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What We're Reading, 3.10.09

We're reading lots these days. Junior, now in 4th grade, is very enamored of Jeff Smith's Bone series of graphic novels. He has all nine, and enjoys re-reading them multiple times. He wants me to read the first, and I have promised that I will.

The kiddo also likes the Lee J. Ames "Draw 50..." series. The current one, checked out from the school library, is Draw 50 Creepy Crawlies. Step-by-step drawings of stink bugs, spiders, fleas, and their ilk.

I'm trying to return to read-alouds here at home. I think it's such a nice tradition. Last night we started a classic—Beverly Cleary's Ribsy.

Another recent read-aloud was One Beetle Too Many, Kathryn Lasky's excellent picture book biography of Charles Darwin. Meant for older readers, say aged 9 and older, it makes a great introduction to both Darwin's life and his theories, with focus on his childhood (of course) and five-year voyage on the Beagle. Lively, colorful illustrations by Matthew Trueman are a plus. Lasky's dedication reads, "In celebration of children, whose boundless curiosity gives them a right to know their history on Earth." Cool, eh?

The first-grade buddies of mine are proud of reading a longer book—Theo. LeSieg's Ten Apples Up On Top!, which I liked as a kid, too.

Moving on to grown-ups' books, I finished up Marilynne Robinson's novel Gilead; next up is Elizabeth's Spencer's The Salt Line, which I found at a book sale. It's about a town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and takes place just after Hurricane Camille.

Junior's dad recommends Lark & Termite, by Jayne Anne Phillips. It's about a girl and her disabled brother, and their extended family.  I read it, too, and was a little reminded of Caddy and Benjy  in The Sound and the Fury.


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Lark & Termite sounds particularly good -- I'm trying to read more books that have a disabled family member who is treated normally (without the book's drama centering solely on that single character's physical, mental or emotional challenges).

TadMack, lyrical writing, dramatic events, multiple viewpoints--and it definitely doesn't focus on just the one kid's struggles. The novel, in some ways, is told from the point of view of everyone's relationship with him. Part of the book takes place during the Korean War. I don't want to give anything away, though.

My students LOVE the drawing books. They are popular items in the library. Our class also likes the Apples on Top book. The students were quite surprised to find out that Theo LeSeig is Dr. Seuss' pen name!

We loved Ribsy. I read Gilead last year and enjoyed it a good deal. I've got a 4th grader I will check out the Bone series. I haven't heard of it.

Bone is definitely worth reading, I enjoyed it very much.

We're always reading, too, but we've started an afternoon tradition of piling onto our big bed, getting comfy with a stack of books, and reading together. We finished Coraline, and now we've started Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (did I get the title right? I never read that one as a child), as well as Anne (Ann?) Martin's great story about the walking 'n talking dolls, ill. by Brian Selznick. Anyway, I hate it when we miss our afternoon read, and I know it won't always be easy, since the oldest starts KINDERGARTEN this Fall. Whoa.

I have a feeling she'll go gaga over those "Draw 50..." series, too, when she's a bit older.

Kelly, I didn't know that was Dr. Seuss! See, I learn something every day here. Thanks!

Wisteria, according to Jr., Bone is popular with girls and guys in his class.

Anna, I'm going to try it soon. Jr. just loves the series.

What a lovely tradition, Jules. That sounds so sweet. Kindergarten? Wow. Will she go half days or whole ones? Jr. went all half days, but now the kids go 2 long days and 3 short.

You know, Susan, I don't even know that yet. Does that make me a bad parent? I keep meaning to look into that; I'm just excited she got into an arts magnet school. At this point, I'll accept whatever schedule they have! :)

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