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Saturday Morning Reading, 05.19.12

A few highlights from this week's reading:

Tanita S. Davis, author of the newly released YA novel Happy Families, pens a wonderful tribute to the late Jean Craighead George's novel My Side of the Mountain. I loved that book when I was a kid. Loved it. Jean Craighead George died recently at the age of  92.

In tomorrow's New York Times Book Review (available online now), Judith Shulevitz writes about listening to audiobooks with her children. I smiled at her choices, "...or they’re books we’ve always meant to read but needed children as an excuse to do so" because I've felt the same way. See "Let's Go Reading in the Car."

The Nonfiction Detectives review Kelly Milner Hall's Alien Investigations: Searching for the Truth About UFOs and Aliens. I added the title to our library list immediately; my 12 year old can't get enough of this subject. Don't miss the other articles on the Detectives' blog; you'll find all kinds of good recommendations for young nonfiction fans.

After following a link from Page-Turner, the New Yorker's revitalized book blog, I was happy to add Rohan Maitzen's Novel Readings: Notes on Literature and Criticism to Google Reader. In a recent post, she makes the case for Middlemarch and book clubs, providing a number of helpful tips to taking on George Eliot's 1,000+-page classic. Maitzen is an English professor at Nova Scotia's Dalhousie University.

I'm bookmarking this post from Misadventures of the Monster Librarian because of the folktale recommendations for second graders. "My" second graders (the class I read to once a week) like folktales a lot.

Speaking of second graders, I read Lita Judge's excellent nonfiction picture book Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why to them a few weeks ago. My crew was particularly delighted by the scat-bombing Scandinavian Fieldfare, mentioned by NC Teacher Stuff in his review. In our conversation after the read-aloud, I found out that several of the kids own parrots. Parrot stories abounded.

Audiobooking May 2012

This week J. (my 12-year-old son) and I finished the audiobook version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in J.K. Rowling's epic series. We started listening to the first one in September 2010. J. was just starting sixth grade at a new school, and, until then, J. would have nothing to do with the series whatsoever. (Occasionally, and unfortunately, people become competitive about who has read what, and the same holds true even in elementary school.) I had read only the first book, and was neither here nor there about it. But the audiobooks! We became complete converts to the series and to Jim Dale's fabulous narration. Some evenings we sat in the car in the driveway, just to hear what would happen next, and I almost cried exiting I-95 as the last book came to an end. J. has read the books many times over, while I read ahead only once, preferring to be surprised. 

As the HPs got longer and longer, I did need a break between 5 and 6. We listened to and enjoyed When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead's Newbery-winning novel, although I have to admit that I am thick-headed when it comes to understanding time travel. I loved the New York setting and could completely picture those kids working in the sandwich shop. 

Now we're onto a classic, Charlotte's Web, read by its author, E.B. White. Isn't that so cool that you can still hear E.B. White's voice? Out of nowhere J. remarked, "This is a good book." High praise!

My friend Mary Parmelee at the Westport Library says Eva Ibbotson's One Dog and His Boy, read by Steve West, is one of the best audiobooks she's ever heard. Now that we're dog owners, this novel sounds perfect. The online card catalogue summarizes the story this way, "When lonely, ten-year-old Hal learns that his wealthy but neglectful parents only rented Fleck, the dog he always wanted, he and new friend Pippa take Fleck and four other dogs from the rental agency on a trek from London to Scotland, where Hal's grandparents live." I'm putting it on the list now.

Correction: An earlier version of this post had the wrong last name for Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me. My apologies.

Farewell, Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

I was so sorry to hear this news this morning. The New York Times and other news outlets are reporting the death of Maurice Sendak, "widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century," as Margalit Fox writes in an obituary. NPR's "Fresh Air" will be devoting today's show to him.

What's your favorite Sendak book? Mine is Swine Lake, a collaboration with James Marshall, about a wolf and a pig ballet and the power of art.