Ready for a giveaway?? How long has it been, like a year or something?
The people at Penguin recently sent me a copy of the book Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein to review for Mother’s Day, and offered to give away a few copies to some lucky readers.
When we received the book it became an instant favorite in our house. Mama Squirrel is the kind of gal who back down, especially when it comes to her babies, a trait I can definitely relate to. I asked my seven-year-old what he thinks of the story. Here’s what he had to say:
Me: Tell me about Ol’ Mama Squirrel.
CKR: It’s fun.
Me: What else? What’s it about?
CKR: It’s about a squirrel that loves her babies.
Me: What does she do?
I watched an episode of Charlie Rose . . . oh, ages ago. Tom Hanks was on it, and he talked about loneliness, and about how all great stories in literature are about loneliness. Sorry I don’t have his exact words, but you get the idea.
Loneliness is something we all feel; we all crave a sense of belonging. While I was searching for the exact words that Tom Hanks said, I came across quite a few of his ideas on the subject. In one instance, he explains how the loneliness he has felt over the years was different, depending on the phase of life he was in.
I couldn’t agree more. I watch my kids, with their own struggles, and nearly every tear (besides the toe-stubbing tears) is from loneliness. They want more friends; they want to be accepted; they want to be with their daddy more often. I think they want to know, existentially, what their place is in the world, and how they fit there. They want to feel safe, and accepted, and loved by the people they are required to spend time with. My own childhood was the same.
I wish I could tell them the feeling goes away. But it never really does. I remember in my twenties, when I was a missionary for my church, feeling lonely all the time. The weird thing was, we had a rule that we always had to be with the missionary we were paired up with—they were called “companions.” So here I was, with a companion 24/7—literally, 24/7—and I was still lonely. I learned you can feel lonely even when you’re not alone, and even when you’re in a place where you feel you belong.
I experienced something similar when I was married. I often felt lonely.
Could there be a better opening line for a book?
Awhile ago, we received this book in the mail, and I had my oldest son read it. He blazed right through it, so I asked him to tell you all what he thought.
SRR: The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence is an intriguing page turner. It starts with P.K. Pinkerton, a 12-year-old boy, living in Temperance, Nevada in 1862. He comes home to find both his foster parents lying in blood on the floor. His foster mother’s dying words reveal they were killed by a gang of desperados looking for a medicine bag, which she had successfully concealed in the floorboards.
I guess it’s been ages, but awhile back, I asked my readers on facebook what kinds of posts they would like to see more of. My good friend from high school mentioned I should do a post on our favorite baby books. Since a lot of our board books have been lost over the years, while others have been chewed to death, the kids and I put this list together of all the favorite books we can remember.
Our new favorite picture book around here was a Christmas gift to my son. Splat the Cat, by Rob Scotton, is about a kitty who overcomes his fears on his first day of cat school. With brilliant and funny illustrations, it is the kind of golden children’s book that families will want to read again and again.
But in case you’re still not convinced, this is what my son had to say:
me: Tell me about Splat the Cat.
CKR: Um, he rides a silly looking bike.
me: Why does he ride a silly looking bike?
CKR: Because it’s an old fashioned book.
me: What’s the book about?
When I saw this book I thought it was like any other book you would see. I was at my mom’s friend’s house and I felt I was going to die of boredom. I asked my mom (the sophistimom) for something to do and her friend pulled a book from their shelf and it was The Name of this Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch.
There are supposed to be five books in the Secret Series, and I’ve read the first three. The first is of course The Name of this Book Is Secret, then the second is If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late. They are followed by This Book Is Not Good For You, and This Isn’t What It Looks Like. The last book, which comes out on September 21st, will be called You Have to Stop This.
Now let’s get to the story.
Cassandra, a 12 year old survivalist stumbles across a dead magician’s Symphony of Smells, a box of little vials that contain different smells in them. She teams up with Max-Ernest to find out clues. They discover the dead magician’s hidden notebook and get tied up fighting for the gift of immortality. Each book is associated with a different sense; the first ties in with smell. The most recent one I read, This Book Is Not Good For You, is all about taste. Particularly chocolate. Which brings us to revealing the name of the secret sandwich, which we posted a few days ago.
Each one of my kids had a party in school for Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The two in elementary even got to dress in their PJs and read books all day.
Last week, my oldest son played him in the school wax museum. It was so cute—all the fifth graders had done a report on one of the fifty states, and then had to play an important person from that state. Each one of them dressed up, and struck a pose at their seat until someone would press a fake button on their desk.
. . . then Robert Sabuda is one because, because, because, because, because . . . because of the wonderful books he does!
I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned them before.
I bought my first Robert Sabuda book several years ago after watching a little segment on Martha Stewart Living about his Wizard of Oz pop-up book. Since that time, he has brought pop-up books to a whole new level. We have a small collection of his titles—The Night Before Christmas, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Each one is mind-boggling.
Thank you to everyone who entered the Ramona giveaway! Random.org has cleverly selected Natalie H. So, congratulations, Natalie! You’ll be going to see Ramona and Beezus this summer! If you are Natalie H., please leave a comment on this post, and I will get that prize to you right away!
And now, for another announcement! How many of you saw Toy Story 3 last weekend? Well, we saw it, and it was fantastic (aside from the fact that a man—with lots of facial hair—told me he was a little kid when the first Toy Story came out, and made me feel old, since I wrote my junior year undergraduate research paper on Toy Story when it came out!).
But what I was really excited about during that movie was . . . can you guess? The trailer for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader!! Now, this is important, everyone. I love those Narnia movies. They make me happy. And we’ll all be very sad if they don’t make another one, so make sure you go and see it in December. See it 10 times, even! And tell everyone you know about it. Tweet it from the rooftops! In case you haven’t seen the trailer yet, here’s a quick look:
Now, I have no idea why all four Pevensies make an appearance in there, but I am not complaining. You know how I feel about King Peter. And did you see Ben Barnes? I’ll be grinning the entire movie—yum!
My seven-year-old learned to love reading this year, and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me.
Sadly, my mother couldn’t say that about me when I was young. Though I loved certain books here and there, reading never ranked high on the list of things I wanted to do until I was a grown-up. I was a worried my little first grader was headed in the same direction when she got off to a rough start this year.
For the first few months of first grade, she was the new kid in school and felt like the only kid with parents getting a divorce amongst a sea of happy families. She had trouble holding her pencil right and getting her homework done. That was why, in February, when she picked up Superfudge and read it cover to cover in about a week, I was ecstatic. She read most of Blume’s books in that series, and then turned to tackle a 500 page anthology of classic children’s tales. I can thank a patient first grade teacher for this, and a school that works hard to instill a love of reading—not by pushing deadlines and homework and book reports, but by letting each child be free to choose the books they are naturally drawn to.
A couple weeks ago, I saw the new trailer for the Ramona and Beezus movie, and then remembered how I actually enjoyed the Ramona books when I was young, and hoped my daughter would as well. She finished finished the first book in about a week, and now can’t wait to read the next and see the movie.