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Here on the Schiffer Book Farm we have grown accustomed to the changing of the guard amongst our Boston Terrier population. We mark the sadness of George's passing with a joyful announcement that Amelia will now be taking on the role of canine critic. While her brethren are clearly not up to the task (sorry Angus and Elwood) Amelia brings a great spunk and vitality to the role and is sure to provide engaging reflections on our titles after giving them a good read. These are Amelia’s Picks:
First, let me just say that I love any floor covering that that keeps my toenails from click-clacking because one of my favorite things in the world is to sneak up on my horrible brother Angus and scare him when he's in a deep sleep. What fun to see him jump! Second, I'll admit that before I read this book, I had never heard of floor cloths. Turns out they were very popular in early America and were used widely until someone invented linoleum and it became cheap and easy to cover your floor with an interesting pattern. But floor cloths are so much nicer than linoleum. Quite simply, they are hand-painted canvas. You can also use bits of fabric for the design (those are known as floor quilts) or even decorative paper (floor pages). When I went on an all-too-brief trip to Nantucket once, we visited a fabulous historic whaling merchant's house at top of Main St. and right away I noticed the front hall was covered in a black-and-white checkerboard pattern floor cloth. I have to say, I looked fabulous when I took a brief lie upon it, my own black-and-white fur provided a compelling design contrast that had people in our tour group oohing and aahing. Anyway, the author, Vyvyan Rundgren, is an expert at creating these cloths, quilts, and pages, and in this book, she gives detailed step-by-step instructions. She makes it seem very easy but also very fun and creative. She also shows a wide variety of inspiring patterns in a gallery at the back of the book—some look traditional and Colonial, others are more modern. There are lots of botanicals and abstract geometrics, stars, compass roses, silhouettes of people, a welcome mat, a farm scene and even some roosters. The only bone I have to pick with this book is that I didn't see a single dog in any of the patterns. I propose a sequel!
Snoopy isn't the only dog who loves a good flying machine. Stories about the Flying Ace and his Sopwith Camel were some of my favorites when I was just a pup. Personally, I prefer my ride to be something with a little more style, like the Citation I was once lucky enough to take for a weekend getaway. I have a little silk scarf I like to wear for travel in a nod to the Snoopster, and while Alexander McQueen has his iconic skull scarfs, mine features bones—good, old, chew 'em up bones. Gosh, I love that scarf and it's a bright red that pops against my black-and-white fur. Anyway, when I discovered this A-Z book showing all the colorful and interesting planes you can see at smaller airports and airfields around the world, it sparked my imagination. Who knew there were so many different styles of small aircraft? I am hoping my family will head out to some of the local airshows this fall so I can see some of these remarkable machines in person—er, in canine, I guess I should say. I saw an ad for a show in a local paper recently and left it open on the kitchen counter hoping my people would get the hint, and sure enough, that night they were talking about it. You know, maybe I should write a book about a girl dog, just like me, with an aviator alter ego. Hey, I could call her Amelia Ter(rier)hart!
I’m pretty good at getting myself into a pickle, like the time my head got stuck in the screen door, and the time I had to spend the night at the vet after eating an entire bowl of rising bread dough. Hey, somebody put it on the floor beside the fireplace, so I thought it was for me. Now, however, I am eyeing the ginger apples and curry pears pictured in Pickled Delicacies. This book by German authors is filled with unusual, delicious-sounding recipes that make me drool. There are jewel-like jars filled with vinegar, oil, or alcohol-based concoctions such as figs in cardamom syrup, marinated feta cheese with prosciutto, herring in mustard sauce, and porcini mushroom oil. The recipes are short, super-easy, and make colorful holiday gifts. Tempting as they sound, I’d better stay away from the peaches in brandy and quinces in calvados, based on my experience with fermented foods. But oh, how I would love to try them.
Most people tend to think that because I'm a dog, I don't have deep thoughts. They think I'm all "food, food" and "squirrel, squirrel" when it comes to my inner monologue. But I assure you that on long sleepy afternoons, I like nothing more than picking on an intellectual bone (pondering such matters as why dog is God spelled backward). Patrick McCauley's Into the Pensieve: The Philosophy and Mythology of Harry Potter had instant appeal to me. I mean, it's a book about Harry Potter—and of course, I've read the whole series and loved it despite my fear of Death Eaters and He Who Must Not Be Named and the fact that wizards seem to prefer owls as pets, which, well, I just don't get. Anyway, this Mr. McCauley has a PhD in philosophical theology and literature, and in this book he dives into all the deeper meanings of things that happen in the books. Reading his work is a little bit like rereading the Harry Potter books—you get to think about all your favorite characters again, but from a new point of view. In short, he really gives Potter fans something good to chew on.