Have your toes ever tingled because you were so moved by an event or place? Mine did the other night.
Next to books, I love the cinema. Especially classic films with iconic actors. That's why I was so excited about spending an evening with friends at our North Carolina town’s newly renovated 1940s-era movie theater for a showing of one of my all-time fave books-to-flim, Harper Lee's “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Remember the courtroom scene that pans up to the balcony, where "Negro" townsfolk stand as Atticus leaves after Tom Robinson's trial? When that part came on, I peered around the balcony in our theater, which was jammed this night with mostly middle-aged Caucasian suburbanites like myself.
The balcony and outside staircase that once were used to separate the races were now encased in gleaming new structures that welcomed everyone. No more separate ticket window or bathroom. Or little door in the alcove to the concession, where black townspeople knocked to buy candy.*
The movie played on: “Miss Jean Louise, stand up,” prompted the Reverend to Atticus’ young daughter in the film balcony. "Your father's passin'.” Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch silently leaves the deserted first floor, while those relegated to the balcony solemnly stand to acknowledge the efforts of this man who fights for social justice.
Six decades slipped away. Here I was, immersed in a story about America’s struggle with race. In an actual, physical place from the segregated south. In a movie balcony where blacks were made to sit.
And just for a nano-second, I got the tiniest glimpse of what it must have been like to live in that time and place. Despite this micro-scale moment, the enormity of what it was like to live in that segregated era pinged in my brain.
Earlier in the film, Atticus talks to Scout about her disastrous encounter with an impoverished classmate on her first days at school: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it,” he tells her.
Last night, I climbed inside the skin of an old movie theater. My toes tingled.
Peggy Van Scoyoc:
Just a Horse-Stopping Place, an Oral History of Cary, North Carolina
Ready for chocolate with your book?
Settle back and enjoy no-cal deliciousness with the Chocolate and Books Blog Tour. I'll share seven of my favorite reads and pair those books with different types of chocolate to match the story's flavor.
I had a blast writing this post, but it was tough narrowing the field. So many favorite books! And when I couldn’t find a real type of chocolate, I kinda-sorta made up the perfect match for my book.
Here’s how this post rolls:
I. Meet the blog sponsor.
II. Read my book and chocolate pairings.
III. Meet four writers posting next on the tour, 28 June.
Read on for happy tales AND virtual chocolate-filled tummies (with all calories removed just for you).
I. Blog Sponsor
This tour is brought to you by K. Lamb, author of the Dani P. Mystery Series.
K. Lamb knows first-hand about what captivates children after spending many years in the classroom.
She currently has two books published under the series, Dani and the Haunted House and Dani and the Mall Caper, with many more to come. She is also working on several young-adult novels. Ms. Lamb is an advocate of children's literacy and believes all children deserve the gift of reading and the right to become lost within a treasured children's book. She likes to encourage parents to become active participants in helping their children on their path to discovering a passion for literature.
To learn more about K. Lamb, please visit her blog @ http://www.authorklamb.blogspot.com/.
II. Cat’s Chocolate and Books Picks
~ Part 1 ~
Three Books for Grown Ups
1. Louise Penny:
Canadian author Louise Penny’s first book in her mystery series introduces Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec.
Gamache and his team of investigators are called to the scene of a suspicious death in Three Pines, a rural village south of Montréal that feels like as if it exists in another place and time. We’re introduced to the chief inspector and his team, each with his or her own set of human foibles to overcome. We also meet the village’s quirky, endearing residents: an insecure artist and her self-absorbed husband; a cranky poet with a duck; a gay couple who run the B&B and bistro; and a retired psychologist-turned-bookseller who dispenses wisdom with her sales. Gamache, his team, and Three Pines --- a mystery lover's trifecta.
Can we visit Three Pines now, please?
Chocolate Bar, with Canadian Maple Syrup Coating
Nothing says Quebec like maple syrup – unless it’s Poutine, and chocolate-covered fries, served on top of meat and gravy, call to you.
2. Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows:
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I learned a new word when I read this book …. epistolary. I thought it meant something about ‘pistols’ until I remembered my Sunday school studies. D’uh … Epistles from the bible! And then I got it.
This appealing tale of courage, war, and potato peels revolves around Nazi occupation of the British isle of Guernsey. It also highlights a love of books and the craft of writing. For instance, Guernsey town folk concoct a literary society as an ‘approved’ vehicle to hold sanctioned, citizen gatherings to cover their food thefts. As they meet and secretly plot ways to thwart the Nazi keepers, the literary society members also become strengthened by books they read, finding reason and compassion during a horrific war. The parallel story arc features a female protagonist, a journalist looking for a great story as WWII ends. She corresponds with Guernsey's inhabitants, wins their trust, and writes a book about them, so they can share their war experience with the world. Oh, there's also a pig and a sweet love story.
I wasn’t sure about the whole reading-letters-instead-of-having-dialogue thing. But how I soon loved it --- especially the audio version, listening to its series of letters read by multiple narrators, giving a unique voice to each character. My own book club was captivated, too!
GL&PPS is more endearing because Annie Barrows, niece of the original author, Mary Ann Shaffer, finished and published the tale after her aunt passed away in 2008.
Potato Chips Dipped in Chocolate
Potato peels in chocolate just didn’t do it for me, (they weren’t a-peeling) but choco-chips are tempting.
3. Harper Lee:
To Kill a Mockingbird
I thought I was finished with my book selections, but driving through town this week, past the community’s newly renovated 1940s movie theater, I knew I had to add one more --- the marquee advertising the motion picture version of To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck in his lustrous role as Atticus Finch, called to me.
Harper Lee’s 1960 Southern coming-of-age yarn has all the elements of a grab-ya read: courage, compassion, racial injustice, class, gender roles, parenting, and loss of innocence. Whew! I even watched documentaries about Mockingbird and heard lawyers admit they decided to enter the legal profession because of seeing the film or reading Lee’s book.
A Huge Chocolate Sampler Box
This slice of life from a rural southern town in the 1930s goes best with a giant-sized chocolate sampler, and each individual savory represents the book’s many elements and Lee’s rich characters.
II. Cat’s Chocolate & Books
~ Part 2 ~
Four Books for Young Readers
1. Neil Gaiman:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
A lonely house. A lonely boy. And monsters lurking in the isolated British countryside!
This first-person narrative is told via flashbacks by a man visiting his boyhood home and remembering what happened to him when he was seven years old.
The story reveals slowly, like layers peeled back on an onion, as the man picks up clues about strange events from his boyhood that changed his life forever. You’ll want to be sure this book for older children isn’t read by them when they’re alone at night -- it has plenty of scary passages.
BTW…. If you get the audio version, you’ll hear the author himself tell the tale in his luscious British bass.
Really-Dark, Bittersweet Chocolate, with Sea Salt
Sea salt in this chocolate must be collected only from an ocean at the end of any lane, or I cannot be held responsible for what happens next.
2. Mem Fox, author
Emma Quay, illustrator:
I was privileged to hear Mem Fox read her book aloud at the 2014 Book Expo America (BEA) conference and wanted to run out and find my blankie when she finished!
Although written for her first grandchild, this lullaby to babies everywhere is a tribute to the love inspired by wee ones in our lives. Art by Emma Quay is soft and muted, lovely to behold.
Extra-sweet Chocolate, Shaped in Loveys
Best topped with chamomile sprinkles
Don’t drive or handle machinery after reading: Baby Bedtime has been known to cause drowsiness.
3. Kentrell Martin, author,
Marc Rodriguez, illustrator:
Shelly Goes to the Zoo
(Disclosure: I met Kentrell at Book Expo America (BEA) 2014, and his book is on my to-read shelf.)
I’m over the moon about the way this book embraces diversity on so many different levels! Plus, I just plain love Indie authors.
Shelly Goes to the Zoo, the second title of a planned 20-book series, Shelly's Adventures, is a fun, educational resource. Best of all, the author incorporates American Sign Language (ASL) storytelling in his stories. In this tale, Shelly and friends spend a day with zoo animals. She teaches them about the signs for, and shares interesting facts about, each animal.
Stacks are a variety of bite-sized chocolates and represent diversity in this pairing. Shelly can detach a single piece from the stack and give it to each friends for every new word she signs.
4. J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
What can I say?
J.K.’s first book had me by the end of her first chapter. And who’s to argue with a series that got so many kids hooked on reading?
Super-dark Rocky Road
Best washed down with Butter Beer and accompanied by Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean.
Overnight chocolate delivery by owl post available in select muggle markets
III. Coming 28 June
Four Writers & Their Picks
The fun continues. Please mark your calendars for 28 June and join me in a visit with these talented writers who are up next on the Chocolate and Books Blog Tour.
I can't wait to see their choices!
Thanks for touring with me. Please visit again soon, and don't forget to grab a chocolate before you go.
All the best and happy, chocolate-covered tales.
BTW… What’s your fave book and chocolate pairing?
I'd love to know.
Please share your book-and-chocolate picks in the comment section below.
And if you enjoy reading this post, I'd be over the moon if you'll pretty-please-with-chocolate-sauce share it with your friends.
Almost done with the sweetest post I've ever written ... the Books and Chocolate Blog Tour. On 21 June, I 'll discuss and pair seven of my favorite books with perfect chocolate lusciousness.
At first, I thought I might need to invent a chocolate to go with one of my book selections, but I found THE perfect pairing with a chocolate flavored with sea salt flavored chocolate, right on my grocer's shelf. Who knew?
My fave chocolate is anything mocha-flavored ... especially as in decaf, skinny, iced mocha latte.
What kind of chocolate is your special treat?
Lovely Tuesday afternoon with first- and second-graders at Creekside Elementary in Durham, North Carolina. Thanks to Mr. Jim for arranging!
Dick Leonardo of Bookroom Reviews finds Fuzzy .... and likes what he sees in this beach-themed book for young readers. You, too?
Finding Fuzzy: A You-Decide Tale of a Lost Friend
by Cat Michaels
Illustrated by Irene A. Jahns
"So, obviously by the title of the book you may have figured out that somewhere between playing in the sand and swimming in the ocean and all the fun to be had, FUZZY got LOST! But only you and your little prospective writer knows what happens next....
This week marks my first anniversary as a full-time Indie writer of illustrated children's books for young readers. Wow....those twelve months flew by faster than the sales of a New York Times #1 best-seller flying off the shelf.
I'm beyond-grateful to family, friends, readers, and writerly folk who supported and encouraged me to push forward with Sweet T and the North Wind and Finding Fuzzy, my tale where kids write or draw the ending.
Y'all are the BEST .... And the very-best is yet to come!
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