Friday Reading

Happy Friday, friends!  It's a dreary one here, but we need the rain.  Let's hope these sprinkles lead to something more.  We're spending our evening organizing the playroom.  We got a Holly Hobbie "Friends Are Fun" tea set at the DAV this week, and the girls want to make a little vignette on a shelf for the tea set, their Holly Hobbie doll, and a couple of books.  Isn't this picture cute?  Big Sis took it.  She and Little Sis organized a little tea party for Holly Hobbie, Tammy, and this porcelain doll, then they took lots of pictures.  I like the books-as-chairs.

So, here are the books we have read or are reading this week that I haven't posted about yet.

I Read

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.

I finished The Riverman this morning, and it's stayed with me all day.  It is such a strange book.  It takes place in the late 1980s.  In fact, I think the characters are roughly the same age I was at that time in history.  Alistair is a normal enough kid, but his world becomes very confused when a neighbor girl, Fiona Loomis, decides she must tell him her story.  Her story is a wild tale of another world, Aquitania, that she claims to visit, a world where "stories are born."  Alistair cannot be certain Fiona is telling the truth, or if her world is a fantasy, standing in for troubles she might be having at home.  The confusion is made worse by his own feelings for Fiona, as well as his complicated relationship with Charlie, his childhood best friend, as that friendship weathers the changes that come with growing up and growing apart.  The book throws you for a loop near the end, and while I normally love books that leave you guessing, trying to make sense of everything, this one almost had me screaming.  The ending is abrupt and left me feeling as confused as Alistair. That said, I liked it, and it truly has haunted me today.  The book is listed as part of a trilogy on Amazon.  I hope the story continues.  I need closure, even if it's a couple books away!

Big Sis and I Read

A Series of Unfortunate Events #3: The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket. HarperCollins, 2000.

Big Sis and I listened to Tim Curry read the first two books in this series on CD. They were fabulous!  We checked the third book out on CD, too.  Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, reads the third and the fourth book, and I'd like to say we heard enough to judge, but sadly, the first CD of book 3 was almost unplayable.  That happens sometimes when you check audio/visual media out from the library.  We took a break from the books we started last week to read this one ourselves, as it was Big Sis's last library check-out from school.  I'm no Tim Curry, but we enjoyed the read-aloud anyway.  I have book 4 in the library bag now, but I think I'll convince her that we should finish the other books we started first.

The Girls and I Read

 The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Carson Ellis, with music by Nathaniel Stookey.  HarperCollins, 2009.

This book came out while I still had my bookstore job, and I enjoyed it very much on my own, without listening to the CD or sharing it with kids.  It's pretty clever, and it boasts art by the awesome Carson Ellis to boot.  The girls liked it, too.  The CD makes the book longer to get through, and it tried Little Sis's patience at times.  The pay-off at the end, having to do with composers being butchered, went over her head.  It's much better suited to a kid Big Sis's age.

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann.  English text by Suzanne Levesque.  NorthSouth Books, 2014.

The first thing you notice is the size and weight of the book. It's a pretty substantial picture book! Opening the book, you find a foreword by F. Robert van der Linden,Curator "Spirit of St. Louis," Smithsonian Institution.  Ooo, is this book going to be about Charles Lindbergh, famous aviator, and a mouse? Well, no.  It's a book about a mouse, yes.  A little mouse in Germany who loved to read.  When he realizes that his fellow mice have all but vanished, thanks to those newfangled mousetraps, he decides they must have gone to America.  Unfortunately, the docks are guarded by cats.  The little mouse is inspired by a colony of bats to create a flying machine.  Most of the book is about our little hero's inventions, which he creates and tests, while owls and cats stalk his every move.  Eventually, though, the mouse invents a proper airplane, which carries him across the ocean to New York, where he lands with great fanfare.  The last page suggests that a little boy was inspired by our hero, a little boy named Charles Lindbergh.  The art is gorgeous.  There are spectacular wordless spreads throughout the book, some of which made us gasp.  I read this one to Big Sis's class this week, which timed out perfectly, because they had been discussing inventions the day before that.

What Big Sis is Reading

Matilda by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake. Viking/Penguin, 1988.  Our edition is the 2007 Puffin paperback.  (Look at this beautiful Puffins Classics hardcover edition!  Swoon!)

My girls have four days of school left this year, and any library books from school had to be returned last week.  Big Sis still needed something to read during silent reading time, so she grabbed Matilda off the shelf!  Yay!  She's about 70 pages into it, and she loves it, of course.  She knows the movie well, and she loves the Dahl books we've read together, or that her teacher has read. Someday I'd love for us to see the Broadway musical!  Last November, Matilda was selected for NPR's Backseat Book Club.  Check out the interview with his youngest daughter, Lucy.

What Little Sis is Reading

Adventures of Biscuit: Five Stories About Everyone's Favorite Puppy by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories.  Sterling, 2005. 

The time has come!  Little Sis gets her own independent "What She's Reading" mention!  My sweet kindergartner's reading group has finished their kindergarten lessons.  They have jumped ahead to first grade.  It shows!  Little Sis loves to read now, and I made sure to hand her our Barnes & Noble bargain treasury of Biscuit books.  I'm convinced that the My First I Can Read Biscuit series are the perfect books for beginning readers.  They are the perfect blend of phonetically simple words and harder sight words, and the harder words are repeated enough to easily commit to memory.  Biscuit is such a cute character, too.  

Little Sis and Biscuit go waaaay back.

As for what I'm reading now, I started Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today.  It was time to take on a grown-up book again.  

I'll leave with you with a couple of music videos.  One of my favorite acts of recent years is Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit.  They just released a video for their new song, "My Silver Lining."  And an old favorite, Natalie Merchant, has a new album coming out. Here is a video for the song "Lulu," about my beloved Kansas-grown silent star, Louise Brooks.  The footage is from 1929's Pandora's Box.

Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

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  1. you have a playroom??? more pix please!! I wanna playroom!!! the cats own the room that could have been either my office and/or playroom. it ENRAGES me that these cats need an entire room but it is seriously the only place for their litter box. love your cool book picks!!!

    1. The girls share a bedroom, with bunk beds, because the middle bedroom is too small to comfortably house a bed. In order to put Big Sis's old daybed in the room, we had to take down the door between the two bedrooms. The back room is an addition, which is why it's such a strange configuration. The house was built in 1950, and all the additions were added within the same decade. There are very cool built-ins in both rooms, but they eat up space.

      Right now, the playroom is trashed. You can barely walk in there, let alone play. It's going to be a huge project this summer. The girls have too many toys, not enough room. I really want to repaint stuff, too. There are crayon marks and old stickers everywhere. I have pictures on here of the room in better days. Here is one (the room with the cubes), and the book nook is in there, too.

      Our cats' litter boxes are in the laundry room (which is TINY) and the tiny half-bath connected to the laundry room. I NEVER use that bathroom.

  2. Great tea party! I love the picture Big Sis took! We don't really have a playroom, but we call the living room "playroom" instead haha- whereas daddy calls it "the kitchen" (he's the cook in our home). Funny that nobody calls it "the living room" :)
    And great books too! Such a cool list. I love Matilda SO much and The Riverman really caught my eye. I can see myself reading it as soon as possible...

    1. The girls haven't used their playroom much lately, except to dump their toys when they are through with them. We're going to have to do some tough-love organizing. They're out of school come Thursday afternoon. I have plans!!!

      Hooray for books! :)

  3. You have an amazing list of books! I do want to read The Tale of a Flying Mouse very much! But all the books seem highly interesting! Oh and that tea set is so pretty! That's such a fantastic find!

    1. I was so excited about the tea set! I've wanted a Holly Hobbie tea set for a long time, and this one was less than $5. It even came in the original box! The lid to the pot is missing, but that's the only big flaw. Lindbergh is a very cool book, particularly the illustrations. :)


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