Dash and Lily Day: A Book Adventure

I had big plans for the holiday season this year. Part of those plans included planning and hosting my first ever Cookie Swap (which went really well–it was the first Sunday in December and we’re finally out of cookies!). Another part included something that quickly came to be known as Dash and Lily Day.

This year my friend The Book Bandit and I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. We both really loved the characters and the story. Even more fun, the book takes place at Christmas right here in New York City.

One of the cool things about living in New York is that a lot of books are set here. This year, The Book Bandit (Nicole) and I decided to make the most of that. Earlier this month we picked a Sunday to recreate some of the more memorable moments from Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares if not in perfect accuracy at least in perfect alignment with the spirit of the book.

Being a book-centric blog, I thought it would be fun to share the itinerary for the day for any curious readers or any New Yorkers who might want to do something similar:

With festive clothes and cameras in tow, we began where the book started–The Strand in Union Square.

The Strand

While we did not find any girls wearing Majorette boots or surly boys checking up on their favorite book, we did spot the book that inspired our adventure.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares book

After The Strand we started to modify the itinerary on the fly.

First stop: the Holiday Market at Union Square to admire all the festive things for sale (because you know Lily would be all over that).

Photo taken by The Book Bandit (Nicole)

Initially after browsing Union Square, we planned on stopping at Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man.

We did get close enough to take pictures in front of it.

(That’s Nicole on the left and me on the right.)

But we couldn’t even get near an actual table.

So we did what any intrepid traveler would. We went up to Times Square to catch a movie. Not just any movie, of course, but Hugo in 3D.

Photo taken by The Book Bandit (Nicole)

While the movie was much longer than either of us expected (causing a 3D-induced headache for me), it was a lot of fun. I sorely missed the voice over narrative structure of the book as well as some of the more memorable illustrations from Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret but overall the movie was a lot of fun. One of the coolest things was seeing the silent films that play such an important role in the story being played out as actual films instead of as still shots. Definitely a must-see for fans of the book and film enthusiasts.

I’m still sorely disappointed that the Pixar movie about office supplies in Dash and Lily is not a real movie, but Hugo more than made up for it.

Our next stop was the Build-a-Bear store to . . . build bears. (Dash has Lily make a puppet in the book so this seemed like the obvious, and more affordable, alternative.)

At first it was difficult to make the right choices, but as often happens, the right bears found us.

Nicole made a blue bear and named her Lily (for obvious reasons) while I made a brown bear and named her Clarice (because Nicole and I decided it really was the most festive name choice–you know, because of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.)

(Lily and Clarice: BBF–Bestie Bears Forever)

Conveniently located right next to Build-a-Bear, Nicole and I found Little Miss Matched–a delightful store that sells socks in sets of three. Because they are designed to be worn without matching. What could be better? Honestly, very little. We enjoyed picking out socks and admiring some of the sillier hats (I actually bought that pink one–it’s super comfy).

We had bigger plans after building bears and buying socks. A ceremonial trip to FAO Schwarz uptown. A pilgrimage to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to admire the Christmas lights.

Unfortunately in addition to being a long, activity-filled day, Dash and Lily Day was also one of the coldest days of the winter season (which is really saying something since it’s only been serious winter weather for about a week all told). Defeated by fatigue and the increasingly cold night air, we packed it in with our bears and our socks before finishing Dash and Lily Day with a nice diner dinner.

But fear not, I more than made up for the lack of Christmas-decoration-viewing with my Festivity-packed itinerary for the Tour de Christmas. But that, dear readers, is a story for another blog post. Soon.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares: A (Christmas in July) Review

Imagine this:

You’re in your favorite bookstore, scanning the shelves. You get to the section where a favorite author’s books reside, and there, nestled in comfortably between the incredibly familiar spines, sits a red notebook.

What do you do?

The choice, I think, is obvious:

You take down the red notebook and open it.

And then you do whatever it tells you to do.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel CohnIt’s Christmas in New York City and Dash wants nothing to do with it. So great is his hatred of the holiday season that Dash has conspired to spend the entire holiday alone. And he will enjoy it. Oh how he will enjoy it.

Lily, on the other hand, is horrified to find her finely tuned Christmas plans thrown out the window when the rest of her family makes better plans. Left alone with a brother eager to get rid of her, well, writing a book filled with dares for the right boy to find suddenly starts to seem like a very good idea indeed.

When Dash finds said notebook he doesn’t know what to expect. But he does know it’s not an opportunity to be missed.

Dash and Lily don’t have much in common but somehow they connect on the papers bound in that red notebook. Will these two misfits make sense in person? Only time will tell if their fledgling relationship can survive Lily’s family, Dash’s friends, some comical disasters and, of course, the holiday season in New York City in Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (2010) by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

Find it on Bookshop.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is Cohn and Levithan’s third collaborative novel. Levithan wrote Dash’s chapters, Cohn wrote Lily’s. The plot was not planned ahead.

And maybe that’s part of why it works so well. Written in alternating chapters from both protagonists, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is a breezy, hilarious story firmly grounded both in New York City* and the holiday season.

I loved Lily and her zany Christmas-loving ways. I loved Dash’s curmudgeonly yet hopeful narration. I loved them together. And I totally want to see Collation** now.

Truly this book is magical. Not only did it have me laughing out loud on the bus, it put me in such a good mood that I wanted to tell the gentleman who asked WHY it had me laughing out loud on the bus. Such is the inherently festive nature of this delightful book.

*Locations mentioned include: The Strand, Max Brenner’s, Dyker Heights, FAO and more!

**Don’t get the reference? After reading it you will. And believe me, you will also want to see it.

Possible Pairings: Never, Always, Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti, Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst, Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley, The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson, The Romantics by Leah Konen, Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales, Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

A review of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David LevithanNick and Nora Charles, as played by the inimitable William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man (1934) were a married couple who solved mysteries while sipping cocktails and exchanging witty repartee with anyone who would listen. They were iconic symbols of glamour and charm.

It is no coincidence that authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan decided to give the protagonists of their first collaborative novel Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2006) the same names. Giving a nod to one of the greatest movie couples of all time, their novel presents another charming, witty couple sure to entice readers.

Find it on Bookshop.

Written in alternating chapters, this novel gives equal time to both protagonists. Cohn wrote Norah’s part and Levithan wrote Nick’s part, but as the book jacket notes they are not really Nick and Norah.

The story starts in the middle of the night at a club on Ludlow Street in New York City. Nick is “the nonqueer bassist in a queercore band who is filling the room with undertone” as his band tears through their set. His life feels pretty great until Tris, The Ex, walks into the club. That’s where Norah comes in.

Norah is “the daughter of an Englewood Cliffs-livin’, fat-cat record company CEO” who happens to be in the right place at the exact time that Nick really needs a five-minute girlfriend. That also happens to be right when Norah needs to get a ride home for her friend Caroline.

In other words, they need each other.

Nick and Norah’s deal also sets the stage for the novel: a first date that makes it through the club scene in New York, a date where everything goes wrong (or maybe it goes right), a date that goes on and on—in a good way, mostly.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is consequently a fast story. Events jump around and the prose moves just as quickly. Cohn and Levithan keep up this speed with their narratives which have the verve appropriate to a hip novel about hip teens.

The narrative of both writers here is really tight. Cohn and Levithan do a great job keeping the story coherent as they alternate chapters without getting redundant. Dual narrations often run the risk of seeming gimmicky, but it here it’s truly effective. The narratives overlap enough that readers get to see key events from Nick and Norah’s point of view. This technique helps to give a fuller version of the story as well as humorously showing how differently two people can see the exact same thing.

“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” is a crazy ride of a novel. It has music, borscht, romance, and some great dialogue, all of which made it an ideal candidate for a movie adaptation.

The film version of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is due for release on October 3, 2008. Trailers suggest that the movie will be just as fun as the book, although perhaps with a Michael Cera-nian twist on some of the humor. Luckily, at a mere 192 pages in paperback, interested readers will have no problem plowing through the book before heading to the movie as informed viewers.

Possible Pairings: If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld, The Thin Man (movie)