I don't know if you remember, but on November 18th, 2008 (yes, that's five years ago), I declared it International Comment on Kayli's Blog Day. And I decided that this year, I'm reviving that good day. So, leave me a comment, because one should respect special days. And because I like comments (let's face it, we all do) but I have been doing lots of ctach-up posts which don't lend themselves to much commenting and I'm not pregnant so I can't (shouldn't?) use a pregnancy announcement as a way to get lots of comments. :)
And also because once again I will pick one commenter to get a cool prize, because why not? Prizes are cool. Maybe it will be a Swiss postcard, or Swiss chocolate, or a Swiss watch. Okay, actually no watch. Actually probably not a postcard either. Unless you really want a postcard.
But moving along, this is actually a really cool post, even were it not Comment on Kayli's Blog Day. Because I'm talking about BOOKS!! (Yay books!) I thought if you're not a weirdo like some of my sisters (what am I saying?? ALL of my sisters are weirdos!!) and have all your Christmas shopping already done, perhaps this would give you a couple ideas for good book presents (which are pretty much my favorite kind).
But first, I must tell you the awesomest Halloween books that you must read. I realize I am a little late here, but if I waited to tell you about it until next year I would probably forget again and what if I died between now and then and you didn't ever know about these amazing books? Anyway, you should buy them and stick them in your Halloween box for next year to bring out, or just keep them out all year to read because they are AWESOME. (All the pictures are linked to their page on Goodreads)
First, Kate Culhane--A Ghost Story.
It's pretty much a creepy folk tale about a dead man who makes a girl obey his commands after she steps on his grave, and it's pretty intense. Oh I liked it so much! I won't say much more because another blogger has written a good review you can read: http://themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.ch/2012/10/kate-culhane-ghost-story.html
I read it to all my kids and none of them were scared in the least (in fact they all loved it), but of course you'll have to use your judgement about your own kids.
Next, Who Took My Hairy Toe
Very good read-aloud because you can get louder and louder as the monster gets closer and closer. Very fun.
Okay, now on to non-Halloween books.
Last year I got my girls The Complete Book of Flower Fairies and it has been well-loved. The poems are just wonderful and the pictures are fantastic. Hazel and Ethne flip through it a lot, and I think they'll enjoy for many years. To be truthful, I quite enjoy it myself.
The book I bought for Hazel for Christmas this year (shhh, don't tell her) is The Witch of the Glens by Sally Watson. (Did you ever notice that any recipe with a certain ingredient in it, you know you'll love? Like for me, I usually like any recipe that calls for evaporated milk --including Chicken Tetrazzini, Tuscan Soup (although some recipes use cream, the first one I used called for Evap. milk), Homemade Chocolate Sauce, Almond Joy Cake- I love them all. I've decided that maybe my 'ingredient' for me to love a book is it being set in Scotland).
I read this in the airport in Athens and I just enjoyed reading it soooo much. For me it was just absolutely the perfect vacation read-- funny, clever, great love story, and GET THIS- there's a girl in it named Ethne!! Except they used the Gaelic spelling Eithne. So that's a bonus. You can read the summary on Goodreads, but it's about a roguish gypsy girl with the second sight. Hooks you right there, doesn't it? ;)
Also, to ramble on, I just barely re-read what had been a favorite book of mine, 'By These Ten Bones' by Clare B. Dunkle, and while I still enjoyed the plot, I really was disappointed by the writing. It really was not that good. Either I looked past that the first time because I was intrigued by the story or something, I don't know. But it is also set in Scotland, but if the first sentence in the first chapter wasn't "In the far northern hills of scotland, a gray castle stood by a narrow lake, or a loch, as it is properly called" and the use of the term Highland, you would barely know. Instead of using the terms tartan and plaid, it says 'long narrow blanket' and 'checked and crossed by lines and squares.' Now perhaps this was intentionally done to make it more accessibly to younger readers... or dumber readers? All I know is in 'Witch of the Glens' there was a very small glossary of terms in the beginning (with pronunciation too-- apparently Eithne is pronounced Ay-na in Gaelic!) and then the real terms were used and the speech seemed SOOO much more authentic. In fact I got so I could almost hear the Scottish brogue in my reading. The author did spend time in Scotland and really loved it and I think it really came through.
Now, though I loved this book, it is definitely still a book for young readers (such as Hazel who is nine), which doesn't dampen my enjoyment in the least, just know not to go into it expecting an adult level book. Anyway, now I want to BUY ALL THE BOOKS that Sally Watson wrote.
Next, a picture book- The Wishing of Biddy Malone.
My sister Kami bought this for her daughter for her birthday when we were in Utah this summer and so we all read it and we all loved it. It is so fun and sweet and it even teaches a really great lesson that we have to work for our wishes! Your girls will love it. Also, it's set in Ireland, which is pretty much as good as Scotland. :)
Now, an Early Reader. This is an important distinction I have learned as I have had kids learn to read, and I don't know if you've noticed, there are a lot of lame, boring Early Readers out there. As Ethne (and I) finished up the book 'Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" I looked for some fun ones for her, and I found Fox. He's SOOOOOOO FUNNY!
Like, funny enough to get to read to your kids even if none of them are early readers.
Here's a couple excerpts:
Fox's mom was on the phone.
"Fox would love to help," said Mom. "I'll send him right over."I am soooo opposed to books that include kids being mouthy or disrespectful at ALL to their parents, and this is not that. It's like, Fox TRIES to be the boss and his mom just shuts him down. Every time. With a look. It's funny.
"I won't do it," said Fox. "Whatever it is. I'm playing rock star."
"Mrs. Ling across the street needs you to sit with her kids," said Mom.
"Why don't you do it?" said Fox.
"This is my quiet time," said Mom. "Now hurry up."
"No," said Fox. "And that is that."
"Oh really?" said Mom.
And Fox went across the street.
Here's another excerpt after Fox trips on a skate:
"I'm dying!" cried Fox.
"It's only a scratch," said Mom. "Nothing to worry about."
"I can't look at all the blood!" cried Fox.
"There's no blood," said Mom.
"Don't leave me!" cried Fox.
Mom and Louise put Fox to bed.
"Call Doctor Ed," said Fox. "Before it's too late."
"Really Fox, you're making such a fuss."Okay, so not every single story is quite as hilarious as some, but you REALLY must read the Halloween one in Fox Outfoxed. It's the very best one (that I've read). So funny.
Once, the kids and I were looking through all of the Fox books on amazon, reading the previews that amazon has and laughing just from the first couple pages of each book.
James Marshall also wrote Three By The Sea which is another Early Reader that I love (and many more books).
These were recommended to me by my friend Tara when I wrote a post about books earlier, by Maurice Sendak. What Do You Say Dear? and What Do You Do Dear? They're both absolutely hilarious.
"You are picking dandelions and columbines outside the castle. Suddenly a fierce dragon appears and blows red smoke at you, but just then a brave knight gallops up and cuts off the dragon's head.
What do you say, dear?
Thank you very much."
You need to own them.
One that I had never heard of, but was a really wonderful read-aloud is called 'The Animal Family' by Randall Jarrell. It's about a Hunter, a mermaid, a bear, and a lynx who become a family. It is so imaginative and sweet.
Okay, some adult books- my favorite of the past year- first, These Is My Words. I bought a copy and had it sent to my sister to pass it around to my sisters and mom and everyone loved it. It is completely my kind of book in every way. Perfect score from me. I also gave away my copy to a woman I shared a room with in the hospital when Wyatt had RSV because I wanted her to understand why I was crying/grinning like a lunatic/and in other ways getting worked up while I was sitting there reading. I don't know if she'll read it- she did say she likes reading in English for the challenge, and I told her this will keep her reading not because of the challenge but because it's AMAZING. So now I need to buy myself another copy.
p.s. There are two sequels and I read the first of them while I was in Utah and was not super impressed. That's okay- I love it as a stand-alone.
Okay, this one is not one that I think most everyone would enjoy. It is kind of hard to read because of the use of old-fashioned language. Also, it's just not a light story. BUT it is an AMAZINGLY written book and absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. (The main character in the story has a harelip-- could that also be a favorite-making-ingredient?? I loved 'Quest For a Maid' which includes a character with a harelip. (AND IT'S SET IN SCOTLAND!!) I feel like I just read another book with a character with a harelip too...can't remember it right now.) Anyway, if you're in the mood for a book that is more like ready poetry-- beautiful passages that will make you write them down (at least I did), then read this book! And then tell me what you think.
And just because I think this post definitely leans to the girly side, I'll tell you what I ordered for Orrin's Christmas book. I haven't read it yet so I can't review it, but it's by the same author and illustrator as one of my favorite kids books- Ferdinand, which is pretty much the reason I chose it. AND- Scotland.
Finally, a Christmas book. I ordered a LOT of Christmas books last year (to do the whole unwrap a Christmas book every day in December thing which I really liked), and before I did I read through a LOT of Christmas book lists. And you know, a lot of them were pretty ho-hum and same-old. There are a few that I liked okay, a couple that I really liked, but only one that made me feel like - I must tell everyone about this! and it didn't make it on many of the lists.
It's not exactly a picture book, it has more words than that, but it still could easily be read in one sitting. The pictures are okay, but not amazing. And the story is fairly predictable (it is a Christmas story after all). To me though, the WAY that it is told is what makes it. As the front flap says, "Written with understated warmth, its extraordinary power comes from a rare blending of realism and the special magic that is Christmas." Yes, understated warmth- that's it. It's told so simply but somehow so touchingly. To me, in just the relatively few pages, I felt how deeply patient and caring Jamie's dad was. And it actually portrayed just how frustrating it was for Jamie to not be able to talk, with just a few well-placed words.
Again, I feel the need to qualify my review by reminding you that the reason I like it isn't because it's flashy or grand, just because I like the warm feeling it has.
Anyway, maybe it also appealed to the little bit of speech pathologist I still have in me. :)
And not to leave without a picture, here's one of Jethro reading a book (it's one of the Indian in the Cupboard books) and Wyatt, who fell asleep sitting next to him. (Isn't that just the sweetest boy?!)
So- don't disrespect International Day of Commenting on Kayli's Blog! I look forward to your comments! (If they include a harelip or something about Scotland, I'm sure to love them.)