the books of March
Today girl child told me that when I read out loud to her she feels like she could just snuggle down under my arm and listen to a hundred books and never, ever get bored. She also said that her 'happy place' is me, reading out loud, to her.
I am going to take those two casual comments and stow them away just behind my ribs on my left side, so that one day too soon, when girl child's eye liner is too heavy and she insists on keeping ten feet of distance between us whenever we go out in public together, I can pull out them out and warm myself with the thought that I have done all right by her. That somewhere instead that cynical teenager is a little wide-eyed girl who was completely enraptured by fairies, heroes, good guys and delightfully dastardly villains.
I believe that we live an entire life every time we read a book. All those lives we experience, if we are paying attention, will led us to wisdom and kindness towards ourselves and others. I believe that if we are in trouble or sad or in an uncomfortable place, that we can rescue ourselves with books, their stories, guidance, humour, and insight.
I think that by teaching my children I am equipping them with the tools they need to navigate life and be their own heroes.
But enough with the declarations on things I know little about. On to my reading list from March 2013.
Books girl child and I have read out loud together
Kate Klise's Til Death Do Us Bark is the third book in her 43 Old Cemetary Road series. We had worked out way through the first two in February and then Girl child read the fourth one to herself. They are the unscariest ghost stories ever.
Mother Goose Eggs Sunnyside Up is a limited print book written by Jim Westergard, a former professor of the college in our hometown. It is a series of ponderances about the morally questionable messages Mother Goose nursery rhymes relay to children (Peter Peter pumpkin eater... wtf?) along with drawing of characters both as they appear in stories and then again as senior citizens. If there is any way for you to get your hands on it, I recommend it. It's funny as heck.
The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making by Catherynne Valente is uttery enchanting, reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, and not in any way suitable for reading just a few pages every night before bedtime. Reading it slowly led us to lose track of the story (what key?) and we stopped about halfway through. Then I read it to myself in quick, delighted, gulps. Loved it. Read it. Quickly.
Philip Ardagh's Unlikely Exploits series, book one, The Fall of Fergal and two, Heir of Mystery. We have read Ardagh's Eddie Dickens books and love them (at least the first three. For the next three I will have to interlibrary loan them since my library carries only the very last one in the series. Why only the last? I can not know. Insanity of some type.) Ardagh writes the absolutely silliest characters with fantastic potential for crazy voices and accents (which I do marvelously, I not so modestly admit). Unlikely Exploits has this complicated plot that you only learn exists at the end of the first book. You have to read the second to get a hint what the plot might be and what characters are involved. We are just getting into the third book now where instead of being tied together, we are being increasingly confounded and taken further along the twists and knots, but it's a delightful ride nonetheless.
Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book by Terry Jones. Girl child is huge into fairies right now and a derby mate mentioned this book while we were on a road trip for a bout. I had never heard of it and planned on looking it up when I got back home. Somehow, my friend dug it up in a second hand bookstore the next day and I got to take it home as a homecoming treat for girl child. This is exactly girl child's sense of humour. She's been walking around randomly snapping books at the air since we read it, trying to capture and press a fairy. I admit the end of the narrative got sketchy, when I had to wonder if I was actually reading to my child her first hint of erotica, but with some careful editing we avoided some of the heavier bits.
Children's literature I read just to me
Return to Exile by E.J. Patten drove me crazy. Recommended by an Indietutes reader, this is the first of the Hunters series and my local library only has this one, ONE, book! It's a classic of the genre - intrigue, orphans, misfit heroes, monsters. Can't wait for the interlibrary fairies to bring me more in the series.
Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grim is one that girl child has tried to have me read to her on several occasions and made me stop because it is entirely too scary. Really, creepy as all get out. Chopped heads, fingers, girls having their entrails dragged from their still living bodies. It's Grimms, but minus the emotional distance from the stiff translations from another time. Grimm's characters are given beating hearts and empathic motivations. It's also clever and funny. But induces nightmares. Still, it brought us one of our favorite lines to say when we get too warm in the sun: 'Oh no, I think I'm cooking! And I smell delicious!" I finally read this to myself, cackling all the time. Not one for children in single digits.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Funke was also recommended by a reader. I vaguely remember seeing this movie and subsequently had Brendan Fraser in my mind the whole time (which isn't too terrible except when I found myself humming the theme from George of the Jungle under my breath). It took me a while to develop my own visions of the characters, but when I did they carried me off. I ended up staying up ridiculously late one night so I could race to the end and find out if... wait. I'll stop there, just in case you haven't read it yet.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians books one through three (The Lightening Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and The Titan's Curse). These have sparked a whole interest in Greek mythology around here. The children are becoming quite adept at recognizing and drawing mythological monsters. We also watched Disney's Hercules ('Honey, you mean Hunkcules!'), which prompted an elaborate rant from girl child who is aghast at the liberties taken with the characters. "Pegasus made by created some fluffy white cloud by Zeus?! No! Hera is NOT Hercules' mom! She wants to keel him dead! If these are the Greeks, why isn't it Heracles? Why are they destroying everything, mom?!' Oh boy. The fourth book in the series is sitting beside me here on my chair, urging me to hurry up with this post so I can read it. We'll come back to Percy Jackson next month. Then I can tell you the rants I've heard from others on how inaccurate Percy Jackson is. (It's fiction, people! Lighten up!)
School of Fear of Fear: Class is Not Dismissed by Gitty Daneshvari. Totally cute and funny, especially Theo. It made me wish I had a phobia. This is the second book in the series, which I read first, but I thought it was actually the third book, making it even less okay. It made me feel better to subsequently read the first one (School of Fear), agonize over not being able to find the second, realize I had already read the second, and then find the third (Final Exam), that I initially thought was the forth, but already on my shelf, ready to go. Ahh. S'all good now. Hand this series to your eleven year old. They'll love it.
Books for grown ups
It seems I hardly ever read these, these days. This month was particularly slim. Sue Townsend wrote the charming The Woman who went to Bed for a Year. I read it in bed, of course. It slightly destroyed my fantasies of never getting out of bed again once I realized that there was probably no good looking, dreadlocked Man with a Van who will come in and look after me. Still, good on her.
The Man who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen still has me shrugging my shoulders and wondering at all the strangeness people in the world get up to try to make it different. I am saddened, despite my hippie minimalist and anti-consumerist bent, to think that this man's mission is about as effective as hitting 'like' on a Facebook photo in order to feed the hungry or provide urgent medical treatment. Wouldn't it be nice if it worked that way? But, no.
Hyacinthe Phypps' The Recently Deflowered Girl is an Edward Gorey etiquette guide for, as the title says, the recently deflowered girl. Obviously a must for every young woman's shelf.
And that's the end of my list for March. I love book recommendations if you have them and please, if you post your own reading list, share with us!