Happy Friday, Happy Weekend

Happy Friday, one and all!  Tonight begins our weekend of dance recitals, so we won't be doing much reading or anything else.  I haven't done a "What We've Been Reading" post in a while, though, so I have a lot to share!

What the Girls and I Are Reading Now:

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell.  Candlewick Press, 2013.

We're finally reading this year's Newbery Award winner!  We started it last night, and we're not too far into it, but it's definitely promising.

I'm sure many of you have read it or heard about it, of course, but I'm including the trailer, just in case.

What Big Sis and I Are Reading

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.  Harcourt Brace, 1934.  New hardcover edition by HMH Books for Young Readers, 2006.

I have a stack of these beautiful Mary Poppins hardcovers, but I've only read the first one, and only to myself.  Big Sis and I still intend to finish Tik-Tok of Oz, but she really wanted us to read this one together, too.  We're finding quiet moments, just the two of us, for a little old-fashioned mommy-daughter reading time.  She's especially interested, remembering the musical version we saw at Music Theatre of Wichita last summer.  The stage musical is a great mix of the book and the movie, and I highly recommend it, if you have access to a good production.

What Little Sis and I Are Reading

The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm, translated by Lore Segal and Randall Jarrell, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  Originally published as a two-volume set by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973.  Single-volume hardcover edition, 2003.

Are you familiar with this one?  Sendak picked some of his favorite creepy Grimm tales to illustrate, presented here in direct translation with no whitewashing.  Little Sis was mad about something (I forget what), so I led her to a bookcase and asked her if she wanted me to read something to her.  She chose this, because she loves her Sendak:  In the Night Kitchen, Where the Wild Things Are, The Nutshell Library...  And so, I actually read her "The Juniper Tree," one of the most disturbing fairy tales of them all.  "My mother, she butchered me/My father, he ate me..."  It's so twisted, but it's also haunting and unlike most of the Grimm stories, it has a certain literary quality to it.  She liked it.  She has informed me that my book belongs to her now, and I can't have it back unless I'm reading it to her.

What Big Sis Finished Reading Lately

The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff.  Yearling, 2011.

She read this one at bedtime over the space of a couple weeks.  She said it was very good.


She got it at the Scholastic Book Fair.

I know no more than this.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.  Bloomsbury USA, 2012.

So Big Sis's school librarian wouldn't let her check this one out, earlier in the year.  She thought it would be too difficult for her.  Her daddy got it for her on an outing.  She read it at school during free reading time.  She said it was awesome.

The trailer looks great.  I might borrow it soon!

Picture Books We Especially Liked

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown.  McSweeney's/McMullens, 2014.

I love this book.  Mr. B loves this book.  Big Sis loves this book.  Little Sis didn't get it, but that's funny, because she's the kind of kid this book is about.  

It's full of weird stuff a couple of kids believe/make up/tell about a neighborhood drugstore.  It's a weird book for weird kids.  I hear my own kids go off on these secretive tangents when they don't think I'm listening.  I can't explain it.  Just click the link above.  (I really did use to sell books for a living.  Really.)

Zephyr Takes Flight by Steve Light.  Candlewick, 2012.

On the other hand, Little Sis loved this one.  It is all about a little girl obsessed with airplanes and flying.  Sent to her room one day, she discovers a hidden space filled with vintage flying machines and maps and gadgets.  Zephyr takes a trip.  It's a beautiful ode to flight and imagination.


What I Read

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman.  Broadway, 2010.

After getting my Alice Hoffman fix earlier this year with The Museum of Extraordinary Things, I was excited to find a Hoffman book I had somehow missed before.  The Red Garden unfolds as a series of short stories, all taking place in a tiny New England town.  The book begins with a tale about the founding mother of the town, and ends with a modern story, with time and generations filling all the gaps in between.  It's vintage Hoffman, full of her trademark whimsy and magical realism.  I read some complaints about the jumping time frames, and keeping the characters straight - who descends from whom, and so forth - but none of that bothered me in the least.  It was a nice, light, early spring read.

And The Rest...

I've started The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I have a huge stack from the library right now.  Big Sis is reading Utterly Me, Clarice Bean and Charlotte's Web, and she has also read or is reading books from the "Dear America" and "My America" series.  

I'll admit, I haven't read much this week.  A friend of mine directed me to The Paradise on Netflix, which is a marvelous BBC costume drama that apparently aired on PBS's Masterpiece last fall, but I missed it.  I must make a confession:  we never finished watching the latest series of Downton Abbey.  We kept meaning to, but after a while, time just got away from us.  I don't watch a lot of series television anyway, unless you count re-runs of 30 Rock and Seinfeld on late-night syndication that I've seen a hundred times. We are loving The Paradise, however, and it's disappointing that we're almost through with series one and that series two won't air here in the U.S. for a while.  

Mr. B also got me hooked on Comedy Central's Drunk History, which just disappeared from Netflix. Oops!  It's on Amazon Prime Instant.  

Anyhoo, I hope you have a beautiful weekend.  It's supposed to get hot here!  I'm not ready!  

I'll leave you with a little Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.  The girls' recital is entitled "Under the Big Top," so keeping with that theme, here is Cole Porter's "Be A Clown," from the movie The Pirate.

Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

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  1. These all look SO good. Merry Weekend to you too sweetie!

  2. I've been meaning to read this Alice btw for ages. Shame on me.

    1. I missed this one when it first came out, even though I was still working at a bookstore in 2010! Oh, well. Better late than never!

  3. Ok can I tell you, these are among my very favorite posts of yours! I love these what we're reading posts!!! SO many good ones today! So inspiring, I have to hustle to the library hold list, I see. You know, I've been wanting to do Mary Poppins forever. I actually have Mary Poppins in the Park but I looked thru it and I really think we should start with Mary Poppins first. Every single thing here looks amazing!!! Such great picks!!

    1. Oh, good. I'm glad people don't mind them. We've read other things lately, too, like some Magic Tree House books and other things, then last night we started book 3 in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Too. Many. Books. Aaarrrrggghh!

      Thank you, dahling. xoxo

  4. Have fun with the dance recitals! That list is really awesome. I want to read the Mary Poppins book very much. I think I'll have to start this year!

    1. First one down, second one is this afternoon! My mom is coming to town, and I'll be trying to get a family member to save seats while I finish getting the girls ready in their dressing rooms. UGH. :o)

      Mary Poppins the book is very different from Mary Poppins the movie, which I grew up with and dearly love. That said, I liked it. I really love the stage musical. They used the songs, but were forced to make the musical more like the books. It's a great mix and it feels new.

  5. I *SO* want to read the Mary Poppin's series to my children...sigh...so many books, so little time! :)

    1. Too true. And now we're reading book 3 of A Series of Unfortunate Events. So. Many. Books.

  6. we loved flora & ulysses and the swinster pharmacy. plus, i find drunk history all sorts of awesome (and i too gave up on downton abbey. Have a good weekend!!

    1. Thank you, and you, too! We still need to finish Flora & Ulysses - someone checked out the next Series of Unfortunate Events title from the school library. ;)


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