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Welcome to the PNA Library Blog!

The PNA Library is a great resource for our community with an extensive collection of picture, chapter, and non-fiction books. The library is frequented by all grades, and is a bustling hub of activity before and after school. It is organized and operated by a number of dedicated volunteers.

From Page to Screen

All year long we have had the opportunity to view adaptations of favorite novels, old and new, as they have found their way on to the big screen.  Since a startling number of the movies currently playing are adapted from novels, I thought I would use this week's blog to sum them up.

First off, for the youth...

The Maze Runner, an adaptation of James Dashner's highly acclaimed young adult novel, is the hottest movie running for its age group:

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run. 

Our PNA Library has not only The Maze Runner, but also the two subsequent books in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure.

The Giver, a modern favorite (likely destined to be a classic) by Lois Lowry, is also in theaters now:

The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. 

The Giver has three additional novels in its series, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son, which is scheduled for release in October.  I am ordering a new, hardcover set for the complete quartet, as the early novels have been loved literally to pieces.

When the Game Stands Tall is one I look forward to taking my 8th grade boys to see.  This movie is based on Neil Hayes's broadly acclaimed novel.

This insider’s account of the greatest winning streak in sports history brings to life the tragedies, triumphs, and unforgettable characters. Neil Hayes takes readers behind the scenes at De La Salle High School, where coaching legend Bob Ladouceur led his football team to a historic 13-year run of consecutive wins. A coming-of-age saga as well as an exciting sports story, When the Game Stands Tall provides a deft portrait of the enigmatic and visionary coach who instills in his players a discipline, commitment, and dedication to doing one's best that endure well beyond high school. 

How to Train Your Dragon 2, adapted from the novel by Cressida Cowell, is currently running at the cheap seats.

This grand adventure chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon.

The PNA LIbrary has the original novel, which a number of young readers have greatly enjoyed.

Dolphin Tale 2, while not based on a novel or nonfiction book, has an junior novel, written by Gabrielle Reyes, that has been written to accompany the movie; there is also a book for the initial movie.  Both the movies and their book adaptations, telling the story of a whale who is given a prosthetic tale, have been getting excellent reviews.

And for the parents, there are also a number of choices:

If I Stay, based on Gayle Forman's YA novel, is in theaters now.

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make.

This is not currently in our library, as I think the subject matter is a little strong for even our middle school population-it is recommended for youth aged fourteen and up.

The Hundred Foot Journey, adapted from the novel by Richard C. Morais, is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. This wonderful movie was greatly enjoyed by eighth grader Brendan's mom, Kathy, and me.  We cannot wait to read the book!

The November Man, about a U.S. government spy, is the first novel in in Bill Granger's acclaimed series.

A Walk Among Tombstones is based on the tenth book in Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series, telling the tales of an unlicensed NYC private detective.

This is where I Leave You is adapted from Jonathan Tropper's outstanding novel about a recently deceased Jewish man, the family who have come to sit Shiva, and what happens when a dysfunctional family comes together for the first time in many years, under less than ideal circumstances.  I absolutely loved this novel about the emotional impact of family.

Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt is the final movie in the trilogy of films based on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.  The book makes for some thought provoking reading, but this final movie, which my husband and I saw over the weekend, had a truly dreadful script and even worse acting.  

The Drop, is based on a Dennis Lahane novel of the same name.  Take a lonely bartender, a rescued puppy, and a damaged woman, and then throw in the Chechen mafia, and you get the gist of the plot.  

Enjoy the movies and the books!  I'd love to hear what you think.

Care Burpee, Volunteer Librarian

 

Posted by on Tuesday September 23, 2014
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New Books, Thanks to You!

Thanks to enthusiastic participation in the Commemorative Book Club, three new books, two picture books and one YA (young adult) novel, joined the collection of the PNA Library this week.

First to select a book this year was brand new PNA family member, Atticus, who is in our Beginner's class.  A book plate commemorating his birthday of his first year of school will be placed in a new copy of Petr Horacek's Silly Suzy Goose.  In this brightly illustrated picture book, Silly Suzy Goose is just like all the other geese.  But how she wishes she could hang upside-down like a bat or stretch up high like a giraffe!  And wouldn't it be wonderful to jump, jump, JUMP like a kangaroo?  Suzy Goose wanders farther and farther from her flock, visiting with animals that are very different from her.  But when Suzy meets up with a cranky lion, she learns there may just be some advantages to blending in with the crowd!

An Early Kindergartner, Ollie, was our next contributor, celebrating his birthday by putting his name on a copy of Julia Donaldson's colorfully charming What the Ladybird Heard.  Sounds abound in this rollicking fun read.  With all the MOOing and HISSing and BAAAing and CLUCKing, the farmyard is full of noise.  But when Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len hatch a plot to steal the fine prize cow, it's the quietest animal of all who saves the day!  Spot the glittery ladybird on every page of this wonderful rhyming tale.

Fourth grader Alante chose our first novel of the year for her birthday book.  I was thrilled when she selected Soman Chainani's The School for Good and Evil.   This start to a brilliant new series will take your third through seventh grader on an epic journey into a dazzling new world where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.  The second book, A World Without Princes, which came out just as school let out last year, is on my order list for our collection.

This year Charlotte and Sophia's awesome mom, Angela, has taken ownership, on behalf of the Parent Association, of organizing and implementing the Commemorative Book Program.  I am so thankful to Angela for the diligent care that she is taking to ensure that the students' books are selected and delivered in a timely fashion.  She is just what this special program needed in order to flourish and provide our students with many wonderful new books.

It is not too late to sign your student up for the program!  If you are curious about what it entails, scroll down two posts and everything you ever wanted to know is there.  Should you decide to sign your student up for the program, just stop by the library after school and I will be happy to answer any questions and give you the form.  For those of you who already chose to participate, on behalf of the students who will read the books your family donates, I thank you very much.

Until next week!

Care Burpee, Volunteer Librarian

Posted by on Tuesday September 16, 2014
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Why make time for the PNA Library?

It is pouring rain, you just remembered there is nothing thawed out for dinner, and your student just sent you an iMessage that they need to wear dress attire tomorrow and "Did u find me new shoes?".  And the answer to that is a mental "Aaargh!  I knew I forgot something!" as you text back (while dashing through the downpour) "Not yet.".  All you want in the rapidly flooding world is to swing through a drive-through for something for which the nutritional value outweighs the fat content.  A pair of shoes in your child's size in the PNA uniform exchange would be beyond stellar.  And then the veritable icing on the cake:

"Can we stop into the school library so that I can get a book?"

At which point you do the mental, "Seriously?  We so do not have time today!" as the list of tasks to accomplish before you tuck said child into bed begins to riot through your brain.

So.  Why should you breathe out slowly and say, "Sure, we can do that, as long as we try to make it quick."?

Do you want to know the best reason (excluding the book your child takes home)?  While your student browses for a book, the library has something to offer you as well.  In the afternoons the library and the hallways around it become a hub where parents congregate and socialize.  Commiserate about after school madness.  Exchange ideas for twenty-minute-or-less dinners.  Who knows, maybe there is some Irish in you that you were unaware existed and someone has a pair of shoes in a size that will at least get your child through tomorrow.  Surely those friendly Irish are willing to send a bit of their famed luck your way?

While you court your inner Celt, you can simultaneously encourage your student's desire to acquire a new literary friend and show them that reading has value.  If your child does not show an affinity for the written word and ask to check out a book, please consider making the suggestion to them.  An added benefit of using our library is that there are never any overdue fines and lost books do not need to be paid for or replaced.  You don't need the luck of the Irish to conjure forth from the void beneath said reader's bed (or dresser, or...) that book by a given date.  Always a good thing when life has so many other deadlines.

So pay me a visit after school and let me help your student find a new favorite author while you recharge with the other parents before venturing forth into your busy evening.  We all benefit from fellowship with all the special friends in our lives, be they real or a figment of an author's imagination.

Care Burpee, PNA Volunteer Librarian

Posted by on Tuesday September 9, 2014
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Commemorative Book Program

Today in the library we celebrated all the wonderful books that were donated through the Commemorative Book Program.  Over the course of the year twenty-eight books were added into the PNA Library courtesy of this program.

What is the Commemorative Book Club?

Amy Rhyneer has purchased about 95% of the books for selection, and I have purchased the remainder.  The books are a mix of popular fiction and non-fiction, many or which are award winners, and all of which are books which have been highly regarded by reviewers.  When a parent makes a $20 or $30 contribution into the library fund, their child has the opportunity to select one of these books.  A book plate is affixed to the inside front of the book with the name, school year, and grade of the student.  The student is given the opportunity to be the first person to check out the book, after which it joins the library collection.

How does your contribution help our library?

Since the books selected by the students are already paid for and donated, your financial contribution goes into the library fund to purchase additional items.  In actuality, whenever a commemorative book is bought, anywhere between two and four books, depending upon the amount of your donation and the cost of the items I purchase, are added to our collection.

It is not too late!

If you did not contribute to the program and would like to, it is not too late!  There are forms on the Commemorative Book Collection shelves in the library.  Fill one out, pay Bernadette in the business office so she can initial your form, and bring it to the library.  You or your student can select a book, and I will put a book plate inside honoring their contribution and acting as a permanent marker for their wonderful year at PNA (or graduation, birthday, etc.).

Next year...

Twenty-eight books are a wonderful addition to our library, but that number reflects only about twenty-five percent of the school population.  Imagine how many new books could be added next year if we can achieve twice that percentage -- especially given the increase in student body that is expected next year!  When you come for Intake Conferences in August, please consider making a donation to the Commemorative Book Club and helping our library grow. 

Posted by on Monday May 19, 2014
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Shambhavi wins a writing competition!

 Shambhavi takes first place!

Over Spring Break one of PNA's own, eighth grader Shambhavi, won the Novel Excerpt portion of the ASYAWC writing competition!  Congratulations, Shambhavi!  We are all so excited-and proud of you!  Wanting to highlight her accomplishment, I asked if she would mind if I posted her entry here on the library blog for everyone to read.  Enjoy!

Chapter 1- Gwen (novel excerpt)

 In the land of Esmerelda, there are two vastly different kingdoms, Happily Ever After, and Nightshire. You may recognize the lovely folk of Happily Ever After. Cinderella, Snow White, everyone who got the three words at the end of their story.

 Nightshire is where the villains resided, and where our story began. In a dilapidated shack on the side of Ivy Road, a young woman emerged. She fought her way through the prickly bushes and cursed whoever thought planting stinging nettles was a good idea. She was a witch, true, but like most people, she didn't enjoy getting impaled by little pointy things. The witch walked down the uneven pavement. Her name was Gwen.

 She entered a large, dome shaped building, and waved at a curious looking man. He was the color of a dying cabbage, and had the stature of one of Santa's elves. He was more likely to terrify a child than collect its Christmas list, though.

"Hi, Rumple." Greeted Gwen.

"Rumplestiltskin. My name is my defeat, and I use it proudly." He said rather pompously.

"Okay." She rolled her eyes, but a twinkle was ever present.

 Gwen swept into a cramped room, trying to look as dignified as she could while having to stoop to enter the doorway.

"Can't we get a larger room for meetings?" She complained.

"Budget cuts!" A petite woman singsonged.

"Vivian, they couldn't spare five gold coins?"

"You know how it is. Cinderella needed a new pair of shoes." Vivian shrugged, a resigned expression on her face. Gwen started to say something, no doubt her words bemoaning the injustice, but evidently thought the better of it and closed her mouth. An uncomfortable silence followed. Vivian clapped her hands, and spoke.

"So, lets get down to business. This week, I got portrayed in modern media as a betrayed teenager."

"That's what happens every week. Why can't people just accept you're an evil stepmother?" A large man who reeked of moldy onions rasped.

"Apparently the whole vain and jealous thing didn't sit well with them, Ralph." Vivian flicked away a fly. A woman in a fourteenth century style gown snorted. Numerous spiders crawled out of the wine colored folds of her dress.

 "Erm. Erin?" Gwen said hesitantly.

"Yes?" The woman in the gown answered.

"Spiders." Gwen tried to put it as simply as possible.

"Oh, those nasty creatures nested in my gown again, didn't they?"

"Yes, dear." An elderly witch patted Erin's shoulder sympathetically.

"Explains why I heard squishing sounds when I dressed this morning."

 The meeting progressed with less spiders, and soon everyone was let out.

"Gwen!" Vivian called.

"Yes?"

"Could you be here at eight in the morning tomorrow?"

"Sure, why?"

"We have a new arrival coming!" Vivian let out a squeal of excitement.

"Alright, then. You want me to show them around?"

"Precisely! Don't forget, your Storytell is in three days." Vivian departed after her last statement. She was too far away to hear the young witch whisper,

"I won't."

 

Gwen hurried to her shack, her black cloak swishing with her steps. She flung open the creaky door, and lit the cobweb covered lantern in the corner of the room. Gwen pulled up a small stepping stool hastily shoved in the back, and began searching through the highest level in the shelves pushed against the left wall. Her long fingers found a dusty shoebox, and she took it out. Sitting down on the stepping stool, Gwen opened the shoebox, and retrieved four scraps of paper. One read, "Gwen." The second one had "Witch," scrawled on it. The third one displayed the word,"Seventeen," and the fourth one was written, "7811, Ivy Road."

 The scraps of paper were the only things that let Gwen have an idea of who she was. When every resident came to either Nightshire or Happily Ever After, they were given four facts about them. The first was their name, the second was their occupation, the third was their age, and the fourth was their new address. This would be all they would know about themselves for three years, until their Storytell. In both kingdoms, a Storytell was made into a ceremony. It was a coming of age event. At the Storytell, they would be given an elephant. No, I'm just joking. As the name suggests, their story would be told. They would be given a leather bound book with gilded edges, a written account of their fairytale.

 Gwen was looking forward to it with all of her heart. She would finally know the person she was before she came to Nightshire. Gwen would be able to take part in the weekly meetings. She would be able talk about the variations of her story and how her character changed. She would stop sticking out like a sore thumb, and proceed to stick out like a regular thumb. Gwen would always be the odd one out, her story was rumored to be a newfangled fairytale. "But," she reasoned, "at least I'll be a little more like the others."

Gwen thought it would be the most important event in her life. Then something rare happened. She was wrong. Very, very wrong.

 Chapter 2

 After Gwen had put the shoebox back, she retired early, wanting to get a good start in the morning. Her sleep was dreamless, for what was there to dream about? They say dreams are a reflection of the subconscious, but without her story Gwen had no identity. She had no clue who she was supposed to be. Gwen didn't even know whether she was meant to be one of those stark raving mad villains, or act as if she was a giraffe, like Smee. Gwen didn't know who she was. I mean, I'm just a narrator, but I really feel sorry for the poor gal.

 When she finally got out of bed, it was five minutes until eight. Now, Gwen wasn't necessarily the laziest villain ever. (I'm afraid that award goes to Vivian, the step-mother. She wasn't giving chores to Cinderella because she was vindictive, but because she really just didn't want to do them) However, Gwen drew the line at doing anything more than a brisk walk. Sprinting wasn't the ideal start to her morning, but it couldn't be helped. She didn't like being late.

 Now, narrators are given the story before hand, we practice and everything. So believe me, we've heard some weird things. (Uh, hello? The original Little Mermaid? Wait, no. That's a bad example. That was just depressing, man. I mean, really. She turned into sea foam. Hansel and Gretel, though. You want me to believe the witch had a gingerbread house, but was still intent on eating small children? Please.) But the fact that Gwen was punctual but failed to acquire an alarm clock made me imitate a pig. No, I didn't eat mushed together leftovers, or roll in mud, but I did snort. Quite a bit.

 Right. Sorry. I've auditioned for plenty of narrating jobs, I was even almost considered for being on the maybe list for a callback with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. But the thing is, I'm famous (well, fine, infamous) for talking about myself more than the story. Complete gargoyle poop, that is.

 Anywhatsit, Gwen left in her pajamas. Which consisted of the same outfit she wore yesterday. And the day before. And really everyday. Without their servants and emotionally abused step-children, the people of Nightshire couldn't do anything by themselves. They burdened themselves as far as slicing bread. That was it. Making clothes was out of the question. Very far out of the question. So far, in fact, it was practically the answer.

 Gwen met Vivian in front of the building where the community meeting had taken place yesterday. Unfortunately for everyone, it hadn't changed. Still no air conditioning. Still no bigger. If anything, it looked like it was broiling and slowly shrinking.

 Vivian beaming, (rather falsely, might I add), pushed a girl forward as roughly as she could manage while still appearing gentle. After years of dealing with an unwanted stepchild, she was really good at this. "This," Vivian said through teeth she was obviously trying to un-grit, "is Amanda". Before Gwen could extend her hand and exchange in a grasping and shaking of sweaty palms, Amanda smiled. It was unnerving, to say the least. No one really smiled in Nightshire. There wasn't a reason to, I suppose. I'm not saying it isn't hard to be one of the heroes and heroines in fairytales, what with the evil parents and chasing love, but the villains are stuck in an awful place for eternity after. When you're surrounded by thorns and endless budget cuts, the only thing your facial muscles are likely to be used for is frowning.

 Amanda continued smiling. The silence continued along with her.

"Ah. I'm Gwen." Amanda simply kept on grinning, Cheshire Cat-ing, if you will.

"So. Apparently there's been a mistake. Amanda is actually a princess. She belongs in Happily Ever After, but there was a mix-up in the paperwork."

Realization dawned upon Gwen. I don't think I've mentioned it, but Nightshire folk don't really LIKE Happily Ever Afters. They're just a teensy bit bitter. And insane. Mostly insane. I'm not so sure if they can hear how bitter they are, over the roaring sound of their lunacy. Gwen was still a young sapling, so to speak. She wasn't at the dangerous levels of insanity and bitterness quite yet. While she knew and understood Nightshire's hate for the Hippity Elephant Avocados, (we should always try to shake things up a bit, eh? Their name is a bit boring, altogether completely predictable) Gwen didn't loathe them as she should.

 Amanda was the princess of Polloma, Gwen learned. Polloma was pronounced Baltiroar. The residents aren't used to being described as literate, if you catch my drift. She was excited to be going to Happily Ever After, there were balls worthy of Cinderella every night. Gwen also learned that Amanda talked. A lot.  

Posted by on Monday March 17, 2014
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Auction Basket Sneak Peek: A Book Bonanza!

 

 

Live and Let Bid on some fabulous books in this year's auction!  Since so many of them contain books, I decided to give bidders an early look at the contents of some of this year's baskets - those that contain books - here on the very first posting of the new library blog!  I hope that the short descriptions below will help you make early decisions as to which baskets you would like to try to purchase, as it is often difficult tell what books are about, especially when baskets are wrapped in cellophane (as all the book ones are).  So browse away and come to the auction with your list in hand!

Baskets for Little Ones:

**Solar System Basket**

In addition to several nonbook items, this basket contains a colorful and truly lovely solar themed Keepsake Growth Chart.  There are three books in the basket:

My First Book of Space by Robert aBell: Recommended ages are 7-10.  This book focuses on the sun, and the nine planets (yes, it was published before Mike Brown killed Pluto) and their satellites.  Asteroids, Comets, Meteoroids, and other stars are also covered.

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons: Recommended for K-3rd grade.  Gibbon's colorful paintings are accompanied by short explanations of many moon related topics, including origins and phases, what causes tides and eclipses, people and spacecraft who have visited, and even some of the beliefs and legends that the moon has inspired.

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle.  Monica wants the moon to play with, so her Papa sets out to get it for her. It isn't easy to climb all the way to the moon, but he finally succeeds--only to find that the moon is too big to carry home!

 

**Bedtime Monsters**

PNA student Claire R. contributed this basket, which includes a fleece blanket that she hand tied and the book Bedtime Monsters by Josh Schneider, a picture book recommended for 4-8 year olds.  Arnold knowsthat the bedtime monsters lurking in his room are not more afraid of him than he is of them!  However, eventuallyArnold learns that the trick is finding out what they are afraid of and putting that to his advantage.  An empowering tale of harnessing the imagination and conquering fears that will captivate your little one!

 

**Little Girl in a Rose Designer Basket**

What a precious collection!  This would make a wonderful baby gift!  Two board books are included:

Feely Bugs by David Carter: Recommended for ages 3-7.  Each bug is unique, some are bristly, crinkly, or lacy, stimulating the child explorer with texture, color, and sound.

Jamberry by Bruce Degen: Recommended for ages 3-7.  A little boy is squired through the world of berries by a sweet, rhyme-spouting bear.

 

**Baby Boy Blue Designer Basket**

Another precious collection, but this one for boys.  Two books are included:

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood.  A timeless classic for a 3-7 year old, about a little mouse intent upon a delectable feast...but he has some competition!

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss.  Recommended for ages 3-7.  A clever book that can be used as a color concept book for babies or a book about moods and feelings for toddlers.

 

**Winnie the Pooh**

This sweet collection of Pooh stuffed animals (think Beanie Babies) includes one board book:

Pooh's Leaf Pile by Isabel Gaines. Recommended for ages 3-7.  Rabbit is far too stressed about trying to keep the fallen leaves raked into a tidy pile!  Join the Pooh gang as they show him how to have a little fun.

 

**Crazy for Seuss**

A wonderful chance to get a substantial number of Dr. Seuss's titles.  This is another basket that would make a great baby gift!  Contains non-book items in addition to the following Seuss titles:

Hop on Pop; I Can Read with My Eyes Shut; Dr. Seuss's ABCs; The Cat in the Hat Comes Back; Ten Apples Up on Top; Oh Say Can You See; Oh, the Thinks You Can Think; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; Green Eggs and Ham; The Foot Book; Great Day for Up; There's a Wocket in My Pocket

 

**I'd Know You Anywhere**

Another that would make a wonderful gift!  Contains one picture book:

I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman. A gorgeously illustrated book about how every child is special and unique, but still loves to dream of being different.  Celebrate the joys of imagination and the comfort of being loved unconditionally with a special child in your life.

 

**Midsummer Night's Dream: A Kid's Fairy Tale Basket**

A little girls dream, this substantial basket contains a fantastic variety of items, including two books:

Princess Tales: Once Upon a Time in Rhyme with Seek and Find Pictures by Grace Maccarone.  Recommended for ages 4-6.  Ten favorite princess tales are retold and cleverly illustrated with hidden pictures.

Adventures of the Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton.  Meant for middle readers, but this book makes a wonderful read-aloud for younger children.  Join Mollie and Peter as they take off on a myriad of adventures in a chair that can fly and grant wishes.

 

**Unicorn and Goat Basket**

There are a number of cute items in this basket, including one well illustrated picture book:

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea.  Unicorn is such a show-off, and goat is feeling pretty inadequate as a result!  Can they learn mutual admiration and find friendship as a result?

 

**Precious Picture Books and Blocks**

This sweet basket contains a set of old fashioned painted wooden blocks and four beautiful picture books:

Orange Peel’s Pocket by Rose Lewis.  A Chinese-American adopted child, nicknamed Orange Peel by her parents, realizes that she knows little of her birthplace.  After school, she and her mother set off in their neighborhood to discover her heritage.

Diamond Jim Dandy and the Sheriff by Sarah Burell.  When a snake slithers into the sleepy town ofDustpan,Texas, the sheriff knows for darned sure that it shouldn’t be allowed to stay—even if it’s really a friendly kind of rattler. 

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird by Stephanie Spinner.  In 1977, graduate student Irene Pepperberg walked into a pet store and bought a year-old African grey parrot. Because she was going to study him, she decided to call him Alex--short for Avian Learning EXperiment.  His intelligence surprised everyone, including Irene.  Alex and Irene's story is one of groundbreaking discoveries about animal intelligence, hard work, and the loving bonds of a unique friendship.

Poem Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis.  The U.S. Children's Poet Laureate and an award-winning children's poet join their prolific forces in this picture book of poems about cars. But they're not just any cars: there's the "Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop-Jalopy" ("So unique there is no copy"); the Bathtub Limosine ("With hot water heating / And porcelain seating"); and the "High Heel Car."

 

Baskets for Older Kids:

**National Geographic Basket**

This book has several other National Geographic items, in addition to two books:

National Geographic Kids: Ultimate Weird but True, which is full of 1,000 wacky and wild facts and photos

National Geographic Kids: Almanac 2014 is an engaging book full of a little bit about anything and everything!  Chapters include Amazing Animals, Going Green, Geography Rocks, Super Science, Wonders of Nature, Awesome Adventure, Culture Connections, History Happens, and an interactive Fun and Games chapter.

 

**Baby It's Cold Outside**

Celebrate the season with this basket of cold weather related items, including one book:

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett.  This lovely picture book features the incomparable illustration of Jan Brett as you journey through this well known tale.

 

**Lego Table Package**

Tons of Lego items, including a managable little table and one book:

The Lego Ideas Book by Daniel Lipkowitz, which will get your youngsters unlocking their imagination in no time!

 

**Lego Master Builder**

This is the Lego basket you want for the serious builder in the family!  Includes many, many kits, and one book:

Brick City: Global Icons to Make from Legos by Warren Elsmore.  This book will put to use all of your smaller legos, getting your kids creating amazing structures found the world over.

 

**Night Sky**

Again, there are many items in the basket, in addition to two wonderful books:

A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky by Michael Driscoll.  For ages 8 and up.  This is the book to own to hook your child on stargazing!  In addition to learning how to navigate the sky, they will learn some of the history of space - great scientists, exploration, and the story of our solar system - and the myths behind the constellations.  My personal favorite book on space for middle readers!

DK First Space Encyclopedia by DK Publishing.  For ages 6-12.  This is a very thorough look at all things space related, from our solar system (including the Great Pluto Debate), voyages in space, to the technology that takes us there.  There are great sections on what it is like to be an astronaut and the conflicting theories regarding alien life and UFOs.

 

**Spy Kids**

In addition to movies and gadgets, this basket contains two fun books for kids 8 and up:

Spy Factory: My School is a Spy Factory by Steven Stickler.   This is a fast paced novel that is a bit misnamed, as you will spend more time out on missions than at school (school is more often referred to in the past tense), but that in no way takes away from the fact that this is a fun novel that will have your reader wanting to continue the series.

Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs.  After spending the year at school learning to be top-secret spy, Ben is ready for a nice relaxing summer.  Somehow things don't go quite as planned!

 

**Create with Duct Tape**

This year’s duct tape basket is massive and chock full of a stunning variety of tapes.  The book includes one book:

The Duct Tape Book: 25 Projects to Make with Duct Tape by Jolie Dobson.  Your teen or preteen will have fun creating everything from backpacks to clothing!  This book is sure to get their creative energies flowing.

 

 **Tween Girls**

This basket contains some fun items for girls, including four American Girl books:

Picture Yourself Here is a clever craft style book that will get your tween creating.

A Girl's Best Friend, Fork in the Trail, and Taking the Reins are three short novels from American Girl'sInnerstarUniversity series.

 

**Great Books for Girls**

These books were chosen by me off from my wish list for the school library.  The lucky recipient of this basket will have a unique collection of reads to enjoy over spring break and the summer!  While I recommend the bulk of the collection for readers 6th-12th grades, I would caution parents that they might want to withhold Sold until your daughter is about 15.  The book is not terribly graphic, but the subject matter might be a bit mature for some readers.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  Because every girl needs an age appropriate romance!  Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she tells the history of the Iranian Revolution, in graphic novel format, as she experienced it as a 10-14 year old. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression.

Sold by Patricia McCormick.   Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel about a young girl sold to human traffickers renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal.  But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.  Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.  Upon her death, Ginny’s aunt bequeaths her a stack of envelopes.  Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket. In envelope 2 are directions to a specificLondon flat…Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher.  Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family's struggle to make sense of the loss that's torn them apart... and their discovery of what it means to stay together.  

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo.  Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true.  In this timeless fable, DiCamillo evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

 

Book Baskets for Adults:

**Armchair Mountaineer**

Like most people I will never achieve my secret desire to stand on the top of the world.  Instead, I read far too many mountaineering books.  One suggestion – I did not include Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, as I assumed that anyone interested in climbing books would have already read it.  However, if you have not, I suggest you do so before reading No Shortcuts to the Top and The Climb, as those books both reference Krakauer’s book.   I hope you enjoy this selection of some of my favorites (plus one from Mr. Phelps)!  Grab a cup of cocoa, curl up in a cozy spot and live vicariously!

Heroic Climbs ed. by Chris Bonington.  This book encompasses the rich, broad spectrum of adventure that is mountain climbing, in a remarkable selection of first-hand accounts - most never before published - by 40 of the foremost mountaineers of modern times.  Heroic Climbs looks at the development of climbing in the great mountainous areas of the world.  Each section introduces the history of the region, to put into context the climber’s narratives that cover many different eras.

Seven Summits by Steve Bell.  Tour the globe and witness spectacular feats of human determination, endurance, and strength. Travel with dedicated mountaineers as they climb the "Seven Summits"—the highest peak of each of the seven continents. Stunning full-color photographs capture the breathtaking scenery and courageous athleticism of the climbers.

No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs.  For eighteen years Ed Viesturs pursued climbing’s holy grail: to stand atop the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, without the aid of bottled oxygen. But No Shortcuts to the Top is as much about the man who would become the first American to achieve that goal as it is about his stunning quest.  And, for the first time, he details his own pivotal and heroic role in the 1996 Everest disaster made famous in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.

The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev.  The Climb is Russian mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev's account of the harrowing May 1996 Mount Everest attempt, a tragedy that resulted in the deaths of eight people. The book is also Boukreev's rebuttal to accusations from fellow climber and author Jon Krakauer, who, in his bestselling memoir, Into Thin Air, suggests that Boukreev forfeited the safety of his clients to achieve his own climbing goals.

Alaska Ascents ed. by Bill Sherwonit.  This anthology ofAlaska climbing stories gives voice toAlaska's great peaks and to the people who have climbed them, giving their first-person accounts.  The book in the basket is well-loved (to put it nicely), but this book is out of print, and as it came so highly recommended by PNA teacher Jared Phelps, I really wanted to include a copy.

Dark Summit by Nick Heil.  Written by an experienced climber, Dark Summit is both a riveting account of Everest’s notorious 1996 climbing season and a troubling investigation into whether the pursuit of the ultimate mountaineering prize has spiraled out of control.

In the Shadow of Denali by Jonathan Waterman.  Jonathan Waterman paints a startlingly intimate portrait of the white leviathan and brings to vivid life men and women whose fates have entwined on its sheer icy peak.

The Last of His Kind: The Life and Adventures of Bradford Washburn, America’s Boldest Mountaineer by David Roberts.  Unquestionably regarded as the greatest mountaineer in Alaskan history and as one of the finest mountain photographers of all time, Washburn transformed American attitudes toward wilderness and revolutionized the art of mountaineering and exploration in the great ranges.  An exciting narrative of mountain climbing in the twentieth century, The Last of His Kind brings into focus Washburn's deeds in the context of the history of mountaineering, and provides a fascinating look at an amazing culture and the influential icon who shaped it.

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis.  This is the definitive story of the British adventurers who survived the trenches of World War I and went on to risk their lives climbingMount Everest.  Wade Davis vividly re-creates the heroic efforts of Mallory and his fellow climbers, setting their significant achievements in sweeping historical context: fromBritain’s nineteen-century imperial ambitions to the war that shaped Mallory’s generation.

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson.  Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in theAndes when disaster struck.  How both men overcame the torments of those harrowing days is an epic tale of fear, suffering, and survival, and a poignant testament to unshakable courage and friendship.

Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2 by Jennifer Jordan.  Though not as tall as Everest, the "Savage Mountain" is far more dangerous. Located on the border of China and Pakistan, K2 has some of the harshest climbing conditions in the world.  In Savage Summit, Jennifer Jordan shares the tragic, compelling, inspiring, and extraordinary true stories of a handful of courageous women who defeated this formidable mountain yet ultimately perished in pursuit of their dreams.

 

**AlaskaVoices**

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.  But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Purely Alaska: Authentic Voices from the Far North by 32 writers from rural Alaska.  Men and women share harrowing survival tales, hunting and fishing adventures, and stories about love, lifestyles, and the hopes and dreams of independent people in faraway places throughout Alaska.  “Here’s a fascinating guided tour of the real Bush Alaska, not the prettified version we see in tourist brochures. Here we meet the good and the bad, the happy and the sad…”--Stan Jones, author of Village of the Ghost Bears.

Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again After Being Blinded by a Bear by Dan Bigley.  Dan Bigley’s triumph over tragedy is a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome physical and emotional devastation, to choose not just to live, but to live fully.  This copy is autographed by the author.

Eskimo Star: From the Tundra to Tinseltown: The Ray Mala Story by Lael Morgan.  The blazing marquee of the plush Astor Theater in New York City billed the 1933 premier of Eskimo as 'THE BIGGEST PICTURE EVER MADE,' propelling a 27-year-old Inupiat Eskimo from Candle, Alaska, to overnight stardom. The handsome actor was not only the first Alaskan to become aHollywood movie star but also the first non-white actor to play in a leading role. 

The Detour by Andromeda Romano-Lax.  Ernst Vogler is twenty-six years old in 1938 when he is sent to Rome by his employer—the Third Reich's Sonderprojekte, which is collecting the great art of Europe and bringing it to Germany for the Führer. Vogler is to collect a famous Classical Roman marble statue, The Discus Thrower, and get it to the German border, where it will be turned over to Gestapo custody.  Vogler quickly loses control of the assignment. His guards set off on a dangerous detour and Vogler realizes he will be lucky to escape this venture with his life, let alone his job. With nothing left to lose, the young German gives himself up to the Italian adventure, to the surprising love and inevitable losses along the way.

Denali Journal by Tom Walker. Walker provides a unique and fascinating description of the Denali (formerlyMt.McKinley) National Park in a daily format. It is a "natural history calendar" which describes the day-to-day events in the park as the seasons change.

Ordinary Wolves: A Novel by Seth Kantner.  Kantner’s vivid and poetic prose lets readers experience Cutuk Hawcly’s life on the Alaskan plains through the character’s own words — feeling the pliers pinch of cold and hunkering in an igloo in blinding blizzards.  Like his young hero, Seth Kantner grew up in a sod igloo in theAlaska, and his experiences of wearing mukluks before they were fashionable, eating boiled caribou pelvis, and communing with the native tribes add depth and power to this acclaimed narrative.

 

 **AlaskaAlmanac Basket**

Talkeetna (Images of America) by Tom Sisul.  Talkeetna has played a significant role in trapping, mining, railroading, and mountaineering history. Talkeetna's function as a gathering place and transportation hub inAmerica's last frontier has been important from its onset and continues today.  Talkeetna continues to preserve its rural Alaskan character, charm, and culture while annually hosting thousands of climbers and visitors from around the globe.

The Alaska Almanac: Facts About Alaska ed. by Nancy Gates.  Since 1976, those looking for facts aboutAlaska turn to this trusted fact book. Updated biannually, this affordable, best-selling guide is filled with accurate, timely facts on the geography, history, economy, employment, recreation, climate, and peoples of this large and diverse state.

Native Cultures in Alaska: Looking Forward, Looking Back ed. by Tricia Brown.  In the minds of most Americans, Native culture inAlaska amounts to Eskimos and igloos....The latest publication of the Alaska Geographic Society offers an accessible and attractive antidote to such misconceptions. Native Cultures inAlaska blends beautiful photographs with informative text to create a striking portrait of the state's diverse and dynamic indigenous population.

Denali National Park by Bill Sherwonit.  This is the most comprehensive guide to one ofNorth America's most wild and varied places. This authoritative reference to the national park and adjacent lands details all the information a traveler needs for a greatAlaska experience.  From the natural history of the region to the human history of the mountain and the park, Alaskan author Bill Sherwonit captures the mystique of this fascinating place. Even casual travelers will appreciate his in-depth information about the park's popular entrance area and traveling thePark Road, and the helpful checklists for mammals, birds, and plants.

In Denali: A Photographic Essay by Kim Heacox.  Heacox provides an extended photographic essay of the wonders of the park. It features the stunning terrain and the equally stunning diversity of wildlife, with beautiful pictures from all seasons of the year. The book includes a human history timetable and listings of the animal, bird, and floral species that can be found within the park.

Stylebook for Alaska from The Associated Press. Alaska is the only state with its own AP stylebook. This easy-to-use manual defines and explains the northern state -- names, language, and peculiar usage; cultural and historical background; research sources; and a compendium of other facts and figures.

Alaska’s Arctic by James Lukin and Hillary Hilscher.  Here is another beautiful book, this one about our furthest reaches, that is also out of print.

 

A Couple of Baskets for the Men:

**Silas’s Fishing Basket**

This is a great fly fishing basket!  Especially since the flies are tied by PNA student Silas!  There is one book included in the basket:

Alaska River Maps and Fishing Guide by Ray Rychnovsky.  Each maps is packed with information, including: Roads and river access points; Drift-boat and power-boat landings; Peak fishing times for trout, salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and more; Insect hatches and hatch-timing chart; Fly-fishing and conventional tackle techniques; Fishing knots & tackle guide; Important services and accommodations for anglers, and the list goes on.

 

**1001 Whiskies to Try Before You Die**

In addition to some lovely glasses and a number of different beverages, this basket contains one book:

1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die ed. by Dominic Roskrow.  This is the connoisseurs’ scoop on the finest spirits from the Scottish highlands to the exotic new whiskies emanating fromJapan and the evolving world of American micro-distilleries. The book also covers bourbons and ryes. Each entry includes critical tasting notes, a history of the distillery, and temperature recommendations. 

 

A Trio of Baskets for the Ladies:

**Restore Basket**

This basket is brimming with items to restore you body and soul!  Included is one cookbook:

Cal-a-Vie Living: Gourmet Spa Cuisine from the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa.  Award winning Cal-a-Vie Health Spa has done it again...enjoy their second cookbook! Their first cookbook proved to be so popular they decided on a larger, more colorful book this second time around. Simple recipes along with interesting spa and healthy cooking tips. Healthy never tasted so good!

 

**Bring India Home**

What a fun basket full of all things India!  I love the variety this one contains!  Included is one book:

The Holy Cow and Other Indian Stories by Tarun Chopra.  Attempts to tell the reader through stories whatIndia is: its traditions, culture, philosophical and religious beliefs, customs, etc., that are so variegated that it seems there are manyIndias, rather that just one.

 

**Aimless Love**

This basket is meant to equip either a woman herself, or for her and her significant other, to spend a quiet, relaxing evening at home.  One book is included:

Aimless Love by Billy Collins.  By turns playful, ironic, and serious, Collins’s poetry captures the nuances of everyday life while leading the reader into zones of inspired wonder.  Touching on the themes of love, loss, joy, and poetry itself, these poems showcase the best work of this “poet of plenitude, irony, and Augustan grace” (The New Yorker).

 

A Couple of Baskets with Broad Appeal:

**Under the Covers Musher**

Just in time for The Last Great Race, this basket will give you race fever.  It includes one book:

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen.  Paulsen and his team of dogs endured snowstorms, frostbite, dogfights, moose attacks, sleeplessness, and hallucinations in the relentless push to cross the finish line inNome.  A wonderful nonfiction accounting from a beloved novelist.

 

**The Pampered Pup**

Treat and train your dog with this useful basket that contains three books:

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver. This is a portrait of Oliver’s relationship to the companions that have accompanied her daily walks, warmed her home, and inspired her work.  These are poems of love and laughter, heartbreak and grief.  Dog Songs is a testament to the power and depth of the human-animal exchange, from an observer of extraordinary vision.

Family Friendly Dog Training by Patricia McConnell.  This user-friendly and engaging book describes a six-week program to get people and dogs off on the right paw, and help prevent future dog problems.

Fetching the Perfect Dog Trainer by Ketenna Jones.  Here is a useful guide that presents all of the information you need to know to find the right trainer for you based on your lifestyle and the particular behaviors your dog needs to learn.

 

Baskets for Getting Crafty:

**Watercolor Painting**

A truly stunning basket!  Chock full of art supplies and two beautiful books:

Splash Retrospective: 20 Years of Contemporary Watercolor Excellence by Rachel Rubin Wolf.  This gorgeous book has 230 reproductions of the work of more than 200 artists, across a wide spectrum of subjects.  Commentary from the author and the artists themselves is included for each work.

There is also another book, which I could not see well enough to get a title and author (the basket was already cellophane wrapped), but which appears to be a book on watercolor technique.  Judging by the number of colors along the edge of the book, it looks to contain a profusion of full color pictures.

 

**Silk Painting**

Another exceedingly lovely and well stocked basket!  This one contains one book:

The Complete Book of Silk Painting by Diane Tuckman, which will take you from setting up a work space and purchasing supplies through a variety of silk painting techniques.

 

**Flower Arranging**

Lots of supplies in this one, as well as two beautiful books:

Garden Bouquets and Beyond by Suzy Bales.  This book is full of lavish photos that highlight flower arranging in every season and outside the vase, getting the crafter creating wreaths and other lovely projects using fresh flowers.

Fresh Flower Arranging by DK Publishing.  This book does highlight vase arrangements, giving ideas for every season and providing step-by-step photos to take you from the first stem placed.  Suggestions for arrangements with longer lifespans and many tricks of the trade are also shared.

 

The Always Popular Cookery and Wine Baskets:

**All Scream for Ice Cream**

This is the cutest basket, full of everything you need to turn ice cream into a dessert with style (except the ice cream, of course!).  On book is included:

More Than a Month of Sundaes! by Michael Turback.  TV Sundae King Michael Turback updates sundae history with a Sundae Hall of Fame of the 500 best sundae parlors in the U.S.

 

**Baltimore Crabs**

A scrumptious basket full of all things crab related.  One cookbook is included:

The Crab Cookbook by Whitney Schmidt.  This is a wonderful collection of hundreds of delicious and elegant ways to prepare crab.

 

**Cooking Date with Grandma**

Have fun in the kitchen with your favorite little people!  This set includes two cookbooks:

Irresistible Ice Pops by Sunil Vijayakar.  With big flavor, natural ingredients, and no-fuss preparation, ice pops make the world's most perfect summer dessert or snack!  Learn to stripe, swirl, and layer flavors within pops to create new flavor combinations and a beautiful presentation for parties, gatherings, and at-home snacking.

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.  For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life's necessities-not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious ritual. Today's researchers are continuing to confirm the remarkable, life-giving properties of true extra-virgin, and "extra-virgin Italian" has become the highest standard of quality.  A rich and deliciously readable narrative, Extra Virginity is also an inspiring account of the artisanal producers, chemical analysts, chefs, and food activists who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name "extra-virgin."

 

**Allergen-Free Kids’ Cooking**

This is a great basket full of allergy-free food products and one cookbook:

Allergy-Free Recipes for Kids by Marliyn Pocius.  At last there's a collection of fun recipes for kids who have allergies! From breakfast to party cakes, you'll find delicious answers for every occasion. Each recipe is marked with icons to show at a glance which of six common allergens it's free from--dairy, eggs, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts and/or soy. 

 

**Gourmet Gadgets for Challenged Chefs**

I don’t even think that you have to be hesitant in the kitchen to covet all the gizmos in this great basket!  One book is included:

The Can’t Cook Book by Jessica Seinfeld.  Are you smart enough to dodge a telemarketer yet clueless as to how to chop a clove of garlic? Are you clever enough to forward an e-mail but don’t know the difference between broiling and baking? Ingenious enough to operate a blow-dryer but not sure how to use your blender? If you are basically competent, then Jessica Seinfeld’s The Can’t Cook Book is for you.  At the beginning of each dish, she explains up front what the challenge will be, and then shows you exactly how to overcome any hurdles in easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions.

 

**Wine Lover’s Starter Set**

A great set for gadgets and wine related items!  I love the fact that the cookbook included is for hors d’oeuvres:

Wine Bites: More Than 75 Simple Morsels that Pair Perfectly with Wine by Barbara Scott-Goodman.  More than 60 recipes for simple, tasty snacks include suggestions for an accessible wine to pair with each, while vivid color photographs demonstrate how easy these delectable dishes are to prepare.

 

**Braising Kit**

A great introduction to braising (otherwise known as Dutch oven cooking), with everything you need, including a Dutch oven pot.  One cookbook is included:

All About Braising: A Treasury of One-Pot Meals by Molly Stevens.  The art of braising comes down to us from the earliest days of cooking, when ingredients were enclosed in a heavy pot and buried in the hot embers of a dying fire until tender and bathed in a deliciously concentrated sauce. Today, braising remains as popular and as uncomplicated as ever. Molly Stevens's All About Braising is a comprehensive guide to this versatile way of cooking, written to instruct a cook at any level.

 

**Spice It Up!**

One of two Mexican cooking baskets, this one is intended for an adult chef.  It includes one cookbook:

Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless.  BURSTING WITH BOLD, COMPLEX FLAVORS, Mexican cooking has the kind of gusto we want in food today.  With a blend of passion, patience, clarity and humor, Bayless unerringly finds his way into the very soul of Mexican cuisine, from essential recipes and explorations of Mexico's many chiles to quick-to-prepare everyday dishes and pull-out-the-stops celebration fare.  There is no greater authority on Mexican cooking than Rick Bayless, and no one can teach it better. In his skillful hands, the wonderful flavors of Mexico will enter your kitchen and your daily cooking routine without losing any of their depth or timeless appeal.

 

**Dragons Love Tacos**

This second Mexican cooking basket is meant for the younger chef in your household.  It includes one picture book and two cookbooks:

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin.  Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You're in red-hot trouble.

World of Recipes: Mexico by Julie McCulloch. This book includes brief discussions of the history, traditions, and ingredients of food in Mexico. "Kitchen rules" outline basic safety precautions, timing, measurement, and utensils. Each spread then focuses on one recipe and includes colorful, close-up photographs of selected steps as well as the finished dish. Substitutions are recommended for ingredients that may be difficult to find.

Mexican Family Favorites by Maria Teresa Bermudez.  Easy-to-follow homestyle recipes for tacos, tamales, menudo, enchiladas, burros, salsas, frijoles, chiles rellenos, carne seca, guacamole, breads and sweet treats!

 

**Sushi Basket**

This basket began with one item donated and exploded into an amazing collection of absolutely everything a sushi chef would need.  One cookbook is included:

Sushi Secrets: Easy Recipes for the Home Chef by Marisa Baggett.  Marisa shares with you both traditional and nontraditional sushi, all of them delicious and all of them very easy to make. Marisa includes surefire recipes for making perfect sushi rice, tips on how to find and buy the freshest seafood and sustainability and how to achieve it at home. Plus, with her background as a pastry chef, Marisa has created a dessert chapter that will make your mouth water!

 

**Downton Abbey**

A very British collection, including tea party tableware, a season of Downton Abbey on DVD, and one cookbook:

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines.  Bring Upstairs and Downstairs Fare to Your Table

Nibble on Sybil's Ginger Nut Biscuits during tea. Treat yourself to Ethel's Beloved Crepes Suzette. Feast on Mr. Bates' Chicken and Mushroom Pie with a room full of guests. With this collection of delicacies inspired by Emmy Award-winning series Downton Abbey, you'll feel as sophisticated and poised as the men and women of Downton when you prepare these upstairs and downstairs favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by on Thursday February 20, 2014 at 01:10PM
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