Fifth Grade Philosophy

This book, Maira Kalman's The Principles of Uncertainty, is currently residing on my desk. A dear friend gave it to me over the holidays and I've been meaning to share it with you. While working on some homework today, my fifth-grader asked me if I was reading it. I told him I'd finished, but that it is the type of book you can pick up over and over again, in almost any spot, and find something you like. I thought he would understand this, being a great lover of Calvin and Hobbes.

He did not turn from the computer screen, but gave that half nod as only boys can, and said, "Funny, I thought principles were never uncertain." I was immediately transported to my sophomore year of college and the first of three courses that would make up the requirements for my philosophy "emphasis." Ready to launch into a cerebral exchange, I paused. Did he mean "principle" or "principal?"

Which is exactly the reason I am recommending this book. Nestled cozy in my dream house in the Midwest, I was unaware of the (somewhat controversial) Times Select option of the New York Times, or of Maira Kalman's contributions the first Wednesday of the month throughout 2007.

Lucky for me, they have been compiled into a book. A much better way to enjoy her wonderful paintings and amusing, and sometimes unsettling, musings.

You might recognize Kalman's work from the re-issue of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. Also charming and indispensable. A welcome replacement to the one Mrs. Vilella thrust into my hand in high school.

Not all of Kalman's illustrations are of interiors. But those are my favorites. The color explodes and will assuage your fear of red or pink or green or whatever hue has you tossing and turning in your Porthaults. And, if you have read the book or the Times Select, I think you would agree that Kalman would enjoy the principle/principal conundrum.
And, no, I didn't ask him. Sometimes life needs a little ambiguity.