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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Ursula Nordstrom

Skinny Dip with Amy Baum

gr_sleepy-hollow-moonWhat keeps you up at night?

The Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I had to sleep in my sister’s room for 6 months after that terrifying cartoon.

What’s the first book you remember reading?

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik. I loved Little Bear and his very functional family. Also, I thought it was simply magical that all of the letters spelled out a story. I am still a fan of large type (though that could be my age).

Disclaimer: There was one story that caused many sleepless nights: “Goblin Story” in Little Bear’s Visit. I highly recommend reading this story during a clear, bright day. A big shout out to Kim Faurot at the Saint Paul Public Library Children’s Room.

What’s Your favorite holiday tradition?

Giving Presents for all occasions – I am most certain that there is a holiday packed into every week of the year.

Were you a teacher’s pet or teacher’s challenge?

Oy, such a challenge. I have dyslexia, but that wasn’t a “thing” back in the sixties – hence I was trundled off to speech therapy. It was great fun. We did a lot of puppet shows with Steiff puppets – and while they were very itchy I was a proud porcupine.

Do you like to gift wrap presents?

gr_aaxmanwithlogoYes, shopping, presents and holidays all go hand-in-hand. I have a closet full of cool gift wrap which I buy all year round. I must admit to using gift bags on unwieldy items. Though one can get some swell boxes at The Ax-Man surplus store. It also delights me to watch the painstaking measures some recipients will go to in an effort to preserve the wrapping paper. You people know who you are.

What 3 children’s book authors or illustrators or editors would you like to invite to dinner?

Such an unfair question. I would require the capacity of the Algonquin Round Table and I would try to accommodate SOME list of some of my heroes:

  1. Maurice Sendak
  2. Ursula Nordstrom, aside from being a fabulous editor she wrote one of my favorite books of second grade, The Secret Language.
  3. Edward Gorey
  4. ph_wedgewoodMargaret Wise Brown
  5. A.A. Milne
  6. E.L. Konigsburg
  7. Eric Carle
  8. Nancy Ekholm Burkert
  9. Walter Dean Myers
  10. Beatrix Potter – I eat off her Peter Rabbit Wedgewood every day
  11. E.B. White
  12. Tomi Ungerer
  13. Charlotte Zolotow
  14. Dr. Seuss
  15. M.E. Kerr

I am quite certain that I am leaving several important guests out. By the way – I would not cook out of deference of my guests – catering all the way! I do not use my stove – I occasionally dust it.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”– Charlotte’s Web

What book do you tell everyone to read?

The Phantom Tollbooth, Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, The Nutshell Library, The Moon Man, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver. It depends on who my audience is and what their needs are at the time.

Are you a night owl or an early bird?

Both – nighttime is for reading and hanging with my faithful dog. Morning is for “catching up.”


Skinny Dip with Debra Frasier

ph_orangesWhat is your favorite holiday tradition:

When I was fourteen years old I assumed the role of Christmas Ambrosia Maker in my southern-novel of a family. I was the youngest appointee, ever, and surprising, as it requires welding a very sharp serrated knife, but I had a knack for it. We were a “fruit-rich” family due to a small, scraggly orange grove west of Vero Beach, FL. You needed to be fruit-rich because my family ambrosia method requires cutting deep into the naval skin to not only remove the white pith, but to also cut into the tiny juicy orange cells, leaving a little ribbon of actual orange on the spiral skin. This is why our ambrosia is better than any other you will taste. Ever. But. You need a lot of oranges for this method.

When I was sixteen, and had faithfully repeated the recipe for two years, I removed the traditional canned pineapple. Scandal! There were arched eyebrows from my grandmother. When I was seventeen, I removed the coconut, and my mother raised her eyebrows. But once the knife had been passed, it turned out you can do what you want, my first taste of family matriarchal power. Now we have ambrosia just how I like it: plain, un-doctored naval oranges in a brimming bowl. And I now add finely chopped mint. My daughter will probably remove it one day.

Long answer to a short question.

Were you a teacher’s pet or teacher’s challenge?

My teachers loved me because I was a perfectionist amid a pack of wild Florida boys. In those days we received paper report cards where teachers could write, in gorgeous script, comments for each child. A reoccurring comment was: “Debbie is an excellent student however she is very hard on herself.”

Little did I know that this would be the report card for my life…

What was the first book report you ever wrote?

bk_YearlingI don’t remember my first book report but I remember Book Reports. I always drew the cover and an illustration in a carefully measured box. My favorite book was read aloud in the fourth grade by a long-term substitute. It was a desperate attempt to control an unruly class—and it worked miraculously well: The Yearling, by Marjorie Kennan Rawlings, trumped 25 Florida ruffians committed to ruining a substitute’s life. My report on the book was filled with pictures of fawns, curled in the Florida scrub, and bounding in the cabin yard. This book changed my life forever, as hearing it kept the divorce–wracked world at bay, and I realized that stories were the ultimate magic, some kind of medicine for the heart.

Do you like to gift-wrap presents?

When I was growing up wrapping presents was considered An Art. I was taught to carefully fold tucked in corners, and to make sure the scotch tape was perpendicular to the gift’s base line. My mother, somehow, got on the mailing list for the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. She could never have afforded to order anything but she studied the wrapping methods in the over-the-top section. I remember one particular wrapping that she showed me with such amazement: Take ten cashmere sweaters, each a different bright color. Find a very tall glass container, preferably shaped like a fountain soda glass. Lay each sweater in the glass so as to appear to be a layer of ice cream. Add a bow to the base, and save a white sweater for the whipped-cream top.

So, yes, I grew up loving to wrap presents, wrapped at a department store for a teen job, and now…am the worst present-wrapper you ever met. Sloppy, I use recycled paper and bags, and never match my corners. What happened?! But I STILL often think about my mother’s delight in the ice cream glass filled with cashmere sweaters—

What do you wish you could tell your 10-year old self?

Laugh more. I was a serious child, and had this thing for doing everything too, too perfectly. The report cards were right: Lighten up, for heaven’s sake, Debra! But I could tell myself that TODAY, too!

What 3 children’s book authors or illustrators or editors would you like to invite to dinner?

OK, defying The Rules of Time my guests would be: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, after orange season so she is relaxed and she can bring Max Perkins as her date, Ursula Nordstrom, after finishing Carrot Seed with Ruth Krauss so she is pleased as punch, and Ursula LeGuin, so things are always looking forward with her remarkable mind and its insistence on recognizing the feminine in us all.

Let’s make the dinner in NYC, somewhere street level, with red leather booths but we take the round table in the window, beneath the tied back drapes…Candles on the table, wine ordered.

bk_spike_228Where’s your favorite place to read?

My favorite place to read has more to do with time than place—I most like to read wherever I feel there is space, psychic space, I mean. I love to read, for example, when traveling, especially in the air if it is not bumpy. There is a lot of psychic space in an airplane, untethered to all those strings below. I also have a little sleeping loft in a North Carolina cabin that you get to by a rope suspended ladder—perfect reading space, and once again, up high, always summer, always untethered. But if I waited for an airplane or summer, I’d never read, so I squeeze reading into a lot of odd spaces: before sleep, waiting in lines, over lunch, in my studio…In later life I have developed a severe addiction to narrative so I have to ration myself or I will stay up all night trying to find out the age old question’s answer: What happens NEXT? At night I have to read only cookbooks because it does not matter so much what happens next and I can turn the light off at a sensible time and go to sleep. Seriously. It’s a problem.



Musings of a lifelong reader, part two

Why do we have books without illustrations? Only in the last few years has the concept of a “visual learner” become familiar to me. By all definitions, and pedagogical controversy aside, this describes the way I absorb knowledge. I wasn’t aware of a name or theory when I was learning to read, or actively engaged […]