Thursday, July 13, 2017

Books o' the Month: The Bookshop on the Corner, Prairie Tale, Hedy's Folly

Suddenly, I am reading like crazy.  Avoiding domestic responsibilities in favor of reading.  Pulling out my book instead of my phone at swim lessons, at swim team practice, at Toyota, at Tire Pros, at the Starbucks drive-thru.  And I get a little smug about it, because staring at a hand-held book looks way more intellectual than staring at a phone, for goodness' sake!  (Though I may be holding a hardback copy of Prairie Tale vs. reading Tolstoy on my Kindle app, ahem.)

But let's start with The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan.  A bit improbable, but delightful--they go hand-in-hand, agreed?
On to Melissa Gilbert's (aka Half-Pint) Prairie Tale.  The first book I have ever read in this genre...celebrity confessional?  Immensely entertaining tell-all.
And finally, Hedy's FollyThe Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhoades.  My interest in the time period between wars (WWI and WWII) is seriously piqued.  I would like to read more about Ms. Lamarr (beauty plus big brains) and watch some of her films, so stay tuned.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Book o' the Month: In the Great Green Room

Chances are you have heard of the children's book Goodnight Moon.  In the Great Green Room, by Amy Gary, is about it's author, Margaret Wise Brown.  She did lead a brilliant and bold life, as the cover states.  It was also brief.  She died at the age of forty-two of an embolism following bed rest after undergoing an appendectomy in France.  Ms. Brown had extraordinary vision, but also the same insecurities we all deal with.  I cried at the end of this easy-to-read book for a life that ended way too soon.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Second-to-Last Day of School


I am at home with my kids.  This is not how I planned to spend today.  I was going to meet a friend for coffee, then make one last kid-free trip to Trader Joe's before summer vacation.  But no.

The phone rang at 6:15 a.m.  A recorded  message from the school district.  A shooting threat made against the middle and high schools.  Police presence, security guards hired.  All schools to remain open.  Contact the school office if your child will be absent.

I sat on the edge of the bed listening to my third grader pour himself some cereal.  My seventh grader was in her room brushing her hair.  I started weighing risk in my head and a thought came to the surface like a bubble released from the deep, dark ocean floor.  I should not have to be making this decision.

I took a breath to steady myself then told Valerie about the threat and that I would be keeping her home today.  She glared at me.  Her friends at school are the highlight of her life right now.

In the kitchen, Andrew asked, "Why?"  I said, "It's probably just a joke."  Then he asked if he could play Minecraft.

This is the first time since the kids have been in public school that a threat has been directly made at one of their sites.  I have wondered in the past if it would ever happen and how I would react.  Now I know.  I emailed absence notifications to the school secretaries.

I hate being in this position.  I want to let my kids be at school.  I want to trust that they will be safe.  But I cannot.

Most days I feel pretty resilient in this world.  Not today.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Book o' the Month: Under the Wide and Starry Sky


Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a novel by Nancy Horan about the lives of Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson and her husband, Robert Louis.  Yes, R.L.S., that Stevenson, the one who wrote Treasure Island and Kidnapped which many of us had to read in school.  Which many of us were lucky enough to read in school!

What I enjoyed most about this book was discovering the course their lives took and how they eventually ended up in Samoa, Fanny living out her final days near Santa Barbara, CA.

I will also be reading another book soon on the same subject, Stevenson's Treasure by Mark Wiederanders.

With school out in a week, I am going to need good books to escape to...

Book o' Last Month: Farmer Boy

Andrew and I got through the second book in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, Farmer Boy.  We loved it!  This book is about the early life (ages 8-10) of Almanzo Wilder, Laura's future husband.  He lived a much more stable and affluent lifestyle compared to Laura.  His father was a farmer who also raised horses, among other things.  His parents were firm and frugal, but also kind and generous.

This book was fascinating!  We learned many many things about life on a farm.  We are also continuing to watch the TV series.  We are on season four right now--Hubby and I seeing many episodes for the first time, and no wonder.  Probably the ones which are a bit on the odd side  (see "My Ellen") weren't aired as reruns.

Now were are back with Laura and the gang, reading On the Banks of Plum Creek.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book o' Last Month: Little House on the Prairie


Andrew and I finished the second book in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, Little House on the Prairie.  I think that these books should be on reading lists for boys as well as girls.  There is so much good stuff in here about the nuts and bolts of pioneer life!  Building a house, constructing a chimney, laying a split log floor, digging a well, and...Indians.

Which brings me to another point.  I find the discussion of the Native Americans, the Osage, in this book fascinating.  The way they are characterized and described, is of it's time, but also somewhat progressive.  Ma is clearly afraid of the Indians, while Pa has more of a live and let live attitude.  Laura has a child's inquisitive curiosity.

Reading this book resulted in many internet searches about places and names in this book, from the African American Dr. Tan, to Independence, Kansas, to Soldat du Chene.  I even came across a paper discussing the book in relation to attitudes about the Osage, which was very interesting.  What's more, there were many opportunities for Andrew and I to discuss what happened to the native peoples of America.  At nine years old, he has many questions.

Next up, Farmer Boy, which we have requested from the library and are still waiting on.

And...the whole family is half way through season two of the TV show--which provides lots of material for family discussion.  We don't go to church, but I feel that my kids get lessons in morality with almost every episode!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book o' the Month: Little House in the Big Woods

I think I started reading this book back in fourth grade, but never finished.  James and the Giant Peach was more my thing back then.  But now?  Now I am wondering, what took me so long?!

I LOVE it!  And nine-year-old Andrew loves it!  In fact, we are on to Little House on the Prairie and plan to read the entire series.

AND...we have been watching the TV series.  As a family.  Even the surly almost-thirteen-year-old can't get enough of it.  Hubby and I loved watching as kids and now we get to share it with our kids.  Too much fun, I tell you.

I have actually been on a prairie sort of binge lately.  Think:  Gunne Sax and Holly Hobbie.  But more on that later!