Picture Book Spotlight: Emily’s Bunch

Emily’s Bunch by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Alice Numeroff Richter
Published: Macmillan, 1978
Buy on Amazon

Sibling rivalry is an infinite source of conflict. In Emily’s Bunch, Jeffrey and his much-younger sister Emily argue over what they’re wearing to an upcoming costume party. Emily’s first idea is to throw a pillowcase over her head and go as a ghost, but Jeffrey shoots it down.

The posture of a guy with an opinion that counts.

Jeffrey is a downer throughout the story and declares every idea Emily has “unoriginal.” Jeffrey’s own “original” idea is to dress as the poor boy who’s throwing the party, much to the party-planner’s irritation.

I invited you to my party so you could make fun of me, awesome.

Emily announces she’ll go as a bunch of grapes just to spite her brother, with no clue how she’ll manage it. There’s enough of a delay between that moment and the scene where she declares sweet victory that the reader has time to speculate. What are the ways someone could be a bunch of grapes?


In the Internet age, grape costumes are a Google search away. In 1978, ganging up on your brother in a purple paper bag with all of your friends like some grape-themed sequel to Children of the Corn sounded totally reasonable.

The last thing Jeffrey saw on Earth.

Emily’s Bunch is a girl-empowerment book with natural dialog and a 1970s aesthetic. Hardcovers are available from third-party sellers on Amazon.

Picture Book Spotlight: Small Deer’s Magic Tricks

Small Deer’s Magic Tricks by Betty Boegehold and Jacqueline Chwast
Published: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1977
Buy on Amazon

My mother loved children’s books. She wanted me to study English and write children’s books on the side, but didn’t live quite long enough to see my first children’s book published. I don’t think she would have thought any less of it for being a licensed graphic novel, as long as it wasn’t more Small Deer.

Small Deer’s Magic Tricks was one of my favorite books as a child and also the book my mother hated the most. It took me years to understand why. She didn’t hate the book, as it turned out–she hated Small Deer. Which is completely understandable, because Small Deer dishes out cold justice and walks away unscathed.

The book contains four stories, all of which present Small Deer as the smartest animal in the jungle at some other animal’s expense.

Guess who got him into this mess

Small Deer is trying to survive, of course. Tigers and crocodiles are out to eat her and she has to use her wits to get on with her day. She just doesn’t always have the most humble attitude about it.

Look at that smug bitchface

It’s not always easy to excuse Small Deer’s choices when she decides to lie to an entire river of crocodiles just to get some sun. The final story has the most questionable likely consequences when she convinces a pile of gullible bystanders to sit in a hole and wait for the end of the world.

“Your eventual death is not my concern.”

Winning through cleverness appealed to me as a child, my mother–not so much. Pick up a used copy and give it to the child of someone you’d like to annoy.

The Vancouver Christmas Market

Front entrance

My husband loves to travel. He’s one of those people who always has a trip planned in advance. If we don’t have the money to go, he shrugs and starts planning the next one. If we can’t go on a big trip, we might settle for a day trip. Last week he did some research and found out about the Vancouver Christmas Market.

Handmade incense burners

This traveling market opened for its eighth year on the Vancouver waterfront and features over 75 authentic German stores in the tradition of December Christkindlmarkts in small German towns.

Mulled wine bar topped with a concert hall

We skipped the mulled wine in favor of “coffee nogs” (eggnog lattes) topped with whipped cream and candy canes. I had mulled wine waiting for us at home.

The nutcracker stand

My daughter hit every one of the kinderhuts, where volunteers helped small children make free arts and crafts. She made her own snow man ornament, a snowflake out of pipe cleaners, and some randomized art courtesy of a paint spinner.

View of Stanley Park

It was a cold and misty day on the waterfront, and that kept the crowd light. It seems most visitors wait until dark to go and the lines get long after 5pm, so consider visiting early in the day for maximum breathing space.

Inside the tree of lights

My daughter loved the carousel, and we loved the wild mushroom soup. Other appealing food options included pretzels, huckleberry pie, spaetzle and pierogies.

The tree of lights looking up

The market runs daily through December 23 and closes on December 24 at 6pm.