The Art Forger

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On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

*Summary courtesy of Goodreads.com

I wanted to like this book. I really did. There were some details I found intriguing, mostly the passages about the artwork and the process of forging painting traditional oil paintings. I also liked that I recognized most of the places mentioned. I used to live just down the street from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where the heist this story is inspired by takes place.

However, I did not like Claire at all. Not that you have to necessarily like the characters you read about, but she felt flat. This could also be due to the narrator. I found the narrator’s voice grating and the character of Claire is already annoying, so an annoying narrator only emphasized the annoyingness. As I said earlier, the only redeeming qualities (since I don’t buy the love interests or friendships or the ease of which Claire is able to find her information) are the details surrounding art. Shapiro clearly did a lot of research in painting, art history and forgery. I have to admit I never thought about the possibility of forgeries hanging in museums, but clearly it happens!

This is Shapiro’s debut novel, so maybe her other books will be better, but I felt the characterizations were all over the place. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but I also felt Claire was not a reliable narrator. By the end she seems to believe many of her own lies about the forgery. Because of this, I’m including The Art Forger as my PopSugar unreliable narrator selection.

Challenge!

Call me crazy, but I decided to start two other reading challenges. I’m going to try and make the books I read count towards all three, but sometimes that just won’t work. Why, do you ask? A coworker of mine is doing Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and we’ve compared some notes. Once I started looking at that challenge I realized I could easily fit in many of the books I’ve already read. Also, planning out the challenges got me out of my reading rut (for now at least).

Where does the third challenge come from? I frequently peruse the Modern Mrs. Darcy website and realized it wouldn’t be much extra reading to add her challenge into the mix. So there you have it. I now have three spreadsheets* going in my Google Drive and I think I’m having more fun trying to place (and find) various books in the challenge than I am actually reading the books! Hopefully the excitement will keep going.

Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge (my spreadsheet here)

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (my spreadsheet here)

PopSugar Reading Challenge (my spreadsheet here)

*someone in the Goodreads PopSugar Reading Challenge group shared their spreadsheet and I used it for all my reading challenges. I wish I could take credit for this, but my spreadsheet skills are not so great.

Baby Storytime: 19

Opening Song

Action Rhyme:

Open Them, Shut Them

Book:

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Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Song:

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Action Rhyme:

“These are Baby’s Fingers”

These are baby’s fingers (touch child’s fingers)

These are baby’s toes, (touch child’s toes)

This is baby’s belly button, (touch child’s tummy)

Round and round it goes! (gently tickle child’s tummy)

Feltboard:

“Tiny Tim”

Shared Book:

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Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

Action Rhyme:

“Round and Round the Garden”

Round and round the garden, (make a circle in child’s palm)

Goes the teddy bear.

One step, two steps, (fingers walk up child’s arm)

Tickle you under there. (tickle child under arm)

Round and round the haystack, (make a circle in child’s other palm)

Goes the little mouse.

One step, two steps, (fingers walk up child’s arm)

Into his little house. (tickle child under arm).

Feltboard:

“Five Green and Speckled Frogs”

Book:

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Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox

Closing Song

Heartwood Hotel: A True Home

A friend of mine from grad school posted on Instagram that she was approved for a NetGalley copy of Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan and I decided I had to try as well. I am so pumped about the third installment of Crazy Rich Asians! Anyway, once I got into NetGalley (it had been a while) I poked around and found a few more books that might fit into my goals of 1) reading more juvenile books this year and 2) could fit the PopSugar Reading Challenge checklist. One of which is Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George.

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The story centers around orphaned mouse Mona who finds herself carried away in a storm and finds refuge in a fantastical hotel called Heartwood Hotel. Readers meet sweet woodland creatures (like Mrs. Prickles the cook, Tilly the squirrel maid and owner Mr. Heartwood the badger), go on brave adventures with Mona, and learn about Mona’s family and past.


One Goodreads reviewer compared Heartwood Hotel to The Wind in the Willows, and while I see his point, I disagree. Mostly because the writing and characterizations are lacking. While Heartwood Hotel is no The Wind in the Willows it is a sweet and enjoyable read. I foresee those who like Critter Club and Puppy Place and The Saddle Club snapping these up. The fact that the book is an ARC and already a “book one” tells me publishers are also seeing the connections.

Baby Storytime: 18

Opening Song

Action Rhyme:

Open Them, Shut Them

Song:

“Itsy Bitsy Spider”

Book:

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I’m Dirty by Kate McCullan

Feltboard:

“Tiny Tim”

Action Rhyme/Tickle:

“Let’s Go Riding in an Elevator”

Let’s go riding in an elevator (hold child in front of you on lap)

Let’s go riding in an elevator.

First floor, (at first floor start to lift child up, raising a bit at each floor)

Second floor,

Third floor,

Fourth floor,

Doooowwwwwwnnnnn!

Shared Book:

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Big Little by Leslie Patricelli

Action Rhyme:

“I am Big, Big, Big”

I am big, big, big (stretch hands to sides)

I am small, small, small (crouch down)

I am short, short, short (stay crouched)

I am tall, tall, tall (stretch up)

I am fast, fast, fast (roll arms (like during wheels on the bus) fast)

I am slow, slow, slow (roll arms slow)

I say yes, yes, yes (nod head)

And sometimes I say no, no, no (shake head)

*we had some older babies/toddlers, today, otherwise I would skip last two lines*

Shared Book:

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Red, Blue, Yellow Shoe by Tana Hoban

Closing Song

Library Happenings

I am waaaaaayyy behind. I started taking a class and work got nuts, and things just fell to the side. So, to catch up, here are two super fun programs I’ve been working on at the library, and one not so fun one.

Read Across America Day:

Way back in last May (I think) my library got new gates. I hung on to the giant boxes the gates came in because I figured we could make something from them. And we did! For Read Across America Day myself and some staff and some volunteers made puppet theaters out of the gates. We then had stations for kids and families to make Lorax, Fox in Socks and Thing One and Thing Two paper bag puppets. All were a big hit! Although Fox in Socks and the Things were the most popular.

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unnamed 2 I also had a super special Dr. Seuss storytime that even got filmed by a local news channel! One grandma in the audience said I was the best storyteller she’s seen, and she takes her grandchildren to almost all the libraries in the area. That definitely made my day!

I Survived the Library:

On Saturday, April 1, Natural Disasters struck the my library and our intrepid patrons learned How to Survive. The STEM program, inspired by the popular I Survived books, consisted of 5 five stations. Each station began with a reading of the first chapter of the corresponding book, and discussion about the character, what might happen, etc. unnamed

Stations included:

I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79 where attendees learned about the parts of a volcano and created their own volcanic eruption with baking soda, vinegar and dish soap.

I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011 where attendees learned about the 10 most destructive tsunamis in history and mimicked the effects of a tsunami on a fake beach made of corn grits, corn syrup, pebbles and water.

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 where attendees learned about the ship, it’s lack of lifeboats, and tried to build their own unsinkable ships out of tinfoil.

I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 where attendees built their own cityscapes out of toothpicks and marshmallows on a base of jello-o and mimicked the effects of an earthquake, after learning about how and why earthquakes occur.

I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 where attendees learned about the varieties of sharks and took a trivia quiz on shark behavior.

**can you tell I copied and pasted this from my staff newsletter? I’m all about reusing.

Leadership Training:

As a somewhat new supervisor in my system (1 year, and 1 month at the start of the training) I was signed up for an Integrity in Leadership Training through my county. It’s really interesting learning about the different parts of the county and the various work my colleagues do. It’s also interesting to see how different these areas are (and similar in some cases) and how some managerial tactics might work in the assessor’s office but not in corrections, or how a strict dress code might be necessary in the attorney’s office, but not so much in the highway department.

Anyway, what I have found to be the most beneficial piece of advice from our trainer is this: follow your organization’s mission, and if you do that and work with integrity, you can’t feel badly if people get mad at you. As managers, and as people who work in the public, library managers are never going to please everyone (and as a people pleaser I struggle with this), but if we tailor our work to our library’s mission and work with integrity (treat our tasks, and our people with respect) we can go home knowing we’ve done a job well done and not get upset when people are mad.

This is easier said than done for me, again people pleaser here, but I’m working on it.