Archive for February, 2011

Eight Beloved Books

February 28, 2011 @ 6:48 pm | Filed under: Books, Picture Book Spotlight

After last week’s startling discovery that Rilla had not yet made the acquaintance of Miss Rumphius (that she remembered, at least), I realized there were a number of unmissable picture books that she has, in fact, missed up to now. This is what happens when you’re the fifth child. She listens in on the older kids’ read-alouds—The Hobbit, The Strictest School in the World, Tom Sawyer—and there has been a steady stream of newly published picture books in her world, thanks in large part to the review copies I often receive. But even for a reading family, there are only so many books you can cram into a day.

Which is why Rilla made it almost to her fifth birthday without meeting Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and the Lupine Lady.

I’ve been combing through the shelves in search of other must-reads, and there’s now a two-foot-high bookstack in front of the (never used) fireplace. Several of those appear in this week’s list of recent reads.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Top of the list in every respect. “I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people KNOW more…though I know that IS the noblest ambition…but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me…to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.” That’s Anne Shirley, not Alice Rumphius, but they’re kindred spirits, aren’t they?

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Okay, I’ve been reading this book aloud for fifteen years, and I’m still undecided. Ouack: “Oh-ack”? Or “Wack”? I usually opt for the latter, but that kind of throws off the whole alphabetical rhythm. Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack…Wack?

Hairs/Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros, illustrated by Terry Ybanez. The text of this gorgeous, lush, evocative book is a paragraph from Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. Rilla, like all three of her older sisters before her, is spellbound by its rich colors, rolling cadences, and the comfortable family warmth of this unusual book that is more prose poem than story, a little girl’s description of all the kinds of hair in her family. “My mother’s hair, my mother’s hair like little rosettes, like little candy circles…”

Koala Lou by Mem Fox, illustrated by Pamela Lofts. Honestly, I think my little ones care less about the plot of this book than they do the mama koala’s cooing refrain: “Koala Lou, I do love you.” Me, I’m crazy about the colored pencil drawings.

Bub: Or the Very Best Thing by Natalie Babbitt. I pulled this one off the shelf for the aforementioned big stack of classics, but I knew I wouldn’t be reading it to Rilla myself. This one is reserved for the daddy of the family. It’s a special favorite of ours, and if I gave things stars, I would give it as many as I possibly could. An out-of-print gem. The king and queen want the “best thing” for their young prince, but what does that mean? Their quest for the answer takes them all over the castle—but it seems the young prince has known the answer all along.

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom, illustrated by Bruce Degen. All you Five in a Row mothers out there just got a wave of nostalgia, didn’t you? 😉 Rilla faintly remembered it—it had been perhaps a year since it last found its way off the shelf into our laps. My little boys adore Jesse Bear too. Reading this with Rilla the other night was a particularly sweet moment for me; the text’s rhythm and repetition gave her just the right footing for a sudden spurt forward in reading. She took over on page two and what-will-you-wear-in-the-morning’d her way through the book. I could listen to that a hundred times in a row. (As long as you don’t make me count the stars.)

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood. This one’s a Huck magnet. Rilla’s frankly a bit suspicious: she’s pretty sure the narrator is putting one over on the little mouse. Didn’t stop her from asking for it six times in succession.

Brave Georgie Goat by Denis Roche. When I open this book, it doesn’t matter which child is on my lap: I’m 27 again, and Jane’s a two-year-old in a hospital bed. Our dear friend Joan Slattery, a Knopf editor at the time, brought Jane this book on one of her visits to the cancer ward, and we both fell head over heels in love with it. Scott too, actually. It’s difficult to convey the sweet simplicity of these three short stories about matters of vital importance to very small goats and girls. If Mommy Goat goes, how can you be sure she’ll come back? What do you do when your best friend and constant companion, your beloved red coat, doesn’t fit you anymore? And what are all those ominous shapes and sounds in your room when the lights go out? The grownup goats in these brief tales (Mommy and Grandpa) are a gentle and steady source of comfort for a little kid who is beginning to take notice of a very big world.

Best Thing Ever

February 28, 2011 @ 4:33 pm | Filed under: Funny

Not new, so maybe you’ve seen it, but I hadn’t. Pretty sure this is the reason YouTube was invented.

Love Hurts

February 28, 2011 @ 9:12 am | Filed under: Who We Are

I’m singing an old Erasure song as I scoot my barstool up to the counter next to him.

“Oh, baby, refrain…from breaking my heart…”

“Ouch.”

“Ouch?”

“A little bit.”

“Refrain from breaking my heart?”

“Refrain from crushing my toe.”

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I Think She’s Starting from New Zealand

February 27, 2011 @ 9:23 pm | Filed under: These People Crack Me Up

Rilla: “I love you, Daddy. Wanna know how much? To America and back.”

The Last Week of February

February 26, 2011 @ 10:00 am | Filed under: Bloggity

2005: The more it snows, tiddly-pom…

2006: Strawberry rhapsody

2007: I’m not #1 for that anymore
(this is why I was for a while)

2008: 84 degrees in February

2009: What we were up to

2010: A short history of the pinata

Links to Share

February 25, 2011 @ 2:12 pm | Filed under: Links

Weekend Breakfast : Homemade Kolaches – as cozy as spring. Please to make this for me, daughters or husbandly persons of this household. Thank you.

After ‘Downton Abbey’: 10 British Costume Dramas on Netflix Instant | The Awl.

YouTube – Sinead O’Connor. “The Foggy Dew” is one of my favorites.

A Year of Reading: Making Stuff.

• This week’s Journey North Mystery Class update—are you doing the project? My family is in charge of Class #5 for our group. Another Southern hemisphere city for us this year!

• Sara has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Read Write Believe. (Having spent all morning on Mystery Class stuff, I haven’t had time to put up a poem.)

• Why, oh why, are my bullet points so tiny?

• Why, oh why, do I care?

I Told You It Was a Mutiny

February 25, 2011 @ 1:44 pm | Filed under: These People Crack Me Up

Should have made my move with the clippers while she was busy at the computer!

Here in the Holey Glen

February 24, 2011 @ 8:09 am | Filed under: Photos

These photos happened about an hour apart. Rose, absorbed in a favorite reread, didn’t budge during the interim. It amused me to see what an irresistible force she was to her brothers and sisters as she lay there, immersed. (I wasn’t quick enough to snap the moment when Huck stood there whacking a train perilously close to her head.)

Later, looking at the photos, I was, er, bemused to note that Rose’s mother has rather missed her window to heed Auntie Leila’s excellent advice.

Charlotte to the rescue!

(Except I’m going to need a ribbon-trim-for-dummies tutorial. Pretty please!)

Updated

February 23, 2011 @ 7:34 am | Filed under: Books

Last night’s post. I hit publish before I’d added all the notes I wanted to.

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