A Circular Post

So I wanted a break from my phone. I’m so sick of it. Aren’t you? I think about all of the minutes, hours really, that I waste reading click-bait listacles like “9 Books to Read Before You Have Lunch” or “10 Places to See Before You Turn Twelve.” You know what I mean….so I put the phone down and decided to reread a Grace Paley story that I had just heard George Saunders read aloud on The New Yorker fiction podcast (another new phone addiction I have). The story is called “Love” and it’s brilliant in so many ways. In this story, there’s a character who appears from one of Paley’s previous short stories called “The Contest.” Since I own her Collected Stories, I read “The Contest” too. And I thought, wow. Then I read another short short called “In the Garden.” Here’s the first line:

“An elderly lady, wasted and stiff, sat in a garden beside a beautiful young woman whose two children, aged eight and nince, had been kidnapped eight months earlier.” [Read more…]

Unreliable Narrators

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 4.16.17 PM

Lately, Wacky Wednesday is making an esteemed return to our nightly reading rotation. I kept thinking that I’d already written here about this book, but when I did a quick search, I realized I haven’t really explored why this book is appealing to kids. Initially, a few years ago, when my daughter was four, she loved to find the things out of whack – the boy with the missing head, the tiger walking the baby, the tree growing out of the toilet. Now that she’s reading it to me, she’s seeing it on a different level. And for some reason, I am too. Do you notice, I asked her last night, that the girl is the only one who sees these wacky things? Why doesn’t anyone else notice? Either she is an unreliable narrator or she is living in some kind of Truman Show-esque dystopia. As the listener – or the one being read to, you can slip into a different frame of mind. Now, I wonder, is this Seuss’s parable for the grown up who’s just having a bad day? You know those days when nothing is going your way and no one seems to be on your side? [Read more…]

“After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,”

A few friends and I have been talking for years about starting a mother-daughter book club when the girls became old enough. Now, with the girls ranging in ages 5-7, we decided to give it a try. First, let me just say, the girls needed absolutely no convincing, which does make me think that this device will probably be even more worthwhile and perhaps necessary for the boys one day. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. As for the girls, we settled on a Sunday afternoon tea at my house. Four daughter, four mothers. And after much deliberating, I selected The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes for our first read. Choosing books for this format is not as easy as it may seem. All of the girls are reading at different levels, so timing must be considered. Estes’s book, for those who are not familiar, was written in 1944 and deals with timeless issues of class, conformity, and finding one’s voice. Wanda Petronski is a poor Polish girl in Connecticut attending school with girls like Maddie and Peggy. It’s the story of how Wanda copes with how the world treats her, and the lessons that girls like Maddie and Peggy learn when they see how their actions ultimately affects others.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.29.28 AM [Read more…]