Archive for the ‘Chris Grabenstein’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: IMMANUEL WILKINS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #164 (February 3, 2021).

Immanuel Wilkins is a saxophone player who creates mellow but poignant jazz.

Candles and books rest on a trunk at the bottom right corner of the wide shot. There, too, are special photographs of alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins with family in his childhood home in Philadelphia.

Wilkins plays three songs from Omega in this twenty minute

Omega was released last year to high acclaim. The project is all about Blackness, Black theory, the Black experience and the struggle and triumph that go with it all.

They open with “Grace and Mercy,” which is “a lyrical story about peace, forgiveness and humility with carefully crafted form and melody.”

He met up with his long time bandmates — Micah Thomas on piano, Daryl Johns on bass, Kweku Sumbry on drums —in Manhattan’s Sear Sound studio to record this set. The quartet has been playing together for years, which is remarkable considering Wilkins is only 23 years old.

There’s a really nice piano solo in the middle of the track from Thomas

“Warriors” opens with a saxophone intro before the band joins in for this

driving, dynamic tune that conveys the shield of protection provided by our inner circles.

Wilkins gets up to some wild soloing in the middle of the song.  As the song comes to an end and Wilkin repeats the same melody, Sumbry gets to show off his chops on the drums.

“The Dreamer” is a tender piece that honors the Black writer and activist James Weldon Johnson and is based on his poem “A Midday Dreamer.” The opening lines are played effortlessly on bass by Johns and when Wilkins joins in, his melodic saxophone exudes the rhythm of the poem’s first stanza: “I love to sit alone, and dream, and dream, and dream…”

This is some wonderfully thought provoking instrumental music.

[READ: March 3, 2021] Super Puzzletastic Mysteries

I was in Barnes & Noble at the end of last year and I was feeling splurgy so I picked up this book, thinking that everyone in the family might like it.  We all love Chris Grabenstein after all.  So this is basically a series of pretty short mysteries.  The end of the story is pushed to the back of the book so you can figure out if you solved the mystery before it is revealed to you.

Grabenstein sets up what the book is about.  it was inspired by Donald Sobol (the guy who created Encyclopedia Brown) and his Two Minute Mysteries.  There would be some kind of crime, clues would be presented and the story would end without a  solution.  The end of the story (and the solution) came at the end of the book so you could try to figure it out for yourself.  Amusingly, he also tells us that his story is “based on something I actually saw out the library window when I did a school visit the day after a snow day.”

I’m giving a brief summary of each mystery and then whether my adult brain could solve it. (more…)

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lemocello[LISTENED TO: November 5, 2014] Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

We were looking for an audiobook for a recent trip and I decided to get Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  I didn’t know anything about it, but the title sounded fun, especially for two librarians.

Well, I had no idea how much fun it would be for two librarians (and for others, too, I assure you).

So Mr Lemoncello is a game maker.  He has hundreds and hundreds of board games and in this universe, everyone loves playing them.  In the very first scene, Kyle Keeley and his brothers are playing Mr Lemoncello’s Indoor-Outdoor Scavenger Hunt (which is just what it sounds like).  In an attempt to finally beat his brothers, Kyle tries to sneak back into his house through a basement window (thereby saving the time of going down the stairs.  He inadvertently breaks the window and is grounded or a week (although he did win, so that’s something–and it shows just how intensely they play games in that family).

The next chapter opens up on the finishing touches of the brand new library in Kyle’s town.  Alexandriaville, Ohio has not had a library for 12 years and Mr Lemoncello’s gift to the town is the coolest most state of the art library ever built.  (Seriously, it is practically every librarian’s fantasy library with books and books and books (rooms coded by dewy number) and all kinds of high tech gadgetry to go with it.  I would love to see this place built).

Kyle is bummed about being grounded.  And to make matters worse, he forgot about the extra credit essay contest “Why I am excited about the new public Library.” At the last minute he throws together a lousy essay (which consists of “Balloons. There might be balloons,” and he is laughed at by just about everyone.  But when the essay winners are announced (12 of them), he is the final winner–how could that be? (more…)

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