Oh, how I wanted these to work. At first, I thought they were working. I could feel something happening in my calves. Alas, it wasn’t enough to make any difference.
Reebok has agreed to refund $25 million to consumers like me who purchased its shoes based on deceptive advertising. Commercials for the shoes were quite convincing, claiming the shoe helped tone muscles in the legs and backside. I saw a commercial a few days before Christmas in 2009, and I immediately requested a pair. Of course, they were sold out until well after the first of the year.
The Federal Trade Commission says Reebok didn’t have any proof its EasyTone and RunTone shoes toned and strengthened muscles. That’s why I had absolutely no trouble admitting I had fallen prey to deceptive advertising and applied for a refund. If you purchased a pair, go to ftc.gov/reebok for more information.
My movie habits have been mostly animated these days. I can’t even think of the last grownup movie I saw. Does Michael Jackson’s This Is It count?
The grownup movie drought ended when I saw Our Family Wedding. First, it’s a wedding movie. I have a thing for romantic comedy. Second, there are no plot surprises. Everyone knows there will be a wedding. Third, it’s about race. Those wanting to hear jokes about a host of racial stereotypes will not be disappointed.
Our Family Wedding is more than a romantic comedy about race. I loved the cast. I liked seeing so many people of color on the big screen, and I appreciated that the lead male character was raised by his father. I also loved the music. We’ll see where that goes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear some of those tracks on jazz radio stations. There were plenty of subplots about relationships, family, love, trust — all the biggies, and I enjoyed seeing how the screenplay delivered on its promise. For example, there are a few scenes where the family imagines what could happen if they seat certain family members together at the reception. Again, it played on stereotypes, but I have to admit I had similar visions when I was planning the seating chart.
The bottom line is I enjoyed myself. Check out the trailer above and see what you think.
Written by Oliver Chin
Illustrated by Justin Roth
Just in time for the Chinese New Year comes The Year of the Tiger: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac. It is an unlikely story about a cub who befriends a little girl named Su. Despite his parents’ warning, the cub named Teddy ventures to the edge of forest, where he sees Su. She is afraid of him at first and screams, prompting a hunt for the tiger. When the tiger’s learn of the hunt, they decided to move to a new part of the forest. Teddy, though, rushes back to see the girl one last time, and the adventure begins. She follows him into the forest, steps on a snake and falls over a cliff. By then, their parents are in pursuit of them both, following his roar and her cries throughout the forest. Teddy pulls Su to safety, and they prove the forest is big enough for man and beast and they join their parents together. The Year of the Tiger is a story about friendship and how children can help bridge the divide. The book is filled with bright, colorful illustrations chocked-full of animals, and Simone and Nadia enjoying identifying them as I read. This library find also introduces children to the ancient tradition of the Chinese zodiac.
By Karyn Langhorne Folan
When the signed copy of Don’t Bring Home A White Boy arrived, I tore into it. I knew how I had been quoted, but I wanted to read the rest of the book. It was an education of sorts. I can understand having concerns about family, children and slavery. Some black women, though, can’t get over the color of white men and view them as weak. As a black woman who has been happily married to a white man for nearly nine years, I couldn’t help but think some black women may be shortchanging themselves. Whatever the argument, Folan picks it apart. She also provides readers with some history of race in America and stories of successful interracial couples. Pick up the book. That is, if you’re open to hearing the other side of the story.
The Jump At The Sun Treasury: An African American Picture Book Collection
Simone received this book as an infant. The anthology features seven picture books previously published by Jump at the Sun — from a biography of slugger Willie Mays, to a ghost story, to a poem about prayer.
It is a true picture book, and Simone and Nadia like to see how the stories are told through the illustrations. The piece about Willie Mays is one of my favorites, while Simone and Nadia love the lyrical play of “Can I Pray With My Eyes Open?” and another piece called, “These Hands.” A few longer stories are in the back of the book and will be more appropriate as Simone and Nadia grow up and master reading, which means we will be pulling this book from the shelves for many more years to come.
I no longer control the CD player in my car, and Simone and Nadia love Wow! Wow! Wubbzy. I drive while they sing along. All of the songs teach a lesson, and the lyrics are simple and age appropriate. My favorite is We’re All Together written by Bob Boyle. It is about differences and is well done.
We’re all together
But we’re not the same
We’re all together
But we are not the same
What fun would it be if you were like me?
There’d be nothin’ to do if I were like you
Kate is Kate and that is great
Pete is Pete and that is neat!
No one’s like Larry
And no one’s like Gus!
Everyone’s different on the planet of us
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Doreen Rappaport
We read this book all year long. Simone and Nadia, who have an ear for lyrical text, pull it off the shelf on a regular basis. The lessons are obvious but still need to be taught or preached. I want Simone and Nadia to know they can do anything and they shouldn’t shy away from using big words. Among the other lessons: standing up for what’s right, standing up for others, and peacefully pursuing a purpose.
The book is written for children 4 and older, and tackles tough subjects with grace. The picture book begins with King’s experience of seeing “White Only” signs in his hometown, and his mother makes sure he knows he is “as good as anyone.” Young readers and listeners receive an introduction to the civil rights icon and some history about him, including his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and a march for the Sanitation Workers’ Strike in Memphis. “On his second day there, he was shot. He died.”
This is the only children’s King book we own, and for now it is all we need.
Edited by Chandra Prasad
A friend gave me Mixed a few weeks ago, and I have finally opened it. I prefer nonfiction for a multitude of reasons. Still, I am enjoying this work. What’s interesting is that while the short stories are works of fiction, they feel very real and true to me. All of the contributors come from blended families and give voice to the multiracial experience. I see this book as one I can turn to when Simone and Nadia are much older, when someone has done or said something hurtful.
Has anyone else read this work? How would you use it?
By Mike Tauber and Pamela Singh
With an introduction written by Rebecca Walker and a foreword written by Ann Curry
By Mama C And The Boys
© Mama C And The Boys
Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America by Mike Tauber and Pamela Singh is a collective photographic and transcribed exploration of what it means to identify as mixed race in twenty-first century America. As you may recall from a few weeks back, I was so struck by the short piece I heard on NPR with Mr. Tauber that I wrote to him to thank him for putting this work into the collective conversation and asked him if I could review and share his work here. He answered me within the day, and sent the book in two.
I was pulled in from the cover, and felt instantly as if I just arrived at a family reunion with hundreds of kindred voices that all welcomed me in-even when what they had to say was not easy to hear. Take for example the words of Timothy Meril. Adopted, Puerto Rican, and Iranian, and in middle school, his portrait exudes self assurances and self doubt simultaneously. The sepia tones reflect his skin and the bark of the tree-that I trust and hope he will one day be as strong as-and provide a lush container for his honesty; “I’m not black and I’m not white and I just try to fit in… My parents and family love me, but they don’t understand all the issues I deal with.” I feel a future Sammy and Marcel in his words, and in his world. And, I see our family over and over in the pages of this hefty, smooth, and visually stunning event. Interracial families, mixed race marriages, adoption, one part this and four parts that, and so many photos of radiant gorgeous people with curly black hair. Our family is the norm over and over again.
In last month’s Adoptive Families Magazine, there was a story by a now grown woman, Deborah Jiang Stein, who used to pour over the photos in the National Geographic Magazine every month as a child desperate to find a picture of someone who looked like her. Her adoptive parents did not at the time have the background information necessary to help her discover what her ethnicity was (part Greek, Tiawanese-American, Latina and more). Her essay came to mind as I looked in the eyes of the confident LaTanya Spann who is black, white and Asian. LaTanya talks about her choice in college of joining either the Asian, white or black sorority, and her decision to join a Latina-founded multi-cultural sorority instead. The difference in options for her, and Ms. Stein are epic. The book offers this perspective, and all of the possibility that shift engendered by the younger generation presents. At the same time, you are invited in, to the work of the parents that came before them, and the struggles of the peers that have not found their way to her flushed out decision.
I see this book as a tool for Sammy, Marcel and I to have many necessary conversations in the future. When Eddie, our Haitian superhero former nanny and now weekly dinner guest rock star was here the other night she said, having Marcel as a brother is going to provide opportunities for Sammy that he wouldn’t necessary have otherwise. And, having Sammy as a brother will do the same for Marcel. This book offers me a little crystal ball moment into that map she sees ahead of them. The stories in the book, and the dare you to turn that page until you see my soul photos included should be the anchor text for all families who aim to parent children of any background fully in this century. It’s like having extended family sitting on the couch who just showed up when you were at a loss for words and need their help to explain what it means to be human, today.
By Fiona French
The story is based on characters borrowed from Caribbean and African folktales. Mr. Dry-Bone and Anancy want to marry Miss Louise. All they have to do is make her laugh. Mr. Dry-Bone uses conjuring tricks and gets no response. Anancy borrows colorful clothing from several animals, creates an eclectic outfit and makes everyone laugh, even Mr. Dry-Bone.
Simone received this book when she was an infant, and it is a favorite. Simone and Nadia love the colorful and contrasting illustrations, while I enjoy the book’s practical message.