Monday, March 31, 2014
This is a great Shel Silverstein book: good quality laughs and excellent illustrations (unlike Everything On It) Seems like one has to be careful with the books published after his death (he died in 1999, this was published in 2002).
After reading this book, it makes total sense to me to have a pet rhinoceros!
There are so many beautiful things said in this book. Having the story told from an animal's perspective gives a unique look at people's lives.
Some beautiful moments:
The new elephant, Ruby, is going to arrive soon. The animals can sense it. Stella, the elephant who has been in the mall for years, is especially excited.
p. 71 Stella pushes past Mack, nearly knocking him over. She rashes as best she can, limping heavily, toward the open back door of the truck. She catches her swollen foot on the edge of the ramp and winces. Blood trickles down.
Halfway up the ramp she pauses. The noise in the truck stops. Ruby falls silent.
Slowly Stella makes her way up the rest of the ramp. It growns under her weight, and I can tell how much she is hurting by the awkward way she moves.
At the top of the incline she stops. She pokes her trunk into the emptiness.
The tiny gray trunk appears again. Shyly, it reaches out, tasting the air. Stella curls her own trunk around the baby's. The make soft rumbling sounds.
p. 13 After our show, humans forage through the stores. A store is where humans buy things they need to survive. At the Big Top Mall, some stores sell new things, like balloons and t-shirts and caps to cover the gleaming heads of humans. Some stores sell old things, things that smell dusty and damp and long forgotten.
All day, I watch humans scurry from store to store. they pass their green paper, dry as old leaves and smelling of a thousand hands, back and forth and back again.
They hunt frantically, stalking, pushing, grumbling. Then they leave, clutching bags filled with things-bright things, soft things, big things - but no matter how full the bags, they always come back for more.
I love the character, Bob. He's a stray dog. No, he's kind of a gypsy. He doesn't like to be tied down. And he has strong opinions!
p. 79 When I awake the next morning, I see a little trunk poking out between teh bars of Stella's domain.
"Hello," says a small, clear voice. "I'm Ruby." She waves her trunk.
"Hello," I say. "I'm Ivan."
"Are you a monkey?" Ruby asks
Bob's ears perk up, although his eyes stay closed. "He's a gorilla," he says. "And I am a dog of uncertain heritage."
"I think she wants you to go inside," I expalin.
"But ther'es nothing inside," Ruby says, "except an apple."
"Inside that box," I say, "is the way out."
And they do get out. They end up going to live at a zoo where they're all very happy. Bob finds a home too. The interesting thing is the caretaker, the one who helps them get their message out so that they can escape the shopping mall, who is so afraid of losing his job, fixes everything. He loses one thing, but in the end it isn't lost. He gets a new and better job, and all the animals get a home.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
The Poppers unexpectedly come into possession of a penguin, then get a penguin from the zoo who mates with the first penguin to have 10 baby penguins. Before long, something must be done before they eat the Poppers out of house and home!
A classic of American humor, this story of a gentle housepainter and his high stepping penguins has delighted children for generations.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
I read The Book Whisperer a year ago while driving with my husband to my best friend's mother's funeral. It might be weird that I remember events by the book I was reading - but that's me. I can't believe all I've learned about reading over the past year.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Crow Lake is that rare find, a first novel so quietly assured, so emotionally pitch perfect, you know from the opening page that this is the real thing-a literary experience in which to lose yourself, by an author of immense talent.
Here is a gorgeous, slow-burning story set in the rural "badlands" of northern Ontario, where heartbreak and hardship are mirrored in the landscape. For the farming Pye family, life is a Greek tragedy where the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons, and terrible events occur-offstage.
Centerstage are the Morrisons, whose tragedy looks more immediate if less brutal, but is, in reality, insidious and divisive. Orphaned young, Kate Morrison was her older brother Matt's protegee, her fascination for pond life fed by his passionate interest in the natural world. Now a zoologist, she can identify organisms under a microscope but seems blind to the state of her own emotional life. And she thinks she's outgrown her siblings-Luke, Matt, and Bo-who were once her entire world.
In this universal drama of family love and misunderstandings, of resentments harbored and driven underground, Lawson ratchets up the tension with heartbreaking humor and consummate control, continually overturning one's expectations right to the very end. Tragic, funny, unforgettable, Crow Lake is a quiet tour de force that will catapult Mary Lawson to the forefront of fiction writers today.
My great-grandmother Morrison fixed a book rest to her spinning wheel so that she could read while she was spinning, or so the story goes. And one Saturday evening she became so absorbed in her book that when she looked up, she found that it was half past midnight and she had spun for half an hour on the Sabbath day. Back then, that counted as a major sin.
Just after Laurie Pye runs away from his abusive father:
.......He wiped his hand on his shirt and retrieved his coffee and said, "You'll say I don't understand, just like you think Marie doesn't understand, but I think I do. Some of it anyway. Your family's had a real struggle, all those generations and everything, all of you striving toward this great goal. And Matt's obviously brilliant, anyone can see that. So I can see it was a disappointment. He had his chance and he blew it, Which is a real shame."
He gave me a brief, almost apologetic smile. "But it's just a shame. It's not a tragedy. It makes no difference to Matt is. Can't you see that? No difference at all. The tragedy is that you think it's so important. So important you're letting it destroy the relationship the two of you had."
He must have seen my incredulity, because he hesitated, eyeing me uneasily. He said, "I'm not trying to say it doesn't matter to him, Kate - that he's miraculously discovered that he loves farming, so it's all turned out for the best, or some crap like that .I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that from what you've told me about him and what I've seen of him, my guess is that he came to terms with it a long time ago. The problem is, you didn't. And as a consequence, he's lost what he had with you. That's the real tragedy.
Strange how parts of your brain can continue to function normally when other parts have come to a dead stop. I could hear Matt and Simon's voices; I saw the car getting nearer; in the distance a couple of crows were quarrelling; my brain recorded it all faithfully. But within me, for a long moment, there was total silence. A paralysis of the mind. And then gradually things started up again, and with the return of conscious thought came an absolute flood tide of disbelief, confusion and furious resentment. Daniel, of all people, an outsider, a guest, who had dragged the story out of me, who had known Matt scarcely twelve hours. That he could look at our lives and casually, carelessly, knowing nothing about it, come to such a conclusion. I could hardly believe that I had heard time right - hardly believe that he had said it.
p. 289 I suppose the real question is not why I saw it then, but why I didn't see it years ago. Grand-Grandmother Morrison, I accept that the fault is largely mine, but I hold you partly to blame. It is you, with your love of learning, who set the standard against which I have judged everyone around me, all my life. I have pursued your dream single-mindedly; I have become familiar with books and ideas you never even imagined, and somehow, in the process of acquiring all that knowledge, I have managed to learn nothing at all.
I would like to be able to say that I threw myself into the spirit of it all, but the truth is, I still felt a bit dazed. A bit abstracted. It's going to take time, I guess. If you've thought a certain way for many years, if you've had a picture in your mind of how things are and that picture is suddenly shown to be faulty, well, it stands to reason that it will take a while to adjust. And during that time, you're bound to feel...disconnected. Anyway, that was how I felt, and still feel, to some degree. What I would really have liked to do was sit quietly somewhere, preferably under a tree, and watch the goings-on from a distance. In particular, watch Matt. Let my eyes absorb this new view of him, this new perspective on our lives.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
When Jeremy Thatcher stumbles into Mr. Elives' magic shop, he leaves with a small marbled dragon's egg. When it hatches, Jeremy's wildest dreams take wing.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
On Friday, at the end of the day, was the moment. We had just enough time to read the last chapter, so I asked, "Want to go to the carpet and finish this great book?"
I got a loud and long, "Nooooooo!"
I did my best to read it with great expression. I realized as I went that some of the words were a little old fashioned, so I changed them on the fly. It wasn't good enough though. They really weren't taken by it. Why didn't I see this until the last chapter??
I'm so disappointed.
I still love it though. To heck with them!!!
Actually, I wonder if I don't read the last chapter to them, if they will even ask me to finish it?
The story is centred around a girl named Wanda Petronski. She is Polish, poor and an outsider in the class. One day, Wanda claims to own a hundred dresses, even though every day she wears the same tired blue dress to school. The girls tease her daily about this.
The interesting thing is the book is told after the fact. One day Wanda stops showing up at school. It takes a few days for the girls to even notice. One girl starts to feel remorseful. They never do have a chance to fix what they have done though.
I loved this book because it didn't have a happy ending. It teaches the importance of being kind every day because you never can go back in time, and sometimes it is too late to fix things.