Archive for September 9th, 2009

This Week in Books

September 9, 2009 @ 6:41 pm | Filed under:

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)