Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

From All of Us to All of You!
Thank you for sharing your family time with us today in a rousing welcome of New Year 2011! New Year's @ Noon sure was fun for our community's littlest party goers. Watch for a short video recap courtesy of the East Hampton-Portland Patch.

First Night Celebrations

If you have not already planned another family-friendly outing for later today, try First Night events in Hartford, Danbury, or Westport.

Cool Apps for Virtual Worlders

If you can't make it to Time's Square, you can live stream the ball drop to your iPhone, iPad or late model android. Also try Party Whistle a cute (but quite possibly annoying) iPhone app; free if you have an iTunes account. For non-drinkers, designated drivers, or people who don't like washing dishes, try IKEA's virtual toast app for the iPhone:

The Twelve Days of Christmas
For fun, since the 12 Days of Christmas are not officially over, we invite you to add your voice to a one-last-time chorus, courtesy of one of our favorite A Cappella groups, Straight No Chaser.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gingerbread Fun

The House You Can Eat!
Creating a gingerbread house is fun and an ideal activity to share as a family. Suggested designs, supplies, equipment, tips, and resources from these titles make planning easy, at any time of year.

Lisa Turner Anderson’s No-Bake Gingerbread Houses for Kids offers a range of projects ranging from simple to sublime. Try the firehouse, the Swiss chalet, or the Caribbean bungalow, among others.

The Gingerbread Book, edited by Allen D. Bragdon, features homes for familiar residents : Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, etc. Recommended for more accomplished builders and those who love to 'consume' classic stories with their kids.

Joanna Farrow’s Gingerbread : Houses, Animals, and Decorations showcases trains, teddies, elephants, wreathes, and necklaces, as well as buildings.

The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes & Blueprints for 12 Classic American Homes by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chattman steps it up a notch... or two... or three. Each home design comes complete with a construction schedule, historical context, and descriptions of prominent architectural features. Great for families or groups looking to add another educational dimension to a gingerbread project.

Post by Bev Simmons

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where Do Movies Come From?

Survey Says? Books!
Between now and spring 2011, a number of great books will have been adapted and readied for viewing on the big or small screen. Read ahead of the film release dates for best experience since as we all know... the books are usually better.

The film is based on the memory-bending thriller, Out of my Head, a 2003 novel by French author Didier van Cauwelaert. The movie stars Liam Neeson and is due for big screen release in February.

The Sunset Limited
Tommy Lee Jones directs the HBO film, based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy. The story has only two characters, played by Tommy Lee and Samuel L. Jackson. The film premieres February 11.

Any Human Heart
This PBS Masterpiece Classic entry is based on William Boyd's 2002 novel, in turn based on the journals of British writer/spy Logan Mountstuart.

Jane Eyre
This latest treatment of Charlotte Bronte's 1847 suspenseful romantic classic stars Mia Wasikowska as Jane. The movie's due out in March.

Artist Julian Schnabel directs this film about the Palestinian struggle, based on the novel by Rula Jebreal.

Mildred Pierce
Kate Winslet takes on the role that won diva Joan "No wire hangers, ever!" Crawford an Oscar in 1945. This five-part miniseries premieres on HBO in March. Should be interesting to see how Cain's 1941 novel, considered scandalous in its day, receives modern day treatment...

Water for Elephants
Sara Gruen's novel about a veterinary student who drops out of school to join the circus graced bestseller lists for close to two years and is still a local book club favorite. Due for big screen release in April, the movie sports a very interesting cast...

Game of Thrones
First in a series of epic fantasy books by George R.R. Martin, this huge HBO endeavor hits the small screen in April 2011. Plenty 'o buzz (and controversy) about how quickly the author has been churning out his prose.

This post is based on "Springtime Screen Time", an article that appeared in the December 13th issue of Publisher's Weekly

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

Santa-riffic Web Site for Kids
In addition to monitoring our skies and waterways for safety's sake, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) also tracks Santa's journey using up-to-the-minute status reports from its radar, satellites, and Santa cams. Here's a video recap of NORAD's 2009's tracking efforts...

Visit NORAD's Santa Tracker site for details, cute games, and free (but hefty) Google earth plugin you can also use to track Santa on December 24th.

Also try Google's Send a Call from Santa to send a personalized message from the 'big guy' to anyone you know who'd love to hear from him. The free service prefers Google voice but many other options are available.

If you'd like Santa to send a personalized video to a family member, pal, or loved one, do not miss Portable North Pole. Very, very cool...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We ♥ LEGO® Art and Science

in LEGO®

Courtesy of

If you aren't (yet) ready to channel Escher with your Legos or don't have plans to commission Lego Artist Nathan Sawaya to sculpt a life-size replica of yourself ...

... you'll get 'there' using your own ideas.

Lego Books and Games
Lego fans on the younger side of Lego creativity may enjoy the following books:
Lego Star Wars : the Visual Dictionary
Cool Cars & Trucks by Sean Kenney
Cool Robots by Sean Kenney
First Lego League : the Unofficial Guide by James Floyd Kelly & Jonathan Daudelin
Unofficial LEGO Builder's Guide by Allan Bedford

For PlayStation® (PS3™ flavor) fans, try the Lego Indiana Jones video games. Both are rated E, for everyone, but are generally recommended for ages 10+.

Psst... Have You Heard of FIRST LEGO® League?
Word has it that the East Hampton Rotary Club will be working to offer weekly programs for Lego enthusiasts in grades 4-8; the program series is set to begin in January 2011. The long term intention is to build an East Hampton First Lego League (FLL) team, ready to enter a team-built robot in Fall 2011's Connecticut FLL competition.

More to come on this exciting program series!

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Ashton Place...

[in-kawr-i-juh-buhl, -kor-] -adjective
1. unruly

This dictionary definition fits the orphan children of the mysterious Ashton Place perfectly! Fortunately, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess...

If you wouldn't mind reading about three children raised by wolves, try The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. The second book in the series is due for release in February of 2011.

Other Books About Orphans
The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
Aram's Choice by Marsha Skrypuch
The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

For Older Readers
Monstrumologist series by Richard Yancey
Foundling's Tale series by D.M. Cornish
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series by Heather Brewer

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Get Into the Holiday Spirit!

Oh! Oh! Oh!
Whether you are baking, partying, or singing we can help you out! Take a look at our great holiday cookbooks, join us for fun holiday festivities, or watch our holiday fingerplay video to learn new holiday favorites with your little ones.

Holiday Cooking (Some of Our Favorites)
Classic Christmas Cooking by Martha Day
Christmas with Paula Deen by Paula Deen
Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook
Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn
The Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Joan Michel
Party Vegan by Robin Robertson

Holiday Books for Kids
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor
Baby's First Christmas by Tomie DePaola
Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson
This is the Dreidel by Abby Levine
Horrible Harry and the Holidaze by Suzy Kline

Holiday Films
Click here for a browsable list of holiday films.

Holiday Programs
Pre-School Holiday Party
Holiday Concert (Adults)

Holiday Songs and Motion

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Biography and Memoir Roundup

"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." ~ Mark Twain

Here's a short list of biographies and memoirs that garnered plenty of attention from critics and more importantly, local readers. Several are older so we're thinking you may have missed a great read along the way...

Autobiography of Mark Twain
One hundred years after his death, Twain still sells. For more information, check out the book's companion web site : Mark Twain Project Online.

Life by Keith Richards
The party stories take a back seat to Richards' descriptions of how the Rolling Stones made musical history. Also enjoy music CDs plus Criterion Collection film Gimme Shelter or Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light.

Drinking : a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
Read Knapp's 1996 memoir along with Gail Caldwell's Let's Take the Long Way Home (2010).

Composed by Rosanne Cash
A book by a musician who's much more than the daughter of country legend, Johnny.

Breaking Night : My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray
The author describes her journey from a fifteen-year-old living on the streets to her acceptance into Harvard.

Just Kids : from Brooklyn to the Chelsea Hotel : a Life of Art and Friendship by Patti Smith
This one won the 2010 National Book Award in the nonfiction category. Also give a listen to the author's CD, Horses, which is often included on lists of best all-time rock albums.

Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden
A sometimes irreverent memoir by the great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Unbroken : a World War II Airman's Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Another can't put it down book by the author who gave us 2001's Seabiscuit. Meet Louie Zamperini, now in his 90's, and expect to be changed. Listen to an author interview, courtesy of NPR.

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
The latest from the tough talking professional eater.

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.

Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz
Cultural/historical analysis from a Princeton professor and serious Dylan fan.

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg
A literary agent squanders success in favor of a two month crack binge. Pairs nicely with Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors.

At Home in the World by Joyce Maynard
More a mother-daughter story than anything else, the author also writes about her relationship with reclusive literary icon, J.D. Salinger.

I'm Down by Mishna Wolff
Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. Humorous, poignant, and offbeat.

Decision Points by George W. Bush
The former president offers a candid journey through the defining decisions of his life and presidency.

Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite by Frank Bruni
Bruni, restaurant critic for The New York Times, describes his struggles with food. Hilarious and compelling.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Things They Handed Down

Lessons from Grandma & Grandpa
Author Erin Bried, a senior staff writer at SELF magazine, offers up a delightful and very practical pair of life skill guides: How to Sew a Button and How to Build a Fire. Respectively, the titles were born from sage advice given by grandmas and grandpas who lived through the Great Depression.

Bried's books also match up nicely to Andrea J. Buchanan's Daring Book for Girls and Conn & Hal Iggulden's Dangerous Book for Boys, both published in 2007.

Stretching further into the land of life skills, you might also like to peruse the Foxfire Books. Published mainly in the 1970's and 1980's, the books cover a wide range of topics, many to do with traditional stories, crafts, trades, tools, and music.

Friday, December 03, 2010


James Bond...
The Secret History of MI6, 1909-1949 by Keith Jeffery tells the authorized story of the oldest foreign intelligence service and its role in shaping European and world history. The book also reveals the identity of the man who inspired Ian Fleming's books about master spy, James Bond : Commander Wilfred Dunderdale (photo, above).

If you're interested in the history of espionage, if not the emergence of modern day spying techniques, this is one heck of a book. Previously untold stories of disguises, forgeries, invisible ink, cryptography -- and Dunderdale's attraction to beautiful women and fast cars -- are revealed, along with the identities of other MI6 operatives whose names may surprise you.

Click here to view a video about the book, courtesy of The Telegraph, a daily British newspaper published in London.

Related Reading
Defend the Realm : The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew
The Man Who Saved Britain : A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond by Simon Winder

Just for Fun

Always a treat, the 007 films are mainly based on books by Bond's creator and Dunderdale's pal, Ian Fleming, or by John Gardner, who revived the series in the 1980's.

News from the Front : Project X
Bestselling thriller writer, Jeffrey Deaver, is now working on Project X, a Bond revival novel due out in May 2011.