Is this really only my second post this week?  I'll try to cook something up for next week.  In the meantime, here are a few Instagram shots:  a fun window at one of our favorite used book stores; a Bingo card from the cool Bingo game from my grandma; Little Sis's Labyrinth t-shirt, worn today; my old Barbie Dream House Colorforms Play Set from the early '80s, found at Grandma's; Jenny looking pretty on my mother-in-law's old quilt; Mabel snuggled on the couch cushion by my shoulder; and the little rabbit who just moved into the drama room at the girls' school.

So...  on to books!

What We Read

Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson.  Nobrow / Flying Eye Books, 2013.

We love the Hildafolk books!  It's taken us way too long to get to this, the third Hilda book.  Poor Hilda and her mother have left the beautiful countryside of the earlier books, and moved to a nameless big city.  Her mother is afraid to let Hilda go outside and play unsupervised.  When a group of kids from school ask Hilda to come out and play, her mother grudgingly agrees, asking her to be home before dark so they can go to the Bird Parade together.  Hilda doesn't have much in common with the city kids.  She doesn't understand "ding dong ditch," and winds up having a pleasant conversation with an old lady.  She has never played Kick the Can.  And she certainly would never purposely harm a bird.  Separated from the other children, Hilda cares for the bird, who can talk, but has forgotten who he is and how to fly.  Hilda doesn't know her way home, so the two set off together.  The bird, it turns out, is not your average bird, and the ending was very cool.  We have the latest book checked out as well, and we will read it this weekend!

Fancy Nancy's Fabulous Fall Storybook Collection by Jane O'Connor, with pictures based on the art by Robin Preiss Glasser.  HarperCollins, 2014.

My girls are not as into Fancy Nancy these days, but they still like to read the books, for nostalgia's sake, if nothing else. They no longer play dress-up or like to wear twirly dresses. This book, a new release, comprises six previously released titles, two 8x8 paperbacks and four paperbacks from the I Can Read beginning readers series: Fancy Nancy: Halloween . . .Or Bust!; Fancy Nancy: Fancy Day in Room 1-A; Fancy Nancy: Splendid Speller; Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore!; Fancy Nancy: The 100th Day of School; and Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet. We own at least a couple of those books, and we've read all the others.  There is something special about holding a pretty hardcover with an autumn-themed cover, though, especially in late August, when the heat and mosquitoes and sweat are bashing you over the head.  I'm so ready for fall, you guys.

What Big Sis Is Reading

Henry And Beezus by Beverly Cleary.  Originally published by Morrow, 1952.  Most recent paperback edition by HarperCollins, 2014.

Big Sis picked this out at The Reading Reptile in Kansas City, and has picked it up a few times since she got it.  Now that school is back in session, she keeps it in her desk to read during silent reading.

A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen, Washington, D.C., 1917 (Dear America) by Kathryn Lasky.  Scholastic, 2001.  

The Dear America books were popular in my earliest bookselling days, along with their various spin-off series:  My Name is America, My America, The Royal Diaries...  They're fictionalized journals about a certain time in American history, written from the point of view of a girl or young woman during that time.  I used to admire the books when I shelved them.  They were so nicely packaged, pretty little hardcovers with ribbon markers.  Anyway, Big Sis started this one last night.  It's a bit advanced for her, but she discovered that the My America books were too easy.  She can breeze through one in an hour or less.  After watching a few episodes of the PBS television series based on the books (thank you, Netflix), she was eager to read more.

What Little Sis Checked Out From the Library

The Never Girls #1: In a Blink by Kiki Thorpe, illustrated by Jana Christy.  Random House / Disney, 2013.

I still think she's overreaching, but Little Sis will only check out chapter books now, and oooh, look, Disney Fairies!  We might alternate pages on this one.  While her teacher says she is ahead of her first grade class in reading and spelling, I still think this is a bit too much for her.  Sigh.  She just wants to be big!

What I Read

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell.  Atria Books, 2014.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lisa Jewell is a British writer I've liked for some time.  Her books were different from the other female writers to emerge in the wake of Bridget Jones' Diary in that they usually gave the men in the stories equal time.  She seemed as at home on the shelf with Nick Hornby than Helen Fielding.  Many of her books have that breezy, comical feel to them, but this is one of her weightier ones.  In fact, I think this is the heaviest book she's ever written.  It's about the Bird family, and they are as dysfunctional as you can get.  There's hoarding, suicide, infidelity, arrests, drugs, unplanned pregnancies, weird neighbors.  The book is nonlinear in plotline.  We first meet Lorelei, mother and pathological hoarder, via an email she is sending to a gentleman friend.  Then we jump ahead a bit to April 2011, where her eldest daughter, Megan, and her daughter are arriving to clean and pack up the house following Lorelai's death.  We travel back and forth through time, to a perfect family Easter in the early 1980s, to various Easters that follow, from child to grown child, from partner to spouse.  It was compelling enough to keep me reading until two in the morning, and I admit to feeling real sadness at times, especially for Megan, but there was something about the book that kept me from loving it.  Perhaps it was too much dysfunction, that Jerry Springer-y soapiness that made it seem too unreal sometimes.  Occasionally, I felt like I was reading the script for a movie, some indie film with an unconventional narrative structure.  It felt a little clunky.  I'm still a Lisa Jewell fan, though, and like I stated above, I did care what happened to her characters, as bizarre as their lives were.

This weekend will be full of auditions:  I'm auditioning for a play tomorrow - along with half the actresses in town - and Big Sis is auditioning for The Nutcracker this Sunday!  Little Sis is watching the same two seasons of Adventure Time on Netflix - oh, how I wish they'd add another season or two! - and Mr. B is working on the railroad, all the livelong day.  

And school is going well, from what I can tell!  I'm going crazy with the quiet...

Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

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The Mouse and the Lion

The Mouse and the Lion (A Parents' Magazine Press "Reading Readiness" Book)
by Eve Titus, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard.
Parents' Magazine Press, 1962.

Today, as I was updating our "Books, Authors & Artists We Love" page, it occurred to me that my little blog is sorely lacking in Leonard Weisgard love.  Lucky for me, this darling book has been patiently waiting its turn to be showcased.

Written by Eve Titus of Anatole and Basil of Baker Street  fame, The Mouse and the Lion is not a retelling of the famous fable by Aesop.   Instead, it is the tale of a little mouse and a mighty lion, who set off separately to find a city, in order to see people.

A kind fairy sees the mouse, and knows where he is going and why.  She is certain the mouse will be struck with fear when he sees how big people are, so she tearfully waves her wand and casts a spell:  in the eyes of human beings, the mouse will appear as large as a lion.  Next she spies the lion, and can see he is off to the city, too.  This time, she fears for the people of the city and weeps.  Another spell is cast:  in the eyes of human beings, the lion will appear as small as a mouse.
Then her eyes twinkled.  "There'll be many a mixup today!"
And away the fairy flew - right out of this book! 

The mouse finds himself in front of a small country school, where he frightens two little boys.  "Mouse Monster!" they cry.  The mouse is confused.  The boys were so big!  How could they be afraid of little him?

The mouse scurries away.  The teacher fails to see the "giant" mouse, and the boys must write, "A mouse is not a monster," on the blackboard five hundred times.

When the children go outside for recess...

they spy the lion!  The lion is confused.  The children, especially the little girls, think he is the cutest thing they have ever seen!  They argue about who should take him home.  One girl tries to grab him, but he runs away.

Eventually, the mouse finds himself in the Museum of Natural History.  He is mistaken for part of an exhibit, until he sneezes.  The people run from the exhibit, screaming about the "mouse monster."

Then the lion enters the now-empty museum.  He finds the big cat exhibit, and the stuffed tiger terrifies him.  The museum guard enters, and before the lion can hide, the guard approaches him.  He wants to put the "tiny" lion in a cage for the lion specialist.  The lion manages to get away.

Finally, the lion and the mouse bump into each other.  The lion apologizes, in case he hurt the little mouse. Lions are good to mice, ever since the mouse in the fable saved the life of one of their own.  They tell each other a bit about their crazy day, then the lion gives the mouse a lift home.

The mouse was met by friends who clapped and cheered to see him sliding down the lion's tail!
He lived happily thereafter, and of one thing you may be sure - never again did he visit the world of people. 

The lion runs home to the forest, where the other creatures welcome him in a way fitting for the King of Beasts.

He lived happily thereafter, and of another thing you may be sure - never again did he visit the world of people.

The lion and the mouse did leave a lot for the people of the city to remember and talk about for years to come!

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