Well, what have you been doing for the past few weeks? We've been reading up a storm. Not more than usual, but I finished Anna Karenina (oh yes, I did!) and saw the film adaptation (worth it, go, just go) before starting three more books including Hilary Mantel's brilliant Wolf Hall. Seriously. It's delicious, if that's not to pompous a way to describe a novel. Historical fiction, I'm sure full of liberties, but who cares. It's Cromwell and Henry and the rest. Love it. (I'm rereading Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris – given to me by Mister on our first date; How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston; sort of listening to Moby Dick on the Big Read; about to start A Christmas Carol and Germinal for book club; listening to Jane Eyre.
The smalls are also on a tear. We have found some gems at the library, some of which we've purchased because we checked them out frequently or loved them so much it was better to replace them quick! We haven't bought our own copy of K.G. Campbell's quirky Lester's Dreadful Sweaters, but I think it might show up soon. Funny illustrations and a silly-serious story about a boy (who's a bit of a control freak) and the ill-everything sweaters his mysterious aunt knits for him. I love it for the whimsical knitting possibliities and the alliterations. It's not a lesson-teaching book, though he seems to learn to lighten up a bit at the end, but a good read and reread.
There are a number of books by Olivier Dunrea we love. In fact, I haven't come across one we don't like, yet. But Gossie, who wears her red rain boots, everyday, is a favorite. Her boots disappear one day. She searches over, under, in, around until she spies them walking on someone else's feet.
Dunrea's illustrations are charming, with the goslings romping around a barn inhabited by bugs, turtles, cows, chickens of varying sizes, all drawn with a certain warmth and sweetness. We checked out as many as we could as often as we could when Bama was small. I finally wised up and ordered a set for Rabbit for Christmas.
I can't say enough good things about Liz Garton Scanlon's All the World (and Marla Frazee's incredible illustrations). Her wordplay is fantastic, bright with imagery, alliteration and assonance, and sequences (Nest, bird, feather, fly). Bama sees something new or understands something on a deeper level every time we read it.
Frazee's sweet illustrations are wonderful in what they subtly, but clearly, depict. Families . Biracial families, grandparents as caretakers, lesbians, all are present and full of love for their families and their community. (You can find a useful curriculum guide here. You don't have to be a teacher to use it.)
We were part of Dolly Partons' Imagination Library, which is awesome if it serves your area. Every month your child gets a new book, and we received some very good books that always include a few reading tips for before/during/after (before, into, beyond) reading.
Rabbit is hooked on The Little Engine That Could. He's gleeful when the little blue engine (pictured above) chugs, I think I can, I think I can as she climbs the mountain.
(NYC Imagination Library says all boroughs have access, but our books stopped before we moved from SoHo to Brooklyn, and the registration page says our area is not active. Not sure what's going on with New York but this site says 36,000 children are enrolled, 9K in Brooklyn. Don't bother emailing them; you'll never hear back. Despite my disappointment over the program's disappearance for us, it's fantastic if you can do it.)
We're all charmed by Henry in Love. We like to follow the balloons in Goodnight, Gorilla and A Sick Day for Amos McGee. We use the phrase Stella to the Moon! because we love Earth to Stella (and kept Bama's Stellapajamas … ones we had that look a lot like Stella's … because of it).
What are you reading?