Mixed Media


I'm supposed to read "The Shack" for my book group meeting next week and I can't make myself finish it. It feels.... trite and heavy-handed to me. Surely this is further evidence that I'm going to H E Double Toothpicks.

I just finished (when I was supposed to be reading another book, AHEM)  What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen and I found it very entertaining and thought-provoking in the mommy memoir roller-coaster-of-emotions kind of way.

Weeks after finishing the book, I'm still thinking about some of the characters in The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and I don't even like baseball all that much.  Whoever you are, you should read it.  Unless you hate beautiful writing or are terribly homophobic.

Kids Books:

You know those kids books that you always chose when your kid asks you pick a book to read to them? The ones that give you goosebumps?  Here are a few of my current favorites:

Me.... Jane by Patrick McDonnell.  There are fabulous illustrations in this story about Jane Goodall as a little girl.

Pretty Penny Sets Up Shop by Devon Kinch.  I adore this story because it reminds me so much of Z and her shops last summer.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble, aka "Mom, you ALWAYS chose that one!"

The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Anderson, adapted by Gloria Fowler.  The illustrations in this book are so beautifully detailed, Z and I gazed at each page for a long time when she was sick last week.

So, okay, these next few don't exactly give me goosebumps but Z, a new reader, needs books with very simple sentences and I am beyond bored by the ones she chooses from the library (usually based on a TV show or Barbies or some other mindless drivel).  However, I can listen to her stumble her way through the Elephant and Piggie books by the incomparable Mo Willems and the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik for HOURS.

Any other Non-Barbie beginning reader book suggestions would be GREATLY APPRECIATED.


1.  I walked into town to see the movie last night - and can I just pause to say how much I love saying that?  I can WALK into town to see a movie!

Anyway, the movie was a documentary about kids and nature called Mother Nature's Child and while it certainly was preaching to the choir - who else besides nature-loving parents are going to pay to see this movie? - it definitely provided me with some food for thought. 

Most of the information I already knew:  for younger kids, the sensory input from irregular, impermanent nature is unrivaled by any of the fixed, safety-tested play structures of suburbia. 

But the theses about older children really interested me. In middle childhood, when children are building their identities and beginning to separate from their parents, access to nature and, especially unfettered time ALONE in nature, can be profoundly soothing and confidence-building to a child.

If you don't live in the country, how does one allow children to run loose in wild places in this day and age? I love that I can walk to town but that means we have to drive to get to any real wild places. And there are ticks here! And MAJOR Lyme Disease!

(See? Even the nature-loving parents have issues to overcome.)

In the teenage years - the years where children focus on their peers and risk-taking, sometimes in equal measure - outdoor experiences with peer groups (like summer camps) can allow them to build the peer relationships and take the risks they developmentally crave.  The documentary hammered home that if we don't give them acceptable risks, they will create their own risks... duhn duhn DUHN!

The upshot:  I'd recommend seeing this movie, if it interests you at all.

2. We are supposed to go to the movies this weekend. Anyone seen anything good lately? Bonus points for good kissing scenes (me) and loud car chases (my husband).


Ann Wyse said...

The movie sounds very interesting! There was something a few years ago in some British publication where they physically mapped the difference in distance traveled independently by different generations at age 8 (or so). It was *shocking* to see what a small footprint we confine our children to. GULP. Not that I have the bravery to change that...

You mentioned lots of books we haven't read, so I'm going to stick them on my list for the library. Thank you!

Regarding early readers, we got some old text books full of children's literature from my favorite reading specialist. Apparently, they stopped using these in the classrooms a few years ago, but they did contain some classic stories that early readers can begin to grasp. I think the text book labels them 'shared reading.' (Noah is NOT reading yet, but he is enjoying these and) These are the less obnoxious ones to me:

Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
My Friends by Taro Gomi
I Went Walking by Sue Williams
Lost! by David McPhail
There's an Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer
Jamaica's Find by Juanita Havill

Henry and Mudge (series) by Cynthia Rylant

Hillary said...

See, I though "Art of Fielding" was just OK. The writing was pretty, but I thought some of the characters were just a little silly and unbelievable. I don't really understand the critical love that book raked in ... which might have been why I was disappointed . My expectations were very high going into it.

Anyway, we're seeing The Hunger Games this weekend. I have high hopes for it, but we shall see.

Emily said...

I agree with you on "The Shack". It wasn't for me.

Alice said...

that's really interesting info from that movie. i went to a school on a farm, surrounded by fields, woods, & a creek, and we kids were often sort of allowed to run wild around the (24-acre, all-within-nature) property. i still miss being there.

(we did all get many, many tick bites. i knew several people who got Lyme disease growing up. the good thing is that if you're in an area where it's prevalent, it won't go undiagnosed. and when treated early it's not that big of a deal!)

Bronwen said...

I KNEW you were going to love "Me...Jane." I have another one that makes me think of you for similar reasons. I will send it to you soon (which means December).

You can't see this in the theater, but if you haven't, you should see the old movie version of The Red Shoes. It's one of the great dance movies of all time. Z may be too young (but it has been years since I've seen it so I'm not sure).

Michelle said...

I thought the same thing about The Shack. I thought I was going to walk away from it with an aha experience. It was more meh.

Cortney said...

I came late to this one...

When my daughter was first reading, the Piggie and Elephant books were her favorite. One of her favorite things when she was an early reader was to read through some of our more simple board books that we had for her and are currently using for baby brother. I think she thought it was pretty cool to be able to read to him.

As far as grown up books, I'm spellbound by the books, The Hummingbird's Daughter and it's sequel, The Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea. Fascinating based-on-true-story about a Mexican woman around the turn of the century who was a healer and mystic. I love the subject matter and the author's writing style. Highly recommended.

momof3 said...

I would definitely second the Henry & Mudge series for beginning readers as well as a series by Kate DiCamillo about Mercy the pig.

It is so much fun when they first start reading.

The Red Shoes is an excellent movie but wouldn't be appropriate for Z at this time in her life.

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