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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Troll Swap

Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson.  Nosy Crow, 2014.

Cute Book Alert!

It's a beautiful day, and I plan on spending as much of it outside as possible, but I must put this picture book on your radar, if it isn't there already.  Troll Swap is written and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson, and the girls and I pulled it out of the library bag last night.  

It's about a little troll named Timothy Limpet, who is neat and polite and quite unlike the other trolls.  It's also about a little girl named Tabitha Lumpit, who is loud and messy and trollish, especially compared to her neat, polite parents.





Timothy and Tabitha long to fit in.  Then one day - they meet!




As you may have deduced from the title, Timothy and Tabitha switch places, and at first, everything seems to work out.  But in the end, we learn that it's important to be true to yourself.  And sometimes, those flaws are what make you so loveably you.




Leigh Hodgkinson has a website called Wonkybutton.  Besides writing and illustrating books for children, she has also worked as an animator, and as the art director for the TV series Charlie and Lola.  I read the book to the girls in my best (worst) British accent.  If you're a fan of Lauren Child, or of shows like Charlie and Lola or Peppa Pig, do check this one out!  It's cute, funny, and the artwork is fabulous.


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The Magic Clothes Basket (A Whitman Tell-A-Tale)

The Magic Clothes Basket by Sharon Thomas,
illustrated by Bonnie and Bill Rutherford.
 A Whitman Tell-A-Tale Book, Western Publishing, 1969.

Mr. B and I decided to attack some laundry today.  We have a very, very tiny laundry room, and we have a tendency to stack our three baskets full of laundry on top of each other, on top of the dryer, until they are about to topple.  They are modern, plastic baskets, nicer than the very cheap plastic baskets my parents used, but still plastic.  They are nowhere near as attractive as Paul's mother's basket.  Paul is the little boy in today's book, illustrated by the fabulous team of Bonnie and Bill Rutherford.  Paul has some pretty fabulous toys, but none so fabulous as his mother's beautiful wicker clothes basket.
















After looking through this little book, I told Mr. B, "I still remember playing in my parents' laundry baskets.  I can't believe I can remember being that small!"  "Oh, yeah!" he said.  "I can remember that, too."

My girls have outgrown or are outgrowing a comfortable fit in our laundry baskets.  Sigh.  As long as they're going to keep growing, maybe I can get them to still enjoy actual laundry stuff...




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Mother's Day Instagrams


Ah, Mother's Day.  I had a lovely Mother's Day.  To recap:  my own mother spent the week with us. (She lives in Oklahoma.)  Friday, Ma, the girls, and I went to the school carnival.  We had fun, for the most part. Little Sis won the cake walk twice, and avoided any Junie B. Jones fruitcake-style disasters by choosing the double chocolate banana cake I made and donated, and allowing her sister to choose a red velvet cake. Big Sis won a 2-liter of soda and a zoo date with her art teacher.  She loves her art teacher.  Then Little Sis had a complete meltdown in the library because she failed to win the raffle basket containing the cheap, $10 Cabbage Patch Kid we donated.  (Yeeeeeaaaahhhh... ) Saturday, we bid Ma farewell, and I took the girls to a birthday party, where Little Sis decided not to be shy.  She was quite silly, really.  When Mr. B came home from work Saturday night, he brought these for me:


Crazy daisies!

And on Sunday morning, I woke up from a weird dream with a pounding headache, made much better by breakfast in bed and this lovely gift that Little Sis made in art class:



Then Mr. B kicked us out of the house, and I took the girls to Century II for the annual Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Art & Book Fair!  The weather was windy, but nice.

I love all the public art downtown.

We bought three books for a grand total of $4!  Little Sis insisted we buy a crumbly, 1890s Book of Common Prayer, complete with pipe tobacco scent.  We also bought a Golden Early Reader by Charlotte Zolotow and a very nice copy of Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas by Russell and Lillian Hoban!  We picked up a few edible goodies to gift for Mother's Day and for teachers, then the girls tried their hands at melted crayon drawing and a free Monart class.  Well, I have to admit, I tried the melted crayon drawing, too.  I mean, how cool is that?


Then we made some Mother's Day gift deliveries of our own.  We stopped by my grandma's, and gave her some daisies and a Mother's Day chocolate from Cero's.  Then we headed to my sister's house with more flowers and chocolate.  We played with the little cousins, and the girls posed in front of my sister's latest chalk masterpiece:


We came home to find my Mother's Day surprise waiting for us:  a cleaned-up, summer-fied front porch!  I am so easy to please.  Seriously, clean stuff for me, and I am happy.  I couldn't wait to sit and enjoy it.

But first, we headed out to DeFazio's Italian Restaurant for some yummy Italian food.  I overate, but it was worth it.

Our porch was lovely last night.  Especially around 11 o'clock, as Mr. B and I watched some storms roll around us to the west.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!



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