Tag Archives: Salon.com

Kids Travel By the Book

kid with suitcasekid with suitcaseSalon.com posted a great article about unusual travel destinations and the books that inspire families to visit. I love the idea and after you read the article, I’ve got a few more to share.

Little House on the Prairie series – Laura Ingalls Wilder House. Located in Mansfield, Missouri, readers of the Little House series (and/or TV show) get a look at artifacts from Laura’s life as well as her daughter’s, Rose Wilder Lane.

Anne of Green Gables series – Prince Edward Island, Canada. The tourism website for PEI (as its known) has an entire section devoted just to Anne and her fans. You can visit the farmhouse that inspired the story, watch the Anne of Green Gables musical, and walk the lanes and meadows that Anne did on the page.

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Gardens – Springfield, Massachusetts. Walk among the characters that Dr. Seuss created in this amazing sculpture garden in the city in which he was born.

Little Women author Louisa May Alcott’s home – Concord, Massachusetts. Visit Orchard House and see where Louisa May Alcott spent a pivotal part of her childhood. Bonus: it’s walking distance to Nathanial Hawthorne’s home, Henry David Thoreau’s, and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s.

And for those of you able to swing a more expensive literary vacation, check out this tour of England that promises to show you all of Harry Potter’s hangouts, including Platform 9 3/4!

Platform 9 3/4

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Filed under Europe, Learn, Read

Book Owners Have Smart Kids

There are some things you just don’t need science to study, but I suppose that I am glad that they did even if it’s just to feel a bit self-congratulatory. That’s because a recent study published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility proved that when kids grow up around books – even if they haven’t been purchased for them – they are more likely to stick with school.

In my own experience, this was certainly true. Growing up in a house with an English and History teacher for a father, I had access to a wide variety of books such as The Glory and the Dream; FDR; Walden and Civil Disobedience; and the entire Kurt Vonnegut cannon.

It was convenient for me, too.  No need to beg Mom or Dad to drive me to the bookstore or library to choose a new book. I just had to climb up the bookshelves in the living room to get to the good stuff.

And in the days before Wikipedia, my father actually sold encyclopedias to supplement his teaching salary (which he also supplemented painting houses, coaching, and working retail jobs – this is how we value education in this country). I am not ashamed to admit that sometimes I just picked a letter and explored the encyclopedia. It’s colossally nerdy but I’m admitting it nonetheless.

For my son, I hope that means that someday he’ll pick up my copy of Walden or The Hobbit or the poetry of William Butler Yeats and feel that it’s something he has to reach for – literally and figuratively – and thereby incite him to learn even more.

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Die Neuen Cupcakes, Thanks to McDonald’s

I confess that Europe’s controversial foray into the world of cupcakes was not on my radar until I read this New York Times article, “In Germany, A Taste of New York, Via McDonald’s.”

It appears that McDonald’s has introduced cupcakes to Germany via four very pretty (but not so tasty) versions that are supposed to exemplify four areas of New York City (Chelsea, SoHo, Central Park, East Village, below, left to right).

The tie-in is intended to echo the cupcake references from “Sex and the City,” and NYC’s cupcake craze which is best exemplified by the Magnolia Bakery’s popularity. Their cupcakes range from $2.75 to $3.25 (makes that $4 box of Girl Scout cookies look like a bargain).

But the crazy thing to me is that I never even considered that Europeans didn’t eat cupcakes. Knowing the global dominance of doughnuts, I guess I just assumed that every culture that produced cakes would also jump to the logical conclusion of making that cake smaller, more adorable, and therefore invisible to calories.

Boy, was I wrong. Not only that, apparently Europeans – who have only “known” cupcakes for a few years now – are already fed up with them!

Salon.com explored the phenomenon in this article, “Europe’s Cupcake Backlash Begins.” Apparently, the problem with cupcakes is their:

“. . . culture of frivolousness, artificial domesticity and fetishistic cuteness.”

Compounding the problem? Cupcakes are so small, no one has to share them, leading to a general selfishness.

Let me just interject here that as one of four children and the mother of a six-year old, I have DEFINITELY had to share a cupcake or two in my time. In fact, I have had to share a grape before. So I doubt that cupcakes’ size are the problem.

According to Laura Atkinson, who wrote, “Enough With the Cupcakes, Already,” for the Sunday Times of London, cupcakes are really just “the gourmet equivalent of mutton dressed as lamb.”

That is writing you have got to love.

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