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12 Days of Books: A Review and an Author Visit from Lesley M.M. Blume

December 13, 2010
We’ll be featuring one short review a day from a member of our group from now until December 24 (excluding weekends) as part of our 12 Days of Books so check back daily! We’ll cover all age ranges, from baby through adult books. And at the end of the 12 days, we will offer one lucky reader the chance to win all 12 books to read yourself, give as gifts, or donate to your local schools or libraries. If you missed day 1, click here. For day 2, click here.
 
 Today we are joined by author Lesley M.M. Blume, who is here to talk about her new book Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties. Kate has written our 12 Days review, and chose to write about Lesley’s first book, Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters.

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume

Perfect for: independent readers or families reading together

Why they’ll love it: Lesley M.M. Blume’s first novel is an absolute delight. Cornelia is a lonely 11-year-old who reads and reads and reads, rather than venture out into the world, but that all changes when she first spots Mister Kinyatta, the French Bulldog owned by her older, glamorous neighbor Virginia Somerset. Cornelia spends time walking Mister Kinyatta and visiting with Virginia who shares stories of the wildly fun and funny, around the world adventures that she and her sisters have had, and most of all she shares her friendship. Slowly Cornelia comes out of the safe fortress behind her books and learns that friendship, though it may not last forever is a wonderful gift, and she is able to dream of one day having her own adventures.

 

This fall, Knopf released my new book, Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties.  A short story collection and a guidebook all at once, Modern Fairies is most instructive.  It teaches today’s children how to engage with the modern fairy realm that thrives around us every day and everywhere. 

I’ve had some amusing letters from parents in recent weeks, grumbling that they’ve been finding gummi bears in strange places around the house (I’d suggested that fairies love animal-shaped foods as gifts) and that their children now have smarty-pants explanations for all mysterious household activities (the hot water ran out this morning because the fairies used it all up, and so on). 

Many of these families have visited the real-life New York City landmarks mentioned in the books, all of which serve as fairy habitats.  I’d love to say a quick word about some of these places and why I chose them.

The book’s first tale, “The War at the Algonquin Hotel,” takes place at the world-famous establishment, which “sits on 44th Street like a tired, dignified old man with his back turned to the nearby carnival of Times Square.”  I used to visit the Algonquin as a little girl, and was particularly enchanted by a little cubby carved into a lobby wall.  This “room” served as a “suite” for the hotel’s resident cat, Mathilde: it even had a cat-sized canopy bed and a miniature chandelier dangling from its ceiling. 

One day, I stalked into the lobby and found that it had been renovated.

Mathilde’s Suite had vanished.

I was completely dejected – and this memory inspired the idea for the tale, in which a new hotel owner decides to renovate the Algonquin – and in doing so, provokes the ire of its resident fairies.

I set another Modern Fairies tale in the Lincoln Tunnel, a dingy yellowing affair that connects Manhattan to New Jersey.  I don’t want to give away what sort of fairy has made this tunnel its home, but as a child, riding in a car through the tunnel with my family, we always noticed the small brass doors carved into the tiled walls.  My mother would say, “Oh, look!  I just saw a little man go into that door – did you see him?”  And of course I would exclaim that I had indeed spotted him – and what a funny specimen he had been, and then went on to describe him in great detail.  Years later, this provided the inspiration for “Behind the Brass Doors in the Lincoln Tunnel.”

The book’s fourth tale is called “Unlikely Performances at Carnegie Hall.”  As many of my longtime readers know, my mother was a pianist (she inspired the character Lucy in my first novel, Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters).  We went to many concerts at the great Carnegie Hall, and one time we saw a very pompous pianist, who shall remain unnamed.  He acted so bored as he played that we wondered why he even bothered to show up – and my mother and I wished that fairies would come along and give him a few pinches to teach him a lesson – not unlike some of the mischief that Carnegie Hall’s Libretto Fairies get up to in my new story. 

In Modern Fairies, strange creatures turn up in many additional landmarks: the Staten Island Ferry, the Chrysler Tower, the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster, the famous Vesuvio Bakery, and more.  Even as an adult, I’m always on the lookout for fairies when I visit these places. 

I suspect that I always will.

Mathilde's Suite

  

 
 

 

Lincoln Tunnel

 

 
 
 

 

New York City

 

To see the Modern Fairies book trailer , check out the video below.

If you want to follow Lesley on the rest of her blog tour, please visit the following sites:

Tuesday, December 14th – Library Lounge Lizard

http://www.libraryloungelizard.com/

Wednesday, December 15th – Through the Looking Glass Book Review Blog

http://lookingglassreview.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 16th – Book Divas

http://bookdivas.com/

Friday, December 17th – The Children’s Book Review

http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/

Saturday, December 18th – The Book Faerie

http://bkfaerie.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 19th – The Reading Zone

http://thereadingzone.wordpress.com/

Monday, December 20th – SUVUDU

http://suvudu.com/

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

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