Fixing Books

Today, my son finally ripped a library book. I’ve been expecting this for the past year or so (as long as I’ve been getting him library books), but he’s been surprisingly respectful so far. Today, however, he got bored waiting for me to read G is for Gzonk (which I was hoping not to have to read at all), and he experimentally ripped a few inches of the page.

So I gave him a time out (which he loves), then considered making him return all the library books without checking any out (which would be torture for me, because I would have to read the same old books we have), and at my husband’s suggestion, settled on making him “pay” for the damages.

And by that, I mean I made him do some extra chores and paid him small change for them. Then we took a little plastic container (filled with his glorious 40 cents) to the librarian.

“Will you tell the librarian what happened?” I asked.

The librarian patiently waited while I prodded a “I ripped a book” out of him.

She started to tell him it was no big deal, but I gave her a look and whispered, “I know, but I’m trying to teach him a lesson.”

She nodded knowingly, then wiped the smile off her face and said thoughtfully to my son, “Well, thank you for telling me. We’ll fix it with some tape.”

“Give her the money,” I said.

She started to protest again, and I whispered, “It’s just 40 cents. Just take it.”

She nodded again and took the money, thanking John for his responsibility. John actually looked really concerned about the book, and I gave him a hug and thanked him for fixing the problem. And then we went about our normal library activities of checking out about a bazillion books. ♦

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¡No bájes al sótano!

No-Bajes-Al-Sotano-Stine-R-L-9780590502122

Okay, guys. I’m learning Spanish. And I’m reading books in Spanish to help. But I’m kind of new at writing in Spanish, so here goes.

¡No bajes al sótano! es un libro de R.L. Stine, el autor de la serie Escalofríos. Son libros muy buenos para niños que les gustan libros de horror, y los leía cuando era niña. Ahora, estoy estudiando español, y leí este libro en español para practicar.

El libro cuenta de una niña, Margaret, y su hermano Charlie. El padre de ellos es un científico, y durante la mayor parte del día, está en el sótano. Pero cosas extrañas comienzan, y el padre de ellos comienza a cambiar…

Para un niño, es terrorífico. Para un adulto, es aburrido. Para un estudiante de español, es buena práctica. ♦

Hate That Cat

hate that cat

Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech, is a beautiful, funny look at poetry through the eyes of a young boy. And also, there’s a dog. And it made me cry.

So obviously, I had to pick up the sequel, Hate That Cat.

Much like Jack, I love dogs and hate cats. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, and Jack finds there is at least one cat worth loving. The book is his poetry journal for school, but it includes his relationship with the world’s worst cat and the world’s cutest kitten. It also explores a little of his relationship with his mother, who is Deaf.

I love Sharon Creech’s writing. She does a great job of exploring pain, love, confusion, childish curiosity, and humor without ever getting pedantic. I will say: I liked Love That Dog better. Hate That Cat has a “my editor asked for a sequel” vibe to it— but it’s still well worth reading. ♦

Brown Girl Dreaming

brown girl dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming is an autobiographical poetry collection by Jacqueline Woodson. Written at about a middle-grade level, the book follows her early childhood experiences, and how she came to love writing.

This book is simple and beautiful. It explores what it’s like to be a child, to not really understand your parents’ decisions, and what it was like to be a Black girl—in both the North and South United States—during the sixties. It also talks about friendship, family, and self-exploration.

I would recommend this book to anyone, especially young Black girls who love to write. ♦

Esperanza Rising

Okay. First of all, I should probably clarify something.

I’m not reading a book a day, guys. I’ve been publishing one book review every day for the past week or so, because I finally kicked my butt into gear and started blogging about the books I’ve been reading for the past few months. Maybe I can blame my toddler, and claim he’s taking all of my spare time. Maybe I can blame my brother’s death, and claim I’ve been dealing with crippling grief. Or maybe I should just admit that I forgot (again) that I had a blog.

At any rate, the book-a-day posts should only continue for the next 14 books (give or take.) I won’t be insulted at all if you don’t read them. (Like I would be insulted normally.)

Anyways!

esperanza rising

Esperanza Rising is a great book. It’s written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and apparently she based it loosely on a grandmother or something. It’s a darn good book. That’s probably why it’s won some awards: the Pura Belpré Award for Writing, and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards for Book for Older Children. If you want to be precise.

The story is about a girl named Esperanza, who lives in Mexico in the 1930s. After her father dies, her no-good uncles try to take the ranch (and Esperanza’s mother), so what’s left of the family flees to California, makes it through immigration (legally or illegally—I’m still not sure,) and finds a low-paying job picking produce. The rest of the book is about Esperanza getting rid of her spoiled, childish attitudes and coming to terms with the world around her, good and bad.

It’s beautifully written, culturally eye-opening, and it’s a great coming-of-age story. I think it’s in my top 5 favorite books of all time right now. So go read it. ♦

The Trespassers

the trespassers

The Trespassers, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, was a thrift-store impulse buy.

First of all, I can’t just bypass the fact that at some point in human history, two grown adults looked at their precious baby and decided that “Zilpha” was going to be the word that best described her.

Aside from the name of the author, this was a great book. It has a lot of the same suspense as The Turn of the Screw, but with a much better ending. And it’s written on a middle-grade reading level (I think), so it’s a really fast read.

But it’s not just a fast read. It’s got some really good character development, realistic kids and adults (you rarely get both in the same book, I’ve found), and what might be the most realistic and down-to-earth treatment of special needs I’ve ever seen. I say it’s realistic because the narrator’s younger brother is… different. And that’s about the only way he’s ever described. His behavior suggests he might be autistic, but he might also just be a little odd. You don’t ever really know, because the main character doesn’t really know.

Oh, and also, said brother may or may not be able to see ghosts. You never really find out. The story is about a brother and sister exploring a “haunted” house, then meeting the new family who’s moved in. And then the new kid who lives there starts acting really weird, and they have to figure out why.

I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys/enjoyed Goosebumps, but wants something a little more well-constructed. ♦

How to Eat Fried Worms

how to eat fried worms

I picked up How to Eat Fried Worms (by Thomas Rockwell) at a thrift store, because I remembered my teacher reading it to the class in 3rd grade. In 3rd grade, at least, it was awesome.

It was just as awesome as I remembered it. I mean, you do have to keep in mind that it’s for kids. But it’s still a great story. Basically, two friends start a bet about whether one of them can eat 50 worms over 50 days. And when the worm-eater (whose name I can’t remember—I read this back in February) turns out to be quite adept at suppressing his gag reflex, his friends have to come up with new schemes to make the worms even less appetizing.

It’s a silly book, but it’s quick and it’s fun to read. ♦