Zuzu’s Petals, A Dream of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ by Karolyn Grimes and Karen Deming


Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Five Gold Stars

zuzus-petalsZuzu’s Petals, A Dream of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ by Karolyn Grimes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“That’s faith. Believing in something before you see it.”

God only knows the last time I read a children’s picture book. But I so enjoyed reading Zuzu’s Petals, A Dream of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ by author Karolyn Grimes, the woman who played the role of Zuzu Bailey in the classic Christmas film–yes, you guessed it–It’s a Wonderful Life. The book is co-authored and illustrated by Karen Deming.

I’m absolutely aware that I’m biased and sentimental about this read, having loved the film all my life, but what else is a book like this for if it isn’t to warm your heart and inspire you? The illustrations are beautiful, wonderfully depicting old-fashioned Bedford Falls and the people in it, appropriately shifting the “look” along with the flow of the story.

It was interesting seeing the Wonderful Life tale from Zuzu’s angle, seeing how she views her father, George, who works hard at the Building and Loan. While the storyline doesn’t follow each detail of the film exactly, the attention to detail in the book is still clear and fitting as the story draws an inspiring parallel to the movie’s message about how one’s acts of kindness can go a long way.

Oh, it mayn’t be 100% necessary to know the original story in order to enjoy this book, but knowing the original story of George Bailey and Bedford Falls will make you appreciate this book all the more. I highly recommend it.

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary


Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Five Gold Stars

Beezus and RamonaBeezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Beezus and Ramona: the first book in an awesome series by my favorite childhood author, Beverly Cleary. Nine-year-old Beezus (so nicknamed back when her younger sister could not yet pronounce “Beatrice”) is sure her sister Ramona must be the most “exasperating” sister in the world, and this chronicle shows how much their unremarkable yet remarkable little adventures warrant…well, warrant being chronicled.

Cleary just gets it. She gets why four-year-old Ramona, whenever asked what color her eyes are, would answer, “Brown and white,” and why Beezus would be so annoyed at this answer that just isn’t right, even while she grudgingly has to admit, inwardly, that Ramona makes sense. Cleary gets why Ramona would do something so silly and troublesome as dump and mix whole eggs, shells and all, into the batter that’s supposed to become Beezus’s birthday cake. Not to be naughty, in this instance, or to ruin Beezus’s birthday, but just “To see what would happen.” Naturally. Of course. *Sigh.*

The thoughtful correlations that Beezus eventually makes between herself and Ramona and their mother and Aunt Beatrice are simple, easily grasped. And yet they’re brilliant in that they, along with everything else in this book, give children the sense that somebody else understands what it’s like to be a child.

Yes, I first read this book a time or two as a little girl, and doing so again as an adult has reminded me afresh, and even to a greater degree, why I loved–love–the Ramona Quimby books so much. Indeed, I agree with the old Chicago Tribune review that called this book “Hilarious–and wise,” and I plan on rereading the rest of the series as well, including my absolute favorite book as a child, Ramona the Pest.

Ramona the Pest

Rereads and Reruns: Yea or Nay?


I’ve seen every episode of all six seasons of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman at least twice, most of the episodes three or four times, and I’ve watched the two Dr. Quinn movies two or more times each. I’ve seen all six seasons of Leave It to Beaver at least three times, and the movies on my Favorite Films list are all at least thrice-watched, with some that I view annually.

Looking at my Goodreads shelves, I don’t feel that I’ve read many books for a lifelong bookworm. I mean, sure, there’s no way to count all the books I’ve read and forgotten, or the ones I remember the gist of but don’t recall the titles and authors’ names, but still, I’m not as fast a reader as many others are, and it takes time for me to fit a whole book in.

With that said, it’s likely that I’ve read only so many books due to the hours and days I’ve spent reading the same ones over again, even as a child. (Ask me how many times I read Ramona the Pest and The Little Gymnast when I was a kid. Sorry I’ll have no definite numbers for you, since I lost track somewhere around Round Three or Four for each of them.)

Oh, I know how unexciting and monotonous that is or would be for some, to know what scene is waiting on the next page before you flip it, to be able to put words into every actor’s and actress’s mouth before they speak them. I could state what’s often stated by those who reread and rewatch, that I notice something new in a book or movie or TV episode the more times I take it in, that it’s never quite the same reading or viewing twice, which is true for me.

However, as much as I enjoy that kind of differentness, I also enjoy the sameness. “Yes, that veggie lasagna or pepperoni pizza or stack of apple cinnamon waffles might taste the same as it did the last time I had some, but I’m enjoying it just as much, or even more, this time around.” That’s how rereads and reruns are for me, like savoring the sameness of a favorite food over again.

Gee, I’ll even admit that I read and reread the fiction I write, not always to critique my work but sometimes just to take pleasure in it as a lover of fiction.

I know that not all authors are interested in revisiting, cover to cover, what they’ve already published, but this reader-author loves to spend time with her own books now and then, like a parent who wants to spend time with her own children when she can, no matter how well she may (or may not yet?) know them.

So. How about you? Are you a one-and-done, on-to-the-next kind of reader or viewer, or are rereads and reruns your thing?

Anne of Green Gables and The Sequel (1985, 1987)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1985, 1987) from Sullivan Entertainment
(The Sequel is also called Anne of Avonlea)
Rated G (Canada). Drama, Comedy, Romance, Family Films

Five Gold Stars

Description (from the first film’s case): Filmed amidst the spectacular scenery of Prince Edward Island, Canada, this award-winning movie follows the enchanting life of orphan Anne Shirley [Megan Follows], from her struggles as an adolescent to her triumphs as a young woman. A delicate epic full of wit, style, and emotional power.

My thoughts: Anne of Green Gables the film is so true to the spirit of the classic children’s novel by one of my all-time favorite authors. Follows is the quintessential Anne, and the whole cast, really, brings fitting and memorable voices and faces to Montgomery’s characters. Such a feel-good film and a wonderful trip to Prince Edward Island, and the sequel, though four hours long, doesn’t feel that long to me. Granted, the sequel takes more plot departures from the Anne novels than the first film does, but I think it’s still true to the spirit of Anne, of Gilbert, of Avonlea and Avonlea’s folk. Refreshing, amusing, touching, romantic, nostalgic.

Yup. I love both movies.

My corresponding reading: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery.

There is a third movie in the series, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story–not as true to the spirit of the Anne novels (and a plot nowhere to be found in the books) but a nice movie in and of itself.


From the first movie, when Anne arrives at Green Gables for the first time.