Bookin’ it

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Lu and Gem and P and I have been reading the same handful of books several times a day since the babe and I came home from the hospital. I've largely memorized Sandra Boynton's 'But Not the Hippotamus,' and 'The Goodnight Book,' Mem Fox's "Harriet, You'll drive me Wild,' BabyLit's 'Anna Karenina' and 'Sense and Sensibility,' and Laura Numeroff's 'If You Give a Pig a Party.' The girls might throw a new title in now and then - I was never so excited to see Peter Rabbit as I was yesterday! - but these have been the staples.

Also ever present?  Lucy's interruptions. I'd be annoyed but darn it all if they aren't hilarious and cute.  In the books where there is a child, she places both hands on the page and declares, "Woo-see!"  (That would be "Lucy.) And if there is a mom, EV-ER-Y page is, "Wook!  Mama! Dat's you! Mom!"  She does the same for any item she can name - hats, cats, juice, moose, dog, frog, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, if she doesn't know or remember what something is called or the name of a color, it is "Dis say?" It is nearly constant when we read and reminds me of my trips to Mexico and how most of my conversations went.

"Hola! Como se dice . . . *insert everything you can think of here*"

About the time I think I can't answer one more question from Lu I remember that she's still learning the language, too.  One page, one picture at a time.

All of the above books are winners - highly recommended! 

There are 8 of us in the house and 6 of us can read.  Though Gemma is not of that number, she still has her favorite books.  There are three at the moment, actually.  These titles are carted about with her everywhere and if you visit, you will be asked to read one of them.

Truth be told, if you visit, she will request you to read "A Potty for Me."  It's like she knows it is the most awkward book in the house and takes great joy in making guests participate in it.  Fr. Christensen, Bridget, Jaaron, Johnny - they've all had to blush and laugh and stagger through it.  It's a winner!

For a while "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" was the most beloved book but now it has been replaced by "Panda Bear, Panda Bear." Ev-er-y time we read it she exclaims, "Dat's a BIG panda bear dere!" Oh, good times.  We've also watched numerous YouTube videos to determine the sounds each of the animals make so now the readings include animal noises.  And we can't forget that we MUST whisper when we get to the dreaming child page.  They're sleeping, after all.

And lastly, she's become a BIG fan of Sandra Boynton's "But not the Hippopotamus."  She likes to yell out the "But not the hippopotamus!" part each time around though 'hippopotamus'' is still tricky for her to manage.  I think that's why she likes it, aside from the predictable rhythm and cute images.  She likes the challenge, which seems fitting for this challenging gal.

Challenging but darn cute.  It's her saving grace.'

 

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We are currently reading The Story Girl by L. M. Montgomery.  Together with The Golden Road, it is my favorite wok of hers which is saying something because I LOVE me some Anne of Green Gables and Anne of the Island.  The Story Girl sums up childhood and all of it's wonder so beautifully.

Tonight we read chapters 19 and 20 titled The Dread Prophecy and Judgement Sunday.  In them, the characters read that Judgement Day is to arrive the next day at 2.  There is a great deal of worry and stress and build-up to the dreaded hour.

Max read chapter 20 aloud while I combed the girls' hair.  Near the end, Ellie quietly asked what Judgement Day is.

"It's when Jesus comes back." I explained.

"Then how come they're afraid if Jesus is coming back?" she wanted to know.  "It's JESUS."

As this little interlude had derailed the reading for the moment, Philip chimed in, "I think it's silly that they think they have to wear something nice for Judgement Day.  Since you don't know when it's going to happen, after all.  We should just always be prepared, right mom?"

And friends?  After a few days of not a whole heck of a lot being accomplished around here, I'm telling you these remarks made me feel like we're doing something right after all.

 

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We go through books around here like toilet paper.

And we go through A LOT of toilet paper!

As noted before, we are always on the look out for good titles - things that speak beauty, truth and goodness, help form morals and are inspiring.  Things that stretch our vocabulary earn extra points.  And the story must be gripping.

We are appreciative of tips from friends as they know us and know what would fit.  Online reviews are questionable.  Cold reads are always iffy.  But we take them one and all and now, are passing on the most recent reads to you.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Jac went rooting around online before we left for California and found this series.  I had heard rumors of it being good and they were likened to Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet, so we gave it a go.  We listened to an Audible version in the car and had a hard copy from the library for use once we were settled.  The kids enjoyed the story - they asked to listen to it and would request more at the end of chapters.  In the end, I think it was a satisfying read for them as they wanted to know if there were more books. As parents, we were less than thrilled. The characters are sweet but predictable.  We assumed it was general audience fare but there was an awful lot of fantasizing about the 19-year-old gardener by the 12-year-old and odd descriptions about kissing between a mom and "her gentleman friend."  Weird.  And disappointing. We edited as needed when we read aloud.  It's reading level was not difficult but I would recommend it for 13 and up.

Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston

It is one of our goals for this year to introduce more poetry into our literary diet.  We own a number of fantastic poetry anthologies and books (Polka Bats and Octoslacks is a fave for Ellie at the moment - thanks Conways! - and Tess is loving Shel Siverstein) so I combed through our shelves and collected them all.  They now stand at the ready in the dining room for impromptu readings.  It was during this process that I ran across Zorgamazoo.  It was a book fair find by Mama Syd - the kind where the jacket gets read and you take a risk. But, get this, it's an entire novel written in rhyme! As the review says, think Roald Dahl (I'm a HUGE fan) meets Dr. Suess.  What's not to love?  The vocabulary is fantastic (stygian, obscure, ponderous) and the story is great.  It does include some pretty nasty adult figures ( a la Dahl) and some threat of violence.  Those parts were over Ellie's head but she fully grasped the funny parts which were plentiful.  It won an award for being a great read-a-loud and it is. I would recommend for 7 or 8 and up. Be forwarned - it is not for the weak of stomach as it includes words like vomit, puke, snot and such.  Not a lot, but it's there. We didn't edit.

The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley

Best book of the summer.  Again, Jac found a review online and we took the time to preview it ahead of time (see The Penderwick's) but enjoyed it so much, we started reading it around the campfire at the lake before we had reached the end.  I'm so glad we did.  I'll be honest, the title threw me off the scent of the story.  But the text is engaging and some parts are laugh-out-loud funny.  It has great vocabulary and really very real characters in addition to *SPOILER ALERT!* a plot twist (or two!) that is great.  We found it entertaining for adults and kids alike (Papa Chris lingered by the fire to hear the chapters and made his own predictions of what would happen next, so you know it's got to be good!). Recommended for 5 and up. (Ellie liked it and would quote from it and she's four. It has shorter chapters for those who are just starting to make their way into chapter books.) Really, two BIG thumbs up.

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

I found this one at the library when I went in search of the offerings from a favorite author.  Elizabeth Enright is much beloved in these parts but I did not make the connection that it was she that had written Gone Away Lake.  I remembered I had purchased it at a book fair myself when I was in elementary or middle school and didn't love it or hate it.  I snagged it for my own kids with the hope it would resonate better with them.  We primed the pump by telling them who the author was and they were sold.  It was fun to read and have them say, "Hey!  Just like Oliver!" or "There is an Oriole in Spider Web for Two, too!" It was far better for me the second time around and the moment it was done, Max asked when we could go and pick up Return to Gone Away.  It is good natured fun and, as it was written about kids in the fifties during the fifties, includes things like "Golly!' and "Keen!"  Good times.  Recommend for 5 and up.

Nick of Time by Ted Bell

This was a cold read, an accidental stumbling across at the library.  While looking for another audio book, the author of this one caught my eye.  He writes the Alexander Hawke series (which I CANNOT recommend to anyone because of language, violence, adult themes, etc. etc.  It's one of those Jac downloaded on Audible, said we should listen to, heard a chapter and fell asleep, leaving me somewhere in Wyoming wondering what happened next.  Spy thriller stuff.) so to find a child's novel by him?  What?  While I read Gone Away Lake during daylight hours, Jac is reading this after supper and before bedtime.  It centers around Nick, a twelve-year-old boy in pre-WWII Britain, who comes from a line of great soldiers and wants to be brave but fears he isn't.  Throw some Nazi's and pirates and time travel in and you have a cliff hanger.  The author knows how to tell a story and make characters come alive.  He is also graphic.  The girls are N-O-T fans but the boys can't get enough.  We have been excusing the girls from the table and putting them to bed before reading this one. Meanwhile, the boys have amassed a collection of spy books from the library, built a sub in the living room and taken to playing sea-faring.  It does include LOTS of talk about weapons, some detailed descriptions of wounds (Jac has edited) and recently, when a woman character was introduced there was mention of her bosom. Over the top? Sure.  Unnecessary, yes.  For this reason we would recommend 8-12, edited, 13 and up fine.

Happy reading!

How about you? Any recommendations for us?