This Week in Books
I like to make these lists now and then, snapshots of what everyone in the family was reading at a given point in time. Lately I’ve been trying to take note of what the kids are reading and jot the titles down in my notebook. I don’t catch everything, of course; a good deal of their reading happens in bed at night when I’m not around to make notes.
Here are books I’ve spotted in kids’ hands in the past week:
Jane (age 14):
* A Man for All Seasons (the play) — this one at my request, so we can discuss.
* The Screwtape Letters (she enjoyed it and noted the connection to Calvin & Hobbes—Calvin’s teacher is named Miss Wormwood; Wormwood is the demon nephew to whom Screwtape is writing).
* Meet the Malones; Beany Malone; Make a Wish for Me. (These appear on my list too; I’m reading them for the first time; what a hoot! 1940s girls’ fiction by Lenora Mattingly Weber, if you’re not familiar with them: a series as cherished by many as the Betsy-Tacy books are by me & other Maudies; fast-paced, quaint, quirky, charming, choppy, endearingly dated, wholesome, idealistic, fun, decidedly unpoetic, formulaic, lively.)
* Lost by Jacqueline Davies, which I mentioned the other day. I gave her a heads-up about some rough language (accurate for the 1911 New York City tenement setting). It’s YA, meant for more mature readers (teens, not middle-grade children).
* Lots of P. G. Wodehouse, probably some Agatha Christie, and this evening she left my room with The Complete Father Brown.
* Has been passing The Sherwood Ring around to her friends; dunno if she reread it herself this week.
Rose (age 11):
* Warriors books, too many to list, over and over and over again. Jane did the same thing with Redwall at Rose’s age.
* Little Women (just getting started)
* Gypsy and Nimblefoot by Sharon Wagner — pardon me while I gush a little! This was one of my most beloved books at Rose’s age. It’s a horse story, if you can’t tell from the title. Need I say more? Girl finds horse; girl trains horse; girl has adventures in and out of the show ring with horse. Be still my heart. I probably haven’t thought of it in 25 years, but I remembered it recently and knew Rose would eat. it. up. And how.
Beanie (age 8):
* Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Either you know Streatfeild or you don’t. I didn’t know Streatfeild as a child, poor me. I discovered the utterly delightful Shoes books as a young editorial assistant at Random House—just a few months before I encountered Betsy-Tacy as a young editorial associate (insignificant promotion) at HarperCollins. My boss, Stephanie Spinner, was bringing them back out of print, if I’m recalling correctly. Perhaps it was simply a repackage, but I know for certain that we only had old archive copies of the novels because I landed the freelance job of typing one of them—Ballet Shoes, I think—into the computer for a disk copy. Ballet Shoes is a very fat book. And marvelous to read, and not at all tedious to type for a modest hourly wage when you’re a newlywed with student loans and wedding bills to pay off. I can’t begin to do the Shoes books justice in a hasty little blurb like this, so I won’t even try. One more for the topics-to-post-about file. Anyway, I started reading Theater Shoes to Beanie months ago, but we petered out at some point—not due to lack of interest, but rather to an excess of interest on the baby’s part—interest in gnawing the pages, that is. So Beanie picked it up this week and finished it herself, and of course she adored it. Three children are sent to postwar London to live with the actress grandmother they never knew, the matriarch of a widespread clan of Theater Persons. There’s a movie-star uncle, a rhyming-slang-using Cockney housemaid, and other delights. Also quite a nice Shakespeare connection—one of the girls lands a part in The Tempest, which happens to be the Shakespeare play the girls and I are reading at the moment.
* Whinny of the Wild Horses — another much-loved horse book in these parts. I’m sure this has appeared on a Rose list in more than one previous post.
* Calvin and Hobbes
* Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (we spent a pleasant half hour on the sofa with this one yesterday; such fun to read aloud together)
* several Cam Jansen books
* Tatterhood, a fairy tale collection
* Puck of Pook’s Hill (Kipling — tried it, hasn’t been hooked yet)
I was just wondering what to read next with Lucy and I had forgotten about the Shoes books. Great timing. And I love the Calvin and Hobbes tie-in. I never made the Wormwood connection – then again, I’m not 100% sure I read The Screwtape Letters.
Are you letting Rose read all of Little Women? I couldn’t bear to read the last chapters with Lucy. And even though I know what happens at the end of Anne of Green Gables, I can’t seem to finish that either.
On September 9, 2009 at 7:42 pm
I always thought my family was full of good readers, but we’re nothing compared to yours! While my 13yo son did sit down and read all of Hunger Games on Labor Day, he doesn’t read a lot outside of school anymore.
Oh, I wanted to ask you how you deal with the conversion to Episcopalia and the Ouija board in Heaven to Betsey.
On September 10, 2009 at 1:51 am
Sarah N. says:
What a great list of books! I adore P.G. Wodehouse and I’m definitely making note of the horse books. My almost 6yo just had her first riding lesson. I’m also going to look for Meet the Malones since I love quaint older book like those. I hope my daughters will be avid readers like yours as they get older.
On September 10, 2009 at 2:38 am
You probably already know this, but since it wasn’t mentioned in your post I thought I’d point out that there were three of those Gypsy books. I got them as a boxed set for Christmas one year and read them so many times. I wasn’t even a “horse person” and still loved them! I think Nimblefoot was the best of the three.
On September 10, 2009 at 5:03 am
Loved, loved, loved the “Shoes” books as a child! So nice your family are “discovering” them,
My son read lots of P.G. Wodehouse last spring – so well written, with all the craziness Wodehouse never makes a slip-up. Now he’s reading his way through all the Dorothy Sayers “Peter Wimsey” books, chuckling away and reading me lots of funny bits. Now to get back to them myself. In between he read all of Kate Gallison’s “Mother Vinnie” mysteries – lovely, funny, and she (Kate)sings in the choir with us!
Too many books, too little time! How DO you get all this reading done?
On September 10, 2009 at 7:01 am
OH MY!!! Gypsy and Nimblefoot!! I loved this book as a girl. Thanks you so much for reminding me of it. Alas, my copy of it and ALL my childhood favorites went the way of the trash can when I married. My mom was a little upset that I was leaving her for a house 1 mile away. There were so many others that I can see in my mind’s eye but can’t remember the titles. You have brought back some very happy book memories–thank you!!
On September 10, 2009 at 8:24 am
Book Club Girl says:
I love these lists! I somehow never read the Shoes books, and I know it’s a big hole in my YA repetoire.
I’d love to hear what your 3yo is reading and compare notes with mine. Current favorites are Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, Pete’s a Pizza and the Little Blue Truck.
On September 10, 2009 at 10:55 am
Oh, you are such an enabler! 🙂 Reading your blog I have become enchanted with the Betsy-Tacy books (HOW did I ever miss these when I was young?) and now I may need to seek out the Beany Malone books. I think I may have read one of them, but it’s been awhile (ok, a long while!). Loved your Little House books!
On September 10, 2009 at 2:18 pm