Posts in January, 2012

Thank You Miss Doover

Sunday, January 8th, 2012


Thank You, Miss Doover
by Robin Pulver, illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson & reviewed by Susan Fry

The wreckage following a birthday party always stuns me. Boxes torn open. Wrapping paper scattered around the room. My sons galumphing around, gleefully playing with every new toy at once.

If only they were as enthusiastic about thank you notes for the presents. I’m lucky if I can get my kids to scrawl anything – their names, a lopsided pirate, a jam-covered fingerprint – on an envelope.

I’m hoping that Thank You, Miss Doover can help. The book follows Miss Doover’s attempts to teach her class about the proper etiquette of thank you notes. The students’ repeated efforts to get them just right will have your own kids rolling on the floor with laughter.

Jack, for example, is convinced that he can whip off a thank you to his Great-Aunt Gertie on the very first try. “Dear Great-Aunt Gertie, Thank you for the present! Love, Jack.”

I have to admit that my own notes often follow this pattern. But, like Jack, I’m obviously not trying hard enough. There’s a reason Jack’s teacher is named Miss Doover, or Miss Do-over.

Miss Doover suggests ways for the students to improve, such as describing how they feel about a gift or explaining why a present is useful. She also gives the children new vocabulary words, including “implore,” “place of honor,” and “unbelievable.”

With each suggestion, the kids express more and more honestly what they think about their gifts, and sometimes what they think about the givers, as well.

Jack’s second, “improved” attempt? “It’s not my favorite gift, but I have used it a lot.” By his final draft, he’s revealing that his Great-Aunt’s present has been used to housetrain his dog: “Most of the stationery is white, but some turned yellow in its place of honor in our home.”

It’s impossible not to laugh at the other students’ last versions, including “I regret that [the magic kit] did not make my brother disappear,” or “It’s unbelievable that you sent me another dreidel,” or “[the baseball bat] will always remind me of you. That’s because on my favorite TV show, everybody calls the grandma the Old Bat.”

In the end, Jack writes Miss Doover the best thank you note of all: for not giving up on him.

Great-Aunt Gertie may not be so grateful.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.

Great Messenger Bags for Women

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Last night I added lots of great messenger bags to the ‘Cute Work Bags for Women‘ section of the site. When I am running out the door in the morning to get to work I have my son, his lunch box, my handbag, a Diet Coke, my car keys, a jacket, bills to mail and so many other things to juggle. It is mornings like these when I like having a messenger bag for work so I can swing my laptop right over my shoulder and have my hands free for more important things, like holding my son’s hand. Go ahead and treat yourself to a new work bag or tote to start off the New Year (like this gorgeous one from Bottega Veneta).

Chinese New Year Cards

Monday, January 2nd, 2012


For many of you, you are still recovering from celebrating one happy new year (keep drinking lots of water!) and many others are just getting ready for the celebrations. Chinese New Year is just a few weeks away. There are many wonderful Chinese New Year greeting cards to choose from. Here are some of my favorites including this Firecracker Chinese New Year Card from Paper Culture. Start planning your own parties to celebrate the year of the dragon.