Twitterated

I can attribute my long absence on the blog to several things:

1. I started a new job as the children’s books editor at The New York Times Book Review. This, in fact, takes time. A lot of it. And it’s the first time I’ve worked outside my home and pajamas since 2003. It’s been a big adjustment.

2. I am still writing my Studied column for the Times antibiotics/ Sunday Styles section.

3. I’ve been writing elsewhere at the Times for Education Life, The Week in Review, and this weekend, my first Arts & Leisure story.

4. I’ve been writing for the Times’ own ArtsBeats blog.

5. And finally, I’ve joined that great time suck, Twitter.

So please, forgive me if I don’t update here often but do follow me on Twitter where I can be found at @PamelaPaulNYT.

More Picture Books

I am just back from Los Angeles, where I always take time to visit the wonderful shop of children’s books and children’s book illustrations, Every Picture Tells a Story, which has just moved into a larger space on Montana in Santa Monica.

It’s heartening to see a book store, especially a children’s book store, enlarge rather than shrink in these trying times. And this is a very good one. Though short on books (one could call it “heavily curated” as the marketing-speak tendency goes these days), the books are well-chosen and include some underappreciated authors, most particularly, Bill Peet. I almost purchased (and will likely do so soon) a lovely print of Bill Peet’s work from the charming tale-in-rhyme, The Caboose that Got Loose. There were also some glorious prints by the incredibly gifted David Wiesner.

My immediate purchases, however, included two Peets (Huge Harold and Cowardly Clyde), a beautiful hardcover edition or Rapunzel, and the pleasingly silly, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat. Imagine that!

My First Children’s Book

This weekend, The New York Times Book Review ran my very first review of a picture book. Reviewing a picture book, in my opinion, is a challenge, and a far different enterprise from the adult nonfiction books I generally review. I was lucky that the book in question was Knuffle Bunny Free, the final in Mo Willems’s bestselling Trixie trilogy. Not only was I a fan of the first two installments, but I had the good fortune to get hold of a galley at this year’s Book Expo in June, where perhaps the longest line I saw was the one snaking its way to Willems, who was signing buy modafinil online posters and drawings of Trixie and Co. for a long line of eager parents and librarians. I loved the book the instant I read it, even if it did leave me a bawling mess, in the end. I read it right around the time I saw Toy Story 3, and the experience was frightfully similar. A coincidence or a sign of impending middle age?!?

I was also delighted to note that Mo Willems himself seemed to appreciate the review and wrote so on his entertaining Doodles blog here.

Ever More Starter Marriages

It amazes me how often the subject of Starter Marriages comes up. I’ve thought about it a lot recently, coming on the 10th anniversary of writing the book. It was about this time 11 years ago that I began to circulate a book proposal on the subject, in the wake of my own Starter Marriage.

And just today, I got an email from a reader who added this interesting Millennial, social-networking twist: Apparently, Facebook peer pressure adds to the urge to marry young and big. As the reader wrote me in her note:

I am really happy that a friend of mine recommended your book Starter Marriage to me. Websites like Facebook add to that frenzy of engagements you described. Since I am 27, I guess I am caught in that frenzy – where if you are getting engaged you are a superstar with people lavishing your wall with attention and where if you are single, you feel barren, not part of a whole.

Prior to reading your book, I broke up with a boyfriend who I really thought was going to be “the one”. I walked away because I thought to myself after all the hoggle boggle of ceremonies is over, am I just happy buy phentermine online with this person sitting on the couch, enjoying the mundaneness of everyday life. We actually had some serious personality conflicts that could not be ironed out in the short run, let alone in a legally committed long run. So I walked away.

Fortunately, I realized this before I suffered some real consequences of moving in my stuff or having to move back in with my parents. But unfortunately, the universe hasn’t brought along anyone new and this slew of engagements on facebook is like a mirror, constantly patronizing my ego, where I can’t help but think ‘hey, i could of had that too.”

However, I refuse to let fear drive my decisions and I am really glad you wrote your book and I read it. It made me see that I did make the right decision. And the stories of the people you interviewed who went into a marriage thinking ‘what if i don’t find someone else better’ – that type of thinking – haunted me the same way for months before we broke up.

And in other Starter Marriage headlines, apparently there’s a story up on the new Divorce section of the Huffington Post called “Second Time’s the Charm: the Case for the Starter Marriage”

Meanies

I have two new stories in this week’s Sunday Styles section of The New York Times, both of them on our darker moments: The first, The Playground Gets Even Tougher, looks at the trickling down of mean-girl behavior from fifth grade into kindergarten and even preschool. As the mother of a young girl, I found the stories people relayed to be upsetting — but believable. And from the comments on the NYT website, it seems that while many people aren’t sure this is something exactly new, most agree that relational bullying is getting younger and more intense. Two points touched on in the story seemed to resonate in particular with readers: One, that parents, sometimes inadvertently and sometimes deliberately, can encourage mean-girl behavior. That is, in our highly competitive world, having a daughter be on top means helping her put other girls down. And the second point, that the media often abets mean-girl behavior through sassy, talk-back and back-biting female characters on programs watched by girls as young as four years old. (And good luck to those girls with older female siblings!)

The second story, a bit more lighthearted, explores whether there’s any upside to gossip. The story, for my Studied column, asks Can Gossip Be Good for You? According to two new British studies, it may not be exactly beneficial but talking about other people in a positive way certainly doesn’t have the negative impact that badmouthing others does. At the same time, research indicates that one’s sense of social support is bolstered by gossiping, whether it’s mean-spirited or harmless. Though perhaps people just think others like them more when they’re catty.

I think I’ll write about something happy next…