Saturday, October 29, 2005

we hunt for the bones of dinosaurs....

While the rest of the world is just gearing up for Halloween and the big candy-gathering event, we are all finished here. Our lovely county has, for years, deemed the last Thursday in October as "Trick-or-Treat Night." Supposedly, it cuts down on criminal mischief to disassociate trick-or-treat from All Hallow's Eve. Whatever.

We have, then, completed our October mission and paraded the kids in costume up and down the neighborhood, begging for candy. It was really fun. Our big boy, dressed as a "dinosaur bone hunter" a la Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by Byron Barton, had conversations with just about everyone. "This is my trusty bag. This is my scary trick or treat bag. Well, have fun giving out candy!" The baby got the hang of things towards the end and decided he'd rather walk behind brother and climb porch steps. "Candy?" he'd say and then, "See ya!" He was the baby dinosaur. Daddy even got into the spirit and wore a dino hat to match. (Oh the wonders of green polar fleece and a sewing machine.)

Now the household is resplendent with candy and various Hershey products. Yum! May those of you in more traditional municipalities have fun and stay safe Monday night.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Surprise endings

We've been reading old favorites and new finds lately. My staff and I were invited to read stories at ZooAmerica during their "Creatures of the Night" celebrations throughout October. We took the perennial favorite Owl Babies by the illustrious Martin Waddell and our new favorite, which I mentioned last time, Porcupining , by the very punny Lisa Wheeler. Both were big hits. I don't always do lots of voices when I read aloud because I find it difficult to sustain throughout a story, however, that book just cried out for voices. Cushion the banjo-picking porcupine has a sweet, southern, blue-grassy voice that could have stepped out of O, Brother Where Art Thou? (Apparently that deep Randy Travis voice just isn't in me.) The quaint quilled creature he finally meets and falls in love with had no particular voice until I read the book to my son. Suddenly, her voice rang clear and very British in my head. What a delight to read aloud.

I've also been sharing old favorites at bedtime. Witch stories are not always politically correct at the public library, but in the privacy of my son's bedroom, Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian and Old Black Witch by the Devlins continue to delight and entertain. I have such a clear memory of the school librarian reading Humbug Witch to us in first grade and I have loved it ever since. "There was this witch and all of her was little. Except for her nose..." Surprisingly, there is a connection from Lisa Wheeler to that little witch. Perhaps there are no coincindences, only surprise endings.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I don't know how I do it....

There was quite the buzz over Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It when it came out a couple of years ago. It was a good read--chick lit with kids--but certainly not a Booker Prize contender. The usual hype about staying home versus earning money to waste on expensive clothes came up. The main character was run ragged by her family and her job as a hedge fund manager for a big London firm. I, of course, am not a financial whizz and am not making big bucks. I do work outside the home and try to manage both the children's area of a public library and a family of four. This week I've found myself wondering just how do I do it???? By some horrible coincidence, I scheduled appointments for myself and at least one of my children each day for three days straight. I've spent my week switching gears multiple times daily: work, pick up child, appointment, take child back to sitter, work, home, repeat. It is exhausting! The bright spot thus far was the discovery of a sweet picture book, Porcupining, starring a little porcupine yearning for love. He sings throughout in a voice that I imagine must sound like a cross between Randy Travis and George Strait. I can't wait to read it aloud to children.

Wishing everyone a chance at attaining their heart's desire this rainy fall day.

Friday, October 07, 2005

while visions of scarecrows danced in my head....

I was looking for books for a fall/scarecrow display this morning. Rather than sit in my office, I like to peruse the shelves, meeting old friends and finding new ones. I skimmed folktales and science before heading off to poetry. “A nice anthology,” I thought, “full of leaves and scarecrows, with an attractive cover.” Didn’t find what I was looking for. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Doesn’t mean we don’t own such a book. Just means that it wasn't there when I looked. Did find a book of Robert Frost’s poetry selected and illustrated for children. I was drawn to Birches. "So was I once a swinger of birches. And so I dream of going back to be." A wonderful thought for a rainy day when there is an alert for NYC's subways and children are abandoned in the street by murderers and nightclubs are being blown up. Who wouldn't rather be a child and frightened only in fun by James Whitcomb Riley's Little Orphant Annie ?

I love browsing through poetry and always wish I did it more often. When my boys are a little older and we don’t have the mad breakfast-in-the-car dash to the sitter’s, I look forward to the ritual of a poem a day to be read at breakfast. What better way to start the day than with nourishment for the soul as well as for the body? Give us bread but give us roses.