This past Saturday morning, I woke up with a bit of a cold, and my plans for the day looked much less enticing than they had the day before when I promised to take my daughter to see her favorite local band play an all ages show in the middle of the day. I tried to convince her that a movie marathon of her choice was just as good for the chilly Saturday, but her disappointed eyes ate at my mom-guilt enough that I took some cold medicine and off we went to Indeed Brewing for the Hullabaloo.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned Catbath on this blog before. My husband recommended the band to me after he caught their set at Cause Spirits & Soundbar, which has been closed for a while now. “Trust me,” he said, “This is going to be your new favorite band.” He was right, of course. Though now he probably laments introducing me to them given my habit of listening to my favorite records over and over again. If it were possible to wear out a CD, we would have worn out our copy of It’s Bathtime a long time ago.
Somewhere along the way, our eight-year-old daughter started singing along with the Catbath songs I played in the car or at home while we went about our business. Then she started requesting Catbath when I let her pick the music. Recently she talked about how Catbath is her favorite band at Sharing Time in her third grade classroom. She was genuinely surprised that none of her classmates had heard of them. I never set out to raise a hipster child, but somehow it seems to have happened. ;)
In any case, she loved the show. It beat a movie marathon any day.
Having recently read Hissy Fitz by Patrick Jennings, a book written from the point of view of a cat, my eight-year-old has taken to espousing bits of cat related wisdom as though she hasn’t heard us say basically the same thing again and again.
Most recently: “You don’t pet a cat. You let a cat pet you.”
I suppose it could be kind of annoying to have her acting as though such cat facts are new to her when they really shouldn’t be, but since she is actually remembering to feed and water our cat on her own now that she has read this book, I can’t complain too much. ;)
Read more about Hissy Fitz:
Or read more from a cat’s point of view:
- My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec
- Little Cat’s Luck by Marion Dane Bauer
I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about children’s books that I like, which are not always the ones that kids are most drawn to. I tend to like (and have something to say about) books that are more serious or on Big Important Topics. But children’s books are not all serious or factual. There are plenty of “just for fun” books. I just don’t often have a whole post worth of stuff to say about those. ;)
So I thought I would let my focus group of one (my seven-year-old daughter) share some books that she liked and what she liked about them.
No Dogs Allowed (Series: Ready, Set, Dogs!) by Stephanie Calmenson – Best friends, dogs, and cute adventures all come together in this chapter book aimed at 2nd/3rd graders. What my daughter liked about it: Girls transforming into dogs. The whole concept made for interesting conversation and really seemed to capture her imagination.
Welcome to Normal (Series: The Quirks) by Erin Soderberg – Everybody is quirky, but nobody is quite like the Quirk family. They all have a “quirk” that makes them special and makes it hard to fit in. What my daughter liked about it: The quirks. Who wouldn’t want to imagine having some sort of special power?
Jelly Bean (Series: Shelter Pet Squad) by Cynthia Lord – This is a heartwarming story about a girl who loves animals and wants to make a difference. It is worth noting here that this is an early chapter book by an award-winning author. That’s unusual–and pretty awesome! What my daughter liked about it: Jelly Bean is sooo cute!
I guess the take-away here is that a book about cute animals or some kind of special ability is really the way to go for my kid. ;)
While I’m on the subject, I’d like to give a special shout out to Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills. Thanks to that book, my daughter has gotten really excited about math and puzzles, especially sudoku. We are looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Izzy Barr, Running Star. I hope it has a similar inspirational effect! :)
What are your kids (or students) reading?
Through the luck of the library hold list draw I went from reading an ARC of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan to a library copy of Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I think I had tears in my eyes the entire time I read these books back to back.
Two Boys Kissing a a teen novel about a couple of gay teens trying to win the world record for the longest kiss. In the hands of David Levithan, one of my personal favorite YA writers, the story becomes about more than winning a record or about making a statement about gay rights. He uses an unusual narrator to tell a larger story. Our storyteller is an omniscient view from the collective voice of gay men who have passed. They watch the characters being so open with their sexuality and speak of their experiences before being out was okay, before AIDS was a thing. It was very powerful, and it is easily one of my favorite books of the year.
Then I picked up Tell the Wolves I’m Home from the library. I’d been waiting for the book for months, and it seemed serendipitous that it arrived in my hands when it did. This book is set in the 1980’s, when AIDS was just beginning to be a thing. June’s uncle whose relationship to the family is strained because he was gay has just died, and June is devastated. She tries to understand the choices her family made. But it’s hard to make sense of why we choose to cut off the ones we love the most when they make choices we don’t understand.
I was reminded of these words from the collective narrator of Two Boys Kissing (quoted from ARC):
“So many of us had to make our own families. So many of us had to pretend when we were home. So many of us had to leave. But every single one of us wishes we hadn’t had to. Every single one of us wishes our family had acted like our family, that even when we found a new family, we hadn’t had to leave the other one behind. Every single one of us would have loved to have been loved unconditionally by our parents.”
It’s gotten better for LGBT kids, I think. I hope. But I know that there are still some who have to deal with families who want nothing to do with them. It breaks my heart to think about the people I know personally who are separated from their families for reasons like this.
Stories like these make me hug my daughter tightly and promise to love her no matter what. I hope she knows that she can make different choices than the ones I made without fear of losing us. We will always act like her family.
Find Two Boys Kissing at your library or buy it from an indie bookstore. Then you’ll probably want to do the same for Tell the Wolves I’m Home—library or indie bookstore.
My daughter is different from me. She is our neighborhood welcoming committee. She never misses an opportunity to meet a new friend at the park, at the store, or through our living room windows. Frankly I get a kick out of it.
That isn’t me. In classic librarian fashion, I’m more introverted. Sure, I’ve gotten pretty decent at faking extroversion over the years. I can hold my own in a trade show booth and enjoy it, and I’ve done a fair amount of public speaking. But I’m far from greeting random passersby out my windows. And given the choice, I’d probably sit in the grass with a good book rather than approach strangers at a park.
My daughter’s extroverted tendencies–and I always speak of these traits as tendencies rather than absolutes–are delightful and at times nerve-wracking. Sometimes putting yourself out there can hurt. Sometimes people are mean. Usually, though, saying hello is great. You might make a new friend, learn something new, or travel on an adventure. Like Ruby in Philip Stead’s new picture book Hello, My Name is Ruby.
Ruby is a little bird who says hello to every bird she meets. Usually, it’s awesome.
But every once in a while, it isn’t, and Ruby feels a bit sad.
It’s an ode to the extroverted. Just like Eileen Spinelli’s When No One is Watching is an ode to the introverted. Together, the books make a an opportunity to appreciate everyone’s tendencies.
Miss last month’s Book Pick? See Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond
Check out Hello, My Name is Ruby at your local library or buy it at an indie bookstore. You might also be interested in When No One is Watching from a library or bookstore.