Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Challenges Ending and Beginning

February 5th, 2019

I wrote at the beginning of the year of my intent to participate in Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge – and participate I did.

Anne smashing the slate over Gilbert's head

I started the year off with Mariah Marsden and Brianna Thummler’s Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel. I was somewhat unexpectedly delighted with the format – but likely because my familiarity with the original story allowed me to catch little details that I otherwise wouldn’t have understood (pictures not really being my language.)

"Red cordial" with image of Anne and Diana at a tea-table

The kids and I read Kelly Hill’s excellent board books titled Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Numbers, which provided me with a lovely opportunity to introduce the children to some of my favorite Anne-ecdotes (hopefully without spoiling their eventual enjoyment of the real deal.)

Our family watched several episodes of Tales from Avonlea – which made my interested in going back and re-reading The Story Girl and Chronicles of Avonlea and the like, as I don’t remember the books being quite as sensational as the TV series was.

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

And, finally, I read Anne of Avonlea. Amidst the busy of the beginning of a new year, I enjoyed catching up with my old friend Anne, no longer a child but not yet a woman.

Thank you, Carrie, as usual for hosting this challenge this year!

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge


And now that January is over and February has begun, it’s time to begin a new challenge – Barbara’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Fairy Poems

The children and I are eager to participate – we’ve already finished a collection of fairy poems by Laura, as well as started Little House in the Big Woods. We’re planning to read at least one more of the little house books together and to do some activities to go along with it.

Little House, Long Shadow

I, personally, have borrowed Little House, Long Shadow by Anita Clair Fellman from the library. I’ve read the first chapter and am uncertain as to how far I’ll get before the month is up, but I’ve got it on retainer :-)

Children’s Reading Report (January 2019)

February 2nd, 2019

After who-knows-how-many-years of work, I have finally completed author last name “B” at my local library. I’m hoping to pick up the pace a bit and complete all the picture books by author last name “C” this year!

*An asterisk denotes a book that I wouldn’t mind re-reading.


Board Books

Since I’ve already read all the board books at our library (except the ones they’ve acquired since I finished my challenge), I’m reading these simply for pleasure – or ’cause the little ones pick them up when we’re at the library.

"Anne's Colors"

  • Look at Me: I Love My Family
    Pictures of little ones playing with their family along with very spare text. I won’t be getting it again.
  • *Rrralph! by Lois Ehlert
    “Did you know my dog can talk?” the narrator asks. We learn just how in this delightful tale (Ralph says “Ralph”, “Roof”, “Wolf”, “Bark”, and more.) We get this from the library, but I’d love to own a copy – it’s a fun, fun book and Beth-Ellen’s current favorite.
  • Newtonian Physics for Babies by Chris Ferrie
    Not particularly straightforward and the illustrations look like they were made using Microsoft Word’s graphic editor. Not worth it.
  • Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Numbers by Kelly Hill
    Lovely little books illustrating scenes from Anne of Green Gables. See my review for more details (and photos!l)
  • Blankie by Leslie Patricelli
    Patricelli’s little character really, really loves his (her?) blankie.

Picture Books

A typical library return stack

Author Last Name “B”

I had just a few of these sitting around waiting to be read before we could close off the “B”s

  • *Banjo Granny by Sarah Martin Busse and Jacqueline Briggs Martin
    A delightful story about a granny who travels the nation with her banjo to play with her dancing grandbaby.
  • My Bibi Always Remembers by Toni Buzzeo
    A fun little story about a distractable elephant baby and his (or her?) wise grandmother.
  • One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo
    In which a boy steals a penguin, just like his father stole a turtle. Weird.
  • R is for Research by Toni Buzzeo
    A big-kid alphabet book centered around a research project. Eh.
  • *The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo
    Based on a Maine legend, this tells the story of a baby washed ashore near a lighthouse after a shipwreck. Very sweet.
  • The Power of Henry’s Imagination by Skye Byrne
    New-Agey “imagine it and it will be”. Ick.
  • Dream Friends by You Byum
    A dream friend helps a little girl make a new real friend. I can’t decide whether I’d be willing to reread this or not.

Author Last Name “C”

An informal count says there are about 560 picture books with an author last name “C”. That means I need to read almost 50 a month to get it done in a year – so I need to double this month’s rate for the rest of the year.

  • Bertie and Small and the Brave Sea Journey and
    Bertie and Small and the Fast Bike Ride by Vanessa Cabban

    Gentle stories about a little boy and his stuffed rabbit.
  • Roonie B. Moonie Lost and Alone by Janan Cain
    I’m not a big fan of “stories” that are really just lessons in disguise. This one is about how to manage being lost.
  • *By the Light of the Moon by Sheridan Cain
    A sweet little story in which a mama mouse puts her baby mouse safely to sleep.
  • *Lena’s Shoes are Nervous by Keith Calabrese and Juana Medina
    Lena isn’t nervous about her first day of school – but her shoes are. Clever and cute.
  • *Flood by Mary Calhoun
    A fictionalized retelling of the 1993 flooding along the Mississippi. I remember that rainy, rainy season (although we didn’t experience devastating flooding in Lincoln like those along the Missouri and the Mississippi did.)
  • Hot-Air Henry by Mary Calhoun
    I enjoyed learning how a hot-air balloon works in this story of a Siamese Cat who accidentally takes a solo balloon trip.
  • The Enemy: A Book about Peace by Davide Cali
    I am profoundly ambivalent towards this book. It has some good points: “the enemy” is generally not a monster but another person fighting for what they believe is right. But Cali seems to discount the idea of a just war.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School by Davide Cali
    Trippy.
  • Good Morning, Neighbor by Davide Cali
    A group of neighbors pools their resources to make a cake – and then has to decide how to divide it equitably. The best of the books by Cali, but still not amazing.
  • Great Dog by Davide Cali
    It was funny, until we got to the end and it took a desperate twist into “you can be anything you want to be” even if that means being a dog when you were born a cat. No thank you – I’d rather encourage my kids to be what God created them to be.
  • Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs by Davide Cali
    Caring for 77 dwarfs is hard work! Snow White is going to take her chances with the witch’s poison apple (maybe then she can at last get some sleep!) This really isn’t a children’s book as much as it is an illustrated book for complaining mothers.
  • *Jazzmatazz by Stephanie Calmenson
    A rolicking good time ensues when a baby and a variety of animals start a jazz band.
  • Ollie’s Class Trip and
    Ollie’s School Day by Stephanie Calmenson

    These books pose all sorts of ridiculous hypotheticals that children will love saying “No, silly” at. That said, I was glad to take them back to the library.
  • The Teeny Tiny Teacher by Stephanie Calmenson
    How many times can you read the words “teeny tiny” before you pull your hair out? Stephanie Calmenson approaches that number in this book (which is quite clever apart from the exhausting use of “teeny tiny”.)
  • Queenie Farmer Had Fifteen Daughters by Ann-Jeanette Campbell
    This was just weird.
  • I Get So Hungry by Bebe Campbell
    How do you address emotional eating and obesity and weight loss with children? Campbell doesn’t do a bad job per se, but the whole topic makes me queasy given how individualized circumstances are (childhood obesity is a real thing, but so are eating disorders.)
  • *Stompin’ at the Savoy by Bebe Campbell
    A fun little book about a girl who is afraid of dancing at her jazz recital – until she has a crazy dream of dancing at the Savoy!
  • Franklin’s Flying Bookshop and
    Franklin and Luna Go to the Moon by Jen Campbell

    Franklin is a dragon who loves to read and to share books with others – but all the people are afraid of him until he meets a fellow book lover (who also happens to love dragons.) In the sequel, the dragon and his friend go searching for Franklin’s family.
  • *The Mermaid and the Shoe by K.G. Campbell
    Little Minnow is the only unexceptional daughter from among King Tritan’s many exceptional daughters. But then she finds a shoe and goes exploring to find out what it is – and learns that she is exceptional too. I enjoyed this story quite a bit – it’s not simply an “everyone is special” book, but an “everyone is special in different ways” book.
  • Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horseby Marcy Campbell
    Adrian has an imaginary horse and the protagonist must learn to not be so mean about it. Eh. (Lovely illustrations, though, by Corinna Luyken.)
  • Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
    Does the hug machine ever run out of hugs? Okay, but not great

Other picture books:

  • *Yummy by Lucy Cousins
    A fun collection of folk tales loosely themed around food.
  • *The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers
    A neighborhood is astonished to wake up every morning to a new topiary along their sleep. Fun.
  • *My Love Will Be With You by Laura Krauss Melmed
    A precious, simple father/child book. I especially liked Henri Sorensen’s beautiful (acrylic? oil?) paintings of different animal father/child combos.
  • *Good Night, Good Night Construction Site Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
    As good as promised. My truck-loving Louis wanted to take this to bed with him most nights (and for a majority of naps as well.)

Holiday Books

A typical library checkout

Christmas

Christmas lasts until January 6 and I’m pleased to keep reading Christmas books right up until then :-)

  • *Just Right For Christmas by Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw
    A Christmas book I’ll be checking out again and again – a king buys a bolt of fabric to make his daughter a gift for Christmas, and then a whole set of people and animals use the scraps to make a “just right” gift for their own loved ones.
  • The Animals’ Santa by Jan Brett
    Brett is always a delight. The animals speculate about Santa’s identity – and discover who he is thanks to the ingenuity of a skeptical little one.
  • *The Nutcracker by Valeria DoCampo
    A very nice retelling of the ballet.
  • *The Twelve Days of Christmas in Washington D.C. by Candice Ransom
    A little one (I forget whether it was a girl or a boy) visits his cousin in D.C. and writes letters home to his parents about all the things his cousin showed him in D.C. It’s great fun hearing my kids mash up the traditional version and this version of the song. Tirzah Mae sings “And a partridge in a scarlet oak tree” and Louis loves to sing “Five… doll-ar rings!”
  • *Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Tirzah Mae wanted to get a jump start on Barbara’s Laura Ingalls Wilder reading challenge with this “My First Little House Book”. Of course I let her :-)

Marting Luther King, Jr. Day

I greatly enjoyed learning more about Martin Luther King, Jr. this year

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day by R.J Bailey
    A very simple book that focuses on kids doing community service vs. on Dr. King’s life or the Civil Rights movement. Not a fan.
  • *Martin Luther King Day by Linda Lowery
    A good review of Dr. King’s life and of how MLK Jr. Day became a national holiday.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by Dianne M. MacMillan
    A simple chapter book that is nevertheless quite informative.
  • *Martin Luther King Day by Janet McDonnell
    A grandfather tells his granddaughter about the civil rights movement. Very nice.

Groundhog Day

Our library has LOTS of books for Groundhog Day, but very few of them are any good.

  • *A Garden for a Groundhog by Lorna Balian
    Mr. and Mrs. O’Leary are a wee bit frustrated with how the groundhog keeps eating their garden – so they devise a plan. Any vegetable gardener will identify with the O’Leary’s in this clever little book.
  • Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox
    The groundhog can’t fall asleep, so he keeps taking walks only to get trundled back to bed by a holiday figure who rocks him, tells him a story, and gives him food. He finally falls asleep just in time for his alarm to go off for Groundhog Day. He pops out of his hole, sees his shadow, and runs back inside for six more weeks of sleep.
  • Groundhog Stays Up Late by Margery Cuyler
    Foolhardy Groundhog stays up playing instead of preparing for winter – which means he gets awfully hungry. So he plays a trick on his friends to get some of their stored food. But the other animals have the last laugh when they trick him on February second. Eh.
  • Groundhog Day! by Gail Gibbons
    Fairly informative, if somewhat disjointed discussion of Groundhog Day and groundhogs themselves.
  • It’s Groundhog Day! by Steven Kroll
    Roland Raccon wants winter to continue so he can make more money off his ski resort – so he attempts to kidnap Godfrey Groundhog so he can’t predict spring. Eh.
  • Who Will See Their Shadows This Year? by Jerry Pallotta and David Biedrzycki
    All sorts of animals try their shadows, hoping to encourage spring to come early. But they only manage to set off all sorts of weird weather phenomenon.

Nonfiction Books

This week's return pile

Pregnancy and Babies

Tirzah Mae has been pretty obsessed with pregnancy since I was pregnant with Beth-Ellen – and now that we’ve read everything the library has (for children) on the topic, we’re moving along to babies after birth.

  • *9 Months by Courtney Adamo
    A look at what is happening inside (and outside) a woman during her nine months of pregnancy. The best children’s book on the topic that I’ve seen so far (and I’ve read them all, given that I have a pregnancy obsessed little girl.)
  • My Mommy’s Having a Baby by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Fairly informative – but I’m not a fan of the illustrations and there were a couple pages on sex that I wasn’t terribly comfortable with (then again, my four-year-old is probably a bit younger than the target audience).
  • Our Brother Has Down Syndrome by Shelley Cairo (and daughters?)
    A basic introduction to Down Syndrome with lots of pictures of the authoresses and their brother. The main message is that those with Down Syndrome are unique people, just like all of us.
  • The Obstetrician by Lee Jacobs
    What does an obstetrician do? This was a simple, repetitive book that seemed geared toward early independent readers. Daniel thought it terribly boring; I thought it a bit too pro-medicalized birth; Tirzah Mae was heartbroken when I returned it to the library.
  • Multiple Births by Elaine Landau
    Informative book about multiples (focused mostly on quads and quints!) – but tragic throughout. The first chapter details the terribly sad story of a set of Canadian quints in the early 20th century who were taken from their parents and basically turned into zoo animals. The third chapter is all about the trials and risks of higher order multiples and why selective reduction (more accurately called “killing some babies in the womb while leaving some of their siblings alive”) is recommended. I cried many, many times as I read this.
  • Drugs and Birth Defects by Nancy Schniderman and Sue Hurwitz
    Written for teens and clearly designed to scare them away from doing drugs during pregnancy. Definitely from the early nineties (as evidenced by the dated photos, the hardcore scare tactics, and the absence of mention of methamphetamine.)
  • That New Baby by Sara Bonnett Stein
    This book contains large print to read out loud to your children and smaller print to read yourself. It’s intended to open a conversation with kids about a new baby in the home. Like many books about the coming of a new baby, it’s focused on how the older child is going to feel jealous and left out and angry. I’m not a fan of such things (and, from my experience bringing both new babies and older children into our home, I don’t think jealousy and anger has to be a universal.)

Tools and Trucks

These are for Louis, who would sleep with his mallet and his dump truck every night if I’d let him. Instead, he takes the library books to bed with him :-)

  • The Saw and
    The Screwdriver by David and Patricia Armentrout

    Very simple and well-suited for reading to a two-year-old.
  • Concrete Mixers and
    Dump Trucks by Jean Eick

    Terribly boring for me. Terribly interesting for Louis. I’ll survive the toil of reading them for the joy of watching my son delight in reading them :-)
  • *Tools by Taro Miura
    A very simple labeling book, but with beautiful graphics.
  • Does a Woodpecker Use a Hammer? by Harriet Ziefert
    Talking about the “tools” different animals use – and how humans are different from animals because they use complex engineered tools

Other Nonfiction

  • FlyGuy Presents: Castles by Ted Arnold
    FlyGuy, a cartoon fly, gives a tour of castles. Louis liked it. Daniel liked it. I did not.
  • *Who Was Mother Teresa? by Jim Gigliotti
    Informative look at Mother Teresa – I like the “Who Was…” series. I am interested to learn more about Mother Teresa – I hadn’t know that she was a universalist (kinda thought that was incompatible with Catholicism).

Magazines

  • BabyBug: September 2018
  • BabyBug: January 2019
  • Highlights Hello: October 2018
  • Highlights Hello: November 2018
    I enjoy these very simple little magazines for babies and toddlers – this issue was about shapes. These are sturdy little booklets, although easy to lose since they’re so small.
  • Disney Princesses Official Magazine #47
    Gag me with a spoon. But Tirzah Mae ate it up – and now I can mark it read :-)

Our library includes a running tally of our savings from using the library – and it’s always fun to see how quickly these children’s books add up. We’ve saved $2,845.47 so far this year!

Our January library savings

Grown-Up Reading Report (January 2019)

January 31st, 2019

I’m sad that Five Minutes for Books is no longer hosting the monthly “What’s on Your Nightstand?” roundup – but I completely understand, especially given how my own participation has waned in the past several years.

Nevertheless, I have valued these monthly reminders of what I’ve read – and hope to continue them.


Books for Loving:

Our Triune God by Philip Ryken and Michael LeFebvre
Our Triune God by Ryken and LeFabvre
When I determined that I would study the Trinity this year for my own personal spiritual formation, I was a little worried that it would be mostly an academic pursuit and that I would have to work hard to find cause for worship in the doctrine of the Trinity. Ryken and LeFebvre’s little book (114 pages long) was the perfect start to my project, helping me to clearly see the glorious truth of the Trinity and to worship God as a result. Rather than setting out to give some sort of comprehensive analysis of the Trinity, or a historical background on the doctrine, the authors take a main text for each of their four chapters. They exposit each of those texts to help their readers understand the work of the Trinity in salvation, the mysterious doctine of the Trinity, the activity of the Trinity in sanctification, and the work of the Trinity in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I heartily recommend this book as an introduction to the doctrine and worship of the Triune God.


Books for Growing:

I chose Matt Perman’s Do More Better as my first book for growing this year – but it’s too long to fit into one month. So I read just the first 13 chapters this month and will be finishing up next month.


Books for Knowing:

The Why Axis by Uri Gneezy and John A. List
The Why Axis by Uri Gneezy and John A. List
Why do we do what we do? Plenty of economists try to answer the question – but generally their observational methodology means they can only observe correlations, not causation. Gneezy and List are pioneers in the use of “field experiments” randomized experiments on the unknowing public that attempt to tease out causation. The Why Axis describes several of their experiments into discrimination, the gender gap, getting kids from hard places to graduate high school, raising money for charity, and more. I found this a fascinating book, although perhaps not quite as fascinating as say, Freakanomics (although that may well be because Freakanomics was one of the first “economics for the public” books I ever read.)


Books for Seeing:

Utopia by Thomas More
Utopia by Thomas More
More is clearly an intelligent and witty man – and I enjoyed reading his little fiction. Utopia is made up of four parts – an introductory letter (full of witicisms), a first part that describes the author’s first acquaintance with the man who told him about Utopia, a second part that describes Utopia, and a final letter. I enjoyed the letters best, the first part next, and the actual description of Utopia least. The island of Utopia is a little too… utopian… for my tastes. For a Catholic saint, More shows little awareness of the doctrine of original sin.


Books for Enjoying:

A Common Life by Jan Karon
A Common Life by Jan Karon
I’ve been making slow but delighted progress through Karon’s Mitford books. They are exactly the sort of books suited for a mother (who wants something to read but still needs to sleep at night.) This book goes back in time a bit to learn more about the lead-in to Father Tim and Cynthia’s wedding.

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel adapted by Mariah Marsden and illustrated by Brenna Thummler
"Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel"
I enjoyed this much more than expected. Follow the title link for my review.

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
It’s been far too long since I last read this. It was like visiting an old friend, grown more mature by life’s passage but just as sweet as ever.


Book Review: Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Numbers by Kelly Hill

January 30th, 2019

I am an absolute sucker for embroidered illustrations.

"Anne's Colors"

Not that I knew these books were illustrated in needlework when I requested them from the library to read as part of Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge.

All I knew was that they were board books based on the Anne books – and that I hadn’t read them yet.

"Anne's Numbers"

Now that I have read them, I want the original needlework from each page framed in my bedroom. They’re great. I’ve flipped through the pages time and time again, wondering if I could trace the designs onto fabric and replicate them. Is that a violation of copyright? Even if I’m just intending to use them in my own home?

It really doesn’t matter because I don’t have time to embroider myself a set of Anne illustrations. But I still wonder.

Someday.

"Pink cheeks" with image of Gilbert pulling Anne's hair

For now, I’m thrilled to be able to use the illustrations to share my favorite Anne-ecdotes with my children (who are as yet much too young for the real thing!)

Tirzah Mae is utterly delighted to hear of an orange-headed girl who smashed her slate over a teasing boy’s head – and of a friend who accidentally made her friend sick by giving her WINE instead of juice!

"Red cordial" with image of Anne and Diana at a tea-table

“Remember the girl who made her friend sick by ACCIDENT?” she’ll ask me. “She wasn’t trying to make her sick, she just accidentally gave her the wrong drink.”

If you can only obtain one, choose Anne’s Colors which illustrates specific stories from Anne of Green Gables. Anne’s Numbers, while charming, consists mostly of Anne in non-specific nature settings.

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

Celebrating MLK Jr. Day

January 21st, 2019

One of my bookish goals this year was to check out a book from the “Holiday” section at our library for each holiday of the year.

Holiday #1 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The kids and I read four books about Martin Luther King, Jr. – and I learned just how very little I knew about the civil rights movement.

I’ll fix that further as time goes by.

For now, we’re rejoicing in the gains the civil rights movement has made – and praying for an end to the continued malice and distrust between races.

Because we agree with Dr. King’s dream.

It is our dream too.

Our kids' new wall art

“I have a dream… that one day right here… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel adapted by Mariah Marsden and illustrated by Brenna Thummler

January 15th, 2019

“They” say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And maybe “they” are right – for most people.

For me?

"Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel"

The written word is my heart language. Pictures are generally lost on me. So much so that the only way I can dream of understanding a movie (even if I’m paying it my full attention) is if I’ve got subtitles on.

Perhaps it’s needless to say that graphic novels aren’t really my thing.

But when the time came around for Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge, I searched the library for something I hadn’t read – and found this little (229 pages) graphic novel.

I read it in about three sittings (give or take) and adored it.

Marsden does an excellent job of shortening Anne’s speech while keeping its “Anne-ness” intact. Thummler does a great job of depicting the setting, actions, and emotions of the various scenes. It’s all well done.

Anne smashing the slate over Gilbert's head

I’m fairly certain, though, that my enjoyment of this adaptation has everything to do with it being an adaptation of a familiar story. Would I have understood what was going on if this was my first exposure to Anne? I doubt so. Would someone else? Possibly. But even as much as I enjoyed this adaptation, I wouldn’t recommend it as a first exposure to Anne. Montgomery herself should be allowed to introduce her own character.

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge


Rating: 4 stars
Category: Graphic Novel adaptation
Synopsis: Anne of Green Gables in graphic novel format. Done well.
Recommendation: Fun for fans of Anne, possibly also a nice option for a struggling-ish reader who has already heard Anne read aloud (Maybe?) Not a suitable substitute for actually reading L.M. Montgomery.

An Apt Description

January 8th, 2019

Thomas More, in Utopia:

“I am out practically all day dealing with others, and the rest of my time is devoted to my family, and so I leave nothing for myself, that is for writing.

When I get home, I have to talk with my wife, chat with my children, confer with the servants. All this I count as part of my obligations, since it needs to be done…. As I am doing such things, as I said, a day, a month, a year slips by.

When do I write then? And as yet I have said nothing about sleep and nothing at all about eating, and for many that takes up no less time than sleep itself, which consumes almost half our lives. The only time I get for myself is what I steal from sleep and eating.”

An apt description of why I blog so much less frequently than I would prefer.

Book Review: French Twist by Catherine Crawford

January 5th, 2019

Catherine Crawford was raising her children to be spoiled brats until she discovered, almost entirely by chance, that there was another way.

She had invited another family over for dinner and was shocked to find that this family’s kids were polite, helpful, and actually pleasant to be around.

This family happened to be French, which tickled the Francophile Crawford’s fancy, and next thing you know Crawford was trying a radical(ish) experiment in French parenting.

It’s just the sort of thing I usually like. A parenting memoir-slash-project memoir. Except I couldn’t make myself like Crawford, her children, or the French.

Now, I realize that Brooklyn parenting is a whole lot different than Middle-American parenting – but I find it hard to believe Crawford really needed to go French to learn that she is the boss (not her kids.) Just about anyone who works with children could tell her that structure works wonders for children. And the importance of family meals? Seriously? You didn’t know that?

Surely Crawford’s Catholic parents, having raised nine of their own children, could have told her that you don’t raise pleasant children by bargaining with them and rewarding them with toys every time they do something that most people would consider common courtesy. But no, Crawford must go French.

And then there’s how the French apparently actually parent. They drink alcohol while pregnant. They don’t breastfeed (at least, not for longer than three months). They shame their kids. Schoolteachers rank their students on a daily basis and announce those rankings to the class. Parents aren’t welcome at school. Their job is to make sure kids get homework done, period.

Eh, I’ll pass.


Rating: 2 stars
Category: Parenting Memoir
Synopsis: The author attempts to turn around her parenting by applying “French” advice.
Recommendation: I didn’t hate reading this, but I clearly didn’t like it either. Skip it.

Reading Lucy Maud

January 3rd, 2019

It’s that most wonderful time of the year – time to read Lucy Maud Montgomery with Carrie at Reading to Know.

Carrie has been hosting the Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge for the past 10 years – and I’ve had the pleasure of participating for at least 4 years (how is it possible it’s only that many?)

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

As usual, the rule is to read as much Maud as possible during the month of January and to let the world know we’re participating (with a link to Carrie’s site).

Carrie includes a list of items that do NOT count toward the challenge (namely, the book Before Green Gables and the movies/shows Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story and Anne with an E. )

I’m going to push the limits of the challenge by reading a graphic novel version of Anne of Green Gables by Mariah Marsden, watching Tales from Avonlea, reading a couple of board books based on the Anne books (all from my library) – and reading one other of the Anne books (in original form). I haven’t decided which Anne book to read because I hate to start in the middle, but I think I’ve read Anne of Green Gables without reading the rest three or four times in a row now :-)

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading!

12 years: a reading progress report

September 5th, 2018

It’s been 12 years now since I began my epic project to read every book in my local branch library. 12 years, three cities, six homes, one husband, three biological children, and two foster children later… I’m still reading.

TOTALS as of Sept 5, 2018 (12 years or 4383 days)

Category Items this year Total Items Total Categories Closed
Juvenile Picture 165 1657 472
Juvenile, Board Books 365 512 268
Juvenile, First Readers 9 75 3
Juvenile, Chapter 0 92 7
Juvenile Fiction 6 320 25
Juvenile Nonfiction 19 280 1
Teen Fiction 1 49 4
Teen Nonfiction 0 5 0
Adult Fiction 3 468 71
Adult Nonfiction 34 953 44
Audio CD 238 933 14
Juvenile DVD 4 53 0
Adult Fiction DVD 8 107 7
Adult Nonfiction DVD 3 45 1
Periodicals 5 94 0
Total 860 items 5643 items
2.36 items/day 1.21 items/day

This year’s biggest reading accomplishment was getting serious about closing categories. The children and I read everything our library owns by 222 different board book authors. We have 8 more board books to read before we can say that we’ve read every board book in Wichita’s Advanced Learning Library!

Next up? We’re going to be hitting the picture books hard.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge
L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge
What's on Your Nightstand?
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