Monday, July 22, 2013

Jan Brett, Chickens, and Friends

How cute is this?  This is children's author/illustrator, Jan Brett, feeding her chickens.  This photo surprised me since I always envisioned Jan as a little European looking woman, rather like Tasha Tudor.  (Yes, I know that Tasha Tudor lives in the US, but she looks like she was raised by Heidi, Peter and a bunch of goats.)   Brett's Norwegian inspired drawings have an old world feel.  

Brett's new book, Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella, was inspired by the 60 ornamental chickens she breeds and sells.  For years, selling them meant loading them up in her car and driving them - squawking and flapping - to their  destination.  Recently, she has upgraded to using cages and a trailer when she transports which is problably safer.  I sure am hoping that she never parts with that character behind her.  If chickens have a sense of humor, I am sure he has one.  

I'm looking forward to the new book.  So many cultures have their own Cinderella inspired stories, but this is the first I know of featuring chickens as the main characters.


Our book group met on Friday.  We met and we met and we met.  We started at 5:30, and in no time, someone mentioned that it was 11:30.  We read The Hangman's Daughter which was not a winner for most of us.  Discussing mysteries in isolation is tricky.  Unless it is a story steeped in history, or some sort of social significance, what can be discussed other than who did it?  If were were exclusively a mystery book group, that would be a different story.  We would have knowledge of different mystery genre, favorite detectives, and preferred plot lines to draw upon.  We aren't and we don't, so our book discussion was short.  However, I do believe we hit the high points, and made some discoveries about the context of the story as a result.

  So, what did we cover in six hours?   We covered a lot of territory.  Nancy is our political commentator; Valerie feeds our social souls, while Steph covers mothering and household news. There's also much education discussion, and city government updates from our "Wives of firefighters" contingency.   We all have our niche.  We all have our stories to share, and yes, we all have our quirks.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

 Once a month, I spend time with 5-8 wonderful friends, each of whom has enriched my life.  Our format, or lack of, doesn't work for everyone.  Several people have dropped in for a meeting or two, and then went on to seek out a group more compatible with their style.  We started keeping a casual record of our meetings in 2007, but I know the group formed earlier than that.  It wasn't until a woman named Jan, a transplant to Manitowoc,  suggested that we keep simple records that we began doing so.  I am glad.   It's fun to look back and see what we read, along with everyone's  single sentence comment about the book.  From the start., I felt that Jan wouldn't be with us long.   The mother of several bi-racial, adopted children, Jan was concerned with minority issues, and introduced us to numerous books and documentaries on those topics.  Her family moved after less than  a year in Manitowoc. 

The right book group can be a rich experience, but just talking with books one on one with another book lover is equally satisfying.  If you are a reader, find a friend, find a group or start a group.  In time, you too will join the ranks of the six hour book discussion marathon.