Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bedtime Stories: The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
For most, the story of the Nutcracker is a beloved holiday tradition. Dress up fancy and go to the performing arts center or school to watch the popular ballet, whose music from Tchaikovsky is pretty much synonymous with the holidays. For many, hearing the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy will evoke images of Christmasy scenes.
But did you know that it was first a short story by 19th
century author E.T.A. Hoffmann? Written in 1816, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” is the littleknown origin of the Nutcracker ballet. Hoffmann was a fan of the traditional German fairy tales, and their influence is obvious in the story.
On Christmas Eve, Marie and her brother are playing with their new nutcracker toy which becomes accidentally broken. She attempts to fix it and stays up late keeping it company. Suddenly, an army of mice appear. All the wooden toys then come to life and battle the mice. The next day Marie tells her godfather, Drosselmeyer, about the event and he tells her the story of the nutcracker and how he came to be. There are lots of unusual fairy tale goings-on, such as the need to have a princess eat a nut which must be cracked and handed to her by a man who had never been shaved nor worn boots since birth, and who must, without opening his eyes hand her the kernel and take seven steps backwards without stumbling.
In the Hoffmann story, none of this is a dream. The little girl sees it all with her own eyes and even though most adults don’t believe her, it’s a true story. My favorite version of this story is illustrated by Maurice Sendak, known best for his book Where the Wild Things Are. Richly illustrated, the story is both beautiful to look at and to read.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Is your bedroom feeling a bit too basic? Believe it or not, you won’t need to commit to a major overhaul to transform your bedroom into a luxurious sanctuary. With a few additions and edits, your bedroom can look and feel luxurious. Here’s what to do.
Layer your bed.
If you love how a hotel room exudes luxury and you want your bedroom to feel similar, you can do it by layering. Try adding a down topper to your mattress, then a down comforter inside a duvet cover. If you’re allergic to down, opt for a coverlet over a soft blanket. Several bed pillows, overstuffed decorative pillows, and a throw at the foot of the bed will complete the look. You’ll be anxious to crawl into your comfy cocoon every night.
Rethink your nightstand.
Nightstands without drawers don’t work for a lot of people. The truth is – even one drawer can help keep clutter at bay. An uncluttered bedroom is more likely to feel luxurious that one with tchotchkes strewn about. If you have a bedside table, considering switching it out for a nightstand with drawers and keep your belongings inside.
Use warm white light bulbs.
It’s no surprise that lighting creates ambiance, and in a bedroom, we need more mood than we do in other rooms. Switching bulbs to warm white can make all the difference in the overall feel of your bedroom, and even make you and your mate or guests look more attractive.
Aim for less.
Less furniture doesn’t need to make a room look sparse or empty. Place a few quality, key pieces –– a bed, dresser, nightstands, and perhaps a chair or chaise lounge, and let each item shine.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and December is here. That means one thing: it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sure, the days grow shorter and the nights last longer, but holiday stockings, twinkle lights, and sugar plums abound. Shopping, baking, entertaining and traveling take center stage, and most of us look forward to decking the halls in our spare time. Decorating doesn’t need to be kept to the living room or exterior of your home, either. You can introduce holiday cheer to any space, be it your kitchen, bath, office, or bedroom. Get inspired by these five bedrooms, each of which is geared up for the holiday season.
This transitional Phoenix bedroom feels joyful with the winter greenery and pine cones. Lime green lamp shades provide contrast to the black furniture and black and white area rug.
Red accents on the bed, an evergreen wreath, white lights, and various other holiday tchotchkes allow this bedroom to feel a lot like Christmas.
A gender-neutral kids’ room in Australia has fun with fireplace décor. Children of all ages adore Nutcrackers (and even some adults). You can easily add one or several to any bedroom.
This Denver home takes on the feeling of a ski lodge. Red and green combined with the snow-capped mountains in the distance lend a Christmas theme.
What’s not to love about this sweet, youthful bedroom? Swap out the accessories, and you’ll have a woman’s guest room rather than a child’s bedroom. Subtle mini-wreaths make the space feel festive.
We hope you’ll decorate your bedroom this holiday season!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bedtime Stories: How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex.
So you think you know how a picture book comes into being? You may think you know, but you don’t. I don’t think you took into account the pirates, or the arm-wrestling tigers. Or the roaring fires of discarded drafts. No, you don’t know how this book was made at all.
From the mind and hands of Adam Rex and Mac Barnett comes another clever and hilarious picture book. Mac Barnett writes with a number of talented illustrators but his work with Adam Rex is my favorite. I see this book as a companion piece to Barnett/Rex’s 2012 picture book Chloe and the Lion which is another behind-the-scenes peek at the making of a picture book. Where Chloe looked at the collaboration between author and illustrator, How This Book Was Made looks at the process from inception to publication. In some ways, it really does explain how this book was probably made, though of course embellished and changed to make it interesting for children.
When Mac Barnett tells you his editor sent him back the first 20 drafts of the story, you can’t help but believe that this was indeed the case. But whether or not he burned the other drafts to scare away the tiger bent on revenge cannot be confirmed or denied.
To take Mac’s word on it, the process of getting the book from his original idea to becoming the copy in your hands is an incredible process! Adam Rex makes a valuable contribution, turning simple statements like “I found a quiet place to write” and placing the author at the top of a ladder on the top of a desolate mountain. Although Mac insists “it took the illustrator took a VERY long time to draw all the pictures” it was definitely worth waiting for his fantastic illustrations.