Thursday, May 23, 2013

Library Loot #22, Part 1

I haven't posted in a little while for two reasons.  One, I haven't been inspired.  We haven't read anything that has really grabbed me.  But the other reason is that, for the first time since I had kids (nearly 8 years ago!), I have been really reading adult books again.  Not just now and then but constantly.  And I am really enjoying them. Although, I must confess, this pile does include a few YA books, two of which are about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which my daughter is researching for school.

So here's what I've been reading (or planning to read):

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James was thoroughly enjoyable.  I liked The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore but predicted the plot point involving the protagonist's sister.

Not pictured: The Good House by Ann Leary, which was very, very good, and two books in addition to the one on the stack by Lucinda Rosenfeld, I'm So Happy for You: A Novel About Best Friends and Why She Went Home, the former of which was better than the latter, but neither of which I loved (out of all three, The Pretty One: A Novel About Sisters was my favorite, but I thought the plot twist at the end was a little ridiculous.

Have you read any of these?  What's on your "to read" list?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover

I was volunteering in my daughter's school library the other day and some other volunteers were (once again) weeding the fiction section and I joined in.  They were being merciless and, for the most part, rightfully so.  Anything that hadn't been circulating, that we hadn't heard of, that we thought was too hard, or that had a dated cover was going to be made available to the teachers for their classroom libraries and the rejects would be donated or recycled.  We wanted to make room both for new books and for shelf space to display what we have facing outward, to entice students.

Some of Johanna Hurwitz' books about Cricket Kaufman
I largely agreed with their decisions and their criteria.  Except for one: the dated covers.  On the one hand, great covers do draw readers in, particularly reluctant readers.  On the other hand, following this rule almost led to the disposal of Molly's Pilgrim (which I just wrote about here), Johanna Hurwitz's books about Cricket Kaufman and her classmates, and and the Anastasia books by Lois Lowry.  So I testified on their behalf and they were given amnesty and restored to the shelves!  Some of these books are out of print, so if we didn't keep them, there's no way to get new copies.

Johanna Hurwitz's books about the Sossi Family
While these books might not appeal to reluctant readers, what about enthusiastic readers?  My daughter loves Molly's Pilgrim and anything by Johanna Hurwitz, and when the time comes, I suspect she'll love Anastasia books too.  She knows to look for a book not just by title but by author and she has specific favorite authors.  When reading aloud to my girls I always name the author (and illustrator, if applicable).  In fact, they each went through a phase in which they would pretend to read and make up titles by authors they were familiar with, e.g. The Nice Flower by Kevin Henkes, or Popcorn by Beverly Cleary.  Sadly, very few students at the school library ask for a specific author.  Instead, they know the names of certain series, like the Wimpy Kid books, but most of them couldn't tell you who wrote them.

Would you have kept the books I put back on the shelves or not?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Hairy Situation

Betsy, Tacy, and Tib's Lopsided Haircuts
The other morning, as I was cutting my daughter's hair to remove it from a comb she had tangled it in in a misguided attempt to curl her straight hair, I started thinking about children, real and fictional, and hair.  Almost every kid has cut her own hair, or cut a sibling's or a doll's hair, or had her hair cut by a sibling.  Not to mention the chewing-gum-in-the-hair-type incidents.
Ella and Her Hair

In the delightful, rhyming Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair, Ella lets her hair reach extreme proportions before succumbing to a haircut.

Betsy, Tacy, and Tib, in the second book in the series go overboard when they cut their hair to put in lockets to remember each other by (in case they die) and end up with very lopsided 'dos (see photo above).

In Russell and Elisa, the children take their pretend game of haircut to a new level when they actually cut first Elisa's doll Airmail's hair and then Elisa's friend's hair.

Ramona and Her Crown of Burrs
And of course, in Ramona and Her Father, Ramona makes herself a crown out of burrs, which, predictably to us, but apparently surprisingly to Ramona, gets stuck in her hair, forcing her father to cut it.  This is the scene to which my mind immediately flashed as I dealt with my own daughter's hairtastrophe (yes, I just made that word up) that morning.

Can you think of other fictional characters who get themselves into such hairy situations or do you have a story about yourself or your own child's hairtastrpohe?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A 3-D Look At the Human Body

When I first started searching for a book about the human body for my 5-year-old, I looked online.  I came across one called Uncover the Human Body, which has a 3-D model inside.  But I couldn't tell from an online photo how useful such a book would be or how detailed the model was.  My fabulous local bookstore didn't have the book in stock but said they could order it for me and, since they carry it anyway, I wouldn't be obliged to purchase it.  It came in the other day and my husband convinced me it was worth the $18.95.  He was right!   The model is small but not tiny and is fascinating.  Photographs don't do it justice.  The only thing missing, which my daughter noticed immediately, is the reproductive system.  Nonetheless, it is another worthwhile book for any budding doctor.