight on the Moon –  Time and space are no match for the Magic Treehouse – or for Jack & Annie – when they travel to ancient Japan, voyage down the Amazon River, tackle the Ice Age and land on the Moon!!!

mth1-28Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-28 – Sets of 4 books just not enough to satisfy your curious reader?  Get all 28 of the original Magic Treehouse Books and join Jack & Annie for every single magical, mystical adventure from Shakespeare’s England to George Washington’s Revolutionary War encampment.

mthchristmasincamelotChristmas in Camelot (Magic Tree House, No. 29) – In the first book in the Magic Treehouse Merlin Missions, Jack & Annie take on more mythical challenges.  The series elevates in reading level, growing with its readers, as well as in content depth and story length. (ER-2/3)

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Filed under A to Z, Africa, animals, Asia, Early Readers, europe, History, Holiday, magic, mystery, North America, series, Time Travel, Uncategorized, United States

Thankful Trip

Holidays are like “mini-trips”, the opportunity to “travel” out of the daily grind.   Sometimes they involve actual travel, sometimes not, but regardless it is a break from the mundane.  Like a vacation, holidays give us room to make exceptions to our typical limitations on food, drink and bedtimes.   I’m particularly fond of Thanksgiving in this respect. How great is a holiday that puts so much emphasis on food?  True, this is a highlight of the day, but I also really enjoy the idea of taking time to simply be grateful for our blessings.   At the heart Thanksgiving is dedicating time to intentionally focus our outlook on seeing the world for all the positive it contains.

That can be hard to do when much of the holiday is wrought with “hostess distress”.  All the pressure out there  – from Martha Stewart to Pinterest – to have the “magazine ready” table, puff-pastry hors d’ourves, turkey butter sculptures and the well-brined bird can overshadow the true nature of the day.   Like any good trip, your holiday should have the requisite “must-haves”- you wouldn’t visit Paris and ignore the Eiffel Tower- so for most of us that means the turkey is non-negotiable.   And just like every vacation needs a little down-time to discover the unexpected joys of the place, holidays need un-orchestrated moments for spontaneous laughter and true connection with those around us.

Much like travel, the destination is better when shared with those we love.   Holidays are the same.   Enjoying traditions with loved-ones bonds us, shared history creates lasting memories and family identity.   Thanksgiving holds wonderful connections to our past.  Although they are both gone, I cherish the recipes that make it to the table from both my Grandmothers.  Enjoying fried cardoon and cranberry-nut jello remind us of their continued presence in our lives.

Regardless of how you spend Thanksgiving Day – at a table set with handmade lace placecards or eating pizza on paper plates -may your holiday be about what matters most – love, family, appreciation, heritage, tradition, friendship and thankfulness.   Here are several Thanksgiving reads, both traditional and modern, that remind us of the true meaning of the day.

overtheriverOver the River and Through the Wood is the classic Thanksgiving poem by Lydia Maria Child.  Originally published in 1844, and eventually set to music, the tale of traveling to Grandmother’s house for a feast on Thanksgiving Day continues to delight children of all ages.  (PB/RA)

nightbeforethanksgivingThe Night Before Thanksgivingby Natasha Wing cleverly tells the story of a modern Thanksgiving Day, from the preparations to the inevitable hilarity that family gatherings always produce, all written in the familiar cadence of Clement Moore’s classic poem The Night Before Christmas.  Enjoy this Thanksgiving spin on an old favorite!  (PB/RA)

mthpilgrimsfacttrackerMagic Tree House Fact Tracker #13: Pilgrims Jack and Annie find themselves in Plymouth colony in the fall of 1621 in Thanksgiving on Thursday  the 27th book in Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series.  This non-fiction companion answers all the lingering questions about what life as a Pilgrim was really like and how Thanksgiving came to be known as the celebration we enjoy today. (ER 2/3)

turkeymonsterthanksgivingTurkey Monster Thanksgiving by Anne Warren Smith reminds us that Thanksgiving isn’t about being perfect, just perfectly happy.  All the changes in her life, and pressure from neighborhood friend, have got Katie thinking that it is time to have a “real” Thanksgiving.  It doesn’t matter that she’s always loved her dad’s non-traditional, stay in your jammies, eat pizza kinda day.  If Katie can make Thanksgiving perfect then maybe her family will be perfect, too.  Funny, warm and sweet this story reminds every reader that at the heart all a family needs to be perfect is love.  (ER-3/4)

kkdontbesuchaturkeyDon’t Be Such a Turkey! Katie Kazoo is at it again – switching places at the worst times – learning what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes.  This double duty special edition has two great Thanksgiving stories from author Nancy Krulik.  First, Katie is off to visit a reconstructed pilgrim village – and you guessed it-  she turns into a real pilgrim!  Can Katie survive the first Thanksgiving?  Then Katie finds herself right in the middle of one of the most iconic American Thanksgiving Day traditions – she’s a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!   For more on this event check out my post Sweet Serendipity.  (ER-2/3)

dearamerica_jasperjonathanpierceMy Name Is America: The Journal Of Jasper Jonathan Pierce, A Pilgrim Boy  All alone, indentured servant Jasper Jonathan Pierce finds himself on the Mayflower.  To combat his loneliness and to create some connection with the brother he left behind, Jasper writes a diary of his experiences from the beginning of the journey through the difficult first years of the settlement at Plymouth.  Written as a succession of journal entries and filled with historical information this book by Ann Rinaldi gives a real picture of what it was like to be a Pilgrim, and a child, in 1620. (MR-4)

MerrieMerrie* In this young adult romance by Vivian Schurfranz 16 year old Merrie stows away on the Mayflower hoping to escape England and an arranged marriage.  She finds herself unwelcome  in this new world, and struggles to survive the lonely, cold, deadly first winter.  As the first Thanksgiving approaches should she return to England with handsome sailor Luke?  Or stay and try to make a life in this new colony with Zachariah, a budding doctor? (YA- 6-8)  

*Part of the Sunfire Romance Series which is out of print, but available used on Amazon.com or at the library.   I adored this series as a middle-schooler, as there is a book (and heroine) for almost every major event in American history.  Although they are formulaic, they are also surprisingly sweet, age appropriate early romance novels.*

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Filed under History, Holiday, Plymouth, Seasons, Thanksgiving, United States

L is for….

Libraries are the ticket to wondrous worlds.  Even if you never get on a plane, pack the car, or hop on the next train you can visit the world, both real and imaginary, in the stacks of a library.  Many children are first introduced to the unlimited magic of the library at storytime.  Captivated kids hang on every word the librarians read, and they always know the best books to share.  On your next visit to library pick up this all-ages read-aloud because, no matter how old you are you never out grow the library and, everyone loves storytime, especially…..

Library Lion by Michele Knudsen

librarylionThis is a charming tale of a special lion who comes to the library and is allowed to stay as long as he follows the rules.  The Library Lion soon becomes an indispensable helper to the head librarian and a welcome presence in the library.  But when he breaks a rule everyone at the library learns that sometimes rules need to be broken to help a friend. (PB)

nycpubiclibrary lionsThe New York Public Library branch on 5th Avenue & 42nd Street, Manhattan, NY is the home to two lion sculptures that welcome visitors.  Their names are Patience & Fortitude and have become the symbol of the New York Public Library System.

 

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Filed under A to Z, animals, Library, New York City, Picture Book

K is for….

Too old for fairy godmothers and a little too tween for the magic of the mouse?  What if it wasn’t just a fantasyland…and all of it was real…especially the evil, wicked and villainous!

Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson

Five kids – Finn, Willa, Charlene, Maybeck and Philby –  are chosen to be the new Disney Host Interactives – DHIs – essentially holographic images that can guide guests through the Disney parks.  Except when the real kids go to sleep they wake up as their holograms, in the park where, with the help of an elderly mentor imagineer named Wayne, they realize that there is a battle going on – and they’ve been recruited to help take down the most evil forces Walt Disney ever created.  MR -5/6

*PBP Note: I’ve never read these books….but I’ve listened to them.   I recommend them for those tweens who might be feeling that a trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth” is beneath them, or for those who’ve been to Disney often enough that it’s time for a new twist on an old favorite.   It is a fun ride, but don’t think too hard, or expect too much.   The first book is the best, and a great read before a trip to Disney for your upper middle reader who is looking for a new spin on what happens when the parks are closed.   I was willing to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the first 4 books – each of which highlight a different DisneyWorld park.  As the books progress, the characters age, so be prepared for the story to get bogged down with love interests as well as excessive secondary characters.  Also, as technology changes quickly, you’ll  note some outdated references in the earlier books. Consider downloading the audiobook to an ipod or mp3 player for the plane ride or listen as a family on the drive to Florida.  Who knows what magic you might encounter?

kingdomkeepers1DADKingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark – Finn is having the most vivid dream, until he realizes it isn’t a dream at all!  He is one of 5 new Disney Host Interactives – holograms that guide guests through the Disney parks.  But there is a glitch – when the kids fall asleep they wake up as their holograms and are charged to battle the evil forces trying to take over the park.  Can these 5 new friends find a way to work together, appreciate each others strengths, and keep the Magic Kingdom safe?  See what happens when the parks close and the real excitement begins.

kingdomkeepers2DADKingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn-The Kingdom Keepers are back – this time a mysterious lightning storm at Magic Kingdom triggers events that could destroy the DHI’s forever.  They head to the Animal Kingdom where the latest DHI technology is ready to be put in place, but they only have until daylight to foil the plans of the Overtakers and secure the park.  If they can’t work together will this mean the end of the Kingdom Keepers forever?

kingdomkeepers3DISKingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow – Wayne is missing and it is up to the Kingdom Keepers to find him – fast!  A whirlwind adventure through Epcot has the team meeting new villains and old nemesis.  Struggling to keep calm and stay focused as the stakes get higher, can the DHIs find Wayne and get home safely before their cover is blown?

kingdomkeepers4PPKingdom Keepers IV: Power Play –  Life is almost back to normal for the Kingdom Keepers.  With key Overtakers locked down things are pretty calm for the DHIs – until Philby receives a mysterious video, new Overtakers pop up in Downtown Disney and Charlene starts acting strangely.  It is time to take action in Hollywood Studios and Typhoon Lagoon to protect the power center for the DHI server before the Overtakers create their own series of holograms – or is it too late?

kingdomkeepers5SGKingdom Keepers V: Shell Game – With a huge promotional voyage on the Disney Dream ahead the Kingdom Keepers are ready to tackle the high seas.  Unfortunately, the Overtakers are using this journey to regroup.  They’ve stolen one of Walt Disney’s personal journals -with cryptic information that could lead to a takeover.  From aboard ship to Castaway Cay, the Kingdom Keepers have to find a way to stop the Overtakers – and figure out just what they are trying to accomplish aboard the Dream.  But who can the Kingdom Keepers trust, and are they starting to lose faith in each other?

kingdomkeepers6DPKingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage -As the Disney Dream makes its way through the Panama Canal things are heating up for the Kingdom Keepers.  The magic more intense and the stakes higher than ever – can the team keep it together long enough to solve the mystery of the Overtakers plans?  How will they defeat the most evil creature Disney ever imagined – and will they all see the end of this voyage?

kingdomkeepers7IKingdom Keepers VII: The Insider  – As high school seniors the Kingdom Keepers have spent the past three years in relative quiet.  Their trip aboard the Disney Dream is part of the past, and the Overtakers defeated.  Until they stage an unexpected comeback that requires the team to be back in action.    A long-lost icon is their only hope to protect Disneyland – the original park that started the magic.

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