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This was written for my work blog (what are the odds, right?) Read @ MPL.

Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat.A common complaint about cookbooks is there aren’t enough pictures. Boy howdy do I have a cookbook for those complainers! Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. by Katie Shelly is a graphic cookbook where the recipes are drawn not written. Each recipe features drawings of the ingredients and the process of preparing the dish, with the instructions contained in the drawings. The recipes aren’t strict blueprints for perfect food, but more like a framework to experiment with. Instead of a recipe for tacos, she has “Some Thoughts on Tacos” featuring a huge variety of ingredients that you can combine in any way you want to create your perfect taco. People who are strict recipe followers probably won’t like this; it’s very loosey-goosey. Shelly does finish each recipe with a ribbon across the bottom of each page featuring the measurements and quantities of ingredients, so you aren’t totally out on a limb. If you want a taste of the cookbook (pun intended!), she has posted several preview recipes on her website.

In addition to the yummy food, I am totally smitten with Katie Shelly’s drawings. The lines are beautiful and clean, the colors bold, and the recipes very tempting. Cookbook innovation is pretty infrequent. People stopped trying to change it up once they figured out a standard format. And don’t get me wrong, that format is wonderfully efficient; but not all recipes have to be that way! This cookbook is beautiful, interesting, and delicious. Some cookbooks have a tone of haute cuisine, but Picture Cook is just an artist sharing her favorite recipes.

My absolute favorite part of this recipe is the hands. Mix! Around!

Cover photo via Goodreads.
Recipe photo from

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Allie has
read 2 books toward her goal of 200 books.

This post was originally on my library’s blog Read @ MPL.

Have you ever lost a pet? Did that pet ever waltz right back into your house like nothing ever happened? That has happened to me, and it is also the premise of Caroline Paul’s book Lost Cat: a True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology.

Tibby & his view of the world

The book begins when Caroline Paul gets in a terrible accident where she breaks the tibia and fibula bones in her leg. That part is awful but also funny because her two cats at the heart of this book are also named Tibia and Fibula (or Tibby and Fibby for short). She’s home on the couch, feeling depressed, and attempting to heal when Tibby, the fraidy cat of the two, runs away. She feels this is literally adding insult to injury. She searches her neighborhood wailing for Tibby, hanging up posters, and feeling utterly worried about her beloved cat’s safety. She even enlists the help of a psychic, to no avail. Then after five weeks gone, Tibby walks back into the house. Not only that, but Tibby looks great! He isn’t underfed or dirty, he is just Tibby.

This is where Caroline Paul goes off the deep end. She becomes engrossed in a quest to find out where Tibby went. She wants to know who took care of him. Who heard her yelling for her lost cat and neglected to bring Tibby home? Clearly this person is some king of cat-napping monster. She uses cat-tracking GPS, a tiny cat’s-eye-view camera, and a cat communication class to deal with all her feelings of jealousy and betrayal. In addition to Paul’s sincere prose, the entire book is illustrated by her partner, Wendy McNaughton, whose work is truly excellent. She’s maybe best known (at least on the internet) for her series Meanwhile on the Rumpus.  Her drawings beautifully compliment Caroline’s ongoing neuroses (and prose). They are on this weird, purposeful journey together; and over the course of the book Tibby becomes their cat, not just Caroline’s cat.

Tibby, equipped with GPS.

Things happen in the second half of the book that I didn’t expect, and, be warned, not all happy things. But this story was so heartfelt and earnest, and so unlike what I expected from a book about cats. I definitely recommend this if you have cats or have had cats in the past, but I think it’s mostly a heartfelt story about a woman becoming obsessed with why something got lost.

N.B. The pictures came from an interview with Wendy MacNaughton & Caroline Paul on the Rumpus.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Allie has
read 187 books toward her goal of 200 books.

This post was originally on my library’s blog Read @ MPL.

The Dark is the story of Laszlo, who is quite afraid of the dark. The dark lives in his house, in the basement, where it belongs. Laszlo greets the dark every morning in the basement hoping that by visiting the dark, it would never visit him in his room. Of course all it takes is a burnt out bulb for the dark to visit, invited or not.

The illustrations by Jon Klassen are astonishing. His stock has risen considerably in 2013, and with good reason: he was the author of the Caldecott Medal-winning This Is Not My Hat and the illustrator of the Caldecott Honor-winning Extra Yarn. The images in this book really stand out – clean lines, textural colors, and beautifully designed spaces – but the most important and most extraordinary part of the illustrations is the negative space. Klassen uses the changing light as the sun sets, ambient light spilling from other rooms, and the beam of Laszlo’s flashlight to illuminate what is seen, but also to contrast against ever-present lurking dark. The dark isn’t a scary villain; it is a necessary foil to the light.

In an interview with NPR, Lemony Snicket likened writing the book to being on a lifeboat: he had to keep jettisoning words in order to keep the text from being redundant. Words are very important in Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books, and I tend to think of him as quite verbose (which here means using quite a lot of words when only one might do, although more words can be nice as well).  This text uses simple motifs that echo the clarity of the images and gently nudge forward like a hesitant little kid. The final book is stark and minimal: it is a tender little story about a boy and his fear. He doesn’t conquer the dark in the heroic, majestic, storybook sense; he just talks to it, follows it, and then isn’t bothered by it.

Extra bonus: if you have read and enjoyed Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, I definitely recommend a little slideshow he did for the Guardian called “How to draw… a bear thinking about something.”

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Allie has
read 130 books toward her goal of 200 books.


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