Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Importance of Reading

Reading to children is so important. A couple of days ago I was getting ready for the day in my bathroom upstairs, and Joseph was playing on the floor with his little cars. He had made up a whole scenario and was making the cars talk to each other. I heard him say something about having to stop so that the green bird could pass by. Do you recognise the story? I did- he was playing the part in Go Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman where a bunch of cars are driving in a row, and have to stop to let a bird walk by.

Another time I noticed this same phenomenon was when my mom was visiting a few weeks ago and gave Joseph a present of 6 wooden trucks. Immediately after opening the present, he took the trucks over to the back step, and drove them around for a bit. After some time he called Beppe (my mom) over and started talking about how they were watching an airplane take off. Then I noticed that the trucks were all neatly lined up in a row, and this is exactly what happens in another of Joseph's favourite books, Five Trucks by Brian Flota. In this book five trucks are servicing and airplane before takeoff, and then line up to watch it take off.

I remember as a child how much I would draw on my reading experiences and make them a part of my life. I remember one time I just had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and when I came home after school I sat down with a chocolate chip cookie and tried to eat it as slowly as possible, just like when Charlie was eating his Wonka candy bar in the beginning of the book. This was at a time when my family was having some money problems, so when I look back at it now I think that maybe in my mind I was trying to find the good aspects of being poor, like that when one is poor, one really appreciates the things one does have. It is really neat for me to see that Joseph is also savouring his reading and bringing it into his play.

The Lovely Bones

I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold about a week ago. I noticed this book mentioned quite a bit lately, and my curiosity finally got the better of me. I wish it hadn't. The book is about a 14 year old girl who is raped and murdered by a neighbour. After she dies she watches her family, friends, and her murderer from heaven. The book is ultimately about the healing that takes place after this crime.

Certainly the subject is a difficult and important one, however, I am disappointed with how Sebold chose to present it. I feel like she chose some typical pop ways to make her book appeal to the public, and quite frankly I felt kind of tricked. I read a Salon article that states that this book is more literary fiction than a genre thriller. I have to agree that there are things about it that make it seem literary, such as Sebold's use of metaphor. In the beginning the the book, right after the crime takes place, Suzie (the main character) describes how, while floating over the earth, she is looking for clues in the cornfield (where the crime is committed) and would see the burrows of rabbits whom she loved, and "who sometimes, unwittingly, brought poison home to their dens. Then inside the earth and so far away from the man or woman who had laced a garden with toxic bait, an entire family of rabbits would curl into themselves and die." When I read this I was stunned. I stopped and read it again several times; I felt completely locked in, and from that point on I knew I would have to finish this book to have closure. That is the thing with this story; it is written in a way that makes you identify strongly with Suzie and her family. That kind of power in writing is a good thing.

However, it is not a good thing when turned into the stuff of a thriller film. The murderer turns out to be a serial killer, and his other crimes are also described in graphic detail. There is a scene where Suzie's sister is inside the killer's house, looking for clues and he comes home while she is still in the house. My heart was beating twice as fast as usual the whole time I read that part. Now, it is is not that I don't like heart racing excitement in a book, but this was cheap.

I know it is true that such crimes happen, but by graphically describing these crimes seems to me to be a way of appealing to people's baser selves, and quite truthfully, a great way to appeal to the public at large. I hope that Sebold goes on to write things that will show her literary talents, but that she leave the pop thriller style of writing in her past.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Finally Back

Well, after some time of not blogging I am now hopefully back. I took the month of June to visit family, so I didn't do much reading, but now I have started with that again. A couple of weeks ago I read Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell, last week I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and now I am right in the middle of the Hobbit. After The Lovely Bones I needed to read a nice light adventure story, and also to get back to reading books that have been on my 'to read or reread list.' But more on that later when I do my reviews.
Other than reading I have been VERY tired lately, which I think is due to being pregnant during the hot summer. I will be happy when it is fall. Lately we haven't been doing much during the day other than reading and sitting outside in the shade. Jim finished Jospeh's sandbox, and he has been having lots of fun with that. Today we were outside all afternoon and he played in it the whole time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Breezy Days and Bicycles

After a couple of weeks of yucky, hot weather, it is nice to be having some cooler, breezy days. Today I took Joseph to the library on the bicycle and it was very pleasant to ride through our neighbourhood. There was a nice breeze and no traffic.
Joseph has been saying some funny things lately, as usual. Today, a couple of hours before going to the library, I told him we were going to ride the bike to the library later, and he immediately asked me "Is there a bike rack at the library?" He is very into the process of how things work, so I think that locking up the bike on the rack is as important to him as the ride. As we rode up to the library, he sang out "There's the bike rack." Then it was so cute too, because when I took him out of the seat he grabbed onto the back wheel (while I was locking the bike up,) and then he told me he better hold onto the bicycle so that it doesn't fall over. This is something that Jim tells him to do so that he stays by the bike, and doesn't wander into the street or parking lot. I thought it was cute because I didn't say anything about holding onto the bike, but Joseph clearly sees that this is an important job, and he had better do it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Yesterday I had the ultrasound, and (happily) we saw that there is only one baby. I was getting pretty scared because I did start to show very early this time, felt the baby move early, and am VERY hungry. Interestingly I am eating a lot, like twice as much dinner as usual and am often having an extra bowl of cereal before bed, but I'm not really gaining any weight (have only gained about 3 pounds, and this is week 14.) It is really very weird. Before the ultrasound I told Jim that maybe I really only had a tapeworm, but I guess I just have a hungry baby.