Thursday, December 27, 2007

roses in december



"God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December" — J M Barrie (1860 - 1937)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

children's Bibles: USA Today article

Ted and Alexis Olsen chose The Jesus Storybook Bible to read to son, Leif (photo: John Zich, USA Today)

I was interviewed by USA Today and they are running an article about children's storybook Bibles. The Jesus Storybook Bible caught the attention of several of their sources (including Ted Olsen of Christianity Today, seen above reading from non other!) who liked it because of "its unique theological approach" and because it doesn't "hammer down the meaning of the Bible to one long lesson in obedience." Cathy Grossman spoke to me about the challenges of writing children's Bibles. It's an interesting article and you can read it here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest (1957)

OK so I went to the British Television Advertising Awards 2007: Award-Winning British Commercials at MOMA yesterday and saw really cool stuff. (Confession: one of the biggest culture shocks of coming to the States from the UK is the dire quality of adverts here.) More on that later this week... but before I show you one particularly silly ad from that, I need to show you this. In this b&w clip, first broadcast on BBC Panorama (a serious documentary program) on 1st April 1957, a very young Richard Dimbleby revealed the wonderful world of Swiss spaghetti production to millions of deprived and hungry post-war Brits. (To be fair, back then Spaghetti was not eaten much and was rather exotic.) Most of Britain were taken in. Even my dad (who is usually dreadfully brilliant and smart) even the likes of he, totally fell for this giant April Fool's joke! Which just goes to show, if you have a serious and very important enough voice, you can hoodwink anyone. What an inspiration to us all.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

handbag friends give away!

here's Connor and his new book.

Sensibly he is trying to eat it because it looks so terribly delicious. What a very good idea.

Or is he perhaps imitating Clasp's famous, scarifying line from the book: "I'm going to eat you... with my mouth!"

Find out more by visiting his mom's blog. She is giving away a signed copy of Handbag Friends.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

don't get it right...


“Don’t get it right; just get it written.”
- James Thurber (1894-1961)

What a great quote. I need to remember that every day. Every moment.

(and what about his hair?)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Notable Book of 2007!!!

WOO-HOOO! How To Be A Baby has been named a Notable Book of 2007: one of only six children's titles recognized by the NYT as best of the year! it's totally unbelievable but here it is in black and white Sunday New York Times Book Review.

Friday, November 30, 2007

baby jail

Connor and his sidekick, Melos, in Baby Jail after an attempt on The Laundry (the criminals were caught red-handed unfolding all the neatly folded clothes and towels)

I love the dog's expression. He looks to me like he is already planning a prison break. His full and fabulous name is: Melos Meatloaf Whitefang Goldosis Puppyoso (Melos for short). With a name like that no wonder he turned to a life of crime. 

Connor's mom has been kind enough to review HOW TO BE A BABY.  (This photo came about after reading the manual and learning from her favorite bit in the book: "Sometimes, if you are very naughty, you are put in prison".)  Check out her blog here where she is reviewing and giving away great books (including some of mine)!

The Christmas Story

As part of a Christmas series of programs, I recently recorded three Christmas stories from The Jesus Storybook Bible on Haven Today. You can listen here:
He's Here!
The King of All Kings
The Light of the Whole World

Haven are graciously offering the book free with a donation! Here's a link to their site where you can get your copy and support these great guys.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

skating minister

what can you say? just looking at The Skating Reverend makes you happy!


The Reverend Robert Walker
Skating on Duddingston Loch attributed to Henry Raeburn, 1790's

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Color Purple Rallying in Song

as you know, there is a strike right now by stagehands on Broadway. Sadly, it's threatening the livelihoods of the many performers involved in these shows (many shows are unlikely to survive this a friend in the business tells me). The cast from The Color Purple gathered on Broadway last week rallying to show their support and say, "let's try and work this out together". Remember, these are people facing no checks into next year, no job, the end of their shows potentially... take a look at what happened (Fantasia is the one leading "worship") doesn't it make you wish you'd been there? Here's to Thanking and Praising God ... this side of the miracle! Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 19, 2007

baseball

my good friend, sally cook, has just won a 2007 parents' choice silver honor award for her brilliant, fabulous, awesome book HEY BATTA BATTA SWING: The Wild Old Days of Baseball. Check it out here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

it's awfully hard being a baby

here I am screaming and why is everyone else just smiling. who else would just smile when someone is screaming?

and why am I wearing such a horrible white wig with fake braids on? who put it on me? no one else is wearing one.

take it off

let me go

(it's a shame for babies. it really is. pictured, screaming, Baby Annabel and, smiling, the quadruplets. All of whom, of course, star in the authorative scholarly document on the subject HOW TO BE A BABY).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

best picture book of 2007

We're in amazon's top 10 at number 6!
Check out amazon's lising: here
Oh and by the way, they are asking everyone to vote for which title in the top 10 is their favorite... so if you feel so inclined...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

happy first orange shoes

here they are. they're mine. and they're orange. there are two of them. and they are brand new. and they are both of them each mine. they are good at kicking. these two shoes that are orange and mine. (Mr Griffin and his orange shoes.)

(we first met the unfortunate Mr Griffin in unhappier times, if you recall: in the first of our firsts — first peas, followed, just as unpleasantly, by first teeth. we are pleased to hear that things seem to be looking up for Mr Griffin. and we certainly hope it lasts — the eds.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Britain's most stupid laws: A top ten list

These laws are ancient legislation that has never been repealed. 4,000 people were given a shortlist and asked to vote on what is ... The Most ridiculous British law:

10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow

9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour

8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing

7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen

6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet

5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter

4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day (this law dates back to the seventeenth century and was enacted to outlaw gluttony during the rule of Cromwell) (at least half of those surveyed admitted to breaking this law)

3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store

2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down

And coming in a glorious first...

1.It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament

to find out more about these absurd and utterly foolish laws click here: Die and you’re under arrest!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Snowball - The Dancing Cockatoo

Here's who this is: "Snowball is a Medium Sulphur Crested Eleanora Cockatoo that dances to the Back Street Boys. He came to the Bird Lovers Only Recue in August 2007 and is a joy." Only, I think the thing is they got his name wrong. It is Sir Eleanora Snowball Cockatoo, Esq. But no matter. His dance speaks for itself. Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

2007 NAPPA Gold Award

Wondrous happy news... HOW TO BE A BABY: by ME, the Big Sister won a gold. Hurrah!
here's what it says about itself on the site: "The National Parenting Publications Awards guide you to the best gift ideas for children all year round!" and "Now in its 17th year, NAPPA (National Parenting Publications Awards) is a well-known name in industries focused on children’s learning and entertainment. Full results were announced Nov. 1, 2007, in 40 regional parenting magazines across the country and online at Parenthood.com. This distinction recognizes the above titles as a standout among toys, books, DVDs, software & video games, music and spoken-word recordings available for children today." NAPPA website

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy orange car


happy end of october, happy all saints day, happy central park that is getting ready for the marathon, happy leaves that are all harvesty and festivalish

it's best to be stinky

Here she is. The Baby. In what is possibly the nicest little stinker hallowteenieweenie i've ever seen in my entire life. I did tell you didn't I? It's a quite stunning way to conclude our "Latest Must Have Dressing Up Fashion Trends" series.

And what about the bag?

I want one. The bag, the costume, her inside it. (Yes, she's The Baby who belongs to the quadruplets we met on Friday in all their fabulous furryness and the quadruplets, of course, belong to Baby Annabelle, who we met previously doing a very good imitation of being a baby.

Monday, October 29, 2007

it's good to be scary


(Continuing our "Latest Must Have Dressing Up Fashion Trends" series, here is a stunning outfit in orange.)

This is quite the most wonderous lobster I've ever met in my whole entire life (and I've met a few). I could just gobble her all up right this instant--or have her on toast for my tea.

(And she's not really scary. she's only pretending.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

it's good to be furry

(This the first in our "Latest Must Have Dressing Up Fashion Trends" series.)

Seen in this photo are the quadruplets: Daniel, Andrew, Thomas and Sarah. I don't know which outfit is my favorite. They're all so good. So I'll just say what children say when they're asked that question: "They're all my favorites!"

The quadruplets, of course, star in HOW TO BE A BABY (appearing on the pink sofa as the Big Sisters' "Real Friends" in contrast to the poor Baby who doesn't have any real ones, just pretend ones like stuffed bears, etc.).

The only one missing here is The Baby Herself... but stay tuned... she's coming up in this series and in a quite stunning outfit...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

health books

"Be careful about reading health books.
You may die of a misprint."

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Burger Magic Trick

how on earth? all I know about this is that it made me want to rush out and gobble up a big mac...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gold Moonbeam Award!

The Jesus Storybook Bible has won a Gold 2007 Moonbeam Children's Book Award in the "Religion/Spiritualilty" category.

“The Moonbeam Awards are designed to honor the year's best children’s books, authors and illustrators, and to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators. Our ambition is to support children's book publishing and to promote childhood literacy and life-long reading.”

Does this mean me and Jago get to wear a crown now with sparkles on? And give speeches? And cry?

(nah, just kidding)

it's thrilling news and a great honor — and there's no question of Who is getting all the glory here...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

UK's Greatest Wit


Oscar (Fingal O'Flahertie Wills) Wilde (that really is his whole name I didn't make it up) was just voted UK's Greatest Wit. He said awfully witty things like: "I can resist everything except temptation" and other clever stuff like that.

He beat Spike MIlligan who came in second (one of the "goons" and a brilliant comedian, who had engraved on his tombstone the epitaph, "I told you I was ill"), Stephen Fry and Jeremy Clarkson (third and fourth), Noel Coward, Sir Winston Churchill and Shakespeare.

Margaret Thatcher was the highest ranked woman coming in at 12 (she once quipped: "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.")

So there you have it. Or, as we say in the UK, Bob's Your Uncle. And more on that later. For now, a great quote from the UK's Greatest Wit...

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all." — Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Monday, October 15, 2007

words that are too big

"Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

C S Lewis (1898 - 1963)

Friday, October 12, 2007

horribly bossy and depressing fortune cookies

Have you ever?

Made by Wonton Food in Queens (who apparently were just trying to be "more contemporary") these gloom cookies have been spreading their poison far and wide, showing up in restaurants all over the country.

Couldn't they think of something nicer to say to you, before you eat them?

I like your hair. nice shoes. something. anything.

Reminds me of the joke about the complementary peanuts. They're the peanuts that say to you stuff like, "I like your sweater" or "you look pretty tonight" or "you are such a cool person". Maybe these naughty cookies could learn a thing or two from peanuts.

Read more about these disturbing misfortune cookies here

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

hyphenators, hyphens, and the O.E.D.

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary , the 2-volume (not the Longer-Shorter 20-volume version) just got shorter (which must make it The Shorter-Shorter Oxford English Dictionary). It lost 16,000 hyphens. The editor says people aren't using hyphens because "they're not really sure what they're for."

Some have stayed (like well-being), others have been given the boot (like ice cream).

Shakespeare was the biggest hyphenator ever. But that's mostly because he just kept making up words as he went along. And joined lots of them together. (Even his name—Shak-speare—was sometimes hyphenated, apparently.)

Donne did it too. He "loved compounds like 'death-bed' and 'passing-bell' where the hyphen carries almost metaphorical weight, a reminder of what Eliot called his singular talent for yoking unlike ideas," says Charles McGrath in The New York Times.

read more of this alarming news about hyphens here .

Meanwhile, I'm going to do what I can.
First, I'm going to start trying to get as many hyphens as possible into my name
sal-ly lloyd-jo-nes
you might want to try it, too

and then I'm going to become a member of The Royal Society for the Protection of Endangered-Hyphens (the RSPEH)
which you might also want to consider

Monday, October 8, 2007

watching dinosaurs LIVE


JUST BACK from extinction, the New York Times reports that Dinosaurs, after 65 million years, are now appearing (for a limited engagement) in New Jersey. Here's one brave little guy who went to see them stomping around.

Much more scarier than Barney. (And I find Barney pretty scary.)

Read more here. (It's a tour—so you, too, may be able to catch them live.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

p.s. about Jessica

p.s to previous post: another very important thing about Jessica, of course, is her pink blanket.
she is DEFINITELY very completely related to another certain Hippo of my acquaintance. (Seen above with pink blanket, and the Handbag Friends.)

How many Hippos you know have a pink blanket?
Or a good friend who is a dog?
Or can sing?
(Which I'm sure she can)

Speaking of singing, shouldn't we?
I do think it's time, don't you?
Really. Wouldn't it be rather rude not to?
For Jessica's sake?

Sing along now!

jessica the hippo

I want one.

Friday, October 5, 2007

new world record

Hale Gabreselassie, 34, of Ethiopia set a world record for the Berlin marathon Sunday, winning the race in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 26 seconds. He beat Kenya's Paul Tergat's record on the same course of 2:04:55.

Gebrselassie won four world titles over 10,000m and set numerous world records on the track before turning to road racing late in his career. (Yes, he's the one who ran the Nike Manhattan Half "with me" and broke the course record in August.)

“Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”
Steve Prefontaine (1951-1975)

"All it takes is all you got."
— Marc Davis (b.1969)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

frequent flier ills

my friend, Rob, just got a very funny piece published in the New York Times no less.

Click here to read.

Monday, October 1, 2007

happy birthday Plaza!

100 years old today!

(photo: The plaza on it's opening year, 1907.)

And tonight she's having a huge 100 year birthday party in her front yard (central park and 5th Avenue) with fireworks and everything. People will be singing "My Way" to her. And then hanging a huge, gigantic sign in lights around her neck — "100" — announcing her age to the whole wide world.

They have even made her a special birthday cake.

Guests will eat a meticulous scale model replica cake of herself (who else at 100 would ever want such a thing? And what guest would eat it? Even if you have had so much work done on you.)

The cake will have a fa├žade flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger and windows of crystallized sugar.

The Plaza's first ever guest was Alfred Gywnne Vanderbilt. Back then a room went for $2.50 a day ($4 with bath).

Other famous guests were Truman Capote (1924-1984) (who threw his black and white ball there in 1966 to celebrate the success of In Cold Blood) and, of course, Eloise. And Kay Thompson (1908-1998).

Saturday, September 29, 2007

typesetting & punctuation

this, it has to be said, is a rather off-putting title for a blog—particularly following on the heels of the much more fun you tube clips. but it's really not as full of rules or nearly as bossy as it sounds. it might even be interesting or helpful. Or both.

it's fitting too. as you may or may not know, it was in fact "National Punctuation Day" (September 24th)—I steered well clear of it myself—(who can begin to imagine what manner of torture might be involved in such a day?)

punctuation, it seems to me, is one of those tricksy things that the more you think about it the more you can't do it (except if you're brilliant and J R R Tolkien and then you know everything anyway so you don't count).

i once found myself lost in the middle of a huge manuscript, two days before the final deadline, re-punctuating everything because i'd convinced myself I needed to get more semi-colons in. don't ask me why. i don't know—it's insane (and i don't even like semi-colons)—it had a lot to do with thinking semi-colons are what clever people use. And because a critic who lives inside my head says horrid things, like "ah yes, what a shame. and it would have been such a lovely book if only she'd... (fill in the blank)."

if you find yourself in a Punctuation Bog like this, all i can say is, you need to GET OUT of there right this instant, run into the fresh air and the sunlight and talk to a sensible friend and only come back to your manuscript when you're fully in the real world and back in your right mind and have just stopped it.

and once you've done that, read something like this—a very helpful old typsetting saying:

"Set type as long as you can hold your breath without getting blue in the face. Then put in a comma.
When you yawn, put in a semicolon.
When you clear your throat, put in a period.
When you want to sneeze, that's time for a paragraph"

and here is a completely beautiful piece of typesetting to close this punctuation posting with.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

funny old women

well, it's very silly but it has sent some of my friends into complete hysterics, so I bring it to you, too as a nice way to begin your Thursday

Seagull thief in aberdeen

He waits until the shopkeeper isn't looking and then ...

Monday, September 24, 2007

the hardest instrument to play

Leonard Bernstein was once asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. He thought for a moment and then replied, "The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinsts, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm — that's a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Ying Tong Song - The Goons

now for something insane, silly and very irreverent. What can I say? It's the goons. The masters of silly--before Monty Python even. if you're a dreadfully serious person sitting in your office doing frightfully important things you may not like this. or you might. particularly if you open your doors and put the sound up too loud...

Monday, September 17, 2007

inspiration and plumber's block

"I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning." — Peter De Vries, quote in The Writer, June 1994.

Reminds me of something else someone said: that writing is magical but it isn't magic. I love this because it gets rid of the preciousness and the idea that you must feel inspired to write. Writing only requires sitting down in front of the computer (or piece of paper) and showing up. Whether you feel like it, or not.

It also keeps you with a correct perspective — and reminds you you have a job to do — just as a plumber has a job to do. Nine to five. Five days a week. And the best thing about that? Well, as Phillip Pullman points out, no one's ever heard of a thing called plumber's block, have they?

Peter De Vries (1910–93), by the way, was the one who came up with such clever stuff as, "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be" and "Deep down, he's shallow," and was, according to Kingsley Amis, "the funniest serious writer to be found on either side of the Atlantic."


"But," Amazon tells me, "De Vries's life and work was informed as much by sorrow as by wit."

His classics are Slouching Towards Kalamazoo and The Blood of the Lamb. First published in 1982 and 1965 respectively.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Two Brits' Birthdays

It's the birthday of Roald Dahl, born in Llandaff, South Wales. Initially he was known for his dark short stories for adults but later switched to writing books for children.

"A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom." — Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

It's also the birthday of J B Priestley, born in Bradford, England (1894). He wrote more than a hundred books of fiction, essays, and drama.

"We plan, we toil, we suffer — in the hope of what? ... The title deeds of Radio City? ... A trip to the moon? No, no, no, no. Simply to wake just in time to smell coffee and bacon and eggs." — J B Priestly (1894-1984)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

The New York Times Obit included this wonderful quote:

" 'Why does anybody tell a story?' Ms. L’Engle once asked, even though she knew the answer.

" 'It does indeed have something to do with faith,' she said, 'faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.' " — Madeleine L'Engle (1918 - 2007)

Monday, September 10, 2007

In the Shadow of the Moon

If you get the chance, see this film. On the big screen if you can.

It's a brilliant documentary narrated by the astronauts themselves, filmed in tight close-up, and it is nail-biting, funny, deeply moving and on the edge of your seat stuff. "I called the moon my home for three days of my life. And I'm here to tell you about it!" says one of the astronauts. "That's science fiction."

In the Shadow of the Moon leaves you with renewed awe at the bravery of these men, the vastness of our universe and in particular with your eyes wide open to the wonder and beauty of this beautiful world we've been given to be our home.

You can watch the trailer here.

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