I wanted to share this beautiful video Seth made of Foos reading and enjoying The Little Prince about two months ago. June 29th would have been Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 117th birthday. My friend and fairy godperson, Stephanie, got her a pristine copy of that book earlier this year and she finally got around to read it. I made the mistake of letting her see the movie before she read the book and had to field about a thousand questions about the discrepancies between the two. Even so, it was truly a treat to see her enjoy it and engage with it so much.
My daughter has been a reading machine lately. In the car, while walking to school, at the supermarket, at home —she is never without a book in hand. Photos I sneak of her reading have taken over my instagram feed. Sometimes when I am lost in my own head, thinking in circles about goals and how I can achieve them and how I probably won’t because all I do is shuffle back and forth, I realize how quiet it is. Then in a panic I start to look for her and almost always find her, book in hand, in some corner of the apartment. It is a relief that she is a dedicated bibliophile, the tiniest of bookworms, consuming chapter books at the age of five in a way most people don’t until much older, if ever. Anyway, she has inspired me to try and read more books this year. I am going to try and read at least two books per month, which doesn’t seem like very many. I am hoping that will be a starting point and that as I get better at carving out time to read I will be able to read more than that. Wish me luck!
1. Listening to: The Magnolia Electric Co. Songs: Ohia. I have never heard this record, but a friend thought I would like it and lent it to me on vinyl. 2. Reading: Saanaq: An Inuit Novel. Another friend who is teaching this book in one of her classes, sent me a copy! I’m half way through, but I plan on finishing it this weekend (I have good friends). 3. I am hosting my in-laws and Seth’s aunt for dinner on Sunday, and will be making this lasagna recipe. I always tweak it and make it vegetarian using meat substitutes, but this time I’m going to do it the right way. This is their photo, please don’t sue me.
Our favorite librarian, Erin, recommended we check Creaturepedia out. We did and foos loves it! She loves it so much she has to take it with her when she goes for bike rides with her dad; so much she sat on the sofa and read it cover to cover the minute we got home. I love it too — I want every illustration framed or tattooed on my face. Creaturepedia manages to be informative, whimsical, and incredibly beautiful. We don’t own it yet, though we did buy a copy as a gift for someone else, but we added to the amazon wish list pile. Happy reading!
Photos: Seth – www.karmathartic.com
One of my closest friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few years ago, and yesterday, after many months of unsuccessful chemo, she decided she no longer wishes to receive treatment. So today hasn’t been the best day, and I don’t think this weekend will be any better. I will be listening to a ton of mountain goats and trying to wrap my head around how weird life is. I started reading this Chomsky book, which is also depressing as hell, and I’m not sure will make anything better. I need to finish reading it because I also borrowed its companion book and I wish to read both before JPL wants them back. Additionally, I started reading Harriet the Spy with Foos, and I really wish someone had reminded me that Harriet is a judgmental asshole who thinks everyone is fat before I started reading it to my four year old. I didn’t think a photo existed for “crying sporadically,” which is why the wasting my time spot is empty. But that’s what I will be doing. Love your friends, and keep ’em close, because life can get weird.
Though in this photo I am reading Ham On Rye, what I’m currently reading for the second time is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the Unites States, because, why not? I have two copies as a result of the book merger which occurred when my ex-husband and I originally moved in together; moving in with Seth yielded a third. I am okay with this. Somewhere I have a list of newish fiction I would like to read, but I can’t find it. While I find this annoying, it has given me the opportunity to revisit some stuff on our bookshelves. To be sure, there is a lot on there I haven’t read. Tomes plundered during the split with said ex-husband I have no interest in and should probably donate (I’m looking at you, Camille Paglia). Revisiting books you love is just nice. I always look forward to reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for the umpteenth time in the fall, and there is always the sporadic rereading of the Harry Potter series (don’t judge). Some books remind me so much of a particular time in my life that just thinking about reading them again gives me anxiety. As if a wormhole to some place that can no longer be exists in there and I will get sucked in. I’m going to have to get over that.
- Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett 2. A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins 3. Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson 4. The Skunk by Mac Barnett
Finally a library haul! I had to get this one out before I return these gems to JPL tomorrow in exchange for another batch of beauties.
1. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Leo: A Ghost Story. In fact, I have purchased this book three times (!) in the past month to give as a christmas present or birthday gift. Mac Barnett writes the story of Leo, a ghost who after many years alone, is forced to find a new home and in the process makes a friend, Jane. Jane believes Leo is an imaginary friend, and Leo, finally happy to have a play mate, is reluctant to reveal he is a ghost for fear of losing his friend. I readily admit I am guilty of over analyzing children’s books, but I love how subversive the illustrations by Christian Robinson are. The understanding/creative/tour de force of a friend in this story, Jane, is black. As a woman of color and the aunt to beautiful little girls who look just like Jane, I can’t tell you how good that rare depiction made me feel. Both cops depicted in the story are women. And in contrast to what the media tells us criminals look like, the man who breaks into Jane’s house is a white man. Also, Mac Barnett dedicated this story to Jon Klassen, which made my cold heart grow three sizes. I love this illustrator/author bromance. It’s the little things, guys!
2. A Fine Dessert is one of those books Foos loved so much, we read it almost every night for two weeks. Seth bought it for her for christmas, so I’ll be reading it every week for the rest of forever, hah. A Fine Dessert, is, as the title describes, the story of the blackberry fool from England in the 1700’s to today. A Fine Dessert is truly a sublime work of art. If you look closely, you can see the story of the blackberry fool is not the only one being told. This book is about changing gender roles, advancements in technology, changing racial relations, and changes in society. But most importantly, how through all of those (welcomed changes) the one constant is the love and bond of family and friendship. The book includes a recipe for making a blackberry fool, which we made, and it was as delicious as the book itself. Also, if you pay attention to the house scenes, the illustrator, Sophie Blackall, throws in an easter egg! Apparently, a little black horse is a decor element that has, like the blackberry fool, been enjoyed centuries.
3. Sidewalk Flowers is a wordless book in which a little girl, on a walk with her father through the city, spots and collects sidewalk flowers. I loved this book! I thought Sidewalk Flowers highlights the beauty that can be found in everyday life, if one looks closely and takes the time to stop and take it in. The little girl not only spots and picks the flowers, but she also shares them with others. True story, I read this book to my niece, nephew, and Foos during a sleepover. The next day, on our walk home from the park, they picked up every flower they saw (weeds, really) and left one on the stoop or doorway of the homes we passed. That alone is reason enough to share this book with your littles.
4. The Skunk is the story a man who believes he is being followed by a skunk. Initially at least, it really does seem that way. The man is so unsettled by the skunk’s presence that he moves away, only to find he misses the skunk. Then roles are reversed, and he begins to stalk to skunk. I think this story is good for both adults and kids. Foos loved it because the shenanigans between the skunk and the man are silent movie funny. I think adults will love it because in a lot of ways the physical skunk in the story is representative of the metaphorical skunks in our lives. We try to ignore it, but its always there, lurking.
We spent Thanksgiving in the Blue Ridge Mountains, returning to the yurt in Anna’s farm. This time it was a little different, we brought Silas and Banjo, our pup, along. The trip was just as good. The ride there was a comedy of errors; driving the wrong way for an hour, with the poor kids crammed in the back of the car with our car sick dog. Eventually, thanks to a vet tech friend, we discovered the magic of dramamine.
Our first day there, Thanksgiving proper, was spent roaming the hills and climbing fences. Yelling at my four year old to slow down! Filled with worries of a broken ankle while simultaneously overjoyed at the sight of her transformed, pissing in the bushes, running free. It was also the last day of my 20’s, and I spent that afternoon reading Philip K. Dick on the yurt porch and drinking wine. Shamefully, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is the only of his novels I have read. We started watching The Man in the High Castle, which is based on his novel of the same name, and I thought it a good reason to read the book. It was also my first time reading a book on a kindle, and there were many times I caught myself licking a finger in preparation for turning a page that wasn’t there. It almost felt like books were my phantom limb.
The farm on the mountain, a place built for poetry, with its never-ending signs of renewal was as good a place as any to end a decade and start one anew.
1.Sneezy Louise by Irene Breznak 2. Once A Mouse… by Marcia Brown 3. A Funny Think Happened On The Way To School by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud 4. The Awful Aardvarks Go To School by Reeve Lindbergh
In Sneezy Louise, Louise wakes up with a cold and like many of us, she knows, just knows, the day is going to end up being a shit storm. So it is; Her mom gives her the wrong breakfast, school is a disaster, she ruins ballet class, she sneezes during dinner, and she fucks up story time. We all have days like this, when we don’t feel well and nothing seems to go right. What surprised me was how little empathy the other characters have for Louise. Until the very end of the book no one gives her a break. This book was great to read out loud (Foos, wanting the title to rhyme kept saying “sneezy louisie”). Sneezy Louise also drives the cover-your-mouth-when-you-are-sick-or-suffer-everyone’s-wrath point home nicely.
Once a Mouse… was okay. It’s an adaptation of an Indian fable warning against boastfulness. In this story a hermit transforms a mouse into a tiger to protect it from other creatures. The mouse, now a tiger, lets it go to his head. The woodcut illustrations by Marcia Brown are beautiful, but the way the book is laid out did not make it enjoyable to read out loud. Sentences get broken up across several pages, not in a good way like Where The Wild Things Are, but in a way that makes the story sound clunky.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To School… is a book about all the excuses a boy gives his teacher for why he is late to school. Every excuse is stranger than the the one that came before it, and to me, really sound like something a kid with a super fertile imagination might say. The story itself is witty, moves along quickly, and is great to read out loud, but what I really loved where the illustrations. The art in this book is fun, super detailed, and reminded me a bit of Edward Gorey (my fave). This is a companion book to I didn’t Do My Homework Because…, which I haven’t read, but I enjoyed this one so much I will get it on my next library trip.
The Awful Aardvarks Go To School, is about a family of aardvarks who ruin the school experience for the other animals, get expelled, and end up at the zoo. The story cleverly uses every letter of the alphabet to describe the awful things the aardvarks do to the school and to their fellow animal classmates. This book also uses a lot of alliteration, which makes it kind of fun to read out loud. More importantly now that Foos is in school, The Awful Aardvarks helped us discuss what is appropriate behavior, respecting the bodies and properties of others, and being kind to our classmates. Fun fact: The author of this book, Reeve Lindbergh is the daughter of the famous aviator (and apparent philanderer/nazi enthusiast/etc) Charles Lindbergh. FUN.
- Star Wars: The Story Of Darth Vader by Catherine Saunders 2. Batman: Fowl Play By John Sazaklis 3. Lego Star Wars: A New Hope by Emma Grange 4. Lego Star Wars: The Phantom Menace by Hannah Dolan 5. Star Wars: I Want To Be A Jedi by Simon Beecroft
This week’s Library Haul is brought to you by Foos’ current obsession with Star Wars, comic book heroes, and villains in general.
The Story Of Darth Vader outlines the story of the beloved villain. It chronicles his change from the talented but rule breaking Jedi, Anakin Skywalker, to the feared Sith Lord Darth Vader. These books use images from the Star Wars movies, which Foos didn’t enjoy as much as the lego scenes because she is four. The DK Readers series is great because they often include a glossary and an index. Because of these books Foos is learning how to use both of those tools, which is a bonus I did not foresee when we checked these gems out. This is a level 3, which is longer, with a more detailed and complicated story arc than a level 1 or 2, but Foos who reads at 2nd/3rd grade level could do it.
Batman: Fowl Play revolves around Penguin’s scheme to hypnotize Gotham’s birds and get them to steal valuables for him. Predictably Batman foils his plan. As an adult, it was hard not to laugh out loud while reading all of the cheesy super hero puns used in this book (including the title), but Foos really enjoyed it.
Foos loves Lego’s. She loves building with them, crying in the lego aisle at target for me to buy them (fucking expensive), and leaving them all over her floor. I was not surprised the Lego DK readers were her favorite of the bunch. A New Hope chronicles the rebel’s plan to destroy the Galactic Empire’s Death Star weapon. It also introduces young readers to the rebels, including Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. The Phantom Menace chronicles the discovery of Anakin Skywalker by Qui-Gon Jinn, the invasion of Naboo, and introduces the reader to the Sith and Queen Amidala. These books also include a photo glossary and an index.
I Want To Be Jedi is a guide to becoming a Jedi, which includes the training requirements, Jedi equipment, and how to use a lightsaber, etc. It also recounts the story of Anakin Skywalker. Though no lady Jedi’s were shown, the author of this book took great care to emphasize that boys AND girls can become Jedi’s, which, as the mother of a super awesome girl, I appreciated. This was a level 3 reader like The Story Of Darth Vader. Immediately after reading this, Foos asked for a lightsaber. Good job marketing people, good job.