Fairest: Review Haiku

Your mother's Snow White?
Not hardly. The language sings;
the plot feels cluttered.

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine. Harper, 2007, 326 pages.


Apropo of nothing. . .

. . . but I'm still wiping spluttered (spattered? splattered?) coffee off my monitor.


Also, I am so glad I'm already married.


Harmless: Review Haiku

"You've told lies before,
haven't you?"
But these girls learn:
Consequences hurt.

Harmless by Dana Reinhardt. Lamb/Random, 2007, 229 pages.


The Thing About Georgie: Review Haiku

What's the thing about
Georgie? Little stuff, really.
A king-size debut.

The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff. Harper/Geringer, 2007, 220 pages.


The Famous MotherReader Interview Meme

I asked for it, I got it.

The universal questions:
1. What’s your favorite quote?
"Let me play the lion too."
There's a scene in A Midsummer Night's Dream where Peter Quince is assigning roles in the mechanicals' play, and Bottom keeps butting in, wanting to play every part -- including the lion, in this case. I have a bad habit of taking on too much and wanting to be all things to all people, so sometimes I need to remind myself that I don't have to be the lion, too.

Runner-up: "This too shall pass." Just as applicable when the children are sleeping angelically as when they're burning down the house.

2. How would you spend $1,500 that you won in a radio contest?
If I'm thinking short-term, I'd buy a kickass new laptop. If I'm thinking long-term, I'd stash it in my (as-yet-nonexistent) Going Back to Grad School Fund.

3. Where do you like to go to get away from it all?
The library. I just wish I could go there by myself more often (and not be on the clock). I also have a weakness for The Coffee Store, as we call it in my house. (Munchkin, spelling: "S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S. Coffee store!")

4. If you had the complete attention of everyone in the United States, but only for thirty seconds, what would you say?
"It's Feb-ROO-ary, nuke-LEE-er, and jew-EL-ry, people."

The personal question:
5. How are things going with the new baby and another little one at home?
It's more manageable than I thought, actually -- mostly because (knock knock knock on wood) the Munchkin seems to be entering a slightly more mature, slightly less infuriating stage, and because (KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK) Baby John is a wicked good sleeper. Also because I have reached a detente with the television set.

I love watching the two of them interact: her smothering him (literally) with love, and him staring in wonder at this loud, fascinating, possibly dangerous creature who keeps poking him. I also benefit from my longstanding position as Slag-Ass Mommy, so the little things (matching clothes, dry diapers, reasonably nutritious and varied food options) don't tend to concern me much. If the children are still alive by the end of the day, I've done my job.


Princess Justina Albertina: Horn-Tooting Haiku

Got a bratty kid?
Ready to pull your hair out?
Just try a gryphon.

Princess Justina Albertina: A Cautionary Tale by Ellen Dee Davidson, illustrated by Michael Chesworth. Charlesbridge, 2007, 32 pages.

Note: Since I seem to be incapable of finishing either of the books I'm currently reading (the educational but not exactly scintillating Great Tales From English History, Volume III and MBA in a Box*), I thought I'd shake things up by calling attention to a terrific recent book that I happened to work on. Enjoy.
* Step One: Cut a hole in a box.


Gauntlet, thrown: UPDATED PART DEUX!

I'm approaching my one-year blogiversary (4.14) and am thinking of setting A Goal of some sort. This seems to be a theme of mine since turning 30: the Yearly Big Book-ish Goal. In 2005 I decided to keep track of all the books I read in a year (150, plus at least 130 magazines and 365 newspapers); in 2006 I started this blog.

In 2007 I'm toying with the idea of reading or re-reading some Important Books: books that everyone seems to know about, books that I have often alluded to without actually having read, books that I read years ago but can't really speak intelligently about anymore. I figure if I can read 40 or 50 of these by next April, that wouldn't be too shabby. Here's my tentative list so far, in no particular order:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  3. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
  4. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  5. Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
  6. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  8. Democracy in America by Alexis d'Tocqueville (I'll...uh...probably just skim this)
  9. The Federalist Papers (skim this one, too)
  10. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  11. the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (some of them, at least)
  12. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  14. The real Winnie-the-Pooh stories by A. A. Milne
  15. Either The Iliad or The Odyssey, if I can find a good translation (I made it through The Inferno only because of Robert Pinsky) *Lee suggests Stanley Lombardo's translations.
  16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  17. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  18. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (lo, how I hate Dickens)
  19. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  20. The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban
  21. Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson (whatever the full title is; too lazy to look up)
  22. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  23. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  24. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  25. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  26. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  27. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
  28. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  29. A View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
  30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  31. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  32. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  33. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  34. Forever by Judy Blume
  35. A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  36. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  37. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
  38. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley
  39. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  40. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (thanks, g elliot)
  41. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (thanks, bookbk)
  42. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (thanks, bookbk)
  43. Personal History by Katharine Graham
  44. Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
  45. I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
  46. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  47. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  48. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (might not be able to finish due to uncontrollable sobbing)
  50. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  51. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
  52. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh.
Okay, looking at that list makes me sweat a little. Suggestions for other titles?

UPDATE: I think that's gotta be it. Now I just have to read everything in my TBR pile before April 14, and I'll be all set. . . . yeah. At some point I'll try to make this a sidebar, so I can track my progress. Unless that makes me want to cry. (The coding or the tracking, either one.)

Spelldown: Review Haiku

Daddy drinks too much;
Mama works too much. Karlene?

Spelldown: The Big-Time Dreams of a Small-Town Word Whiz by Karen Luddy. S&S, 2007, 211 pages.


I'm Feeling Lonely...

...so I'm doing a meme even though no one tagged me. This one's stolen from MotherReader, who stole it from Big A little a, who stole it from The Miss Rumphius Effect. (Okay, "stealing" is perhaps perjorative.)

1. What are your five most important books?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. THE Great American Novel.
Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry. Anastasia is the reason I live in Massachusetts.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Made me want to be a writer. (A very, very bad writer, as it turned out.)
The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Riverside edition. What I did in college.
My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber. First time I realized that grownup books could be funny, too.

2. What is an important book you admit you haven’t read?
For someone who claims to be a big reader, the number of important books I haven't read is rather staggering. Let's just say for now that I've never read any Gary Paulsen and I've never read any of the big Russian novelists (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc.).

3. What classic (or childhood favorite) was a little disappointing on rereading?
The Westing Game was one of my two Big Childhood Books (Superfudge was the other). Rereading it as an adult was not in itself disappointing -- it's still a kickass book, and I still want that t-shirt -- but the context in which I read it was. I reread this for my first and only book club meeting, an informal group of Boston-based children's book people, and the rest of them all hated it. They thought it was too gimmicky, too coincidental, too transparent in its plotting. Granted, we read it along with the other Newbery books from that year -- The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox and M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton -- so I could understand somewhat how a semi-comic contemporary mystery would seem less impressive in context. But still. I sort of felt like somebody stabbed my puppy.

4. What book do you (or did you) care most about sharing with your kids?
I'm so glad my daughter loves Click Clack Moo, the oeuvre of Mo, and the Lilly books. I am excited to read her Charlotte's Web and the aforementioned Westing Game. (I assume my son will love books, too -- he just hasn't articulated his tastes yet.)

5. Name an acclaimed book, either classic or contemporary, that you just don’t like.
King Dork by Frank Portman. Hated it. I am also lukewarm about Goodnight Moon, though I confess it is/has been the first regular bedtime book for both of my children. Freaky, ugly-ass rabbits aside, there's something lulling about that text that's unmatched by any other book I've tried.


What Would MacGyver Do?: Review Haiku

Give me some duct tape,
a paper clip, and a sock:
I'll make you a book.

What Would MacGyver Do? True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life compiled by Brendan Vaughan. Hudson Street Press, 2006, 196 pages.


Lily B. on the Brink of Paris: Review Haiku

Cabot wannabe,
but charming in her own right.
Vive la Lily!

Lily B. on the Brink of Paris by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Harper, 2006, 192 pages.


Freedom Riders: Review Haiku

Fascinating look
at brave people under fire.
Ugly-ass design.

Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum. National Geographic Society, 2006, 79 pages.