We love recommending some of our favorite things to other people!
Here's a few lists, and feel free to contact us with any questions you might have
about anything here (or suggestions of things we should include).
We're going to try to mostly feature things that we don't think EVERYONE already knows -
there doesn't seem to be much point in suggesting the Beatles or Harry Potter!
(even though those are both favorites of our family)
A Favorite Recipe:
- Banana Chocolate Pudding - Ingredients: 2 ripe bananas, 1 package firm silken tofu, 3/4 to 1 cup melted chocolate chips. Directions: In a food processor, blend the peeled bananas until liquified. Add the silken tofu to the banana mixture and blend thoroughly. Add the melted chocolate chips (I find melting the chocolate chips in the microwave for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes on 60% works well), and blend thoroughly. Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour and then serve. 5-6 servings. Note: the tofu must be "silken" tofu - other kinds will not work! Also, we didn't tell our kids that it has tofu in it until it had become a favorite dessert!
Some Favorite Picture Books:
Some Favorite Chapter Books:
- Mean Soup, by Betsy Everitt - a wonderful, playful book about working through anger
- Old Henry, by Joan W. Blos, illustrated by Stephen Gammell - poignant story of accepting differences
- Thundercake, by Patricia Polacco - grandma helps overcome fear of thunder
- Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas - beautiful, moving story of a boy who tries to help an elderly neighbor find her memories
- The Wolf's Chicken Stew, by Keiko Kasza - fun tale of a wolf being won over by kindness
Some Favorite Audiobooks:
- Frindle, by Andrew Clements - we have liked most every book by this author (good as audiobooks, too) - great lessons, well-written, with interesting characters and situations that feel real. Frindle is about a boy who decides to invent a new word, and conflict that emerges with his teacher over this. If you like this one, check out School Story, No Talking and Report Card, too.
- Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli - this quirky book features an unusual hero who bridges differences of race and class. The author is from our local area, and the book includes places we have performed like the Elmwood Park Zoo!
- The Great Brain (series), by John D. Fitzgerald - there are at least 7 books in this series, set in Utah in the 1890's. The author's big brother is "The Great Brain," and incurable trickster with endless money-making schemes. These books are hilarious, informative and thought-provoking at the same time.
- Misfits, by James Howe - this book was one of the inspirations for the "No Name-Calling" week idea, and is one of the few books for kids we know that deals with homophobia along with racism, sexism and other kinds of bigotry.
- The People of Sparks, by Jeanne DuPrau - this is the 2nd book of the series that begins with City of Ember (which we recommend reading first). Does an amazing job of showing how a conflict can escalate between well-meaning people - very timely!
Some Movies we have enjoyed with our teen-age sons:
- Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, read by James Avery - humorous and moving story of an African-American boy searching for his father during the Depression
- Pictures of Hollis Woods, by Patricia Reilly Giff, read by Hope Davis - emotionally powerful story of a girl whose artistic talent helps her make it through her seemingly endless series of foster homes.
- Peter and the Starcatchers (series), by Dave Barry and Ridley
Pearson - there are now 4 books in this wonderful series by funny-man
Dave Barry. Very clever pre-history of Peter Pan. Read by the wonderful Jim Dale. Entertaining and exciting, without being quite as scary as series like Harry Potter.
- Seedfolk, by Paul Fleischman, read by a full cast - this story of a transformative community garden is told through an unique format: a sequential series of narratives from the point of view of different neighbors, with each segment read by a different person.
- The Skull of Truth, by Bruce Coville, performed by Full Cast Audio - part of Coville's Magic Shop series, this story centers around the skull from Hamlet, which magically forces all near it to tell the truth - allowing for a nuanced look at the concept of honesty. Along with "Misfits" (see above), this is one of the only books we know for kids that deals with homophobia.
- Smile, by Geraldine Mccaughrean, read by Richard Morant - we just listened to this audiobook recently, and we loved it! It is very short (just 1 disc), but packed with meaning as well as humor. It is about a photographer who crashes in a remote village, with only an instamatic camera with 10 photos left. We found the relationships he forms with the villagers - and his dilemmas about what to photograph - very moving.
Books by Friends & Family:
- Be Kind Rewind - we thought this one was just going to be goofy, but it was actually moving; with Mos Def, Jack Black, Danny Glover and Mia Farrow.
- The Long Walk Home - with Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek - powerful film about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This movie has a couple of the most memorable scenes depicting the power of non-violence.
- Son of Rambow - quirky English film about the unlikely friendship between two boys who make their own movie.
- The Milagro Beanfield War - fun movie with the classic struggle between "the little guy" and the rich and powerful.
- The Great Debaters - powerful drama about an African-American debate team in the 1930's, with Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker.
- The Asian Bistro Cookbook, by Andrew Chase (David's cousin)
- Getting Out, by Gwendolyn Gross - outdoor adventures as therapy (for adults)
- Henny Penny, and Never Cry Woof!, by Jane Watternberg (David's aunt) - hip re-telling of classic fables, with jazzy language and cool photo collages (picture books for kids)
- Let My Enemy Live Long, by Tanya Shaffer - a travelogue chronicling Tanya's journeys through Africa (for adults)
- The Other Mother, by Gwendolyn Gross - her most recent novel, about conflicting feelings about the balance between motherhood and work (for adults)
- Underground Harmonies, by Susie Tanenbaum - fascinating and inspiring study of music in the NYC subways (for adults)
- Unmarriagable Daughters, by Cara Diacanoff - a wonderfully varied book of short stories, some with interconnected characters (for adults)