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Author Archive: "Alexis"

Handmade Home

Handmade Home is my favorite craft book of the year! Amanda Blake Soule doesn't just want you to get crafty, she wants you to think differently about the objects in your life. Soule's projects are no-fuss but classy, always incorporating reusable and found materials. An added bonus: Soule contributes her own photographs which lend the book more sincerity, intimacy, and charm than other craft books.

Wonders of Nature by Jane Werner Watson

This classic Golden Book is finally back in print. My son and I love to pore over the colorful, detailed illustrations by the beloved Eloise Wilkin, and the simple, lovely words by Jane Werner Watson are perfect for short attention spans. Wonders of Nature is sure to become a treasured part of your little one's library.

Calm and Compassionate Children

My son is only one year old, but I started reading Calm and Compassionate Children in the aisles and couldn't put it down. Though the author's anecdotes often involve school-aged children, her philosophy works for every family member. This is as much a guide to being more aware of our own behavior as it is a guide to fostering trust, empathy, and integrity in our kids. It's a very quick read, full of practical advice and not one page of useless statistical filler.

Important Book

The important thing about this book is that you will love it. It is perfect for reading aloud with little ones. It has lovely, old-fashioned illustrations. And it is a classic, by the Grande Dame of children's books, Margaret Wise Brown. But the important thing about this book is that you will love it.

Creative Family

In economic depressions, we tend to spend more time at home with our families, finding entertainment in the things around us. Amanda Blake Soule lays out many art and craft projects for parents and kids that highlight using and appreciating what you have, in addition to honoring the time we have with our children. Her parenting philosophy is Waldorf-inspired, very down-to-earth and earth-friendly. She's even inspired this un-crafty new mom to take up embroidery and quilting — and I'm really enjoying them. Keep an eye out for her forthcoming book, Handmade Home, due out in August 2009.

T Is for Tugboat

Who can resist this gorgeous, whimsical abecedary of all things nautical? From the maritime flag endpapers to the sailors' knots, from the bow to the stern, little landlubbers will enjoy this seafaring excursion through the alphabet. The combination of vintage-inspired woodcuts and drawings with historical and new photographs makes T Is for Tugboat a pleasure for adults as well.

Powell’s Gets Crafty

A little-known fact about Powell's employees is that we are super crafty. In fact, we're just as crafty as we are sexy (thank you very much, Portland Mercury readers). To celebrate, Tracey (one of our craftiest) suggested that we put our wares on display (or, at least, pictures of our wares), along with the books that inspired or guided them. So, that's just what we did.

I say "we," but in fact, I am not very crafty myself. I am what you might call an enabler of craftiness, mostly within my family. I regularly send my mom fabric and yarn that I find at thrift stores in the hopes that she will knit or sew something for me (never fails). I email her links to wool felting sites, and to pictures of fancy pillows that "would be so easy to make with a sewing machine" (which I don't have). Now that I'm nine months pregnant, I drop hints for things like homespun diaper stackers and housecoats, handmade plush toys, and tiny T-shirts that say cute but relevant things like "Save the Bees."

Thanks to Tracey's brilliant idea, I'm now getting paid for my ...

A Poetry Handbook

I bought A Poetry Handbook when I entered my first poetry-writing class as an undergrad. My professor was a notorious curmudgeon who didn't spare anyone's feelings and expected each progressive class in the term "to separate the sheep from the goats." I was determined not to be a sheep (or a goat?): I was going to be prepared! This book is amazingly detailed for a basic introduction and extremely useful for reading, writing, and talking about many different kinds of poems. A Poetry Handbook not only spared me public humiliation in college, it also gave me a lasting understanding of the mechanics of poetry.

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely

There are little televisions throughout Don't Let Me Be Lonely. Really. Little photographs of televisions, sometimes depicting widely broadcast images from the news, sometimes only static, are interspersed throughout this long prose poem. The images come as a slight shock at first — poetry arguably being the antithesis of television — but as Rankine's compelling narrative voice navigates the images, the sound bites, the advertisements, and the inevitable detritus, the televisions become symbols for us — we sad, solitary, lost individuals. It both is and isn't as heavy as it sounds: her primary themes are death and depression, but her observations are often fiercely wry. Honestly, I've never been interested in overtly political poetry, but Rankine has made this political poetry so gut-wrenchingly personal, so emotionally resonant — not to mention the brilliant formal execution — that I will never write off political poetry again.


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