Hands on the Wheel

Lisa Bullard
A few years ago, I remem­ber Teenage Nephew 2 point­ed out (from his new­ly gath­ered store­house of driver’s ed wis­dom) that I put my hands in the wrong posi­tions on the steer­ing wheel. The new place­ment, he told me, is either 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 on the clock face, to avoid break­ing your arms if the airbag deploys. It’s been a while since I’ve been in driver’s ed (in fact, to a teenage brain I’m sure it was so long ago that Teenage Nephew imag­ines my train­ing includ­ed dinosaur-avoid­ance tac­tics), so I took it on faith that he was right.… more

Borrowed Magic”

Author Candice Ransom
Thir­teen years.  The project I began in 2003 has had that many birth­days.  It occu­pies two large crates in my office.  It has dom­i­nat­ed my life, involv­ing trav­el, research, read­ing.  It has spawned four ver­sions, each drag­ging mul­ti­ple drafts.  Rejec­tions span ten years. Nobody, it seems, wants this book.  “Kids won’t be inter­est­ed.”  The sub­ject, Mar­garet Wise Brown, would find this fun­ny. … more

The Birthday Surprise

I had pretty much given up on finding an appropriate gift for my dad’s 82nd birthday; the last thing he needed was more stuff. So I headed off to the family lake cabin for the 4th of July holiday (also his birthday weekend) with the thought that I’d figure out a clever celebratory idea at the last minute. Maybe some kind of game that everyone would enjoy?

Louis Armstrong’s Red Beans and Rice

A Cajun-inspired favorite recipe from jazz musi­cian Louis Arm­strong, this is a per­fect accom­pa­ni­ment to your read­ing of Jazz Day by Rox­ane Orgill.
Louis and Lucille Armstrong’s Red Beans and Rice
Total Time6 hours
Serv­ings: 8
1 pound kid­ney beans12 pound salt pork strip of lean, strip of fat1 small can of toma­to sauce if desired6 small ham hocks or 1 smokedpork butt2 onions diced14 green bell pepper5 tiny or 2 medi­um dried peppers1 clove gar­lic choppedSalt to taste
Wash beans thor­ough­ly, then soak overnight in cold water.

Laughing All the Way

Heather Vogel Frederick
I fin­ished read­ing The Road to Lit­tle Drib­bling over a week ago, and I’m still laughing. I’m a suck­er for a fun­ny sto­ry, and Bill Bryson has pro­vid­ed me with a steady stream of them since I first dis­cov­ered him in Gran­ta mag­a­zine back in the ’80s. I couldn’t get enough of his wise­crack­ing tales about grow­ing up in Des Moines, espe­cial­ly the epic fam­i­ly road trips he endured.… more

Lighthouse Beef Stew

Author Aimee Bis­sonette writes, “To accom­pa­ny your read­ing of Miss Col­fax’s Light­house, here’s the type of recipe Har­ri­et would have cooked in win­ter months. It gets incred­i­bly cold on Lake Michi­gan in the win­ter and Har­ri­et was always so busy! She would have need­ed some­thing that was pret­ty easy to make (no time to fuss) but would warm her inside and out.… more

Little Peggy Ann McKay

I might have insta­mat­ic flu,” said the young girl as her moth­er checked her in at the doctor’s office. Let’s hope not,” her moth­er replied. Insta­mat­ic flu. Instamatic…flu…. The words bounced around in my head. My mouth is wet, my throat is dry…” the girl said in half-heart­ed sing-songy voice as they took a chair in the wait­ing room.… more

Steve’s Spaghetti Sauce

In Leroy Ninker Sad­dles Up Maybelline’s favorite food is spaghet­ti. Here we share our best recipe for a savory sauce to top any pas­ta. Serves four (or one hun­gry horse).
Steve’s Spaghetti Sauce
The secret of this savory spaghet­ti sauce is the pepperoni.
Prep Time15 min­utes
Cook Time30 min­utes
Total Time45 min­utes
Serv­ings: 4
Author: Steven Palmquist
1 15- oz can toma­to sauce1 6- oz can toma­to paste¼ cup sher­ry or white wine1 tsp beef stock con­cen­trate such as Bet­ter Than Bouillon®7 oz 12 pkg turkey pep­per­oni or regular2 tsp gar­lic salt1 Tbsp dried pars­ley1 tsp dried oregano1 tsp dried basil
Using a microwave-safe plate, arrange 7 oz.

Bookstorm: Leroy Ninker Saddles Up 

Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn’t have is a horse — until he meets Maybelline, that is, and then it’s love at first sight. Maybelline loves spaghetti and sweet nothings, and she loves Leroy, too. But when Leroy forgets the third and final rule of caring for Maybelline, disaster ensues. Can Leroy wrestle fate to the ground, rescue the horse of his heart, and lasso loneliness for good? Join Leroy, Maybelline, and a cast of familiar characters — Stella, Frank, Mrs. Watson, and everyone’s favorite porcine wonder, Mercy — for some hilarious and heartfelt horsing around on Deckawoo Drive.

Skinny Dip with Kate DiCamillo

Skinny Dipping
Do you remember any book reports you wrote or gave while in elementary school? No one has ever asked me this question before! Here is the truth: I don't remember doing one, single book report. Have I blocked the memories out? Or did I really not do any? I'm thinking it's the latter. Truly. Describe your all-time favorite pair of pajamas.… more

Git along, doggies!

The images below are a small part of a larg­er pho­to or book cov­er. Each of the images per­tains to a book in this mon­th’s issue. Can you guess what these are? When you believe you’ve decid­ed, click on the image and you’ll see if you’re right.  My, you pay care­ful atten­tion! Well done.… more