Tag Archives: reading

Board Book of the Week: Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton

Books can be hard to talk about. And children’s books — especially ones with less than 20 pages — can be particularly tough, at least for me, so far. But I think I found a way to make this work.

I finally started taking A to the library. And when you go once, there’s a pretty strong pull to go back — the books have to be returned at some point, and the drive through drop box seems almost cruel when there’s so much fun to be had inside (there’s some seriously great play areas set up, let alone all the books).

I brought home a stack of books this week, as you do. Seven books last time, nine this time. Most I considered quickly but somewhat carefully, and a few I added to the pile after A pulled them off the shelves.

Some books I like, but he either doesn’t get or doesn’t have the patience for, or something. And others he insistently brings me over and over, but they make me want to gouge my eyes out. You know how it is.

This post highlights A’s hand’s down favorite, which is one I really appreciate, too. (Which is not to say *I’m* saying “again, again,” once he tires of it, but still.)

red truck

Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton, illustrated by Valeria Petrone (2008, Viking Penguin, board book) is a delightful book.

A likes:
• Pointing at all the trucks and making truck sounds.
• Also the “Vrooom,” “Sploosh,” and “Zoom” exclamations usually elicit big smiles.

Mama likes:
• The writing is clear and engaging, the perfect balance of fun and educational, no wording is awkward or annoying. There are rhymes, but it’s not over the top. There are just the right amount of words, too. I never have to read/recite at break-neck speeds to get all the words in before he turns the page.
• The illustrations are whimsical and clear, cheerful. The background recedes and yet remains fun. The colors are bright and mostly primary without being overtly so. The tow truck driver looks enough like a cross between Mario and Luigi to make me smile but still unique enough to be his own character.
• I like the text treatment, too. Colors and sizes vary some, but it’s still completely legible. And it’s not all caps. Also, there aren’t exclamation points on every. single. page. (Ahem.)

Maybe it’s just the perfect timing in terms of his attention span and vehicle fascination, but this book certainly hits the spot. I’ve enjoyed Hamilton’s YA books in the past (Tyger Tyger (my review) and In the Forests of the Night — ooh, looks like book 3 of that Goblin Wars series is out this week: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears) and I’ll definitely be looking for more of her children’s books now too.

For more on children’s books this week, check out Booking Mama’s Kid Konnection.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

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A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

8721893974_1f51cdfb67_zFor Mari’s Sherlock Holmes reading challenge, I’ve read the first two books (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of course) so far.

I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read any Sherlock Holmes books before. I mean, surely I have, at some point, especially given my love of mysteries? But at any rate, I’m reading afresh now.

The first one, A Study in Scarlet, introduces the reader to Sherlock and we see him meet Watson. I did get a bit confused when a new second section started and, instead of the familiar London, we’re abruptly in Utah. It took me a long time to even feel confident the chapters of my ebook hadn’t gotten jumbled with another book somehow! It all became clear in time, though.

The second, The Sign of the Four, also had a somewhat similar detour, but it was much less abrupt and I didn’t get confused nearly as much. 🙂

Each is less than 200 pages (somewhat significantly less, actually). They read very quickly. Despite the (very rare) French or German quote that aren’t translated (a sign of a true classic, maybe?), the language is flowing and easy, not too stilted or old fashioned.

Reading these, I’m appreciating the adaptations I’ve been loving (both BBC’s Sherlock and Elementary) even more, both as treatments of the books and as their own, individual works.

I just love these stories!

On to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!

(I got these ebooks from Project Gutenberg.)

A Sherlock challenge

8721893974_1f51cdfb67_zI’ve been wanting to read some Sherlock Holmes, especially with the recent spate of great screen adaptations (BBC’s Sherlock, I’m looking at you!), and Mari’s challenge is just the impetus I need. I generally have a dismal track record when it comes to challenge completion, but maybe I’m giddy on the heels of my #PinItDoIt success? Whatever the case, I’m signing up for this one.

Mari set forth lots of participation levels:

Inspector
Read all 9 listed above.
Lieutenant
Read 6 of your choosing.
Detective
Read 3 of your choosing.
Officer
Read 1 of your choosing.

I think I’m going for the Detective level, aiming to read the first three books: A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Sign of Four (1890) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892).

Luckily, I’ve got plenty of time; the challenge runs from the beginning of June through December 31st.

Here is where I’ll be linking up reviews, as I get to them.

Care to join us?

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Word Lily review

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” by Rachel Held Evans (Thomas Nelson, October 2012), 352 pages

a year of biblical womanhood

My first inclination is to say I learned stuff from reading this book. Valuable stuff, even. But after that first inclination is past — when you ask what I learned — I can’t come up with much I actually learned from the book itself.

I learned the labels for things. Complementarian vs. egalitarian, for example. I came to more deeply understand how flawed the idea that biblical womanhood = June Cleaver really is. June Cleaver wasn’t in the Bible, folks. Polygamy was, though.

Reminded again (Hello, philosophy minor!) how vital it is to recognize the bias and assumptions we bring to the table when we approach a text like the Bible. Pulling single verses to make our point(s) is rarely advisable. (context, context, context)

How liberating is it to learn that Proverbs 31, in Jewish homes, is memorized by the men as a way to honor and esteem, praise, their wives, rather than by women as a to-do list! I don’t need to live up to an unattainable, theoretical ideal of a poem; rather, I want to, along with so many others, begin to reclaim this idea and honor women when I see them persevering and doing hard things — “Woman of valor!”

I didn’t actually enjoy the author’s approach. She uses humor, which in theory is good, but which in practice fell flat and/or felt awkward to me at several points. She downplays the work she did and the points she’s trying to make with it, which bothered me. I could never figure out if she assigned herself certain tasks to make a flippant point or to sincerely explore/learn. The brief profiles of women from the Bible felt a little unconnected to the rest of the text. I liked them, and all the other parts, too, but the text overall felt disjointed.

Maybe the biggest thing I gained from reading this book — and it’s pretty big — is some encouragement to keep pursuing the idea that I am an empath/prophet and what that looks like. That my voice is valuable and should be heard. That I can and should speak for the marginalized and wounded. Now if only I could someday figure out what acting on this actually entails …

And now some quotes (without page numbers because I read the book digitally).

“I think this is one of the reasons why, despite the fact that I vote for Democrats, believe in evolution, and am no longer convinced that everyone different from me goes to hell, I don’t mind being identified as an evangelical Christian.

Evangelicalism is like my religious mother tongue. I revert to it whenever I’m angry or excited or surrounded by other people who understand what I’m saying. And it’s the language in which I most often hear God’s voice on the rare occasion that it rises above the noise.”

and

“We cause serious collateral damage to the advancement of our sex each time we perpetuate the stereotype that women can’t get along.”

I liked that she learned (and documented that she learned) things mostly not related to her quest. As she focused on gentleness and silence, contemplative prayer became attractive to her, for example.

A prayer from Teresa of Avila that Evans used:

“Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.”

More quotes:

“Jesus once said that his mission was not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. And in this instance, fulfilling the law meant letting it go. It may serve as little comfort to those who have suffered abuse at the hand of Bible-wielding literalists, but the disturbing laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy lose just a bit of their potency when God himself breaks them.”

and

“As a Christian, my highest calling is not motherhood; my highest calling is to follow Christ. And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married, or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Duggar.”

Rachel Held Evans is a blogger I’ve followed since roughly the start of this project (so, for several years now). She’s also the author of Evolving in Monkey Town. She lives in Dayton, Tennessee.

Other reviews:
Have you reviewed this book? Leave the link in the comments and I’ll add it here.

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Weeding the shelves

Word Lily thoughts

I’ve been weeding the shelves again lately, but they’re still overburdened. I’m still weighted down by the wealth of unread tomes. Despite my most recent culling, I’ve still got too many books. (Not possible, you say? Well, space constraints and more importantly my well-being beg to differ.)

My idea, recently, to further lift this weight from my shoulders and shelves, has been to take, say, a month and devote all my reading time therein to either reading or starting and abandoning as many of the books that I don’t think I’ll love as I can.

Given: that I have much more trouble getting rid of books that I haven’t read (all the potential book love!) than I do books that I’ve read.

Potential hazard: Since I have such trouble abandoning books once I’ve started reading them, a month might only get me through a handful of titles (at best).

Potential pitfall: This is, essentially, a plan to spend a given duration of time NOT enjoying my reading, since the goal is to make decisions about the ones I don’t think I’ll love — or at least that there’s potential I’ll hate.

Is this crazy?

Have you ever done something similar or thought about it? Is there a better length of time for such a project, do you think?

The Dragon’s Tooth by ND Wilson

Word Lily review

The Dragon’s Tooth by N.D. Wilson, Ashtown Burials book 1 (Random House Children’s Books, 2011), 496 pages

DragonsTooth

Summary
Cyrus and his sister, Antigone, live at an old, rundown roadside motel with their college-aged brother. They have since their dad died and something happened to their mom (leaving her institutionalized). They practically live on waffles. And then an old man comes and insists on renting the specific room that is now Cyrus’s. When he shows up, things get interesting, to say the least.

Thoughts
I had heard good things about N.D. Wilson’s books from various trusted sources, but mostly I’d only picked up vague shadows. Most of what I’d heard, though, was about 100 Cupboards or at least that series. I am so very glad I read this one, though.

Wilson’s writing is superb. The prose thrilled me. Here’s the first two paragraphs:

“North of Mexico, south of Canada, and not too far west of the freshwater sea called Lake Michigan, in a place where cows polka-dot hills and men are serious about cheese, there is a lady on a pole.

“The Lady is an archer, pale and posing twenty feet in the air above a potholed parking lot. Her frozen bow is drawn with an arrow ready to fly, and her long, muscular legs glint in the late-afternoon sun. Behind her, dark clouds jostle on the horizon, and she quivers slightly in the warm breeze ahead of the coming storm. She has been hanging in the air with her bow drawn since the summer of 1962, when the parking lot was black and fresh, and the Archer Motel had guests. In those days, the Lady hadn’t been pale; she had been golden. And every night as the sun had set, her limbs had flickered and crackled with neon, and hundreds of slow cars and sputtering trucks had traveled her narrow road, passing beneath her glow. When young, she had aimed over the road, over the trees, toward Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Now, thanks to the nuzzling of a forgotten eighteen-wheeler, her glow has gone and she leans back, patiently cocking her arrow toward the sky, waiting to ambush the clouds.”

Isn’t that excellent? And the story’s pretty great, too. I don’t want to give spoilers, but aspects of this book reminded me of Diagon Alley — how right under the noses of the oblivious, magical things live and transpire. Not that this is any kind of a rip-off. The Dragon’s Tooth struck me as a wholly original story. Not that I’m well-versed enough in the genre to know such a thing. (Sheesh. Maybe it’s time for me to wrap this up and go do something else.)

Cyrus is a really great character in the ways that matter most. Intriguing, relatable, flawed. Actually, all the characters are pretty well drawn. Even the villains are nuanced and maybe even likable.

Isn’t it always thrilling to “discover” an author with a backlist? I’m excited to read the next one in this series, The Drowned Vault, and the third one (Empire of Bones) comes out this fall. (Besides reading his older books.)

… And I also feel the need, more strongly than ever now, to read Diana Wynne Jones. In fact, maybe I need to go on a long middle grade and YA fantasy reading tear?

Rating: 4.75 stars

Other reviews
Charlotte’s Library
Pages Unbound
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

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Back

We announced the shortlists for the 2013 INSPY Awards on Monday, in case you missed it. The lists have some really great books on them again this year, check ’em out!

I spent the remainder of Monday writing lists of all the books I could read and all the things I could knit, now that I wasn’t reading from a set list. Not that I didn’t enjoy the INSPYs reading, but, you know. There’s still freedom in not being constrained. My lists were shockingly mundane. I couldn’t even bring my brain to brainstorm effectively, since I’d been seriously cramming for so very long. (All this before Boston (or even Pulitzer) news. Another day of tragedy. I have no words.)

And then, Tuesday, I had ideas. I even managed to get them jotted down before I forgot them, and I even more shockingly got one of them fleshed out!

Besides those two, I’ve started two other pieces. One is now finished and scheduled to publish. Another is still in progress, but I made significant headway.

And yes, I did pick up a book. I’m reading So Cold the River by Michael Koryta. Don’t expect me to push myself to finish it in a day or two, though. I like room to let my reads breathe.

How do you read aloud?

What does reading to a baby/todder look like? Or what should it look like? Usually when I read to my son, it consists of me reading (or reciting) the words on the pages. Sometimes I turn the pages, sometimes he turns the pages. But I really don’t explain the pictures that accompany the words (I don’t have much use for wordless books; kind of hard to read them.) I still appreciate books with good illustration, but for me, they’re not much part of the actual reading-to. He’s not able to read the words yet, but he can look at the pictures, which is what you do with them.

This is basically completely opposite the way my mom reads to them. She loves the wordless books, and she kind of makes up her own narration as she goes, pointing at each picture, naming the animal/object, and explaining the sound it makes or the function it serves. She clears up any fallacies, too: If the book has bunnies with eggs, she’ll explain that bunnies don’t lay eggs, chickens lay eggs. Silly book.

Is there a right and a wrong way? Should I be spending more time on each page, pointing and naming, explaining? Even if there isn’t a right or wrong approach, how do you read to a little one?

(This blog post brought to you by rocking a fussy baby to sleep.)