One of my favorite books is now a movie: HOME

... and I haven't seen it yet. Aargh!  Gotta get there. Has anybody seen it yet? They were running a good ad campaign last week, I have to say. I saw at least two or three advertisements for it -- one a clip of the trailer that played in between angry birds levels that Benjamin was playing.

Here's the trailer, in case you haven't seen it. The movie is not called The True Meaning of Smekday, which is the title of the book. Nor is the movie titled Happy Smekday, as I originally thought it would be. It is called Home. And I think it's super funny that the real J. Lo is part of the film. That's just so cool.

It looks like it will be different from the book (of course), but I'm still excited about it. I heard from Linda at Gallery Nucleus that Adam Rex had done some work on the movie. Some of his art is available for purchase through Gallery Nucleus, here. And, it looks like there is a book about the movie's art, called The Art of Home.

In preparation for the release of Home, Jacob began reading The True Meaning of Smekday to the kids at night. They're not quite finished with it yet, but Benjamin, who is only six years old, is excited enough about the book that he has read ahead a little bit.

So, are you going to see it? If you've already seen it, what did you think?

Previous Smekday love on Everead:
The True Meaning of Smekday book review
Fangirling over the Smekday movie announcement
Smekday featured on my "Good Books to Read Aloud" post
Smekday featured on "Books for a 13 year old boy: 10 exciting titles to keep him reading"
The first pick on my "Books for 14 year old boys?" post.

By the way, I'm dying to get my grubby hands on the sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday. It's titled Smek for President and features a trip to New Boovworld.
This post does not contain any affiliate links. Just good ol' fashioned fun!

Both Silly and Soulful: Hey Natalie Jean by Natalie Holbrook

photo by Jacob Stewart
This book has soul.

Some parts of it are silly and some are serious.

But when I think of it, I think, "That book's got soul."

Hey Natalie Jean: Advice, Musings, and Inspiration on Marriage, Motherhood, and Style 
by Natalie Holbrook

I've been following Natalie Holbrook's blog, Hey Natalie Jean, for a long time now. I started back when it was still called Nat the Fat Rat (because that name!) and stuck around because her son Huck was born right around the same time Levi was born, and she was talking about life with a newborn, which is what I was living.*

Anyway, Jacob asked me some questions about the book (which led to me turning the tables on him) and I thought you might like to listen in.

Jacob: What's it about?
Alysa: It is a series of essays about motherhood, being a woman, and living in New York City and . . .  taking yourself seriously.

Jacob: What do you mean by that?
Alysa: Well, the book encourages you to take yourself seriously. It's also kind of silly at times, but the best essays are the serious ones, in my opinion. For instance, she talks about trusting yourself as a mother, helping your husband get through a tough time, being happy and present in your life.

Jacob: Okay. What was your favorite essay?
Alysa: My favorite was the one where she talked about Brandon having a nervous breakdown. It's titled On Grooves and has a section called "How to Beat the Blahs." As you know, I experience The Blahs with some regularity. So does Natalie, but her husband Brandon doesn't. And . . . so he did, and it really threw him for a loop. And she's like, "Oh I know exactly what to do." It was a vulnerable essay, and it helped me step into her shoes and imagine what that would be like for me. It was great.

Jacob: "The Blahs" here being a euphemism for mild depression? Or no?
Alysa: Yeah.
Jacob: Chad Orzel did a post recently about how blogging has helped him past his mild depression. he linked to a blog post about having high functioning depression, where everyday tasks are a chore, but not impossible.
Alysa: That sounds really interesting. Alysa makes a mental note to find the link.

Alysa: Ok, so, let me tell you more about the book. There are pictures.
Jacob: They're all taken by Natalie, right?
Alysa: No.
Jacob: Oh! Who took the other ones then? I know she does like to take pictures right?
Alysa: Yes. She does; and she took a lot of the photos, but there are also photos by Lesley Uhruh, Emma Kepley and Justin Hackworth (whose Instagram I love).

Alysa: So, some of the stuff I had read before. Some of it is taken from posts on her blog.
Jacob: So you could link to some of those as examples of what the book is like. Some of your favorite ones.
Alysa: Yeah. On Being a Queen is my favorite essay in the book that's also on the blog. It is a little different in the book, but the main thrust of it is the same. It's the first essay in the book, and she uses it to introduce the whole work. I've found myself thinking of it, and using it. I even told the boys one day, "I am the Queen." [Our sons are six and four. Our daughter is one and thinks that she's the queen.]

Jacob: Why should someone read this book? I was going to say "Why should I read this book," but I've already read parts of it.

Alysa: What did you like about it?
Jacob: I read a few chapters . . . I liked just hearing, or, reading, a different perspective on life.
Alysa: She doesn't seem very much like you, to me.
Jacob: First of all she's a woman. Secondly she is living in New York City. She cares much more about interior design than I do, considering I care very, very little. And about clothes, same thing. But it was very well written, and interesting to read. I didn't feel like it was a waste of my time or anything.
Alysa: I agree. Once you start reading it, it's very easy to keep reading it. You know, there's nothing that throws you out --
Jacob: No typos or odd phrasing that throws you out of the groove.
Alysa: Right. And there is plenty of soul that draws you in.

Alysa: Did it make you laugh?
Jacob: Yeah parts of it definitely did.
Alysa: Me too.

Alysa: I think it's interesting to hear your take on it, because you DON'T read her blog.
Jacob: I'm not the target audience. In a deep voice I'm a man.

Jacob: Ok, so why should someone read this book?
Alysa: You should read this book if you want to see things from a new perspective, or if you want encouragement in motherhood. If you want some mom-spiration. Or, if you're thinking about writing a memoir or about your own life experience. She does a really good job of that.

So there you have it! I edited the transcript of our conversation lightly, in case you were wondering.
Hey Natalie Jean is available for purchase, and I'm glad I have a copy -- I requested one from the publisher and received it with the understanding that I would review it. (Of course I would!) Anyway here are affiliate links, in case you'd like to shop for it.  


*plus also because her voice reminded me of my sister, who I missed terribly because she was serving a mission in the Czech Republic at the time. AND because once I found out her maiden name was Lovin I discovered we had lived only a block or two apart, back in Mesa, and our moms had known each other. I even played at her house once. And I remember it was immaculate and that her mom made me "cheep like a birdie" for a treat -- which was totally humiliating at the time, but which torture I have since inflicted on many a young child. So fun.

I'm a writer

Oh my garrrrrsh. Is it just me or is writing Story Club taking forever? It's been almost a year since I began this project. My first ebook.

Good news though! I'm making progress on it, and getting closer and closer to being ready to release it. I wrote the table of contents tonight. That's gettin' serious. Because you can't write the table of contents until you know what the contents really are.

I had an epiphany the other day. I'm a writer. I mean, I've identified as a blogger for some time now. But there's a difference in my mind between being a blogger and being a writer, I guess. I don't think of myself as an author, at this point. But writer? Yes.

Anyway, I like writing. I do it for fun. I do it for work. I do it for my personal therapy (I keep a nightly journal). And sometime after listening to Lisa Congdon talk a couple times, I realized that writing is kind of my art of choice.

So that's cool.

Expand Your Horizons: Read Books from Foreign Lands

Books published outside the US

My friend Rachel asked me for some of these because she has to read them for an assignment for her Writing for Children and Young Adults degree she is getting (Go Rachel! Go Rachel!) I came up with a few, then asked around on twitter and facebook as well.  By collecting and organizing responses, I've come up with a book list, an author list, and a link list. Have at it!

Book list:
Harry Potter series* by J. K. Rowling (UK)
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (France)
Hilda and the Midnight Giant series* by Luke Pearson (France)
Bad Machinery** series by John Allison (UK)
Hidden* by Loïc Dauvillier (France)
Neurocomic* by Farinella and Ros (UK)
Moonhead and the Music Machine* by Andrew Rae (UK)
Skellig* by David Almond (UK)
Kit's Wilderness by David Almond (UK)
The 13 Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths (Aus)
Saffy's Angel* series by Hilary McKay (UK)
Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman (UK)
When We Wake by Karen Healey (New Zealand)
The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper (Aus)
Happy as Larry by Scot Gardner (Aus)
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Aus)
Kaleidoscope anthology edited by Alisa Kranostein and Julia Rios (Aus)
Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil (Aus)
The Protected by Claire Zorn (Aus)
At the Same Moment Around the World Clotilde Perrin (France)
Monster Blood Tattoo series by D. M. Cornish (Aus)
The Lost Conspiracy by Francis Hardinge (UK)
The Books of Pelinor series by Alison Croggon (Aus)
Ruby Red series by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell (Germany)
Matilda* by Roald Dahl
The Letter For The King* by Tonke Dragt

(affiliate link)

Author list:
Melina Marchetta
Margo Lanagan
Sally Murphy (her verse novels especially recommended)
Juliet Marillier* (already a favorite of Rachel's, I know)
Ellie Marney
Margret Mahy
Dodie Smith (whose books 101 Dalmations and I Capture the Castle I want to read)
Astrid Lindgren*
Tove Jansson*

and authors listed in the book list, above:
J. K. Rowling*
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Like Pearson*
John Allison*
Loïc Dauvillier*
Andrew Rae*
David Almond**
Andy Griffiths
Hilary McKay**
Neil Gaiman*
Karen Healey
Michelle Cooper
Scot Gardner
Allyse Near
Melissa Keil
Claire Zorn
Clotilde Perrin
D. M. Cornish
Francis Hardinge
Hana Ros*
Matteo Farinella*
Kerstin Gier
Alison Croggon
Roald Dahl* (not all of his books qualify)
Tonke Dragt*

Link list:
At http://en.childrenslibrary.org you can search books by country.
Check  the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year awards.
More than 800 Australian books listed by Tehani Wessely https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/1900754-tehani?shelf=australian
A tag of Canadian books on Laina's blog http://lainahastoomuchsparetime.blogspot.ca/search/label/canadian%20book
The Enchanted Lion publishing house reprints a lot of European books.

Thanks to the following for contributing to this list!
Ashley Bair
Amber Burge
Betsy Bird (@FuseEight)
Eric Davis (@EricinBoston)
Justine Larbalestier (@JustineLavaworm)
Kathryn Flaherty (@KathrynFlaherty)
Kayla Sorenson
Laina (@lainasparetime)
Leila Roy (@bkshlevesofdoom)
Lisa Brown (@lisabrowndraws)
Ransom Smith
Tehani Wessely (@editormum75)
Vlad Verano (@3rdplacepress)

What would YOU add to this list?

I hope this helps you get your degree, Rachel! Because I definitely want to read more of your writing. (I've read bits of Rachel's most excellent fantasy epic about a tattooed girl, and her redemption story about a  heroin addict. Am waiting not-so-patiently for more.)

All photos came from Rachel's breathtaking instagram feed. She's @rachelandcompany on instagram. You will be *shocked* to know that I post @everead on instagram, mostly pictures of my kiddos and my books.

*I have personally read this book or a work by this author.

**Link to an Everead post: Bad Machinery (John Allison) . My Dad's a Birdman (David Almond), Hidden (Loic Dauvillier), The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)Hilary McKay (who has enough posts on Everead to warrant her own tag), Shadowfell (Juliet Marillier), Moomin (Tove Jansson).
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