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Many times, when I am the one who is making dinner and there is something that requires wait time, while it's baking or cooking, I will sit at the kitchen table with a book so that I'm nearby in case whatever it starts boiling over or needs foil to stop it from burning, or whatever. I made dinner tonight (oven-baked salmon with a new Abba feta-pesto ready-mix, rice and a veggie mix that included broccoli, spinach, snap peas, asparagus and haricot verts) and started a new book at the same time. At some point I got up to fetch something or do something, and walked through the house. Martin was curled up in the big chair with the iPad, Anders was at the dining room table working on his laptop, and Karin was on the computer in the den.

I love having the iPad around, it's convenient and an easy way to check emails from the sofa or read a magazine in bed, though I do have to fight the rest of the family for it, but every single time I've upgraded the iPad software, I've lost the whole stupid thing and had to restore it all. The first time it happened was a real panic and a struggle to figure out what to do, since I was very new to the iPad and to Apple products in general. To restore it, I always have to connect to a DIFFERENT iTunes than the one on the main computer (my work laptop, for example) and then re-sync with iTunes. It's always worked but it's a huge pain. This time, we went through the same rigamarole but despite the restore working as it should, none of the apps work at all now. Googling for an answer hasn't given us much help and ARGH WHY CAN'T THINGS JUST WORK LIKE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO?

Anyway, I was the only one reading at the that particular moment, when I walked through the house, though Martin has spent a good portion of the day earlier slogging through a book for school that he keeps changing his mind on whether he likes it or not. I finished the book I started the end of last week this morning, and it was excellent: Just My Type, a fact-filled interesting history of fonts and typefaces and their evolution and meaning in everyday life. I love fonts and typography in general and found it captivating.

Then I picked up a novel by the same author whom I had been introduced to just a couple of weeks ago, and whipped through it, finishing it right before I started dinner. Really good stuff, though it probably skews a bit chick-lit, it had an unpredictable ending, an unbelievably tragic premise and several really fascinating characters: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell. And the book I started as I also started dinner? Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl. After just one chapter, I find myself mesmerized and will probably have to read and re-read all of Dahl's works when I'm done reading about his life.

Even though I've read and am a huge fan of some of Dahl's classics, notably Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, its sequel, and The Witches, and James & the Giant Peach, I actually haven't read that much else of his children's books. I have 2 collections of his adult short stories which are really great and rather disturbing, and a picture poetry book of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes.

Did you know he wrote the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and completely invented the Child-Catcher, who was voted the scariest villain in children's literature in 2005, even though he wasn't even part of the original novel by Ian Fleming? The survey was done by Amazon and I was surprised to see that the Wicked Witch of the West didn't make the Top 10. Maybe she was only memorably scary in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz? But if so, the Child-Catcher, who wasn't even IN the book, shouldn't count.

I found another list of Scariest characters in Kid-Lit allegedly done by Penguin Books and the Child-Catcher only made 7th place there, but still the Wicked Witch didn't even place. Since the list is otherwise nearly identical, I wonder which is really legit. Who do YOU think is the scariest character in children's literature? Any particular character from your memory of bedtime stories send a shiver down your spine just thinking of them?
mood: relaxed
music: Marlena Shaw—California Soul


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory haunted my dreams when I was a child. Roald Dahl has that special terrifying touch I think!


I used to dream about the Vicious Knids!

I just got Storyteller from the library and I'm looking forward to reading it! (I think I got it based on your list.)

I don't remember particularly scary characters from specifically children's literature, but I remember being terrified when told stories of Communists in school. I didn't know what they were, but Communists seemed like people who would line up children and shoot them. I was also afraid of people who would perform abortions. (Conservative Christian childhood during the Reagan administration much?)

Oy vey! Pretty severe stuff for a kid to worry about!

From Megsie

Oh, I LOVE Roald Dahl! So do my kids. We have tried to read our way through his books and he does not disappoint.

As for scary characters in books, I can't think of any. I must have blocked out the things that frightened me. I was always scared of the dark and of storms, and I have never liked scary stories. I watched Amityville Horror when I was 12 on the sly as well as The exorcist. I still get scared when I think about them, and I can still visualize particularly scary scenes. When I wake up at 3:15 in the morning, I kind of freak out. Even. Now.

I am so jealous that your nose was in THREE books yesterday. I am longing for that escape. Maybe in January?

Re: From Megsie

I used to LOVE ghost stories, and got in trouble once in 4th grade for reading them while I was supposed to be doing math...I had the ghost story book propped INSIDE my math book. Sneaky!

And it was 3 books over the weekend :) Not all 3 in one day :)

You have just reminded me that I need to find a new pediatrician for my children. They had different themes in every room and one was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The kids always wondered about it because I deemed too scary for them to watch because of that guy. I didn't realize he wasn't in the book. How do the kids all get trapped if he isn't there to do it?

I don't know, actually. I've never read the book. But the movie is awesome and you should totally let the kids watch it now!!

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