I’m jumping in here just after the official beginning of summer with Annette’s Summer Reading Challenge. Although I’m never without a book, sometimes I let books I’ve meant to get to for ages slide in favor of reading by whim and fancy. I won’t be able to get to this challenge until after I finish Great Expectations (!!!), but since the challenge lasts until August 28 and my IRL bookclub for GE meets at the beginning of August, I should have time. 🙂 I’m picking two books for the challenge, just because I’m an overachiever. (Just as Steady Eddie!)
Deconstructing Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone has been on my radar (and in the basket on my kitchen “command center” cabinet!) forever. The subtitle is “Parents, Kids and the Bond of Reading,” so I really don’t have to say anything else about it, do I? (I’ve been most inspired by Heidi’s Book Detectives posts, and I long to have a real bookclub like hers some day, if indeed I do need to explain anything more about my reason for picking this book. 😉 ) I also plan to read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. This one is on my Classics Club list, and since Dodie Smith’s The 101 Dalmatians is what we’re currently reading aloud, I thought it would be good to follow that up with something else by Smith (though not a sequel) sooner rather than later.
Thanks, Annette, for the push to pinpoint a few reading goals! 🙂
Another month has come and gone, and we’ve managed to do a respectable amount of reading aloud. Our summer still feels unstructured (which is what summer should be, I suppose. . . ), but I still try to have a designated time each day for our read-alouds. Most of those designated times revolve around food–usually either snacks or lunch. I haven’t really read much of note in the way of picture books, mostly because the library we’ve been frequenting this summer is the largest in our area but the one that gets the fewest new books. (Lulu’s volunteering there once a week this summer, and I am saving my sanity by ONLY doing one library reading program this summer and ONLY checking out books from one library at a time!) That isn’t to say we aren’t reading picture books; we are, though not as many as I’d like. It’s just that most of them are ones I’ve reviewed already over the past six years or so of blogging OR they’re ones that I don’t care for too much myself. (Max and Ruby, anyone? 😉 ) Also, the DLM is really enamored of books and CDs right now, which is a good thing, too.
So, what have we read? We finished The High King, which was a very satisfying end to the Chronicles of Prydain. Lulu has already picked up this series to re-read on her own, and that’s almost always the mark of a very successful read-aloud experience. I loved this series as much as the girls did. This Redeemed Reader post gives a nice one-stop-shop synopsis and evaluation of the series.
We left the world of high fantasy and landed firmly on terra firma with the second of The Melendy Quartet, The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright. Oh, how we love the Melendys! If you haven’t met them, you most definitely should!
The DLM (age 4) and I, along with the girls often listening in, are almost through with the second book in the My Father’s Dragon trilogy, Elmer and the Dragon. While this isn’t the most exciting of read-alouds for the adult reader, it is a perfect beginning read-aloud for preschoolers because of the simple plot and short chapters. Of all the My Father’s Dragon books, this one is my favorite because of King Can XI whose predecessors all died of curiosity. 🙂
After that, who knows? Lulu in particular is clamoring for the next of the Ralph Moody books. We’ll be nearing the beginning of a new school year, too, by the time we finish these, so I’m sure there will be that to consider, as well.
What have you enjoyed together as a family this month? Please, do share!
Steady Eddie and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage last week, and in honor of the momentous occasion, we purchased a new dSLR camera. Our Canon Rebel is 8 1/2 years old and has taken thousands of pictures, and lately it has refused to cooperate. We purchased a Nikon d3200. I haven’t figured it out at all yet. Not one little bit. I’m eager to learn, though. I thought it would be fun to occasionally share my straight out of camera (SOOC) shots here. I don’t usually spend any time on editing–just crop and go.
My subject tonight was Louise’s snail collection family. This child LOVES creepy crawly things, snails and slugs (ugh!) in particular. She spends hours each week sitting in our yard, digging and studying and grouping and getting really dirty. 🙂 The ones she found tonight were tiny (tee-niney! does anyone else ever say that?) I thought I’d attempt some macro shots. I think they turned out fairly well, considering the fact that I truly know nothing about what I’m doing.
To give you a sense of scale
Closeup of the little fella
Little guy on a wilted daylily she used as transportation to its new habitat in the back yard
Friends, this is just a quick post to inform anyone reading along with me that I’m discontinuing The Question Bookclub for the summer. I think that perhaps I jumped the gun a bit in terms of when I should read this one, and I have a lot of other bookish commitments that I need and want to keep this summer. (So many books, so little time!) I apologize if this is a major disruption to anyone’s summer reading plans!
We finished The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright on this morning at snack time. This was the perfect follow-up to The High King, the consummate fantasy. I find that after I read a book of a certain genre, I almost always need something totally different to “clear the air,” so to speak. The High King is extremely exciting, and almost every chapter ends in a cliffhanger. The Four-Story Mistake, on the other hand, isn’t exciting, really; instead, its strength is in its characterization and description of ordinary events in a family’s life. Each chapter stands on its own, which I particularly appreciate. (The downside to this is that each chapter is pretty long, so be prepared to read for a while at a time!) This is the second book in The Melendy Quartet, a follow up to The Saturdays. In this story, the Melendys move out to the country to a new-to-them house appropriately called The Four-Story Mistake. (It was built years before by a large and wealthy family and was supposed to be four stories. When they returned from their Grand Tour, lo and behold, their home was only three stories tall!) The book is all about their adventures in and about the town of Carthage. They learn to ride bicycles (and Randy crashes headlong into a bus!) Rush spends one stormy night in his treehouse. Mona is chosen to be an actress in a radio drama. The family is given an alligator! Randy finds a diamond in the brook! Really, it’s a cozy and genial family story of the highest order. We all love it and can’t wait to read the next installment. Elizabeth Enright is a master, and I can’t help but laugh or sigh as I read her descriptions:
Randy swooped expertly around the driveway circle, brought her bike to a slow and graceful stop and dismounted. As she gathered up her presents from the wire carrier, the [war] bond crackled against her chest. Yes, finding the diamond had been a miracle. But Randy couldn’t help feeling there were many miracles in her life. Wasn’t it a miracle to live in the country in spring? And to have a wonderful family that she was crazy about, and a house with a secret room and a cupola, and to be eleven and a half years old, and very good at riding a bicycle? (175)
(I shared another lovely quote–possibly my favorite from the book–in this post.)
I think I like this sort of book best of all–the kind that isn’t really about anything in particular, but all kinds of interesting things happen, and life is affirmed over and over again. Here are some other books and series similar in style, message, or tone to The Melendy Quartet:
What most of these books have in common is that they’re about a family of children that are mostly left to their own devices and have all sorts of scrapes and adventures and experience childhood to its fullest. Can you think of any to add to the list? I’m all ears!
We love, love, love, love the Melendys and give them a Highly Recommended (Henry Holt, 1942).