Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sophie's Squash Go To School

(I haven't bought a butternut squash lately, but I do have this acorn squash. I shall call it Corny - after my writing. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!)

Today is my babies' first day of school. Of course, they are no longer babies. Big Sis is starting her first day of fifth grade, her last year of elementary school. Little Sis is in third, and joins her sister in the "big kid" half of the school. It seems like only yesterday that I dropped my oldest off for her first day of kindergarten. So nervous, so excited.

The book Sophie's Squash came out when Little Sis was in kindergarten. She was so shy and quiet in those days, at least to those of her who didn't know her well. She latched on to that book, I think, because she identified with Sophie, a creative little girl with a big imagination. I love that book so much I blogged about it TWICE (here and here).

So I'm so happy to share a new Sophie book on this first day of school.

Sophie's Squash Go To School by Pat Zietlow Miller,
illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Schwartz & Wade, 2016.

When we last saw Sophie, she was holding Bernice's offspring, two new butternut squash named Bonnie and Baxter.

Now, it is Sophie's first day of school. Sophie's parents insist she will have fun and make new friends. Sophie is determined. She will not have fun, and Bonnie and Baxter are the only friends she needs.

Most of the children fail to understand. One even asks Sophie if they can eat them.

But one little boy, Steven Green, wants to be Sophie's friend. He tries very hard, but Sophie isn't very nice to him.

He introduces Sophie and the squash to his best friend, a stuffed frog named Marvin. Sophie still doesn't care.

Her parents try to reason with her, but she won't budge. She has no time for other children. Bonnie and Baxter are the only friends she needs.

Several times, she almost makes an effort. Poor Steven asks if he and Marvin can play hopscotch with her, but she is rude.

Then the time comes to say goodbye to the squash. They are old and past their prime, so Sophie buries them in the garden.

She draws a picture at school. Steven wants to see, but Sophie doesn't want to show him. He grabs the picture, and accidentally tears it. Sophie is unforgiving.

At school, Steven leaves Marvin and an envelope in her cubby. She ignores it until it disappears. Later, her dad finds both in her backpack. Inside the envelope, Steven has enclosed a picture he drew of Bonnie and Baxter, and a packet of seeds.

"Then she took Marvin outside and sat by Bonnie and Baxter. And thought some more."

Sophie finds Steven at school. "Your frog had a great idea."

The teacher helps the class plant seeds in pots. They start to sprout.

"See?" Sophie told Steven. "Sometimes growing a friend just takes time."

Reading this again as I photographed it, I really felt for little Steven. He just wanted a friend, and saw someone with whom he could identify. Sophie isn't very nice, but sometimes, young children are not nice, especially if they tend to live inside their own heads, like Sophie.

My own Sophie-ish kiddo is more of a people person than her big sister now. It's so funny how things change.

Here's our obligatory first day of school picture. Fall is just around the corner! 

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: More Return To Oz Books

Ah, Return to Oz. What can I say? It's just a major part of my childhood. (See here and here.) I recently hit upon two more books, from two different sources. The first, The Return to Oz Storybook, came as part of a Better World Books order. The second, a mass-market novelization of the film, was just sitting inconspicuously on the shelf at a local used bookstore. Of course, I bought them both, if only to have them on my Oz-themed shelf.

Return to Oz by Joan D. Vinge, based on the screenplay by Walter Murch and Gill Dennis.
Ballantine Books, 1985.

I don't think I've bought a novel based on a book (as opposed to the other way around) since elementary school. The thrill of ordering books through those Scholastic book club forms, right? I know I read novels based on Space Camp and The Karate Kid, Part Two. I roll my eyes and laugh now, but I was only nine.

Joan D. Vinge, who wrote this novelization, is a renowned sci-fi author. Perhaps I should give this a read at some point.

Ooo, pictures!

Actually, most of the pictures in this book made it into this one, as well.

Return to Oz Storybook, based on the screenplay by Walter Murch and Gill Dennis, with photo still from the Walt Disney film. Golden, 1985.

Aww, look at little Fairuza Balk. Big Sis and I watched The Craft  this summer. Her eyes got big when she realized Nancy was the little girl from this and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

The storybook is oversized, with full-color photographs from the movie. It's the kind of keepsake book I would have loved to own back in 1985.

 The Wheelers are sooooooo creepy.

But Mombi is creepier!

Jean Marsh, who played Mombi with her original head, was also Queen Bavmorda in Willow, another favorite of mine. (I know you're surprised.) She also appeared in an episode of Grantchester, which Mr. B and I re-watched just the other day.

The Nome King, as played by Nicol Williamson, is so very, very different from the one described by Baum in the books.

We haven't watched this movie in a few years, although it was an early favorite of Little Sis's. However, I just discovered this website. If you'll excuse me, I think I have some exploring to do...

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

End of Summer Break

And just like that, summer break is ending. In six days, my babies head back to school. My littlest will be in third grade, and my oldest, a big bad fifth grader. It's crazy. I'm sorry I haven't blogged in nearly a month. No excuses - I just didn't feel like it? I am stressing about things I cannot control, which haven't yet begun. Even my Instagram accounts (here and here) are quieter than normal, although they still see more action than the blog.

As you can see from the lead photo, Pokemon Go has been a big deal with the girls. I love that Big Sis accidentally took this picture of  Doduo out by the chicken coop. How perfect is that? Meanwhile, Little Sis found Pikachu at the DAV.

Remember my Summer To-Do List? Well, there are definitely items we did NOT check off the list. No travel, no day trips, no amusement parks. No Lindsborg Midsummer Fest. I planned for us to attend a Wichita Wingnuts baseball game on the 4th of July, but that didn't pan out, either.

So what did we do? I finished a three-week run of A Midsummer Night's Dream with Wichita Shakespeare Company in June, complete with real fireflies for beautiful fairy special effects. Big Sis performed in her first "big kid" dance recital. Both girls took dance classes through June and most of July. (Big Sis even assisted her ballet teachers with a couple of classes!) I took the girls to the Ballet Wichita production of Alice in Wonderland. My youngest niece turned three, and my sister threw an adorable Little House on the Prairie birthday party.

The girls love their Doodle Crate subscription! The last two projects were enormous hits.

Big Sis continued her guitar lessons. Little Sis took art classes with her 2nd grade art teacher, in another nearby town.  This gave us a chance to play with my friend Tara and her kids, too.

Of course, we did celebrate International Fairy Day and Midsummer. We read a lot of books, saw some movies, and watched too much television. (It's soooooooo humid this summer! And don't get me started on the mosquitos!) 

And Little Sis knows that if she wears her unicorn version of these, she will get all the attention.

More highlights: 

The girls and I Celebrated America at Old Cowtown Museum.

Mr. B took me to the new Yokohama Ramen Joint, which was amazing.

We celebrated Wichita's Birthday at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum.

The whole family went to the Starlite Drive-In! We saw the entire triple feature and got home at three AM, because we're crazy!

Then the very next night, we stayed up late again, to attend a Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Midnight Book Release Party!

I had a birthday. We celebrated with my sister and nieces, dad, and grandma at one of my favorite restaurants the weekend before the actual day. The girls and I spent August 3 eating out again, and visiting the Keeper of the Plains and Wichita Troll.

I also enjoyed some Christmas picture books, helped Little Sis with some blog posts, and staged a Mad Tea Party for a blog hop, but I'm hoping you know all that.

Other things we enjoyed:


Me:  I finally read the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray, which I loved.

I also caught up on Alex Grecian's Scotland Yard's Murder Squad series, zipping through the most recent three books back in June. I must have been in the mood for Victorian Era stuff, because I also read The Paper Magician Trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg. The covers caught my eye, and the premise was promising, but to be honest, I had trouble believing these took place at the turn of the last century. Everything seemed too modern. I loved Michael Cunningham's A Wild Swan, which consists of some darkly funny (and very adult) retellings of fairy tales. I read the second book in the Curiosity House series for middle grade readers, The Screaming Statue. It was cute, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I should. If only I could get Big Sis to give them a try, but she is still in Harry Potter La-La Land.

Big Sis: She finished the Harry Potter books, and read The Cursed Child, too. She has started multiple books, but cannot seem to get into anything, because they aren't Harry Potter. This list includes the first Percy Jackson book, Little Women, A Wrinkle in Time, and possibly Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, although I've seen her carrying it around lately.

Little Sis: Owl Diaries #3, A Woodland Wedding. Some Babymouse books. Together, we read Baba Yaga's Assistant, a graphic novel by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll, which we loved.

Oh my gosh, and for magical illustrations, there was Sweet Pea and Friends: The SheepOver by Jennifer and John Churchman.


In the theater: Alice Through the Looking Glass, The BFG, Ice Age: Collision Course, The Secret Life of Pets, Ghostbusters [the last three were at a drive-in triple feature], Pete's Dragon. Teeny-tiny reviews: Alice was bearable (low expectations = enjoying it more that I thought I would); loved The BFG; had never seen an Ice Age movie before, but it was cute, I guess; enjoyed The Secret Life of Pets, but not as much as Mr. B, who quotes it all over the house; really liked Ghostbusters; really, really liked Pete's Dragon.


Netflix: Big Sis, Mr. B and I binge-watched The Gilmore Girls, which is now tied with Parks and Rec for Big Sis's favorite show. (We still watch a lot of that, too.) Can't wait for November! We're slowly working her way through Cheers, too. Little Sis continues to love all things Disney Channel and Pony and Littlest Pet Shop-related. We ALL loved Stranger Things.

Amazon Prime Video: Just Add Magic. This is my new favorite kids' show, and I can't wait until next season. The girls and I even started watching it a second time. Also, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the first three seasons of iCarly (all that's available).

Hulu: Still waiting for Season 7 of Adventure Time. Grrrr...

Over-The-Air: the Olympics in prime time!

Now that summer is winding down, I should be getting back into my blogging rhythm. Until then, Merry Reading!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Little Sis Tuesday: Little Miss No Name Is The Cutest Doll In The World!!!

It's time for the last Little Sis Tuesday of the summer. Once more, I turn the blog over to my 8 1/2-year-old, who has taken some pictures of one of her favorite dolls to share with you today. She used both my Canon Rebel camera and Samsung Galaxy phone, then I helped her a bit with editing. All words are hers! I fixed spelling and punctuation, and added a few links. - Danzel


I got Little Miss No Name for my 6th birthday. I wanted her for 2 years before I got her. My mom and I found her when we were looking up old Blythe dolls on the internet one day. Old dolls are cool, especially when they have big eyes. Everyone says I have big eyes, too, except mine are blue and hers are brown.

She used to come with a tear, but when I got her, it was glued on with icky glue. My mom scraped it off before she gave it to me. I wish I could get a replacement tear.

That's it. That's all I want to say.

And she's outta here, folks. Oh, well. I hope you enjoyed her posts this month. She loved making them. - Danzel

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