Category Archives: Books

“Is This My Home”? takes a delightful, interactive look at a traveling nurse’s adventures

It’s just what the doctor ordered, a most delightful interactive children’s book that follows Nanette, a young nurse travels across the country caring for wee ones who find themselves needing a nurse’s love.
Is This My Home? (Made For Me, $16.95/$12.95) is the first book in the Tales of a Traveling Nurse series, a most welcome treat that gives young readers ages 4-8 a look into the adventurous profession of travel nursing. Kids will have fun searching for Nanette as she enjoys a new city while following the children who find themselves needing a nurse’s care, from California to New York, Texas to Hawaii and beyond. With her big smile and fun bubble necklace, Nurse Nanette helps make a scary ‘trip to the doctor” that much easier!Inline image
Is This My Home? goes beyond engaging educational adventures: Shay Larby’s colorful and interesting illustrations give kids a look inside hospitals’ pediatric emergency departments while highlighting the importance of child safety and accident prevention.
The book is based on first-hand experiences: Author Sheri Sturniolo has been a registered pediatric nurse for more than 20 years. She started her career as a traveling nurse and her many adventures became the inspiration for the Tales of a Traveling Nurse series.  She enjoys writing children’s books that help little ones better understand the world around them while opening up important conversations between the reader and child. (Sheri began her author journey with her first series, You Were Meant for Me, written for her own children.) See more at talesofatravelingnurse.com
A must-have prescription for fun, facts and educational filled journeys!

“Young Cyrano” introduces young readers to the teenage de Bergerac


We could toss about many so-little known (or unknown). We’ll choose two: Benoît-Constant Coquelin, Edmond Rostand. We’ll add a third: Sir Paul Cicchini.
Yet they all are related. Sort of.  Coquelin was a legendary French actor who originated the role of real-life Hercule Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac whose life was fictionalized in Rostand’s legendary play Cyrano de Bergerac back in 1897. Yep, he’s the Cyrano known for his large, misshapen proboscis; (mis)adventures of fighting, courageous sword fighting, action and, of course, the kiss given to gal pal Roxanne.
Cyrano was, and remains, hot. There have been many stage and screen adaptations. A new stage version starring James McAvoy takes centerstage at Brooklyn’s Academy of Music; little person and Big Star Peter Dinklage stars in the new big-screen musicalization.
And so enters New Jersey school psychologist Cicchini.
He has written
Young Cyrano ($12.99), a novel that takes a breezy look at Cyrano when he was an awkward teenager. Before he became a self-assured hero, Cyrano and his best friends Le Bret and Roxanne took part in many of those teenage exploits with which today’s teens find pleasure . . . and perhaps pain.
Young Cyrano is written with a  flair that guides those in grades 7 through 12 into  playful and perplexing periods of youth, mystery and mayhem with the welcoming and wonder of what is to become.
To learn more about Young Cyrano or its author Sir Paul Cicchini, visit
paulcicchini.com.


 

The problem with ‘The Art of Bob Mackie’? The book was already written, back in 1979.

It’s a large, lavish coffeetable book, this expensive ($50) book that celebrates the fashions of Mackie and the women he (un)dresses. The Art of Bob Mackie (Simon & Schuster) has Mackie’s approval, but it was written by two die-hard fans.
Yet nearly 50 years, Mackie himself wrote (with co-author Gerry Bremer) Designing for Glamour (A& W Publishers), a smaller $14.95 volume that is packed with lots of color BM costume photos,

scores of dos and don’ts for fashion-driven success, even a (first) foreword by Carol Burnett. Sure, the book is long out of print,. but I stole a copy on eBay for $5, postage included.
The Art of Bob Mackie is an embarrassment of riches. Balancing the book on your lap is tough enough, but after a while, page after page after page of Mackie illustrations look that same, as seen below.

Most of the same  ladies are covered in both books (Carol, Cher, Diana, Ann, Mitzi, Bette, Barbra) and some of the photos are duplicated.
Perhaps if Dressing for Glamour was updated, and there was less Carol Burnett gab and more of Cher’s (or reversing the two). The Art of Bob Mackie would have more style.

History As It Happened: Carole Estby Dagg’s New Book Recounts a ‘Walk Across America’

As Santa’s elves—sometimes known as book publicists—continue to drop “gifts”—sometimes known as review copies—under our tree, we remain steadfast, promising to find the best of the best.
And then recommending those titles.
When we stumbled across Carole Estby Dagg’s new book, The Year We Were Famous: Helga and Clara’s Estby’s Walk Across a Changing America ($15.49), we were as impressed not only by the subject (more in a bit) but by her professional tagline, that she spends her time “writing about history as ordinary people  lived it”.
In this, Estby novelizes the true tale of her her suffragist great grandmother, Helga Estby, and Helga’s daughter, Carole’s grand aunt Clara, who walked 4,000 miles from their farm in Mica Creek, Washington, to New York City in 1896 in a heroic attempt to win $10,000 that would save the family’s farm . . . and prove women were invincible.
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Equipped only with satchels containing compass and maps, first-aid supplies, journals, pistol and a curling iron (!), they headed east along the railroad tracks. The walk began on May 6, 1896 in Spokane, Washington, and ended in New York City  232 days later, on December 23. The women  crossed mountains, deserts and plains; survived a highwayman attack, a flash flood and several blizzards; and went days without food and water. Let’s not forget that Helga and Clara wore out a total of 32 pairs of shoes.
During the year they walked and talked, they became famous, meeting governors and mayors, camping with Indians, and visiting the new president-elect, William McKinley.
Helga and Clara intended to write a book about their adventures, but the publisher reneged on her big-buck promise. Fortunately, newspapers across the country reported on their travels, so Carole was able to write her book based on those articles, with her imagination filling the gaps between facts.
By the way, we aren’t the only ones who were pleased by such a gift from the Jolly Fat Man’s helpers: The Year We Were Famous
won the Will Rogers Medallion; the Sue Alexander Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; and the Willa award from Women Writing the West. It was also selected by the American Library Association for its 2012 Amelia Bloomer List of Best Feminist Fiction.
Santa’s elves have delivered a perfect pick for gift giving.
To order the book and for more info on the author, click caroleestbydagg.

George Chakiris’ autobiography will leave some readers (dis)pleased

Read it. Digest it. And after coming up for air after a whirlwind read of George Chakiris’ autobiography, My West Side Story: A Memoir (Lyons Press, $24.95), you realize you were dazzled.

And duped.

We will explain.

It’s obvious Chakiris loved dancing, a skill so streamlined and stylized that it launched him into a pretty nice career, most notably for West Side Story.

The actor/dancer was first cast in the London production as Riff, gang leader of the Jets. The musical premiered in London in late 1958, and Chakiris received rave reviews, playing the role for almost two years.

The actor, who is of Greek descent, then auditioned for the film version, but the producers thought Chakiris’ dark complexion made him more suitable for the role of Bernardo, leader of the Sharks. (Russ Tamblyn got the role of Riff.)

Switching sides to play Bernardo, brother to Natalie Wood’s Maria and partner to Rita Moreno’s Anita, secured him the role on Broadway after seven months of filming. The film (also co-directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins) returns to theaters for two days only as part of Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies’ TCM Big Screen Classics series with an introduction from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. The beloved movie musical will play in select theaters June 24 and 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time both days.

The movie not only gained Chakiris a huge  following but also the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in Motion Picture.

West Side Story, all three versions, made him a star.

“I know exactly where my gratitude belongs,” Chakiris writes, “and I still marvel at how, unbeknownst to me at the time, the joyful path of my life was paved one night in 1949 when Jerome Robbins sat Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents down in his apartment and announced, ‘I have an idea.'”

It’s obviously Chakiris was not best friends with Jerome Robbins, the legendary choreographer who was a former Communist Party member and named 10 communists in his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Robbins did propel Chakiris into WSS stardom and the actor dishes Robbins. Up to a point. He doesn’t tap dance the legendary truths about the mercurial, relentless Robbins, but in a few breaths he credits him with shaping Bernardo into such a memorable character.

Yet, before his became known for his stage work, Chakiris  had made a bunch of films—dancing, of course, but unbilled and in teeny roles He was one of the dancers in Marilyn Monroe’ “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

It’s sad to know that, though Monroe was 23 years old and Chakiris was 19, they did not became friends, something he misses.

As he writes: “Marilyn had a quality that can’t be taught, or created with wardrobe and makeup, a quality you’re either born with or not. . . . Many decades later I accepted an invitation to participate in a documentary about her.  I said then what I’ll always say—I’m sorry I didn’t get to know her, but I’ll always be grateful I had the pleasure working with her.”

Can you spot him in the snippet below?

He appeared as a dancer alongside Rosemary Clooney, as she warbled “Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me” in White Christmas (1954). See him?

TV shows, two record albums, sundry stage work and more films were wedges between his years. It’s sad that his film career was so spotty. Two films made in France—Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort  (1967) are really good and still hold up; The Big Cube (1969, watch Lana Turner on LSD!) and Jekyll and Hyde…Together Again  (1982) are jokes.

Today, the 86-year-old thespian still creates, this time making sterling silver jewelry—pendants, bracelets, earrings. What started as a hobby blossomed into a full-time business. Chakiris’ stunning works can be seen (and bought) at georgechakiris.com/jewelry.

And before you ask, the answer is no. In the book, Chakiris refuses to confirm his sexual orientation.

He has kept details of his love life hidden from the media’s attention, yet it is widely believed among Hollywood actors and actresses that he is gay – even the popular movie and TV series rating website IMDb has featured him  in their “500 Gay Actors & Personalities” list. Some have even claimed that George secretly married his long-term partner sometime in the 2000s, but no proof has been provided to support the claims.

His is a terrible bother to me, born one day after Chakiris came out (of his mother) and into the world. If he is gay, it would serve as a great benefit to those boys and girls, men and women, questioning their sexuality, fighting the bullying, dancing around suicidal thoughts. I have the same feeling about Lily Tomlin and Barry Manilow’s queer denials—the singer especially. Everyone knew he was gay yet for decades he made up girlfriends and excuses. When he finally married his long-time partner and manager Gary Keif in 2004, his excuse for the delay: “I thought it would hurt my career.”

That’s why my Manilow CDs have been destroyed and why Chakiris  book was given away.

Not all acting succeeds.

 

How and why Dolly and I are bosom buddies and breast friends…from 9 to 5 and beyond

I knew Dolly Rebecca Parton and I would become fast friends when she let me hold her left breast. Before you start calling the tabloids or TMZ, let me explain. It was 1987, and we were in a photographer’s studio on the Upper East Side where Dolly was being photographed for the cover of Redbook.

She was dressed in a handmade denim blouse (size 0), the wig was perfectly placed, the makeup flawless. She eyed the catered buffet and picked up a piece of chicken with her two fire-engine red (fake) fingernails, brought it to her mouth and, plop!, the sliver landed on her blouse, smack-dab on her left . . . well, you get the picture.

The adrenaline kicked in. “Quick, Dolly!” I said. “You hold and I’ll wipe.” I poured water on a paper towel and began to very gently dab the spot. Dolly grabbed a portable hair-dryer and with that infectious giggle cooed, “Now quick! You hold and I’ll dry.”

With those seven simple words, my entry into the dizzy, delightful world of Dolly Parton—40DD-17-36—had begun. “One day,” I thought to myself, “I will live to write about this.”

The shoot was a success, and as Dolly climbed into her limo, I whispered, “I feel like your bosom buddy.” Without missing a beat, she said, “And my breast friend.”

And so Dolly—so surgically streamlined so many times she’s starting to look like a Siamese cat—continues to be honored and remembered, in books, TV specials, films, a failed Broadway musical, a Time-Life super-duper (and expen$ive) DVD box set and the marvelous PBS program Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Opry.

The Queen of Country Music celebrates 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Recorded live in Nashville, this amazing special pays tribute to her songs and career with special performances from Dolly and her star guests, including Lady A, Emmylou Harris and Hank Williams, Jr. This incredible concert brings together five decades of hits & memories into one unforgettable evening of entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

Henry Louis Gates hosts essential “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song”

Henry Louis Gates Jr. hosts some pretty heady programs.  His latest: The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song (PBS Distribution). This powerful history of the Black church in America takes us from his own experience onto a 400-year journey throughout which the church has been the Black community’s abiding rock and its fortress. As Gates brilliantly shows, the Black church has never been only one thing, and its story lies at the vital center of the civil rights movement, having produced leaders such as Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gates

also penned an essential companion to the series of the same name (Penguin Press, $30); a tome loaded with countless photos, as written as the special is hosted.

Also hosted by Gates: Gates Finding Your Roots: Season 6 (PBS Distribution).

Save the date! “Forever Free” calls necessary attention to the iniquities in public education

Another essential tool in how we can breakdown the long history of systematic barriers, both racial and socioeconomic, that have hindered equity in educational opportunity within America’s public schools.

Tracy Swinton Bailey’s Forever Free: A True Story of Hope in the Fight for Child Literacy (Other Press Hardcover) doesn’t go on sale until August 3, 2021—save the date!) offers an intimate look at the those barriers that have hindered equity in schools; forces, which undergird the modern policy debate around education in the United States. The gap between white academic achievement and that of students of color is widening, and that statistic holds true even when data from upper social economic levels are examined.

At the root many of the important problems we face, from mass incarceration to income inequality, is an education system influenced by our nation’s flawed history. Just as we saw the assertion of power by black voting blocks helping to determine the political direction of our country in the last election, a result of a long and relentless push for voting rights, so too, in Bailey’s view, must we rally tirelessly to move forward an educational agenda that promotes equity and inclusion.

Children of color are being suspended and expelled at higher rates than white children. African American girls are perceived to be adults and treated as such by school officials long before they are ready to make adult decisions. Punishments are harsher. The stakes for children of color are indeterminable. With echoes of Nikole Hannah-Jones, Dr. Eve L. Ewing and the work of Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Director of Educational Equity & Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, Forever Free begs the essential question, how to get a nourishing education to all? A large part of the solution lies with the willingness of our nation to recognize the darkness and then take steps to shine a light.

The book is an urgent call to action for racial and socioeconomic justice by way of education policy reform for vulnerable populations that have long been exploited and underserved. As a part of this call to action, Bailey relates the creation of her childhood literacy nonprofit Freedom Readers, that began in an affordable housing development in Conway, South Carolina; an after-school and summer program designed and implemented to support families in low-income areas and assist children in achieving their academic goals in reading. Bailey has seen it work firsthand in rural southern communities, and is convinced that it can work around the country.

Here, Bailey explains that a person’s literacy level is inextricably tied to their prospects and highlights the tactics employed by Freedom Readers, such as one-on-one tutoring and habitual reading engagement, offering a proven roadmap and template for sustainable advancement.

Timed to publish just as back-to-school season approaches, the book calls necessary attention to the iniquities in public education, delineates actionable steps classroom teachers and extracurricular educators can take to close the achievement gap, and illuminates why overcoming these barriers is critical, not just because of the moral and humane imperative to serve those that have been disenfranchised but because it points to a direct line between the achievement in our public schools and the economic, social and political fate and the future of all Americans.

I tell Dolly we are “bosom buddies”. She coos, “and my breast friend”. Dolly’s life busts out on 19 DVDs!!

My next book is entitled Dolly Parton’s Boob in My Hands . . . and Other True, Titillating Stories From My 35 years of Hollywood Hobknobbing.

Let me explain.

I knew Dolly Rebecca Parton and I would become fast friends when she let me hold her left breast. Before you start calling the tabloids or TMZ, let me explain. It was 1987, and we were in a photographer’s studio on the Upper East Side where Dolly was being photographed for the cover of Redbook.

She was dressed in a handmade denim blouse (size 0), the wig was perfectly placed, the makeup flawless. She eyed the catered buffet and picked up a piece of chicken with her two fire-engine red (fake) fingernails, brought it to her mouth and, plop!, the sliver landed on her blouse, smack-dab on her left . . . well, you get the picture.

The adrenaline kicked in. “Quick, Dolly!” I said. “You hold and I’ll wipe.” I poured water on a paper towel and begin to very gently dab the spot. Dolly grabbed a portable hair-dryer and with that infectious giggle cooed, “Now quick! You hold and I’ll dry.”

With those seven simple words, my entry into the dizzy, delightful world of Dolly Parton—40DD-17-36—had begun. “One day,” I thought to myself, “I will live to write about this.”

The shoot was a success, and as Dolly climbed into her limo, I whispered, “I feel like your bosom buddy.” Without missing a beat, she said, “And my breast friend.”

Oh! The stories I can tell.

It’s the sassy and self-effacing side of Dolly that has always made her look better than a body has a right to. “I’m not a natural beauty, so when I started out, I needed to be as flamboyant and outrageous as possible,” she recalls. “My trashy look started from a sincere place — a country girl’s idea of glamour. I always wanted to be sexy even before I knew what the word meant. I thought that town tramps were beautiful. They had more hair, more color, more of everything. And they had men always hanging ’round them. So I copied those girls. And I owe them a lot.”

She giggles. “When I realized my trashy look was working, I kept it. It’s cost me a lot to look so cheap,” she adds. “I wear the fake hair because it’s so tacky. I wear high heels because I have short legs. And I wear fake fingernails because I have short, fat arms. I have no taste and no style and I love it! When I am 90, I’m going to look like Mae West. I may be in a wheelchair, but I’ll still have the big hair, big boobs and big fingernails. I’ll probably end up this way in my coffin. But I won’t be a fat hog!”

You can call her the Queen of Country, an award-winning songwriter, actress, TV star, philanthropist, business mogul, gay icon and American treasure, but to her millions of fans, she’s known simply as Dolly. From her start out of Nashville in the ’60s to her Hollywood debut and beyond Dolly has done it all . . . and in 6 inch heels!

Now, for the first time ever, the incredible highlights of Dolly’s remarkable career are together in a one-of-a-kind 19-DVD set DOLLY: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION. From her early appearances in the ’60s through her own star-studded variety shows in the ’70s and ’80s, to concerts, interviews, TV appearances and blockbuster collaborations with her closest friends, she’s still going strong and lookin’ spectacular!
“It’s been an amazing journey and you’ll find some of my most precious highlights included here in this collection,” says Dolly. “Thank you to the wonderful folks at Time Life for putting this together. What a delightful trip down memory lane….just the hair styles and outfits alone are worth a look and I’m surprised there are still any rhinestones left in this world! I hope you enjoy these moments as much as I did.”
Time Life cordially invites Dolly Parton fans everywhere to come along on the journey of a lifetime. Available now exclusively at TimeLife.com/DollyParton, this dazzling, carefully curated 19-DVD deluxe collection includes:
  • 22 star-studded episodes of Dolly’s variety shows from the ’70s & ’80s with guest appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Kenny Rogers, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender, Burt Reynolds, Miss Piggy, Merle Haggard, Smokey Robinson & The Temptations, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and more!
  • 7 episodes of The Porter Wagoner Show, from 1967 – 1974 featuring historic Dolly Parton performances including Jolene, I Will Always Love You, Coat of Many Colors, Mule Skinner Blues, and her very first appearance where she sang Dumb Blonde.
  • A special Christmas disc featuring A Down Home Country Christmas with Mac Davis and Burl Ives, and Bob Hope’s Jolly Christmas Show
  • Dolly’s spectacular Live and Well concert from 2002
  • Dolly’s unforgettable Live from London concert from 2009 plus bonus features
  • Rare TV appearances of Dolly throughout her career from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonThe Oprah Winfrey Show, and Crook & Chase
  • The entire Song by Song: Dolly Parton series, highlighting Dolly’s most iconic songs and how they came to be
  • Bonus features include Dolly’s University of Tennessee Commencement Address and Imagination Library Dedication Ceremony at The Library of Congress
  • Classic duets with Dolly & Porter Wagoner taped live at the Grand Ole Opry
  • Unforgettable Dolly Parton performances from the CMA Awards in the ’70s
  • New bonus features created just for this collection featuring Dolly Parton reminiscing about memorable moments from throughout her career
  • Exclusive, complete, and never before seen interviews with Brandi Carlile, Miley Cyrus, Vince Gill, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Kenny Rogers, Marty Stuart, Lily Tomlin, and Carrie Underwood!
  • Plus your FREE Bonus DVD with the complete authorized BBC documentary Dolly Parton: Here I Am
  • An Exclusive Collector’s Book filled with photos, Dolly in her own words, and loving tributes from her famous friends.
  • And it all comes in a beautiful Collector’s Box!
Dolly Parton remains as vibrant and relevant as ever. Her songs have captured the hearts of generations. Her electric smile has brightened the lives of millions. And her trademark style is recognized across the globe. Join Time Life for a celebration of her iconic, unforgettable career with DOLLY: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION, only available via direct response or online at TimeLife.com/DollyParton.
 

Kids learn about the right way to eat (and have good manners!) in the nifty “Fellow in Yellow”

It’s a perfect day, brimming with a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds. Then a young boy spots a man wearing a yellow suit, walking down the sidewalk carrying and enjoying a huge piece of pie and an oversized cookie in his bare hands. A pie in the sky moment?

Nope.

The boy’s curiosity sparks a conversation with the man. The boy is  surprised, almost shocked, as the man tells the boy about his unique, peculiar and–gulp! unhealthy–eating habits. (Neither the boy nor man have names; part of the book’s universal appeal.)

Such food for thought is the main dish of David Duncan’s debut book Fellow in Yellow (Amazon.com Services LLC, $9.99), a nifty book whose rhyming text whimsically helps young readers ages 3-9 understand  the importance of a healthy diet and good manners.

A sampling of the prose: You’re a kid,
my diet won’t do.
You should eat your
fruits and veggies too!

The tasty lessons are accompanied by oodles of captivating illustrations by Patrick Carlson.

We think of Fellow in Yellow as a delicious dessert (and no calories!) that needs to be on every parents menu. Kids are sure to ask Mom and Dad to read the story again and again, savoring its humor and amusing images.

Duncan serves up another extra: A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa , Florida.

Hungry for more about the author? Visit facebook.com/davidduncanbooks and davidduncanbooks.com