Friday Reads, Spring Break, & Some Link Love

Happy First Day of Spring! I confess, spring is not my favorite. Spring in Kansas is only pretty for a little while, because summer usually hits a little early. And allergies. I'm so allergic to this season. Waah, poor me, I know. The picture above was taken two days ago, when Little Sis set up a dolly tea party in the living room, using our piano bench. She and I had a rough week. Monday and Tuesday were hard, and it's given this spring break a heavy feeling for me. She's a sweet girl, but so headstrong and when she wants to go to battle, she fights hard. Luckily, Mr. B was off work Wednesday and Thursday, amends were made, and we had a fun family day trip yesterday. I'll share more about that next week, but you can see a tiny sneak peek on my Instagram. In the meantime, here are some books we've read recently, and some links.

What We Read

Mr. Flux by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Matte Stephens. Kids Can Press, 2013.

I'm not sure how I missed this one when it came out. I admire Kyo Maclear's picture books, which are a bit more challenging than most (see Julia, Child and Virginia Wolf), and I follow Matte Stephens on Facebook - check out his fabulous Etsy shop! - but I totally missed the fact they had a picture book together. Mr. Flux is about a kid named Martin who hates change. His neighbors hate change, too. So when Mr. Flux moves into the neighborhood and begins to change things up, Martin is flummoxed. After spending time with the eccentric new neighbor, however, Martin begins to see the personal and artistic value of change. To add another layer to the book, the story is loosely based on Fluxus, the 1960s art movement. Mr. B read this with the girls first, and all three seemed to enjoy it. The illustrations are great, too, and served to remind me that I need to pick some Matte Stephens art for my walls someday.

Sam & Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen. Candlewick, 2104.

Another Candlewick Honor! We loved this book. It's such a fun, cute concept. Same and Dave decide to dig a whole, looking for treasure. Every time we see they're close to something, they change direction. The dog notices, too. The ending was very funny, and as always, Klassen's illustrations are beautiful. Nothing deep or important here, just a very fun time to be had. Candlewick has some printables and activities on their website, if you're interested.

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Eerdman's Books for Young Readers, 2014.

Another Caldecott Honor winner, as well as the winner of the Sibert Award for nonfiction, The Right Word is the story of Peter Mark Roget, and the way his thesaurus came to be. He started making lists of synonyms as a child, and continued the practice as an adult, until he was finally convinced to publish his unique thesaurus. It became a runaway bestseller, and as we know, remains in print to this day. It is the third (I think?) collaboration between Bryant and collage artist Sweet, and it's beautifully done. I don't know if it's one we'd want to read over and over again, but it was definitely worth checking out.

What We Started Reading Together, Until Big Sis Got Bored and Decided to Read the Book for Herself

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraorinaire! by Mrs. Bunny, translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Schwartz & Wade, 2012.

I read this book not long after it came out, and thought it was hilarious. Since then, I've encouraged Big Sis to check it out when she was ready. She finally grabbed it from the school library! We started reading it together, all three of us, at bedtime. Big Sis and I would alternate it some nights. We've been very busy lately, though, and Big Sis was tired of waiting for us to get back to it, so she took over. She's almost through with it, in fact, and wants to read the sequel next, as do I.

I don't have a book trailer to share with you, but check out this interview with Mrs. Bunny (the real author, you know).

What I Read

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. St. Martin's Press, 2015.

I was very excited to read the sequel to Allen's first book, Garden Spells, this January. I liked that book, but I've liked her subsequent books more, and I thought I might enjoy this one more than its predecessor. And I did. It was a light, airy read, a nice respite from the cold outside.

And I want a First Frost Garden Party. On Halloween. And I want to dress as an airy fairy for it, but I don't think I would pull it off.

Like, at all.

Wise Children by Angela Carter. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992 [first American edition].

This book was a wild ride. First published in the U.K. in 1991, it was Angela Carter's final book before her death from lung cancer in early 1992. Its narrator is a 75-year-old former musical comedy star, Dora Chance, who lives with her twin sister, Nora, in the old former boarding house in which they were born. The book begins with the women receiving an invitation to their father's 100th birthday. Their father was the greatest Shakespearean actor of his time, but the catch is, their father has never recognized them as his own. Dora's voice is wickedly funny, and the story crashes into the craziest ending ever. Carter references Shakespeare throughout the book, and if one ponders some of the wackier plot points in his plays, perhaps Dora's tale seems less crazy. I don't know. It was worth reading, but I did find myself rolling my eyes a bit during the final chapter.

We are approaching the end of our spring break. In addition to these books, we also read some more for Women's History Month, and I read the latest Fairyland book, which I'll share with you next week. The girls and I saw Cinderella on Monday. I thought it was lovely. We agree we preferred most of the other gowns at the ball better than Cinderella's (I didn't like the shade of blue), but we liked the transformation scenes. I have repeated "Have courage and be kind" to the girls (er, ahem, Little Sis) more than once this week, but it hasn't really stuck.

Some Random Links

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  1. oh sister I hear you! i think my kiddo has cried over something every day for the past month. it makes very weary. love the dolly tea party shot! i too am conflicted about spring - i like the idea of it and it can often be very pretty - but the reality is ever changing weather, not knowing what to wear, the TIME CHANGE and allergies. bleh! xo to you

    1. Yeah, I've been sneezing like crazy. The rain this week kicked everything into gear. Little Miss and I had a good weekend. Tomorrow, we're back to school and it's her dance night, which has been a huge battle the past two weeks. She's done with it, but she can't quit until after her recital and stuff - her costume is paid for!

  2. Ahhh, tea partys. I've got my boys to have them up to age three or so but after that, if we have one, I am the only guest. And we go by that rule too - once something is paid for, its going to get used! (Sometimes it is very, very difficult to implement the rule though. Congrats for sticking it out, to both of you!)

    1. This one was a total surprise. It was time to get ready for bed, and we walked into the living room and found this happening! She's so funny with her dolls and bears.

      She gave me heat about dance class last night, but it was easy compared to the last two weeks. I told her she can drop after this year. It makes me sad - she's become a good enough dancer that her teacher has her up front and uses her as an example for certain things. But her heart isn't in it, and she does have Girl Scouts. She may take theatre classes again and she's begging for art classes, although those seem to be more of a summer thing around here.


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