Emily’s Library, Part 9: 14 More Books for Young Readers

Welcome to another installment in my attempts to build the perfect children’s library for my niece and, in so doing, guide others to great books for young people. Indeed, this post is being published as I depart to visit Emily — carrying three of the books mentioned below! (See if you can guess which three.) Jim Averbeck and…

Meter Matters: Better No Seuss Than Faux Seuss

The “new” Seuss book (due out tomorrow) is attracting a lot of notice — some of it, unfortunately, in verse.  It is possible to write great ersatz Seuss.  But it’s not easy. For faux Seuss, you must know Seuss.  It helps, too, if you’re a poet. Michiko Kakutani’s metrical mess offers an excellent caution to…

Upgrade Vortex

upgrade vortex, n. The hidden temporal, cognitive, and/or financial costs of getting a new electronic device (tablet, smart phone, computer, etc.). We need a term to describe the experience of obtaining a new technological item, and then the (guaranteed but never mentioned) troubleshooting and cost that inevitably follows. I propose “upgrade vortex” — upgrade both because this is…

Songs to Learn and Sing: Five Great Tunes for Small People

I think music is everything. Without music, I don’t think there’d be life; there would be no world left, then. Everybody’d be downhearted. Don’t you think so? — unidentified plumber, on opening track of Tony Schwartz’s Millions of Musicians (1956) Whether you have young people in your life or simply like light-hearted music, here are five songs…

Created Equal: The Planned Integrated Community of Village Creek, Conn.

For America’s Independence Day, here’s a little-known chapter in the history of American anti-racism. Following the Second World War, progressives founded a dozen planned integrated communities across the country. While working on my biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss, I learned about one of those communities — a section of Norwalk Connecticut directly adjacent to where Johnson…