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So You Want to Be a Wizard

The cover of my twenty year old copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard.So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane was one of my favourite books as a kid.  I think I was about seven when I read it.  The bookmobile had just gotten a copy of it and I remember my name was the first one on the book slip – I always loved it when that happened.  I absolutely devoured it, and then couldn’t wait for the end of the week when the bookmobile would again be parked next to Dr. Seager Wheeler Park so I could tell the librarian about it – to ensure she stocked the next book when it came out.

A few years ago now, I saw an old copy (though not so old as the one I would have first read) on the “for sale” rack at our little neighbourhood library.  It was old enough that it still had the kraft paper envelope glued onto the first page – where the book slip would have slid in so perfectly.  I grabbed it pretty darn quickly, and when the girl was done checking out her books I gratefully handed over the quarter (or two, I can’t recall exactly how much it was) that the paperbacks withdrawn from the library collection sell for.  When we got home, I stashed it away on a shelf, knowing some day my girl might just love it as much as I did… and excited that it would be here waiting for her.

Inside my copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard, the withdrawn stamp and the kraft paper envelope... memories.

Tonight we started reading the brittle, crinkly pages, each one crackling and popping as they were turned.  There is just something special about older books.  Something magical in the way they sound, feel, and smell.  Even leafing through them is a journey…  and I’ll admit to a palpable tingle in the air as I listened to the pages turn taking us to the prologue and our epic adventure.

As my husband read aloud, I was taken back to the very first time I read So You Want to Be a Wizard.  And I was quickly reminded why I loved it so much, even then.  I was never one for flaky books with characters as thin as the paper their lives were printed on.  Even as a kid, I liked my words meaty, purposeful, and true.  Listening to Nita’s experience going back into the children’s section of her little library, I relived those first moments of discovery, when I knew what it was to stumble – with her – onto the amazing book and looking forward to where it would take her.  …yep, I’m going to enjoy doing this again.  😉

Waiting too long for a good thing…

As many of you already know, I read chapter books to my daughter every night.  It’s just part of our routine.  It’s a time both she and I equally enjoy, a time we both look forward to all day.

Well…  We’d heard a lot of good things about the Magic Tree House series.  And then at a big consignment sale a couple of weekends ago I was able to pick up five of the books (used) for only $1.50 (and not each, that was for the bundle), so we nabbed them.  Tonight?  Tonight we read one from cover to cover.  Yep.  The whole book.  At least the two we read before it had lasted a couple nights (3/4s of a book in the first night, 1/4 of it the second when we also got through 1/2 of another, finishing it the next night).  So in 4 nights, we’ve finished three books.  I have to say…  I’m really glad we got them used for what we did.  LOL

I think this really was an instance of waiting too long to check out a good thing.  The books are charming, but I think they’d have been more appropriate when she was on the cusp of turning three.  At four and three quarters we’re reading things like the Goddess Girls, Mary Pope Osborne’s take on the Odyssey – Tales From the Odyssey (just a side note, Osborne’s also the author of the Magic Tree House books), Harry Potter, and The Wide Awake Princess.  They all make this series seem a little too juvenile.  However, I do think they may still be a good fit for when she first begins reading chapter books on her own.

So yeah.  An entire chapter book in one evening is a pretty good sign that it’s time to pick up something else.  Damon is reserving the second Harry Potter book for us, and hopefully it will be ready for pick up tomorrow or the next day (love our little library, they’ll bring in anything for us that they don’t already have – even if they have to bring it in from elsewhere in the province).  And on Thursday our next book order is due in, and we’ll be ordering the next Goddess Girls book, “Medusa the Mean”.  So we’ll be set for the next while again.  🙂

Yay for reading!

Chihuahua with a Mustache

Today there was a book fair at the girl’s school.  She and I spent a great deal of time checking out all the titles on the tables.  Very honestly, there wasn’t much there that was even worth a second glance.  It was highly disappointing.  I knew we had to find something though.  The fair helps support the school, and a portion of the proceeds goes towards getting new books for their classrooms.  That, and the kid knew she was allowed to get a book.

Back and forth between the chapter book tables.  One mundane sounding description after another.  Then we wandered back to where we started – with the picture books.  We don’t read that many of them any more.  We read for a half hour (sometimes more) a day, but that’s almost all devoted to novels.  That’s when I saw it!

It was hidden beneath scores of boring paperback children’s stories…  a hard cover, only one letter of the title peeking out – but I recognized the font instantly.  “Lily-Ann!  What’s this???”  I slide the book out just a titch, so that two letters are now revealed.

“SKIPPYJON JONES!!!!”

I’m sure her animated shout could be heard throughout the main floor of the school.

Yep.  We found a copy of Skippyjon Jones; Class Action.

We love Skippyjon.  We read a lot about him at wegivebooks.org.  I remember the first time she saw the cover of the original Skippyjon Jones, she said “Momma, that cat looks like a Chihuahua.”  This sticks with me because I poo poohed her, assuming it was just the illustrators style… but very quickly found out I was wrong.  And yes, I made sure to apologize for it.

We’re Chihuahua nuts around here (as I’m sure you’ve guessed).  So these absolutely adorable books, with their smart stories, and rich characters?  We ❤ them in a big way.

So yay!  The kid now has her very own Skippyjon Jones book…  and we popped the CD in to listen to it being read while we drove to get her Daddy from work (it was interesting to hear someone else’s take on the characters voices and the songs – her mom voice and my mom voice are VASTLY different, and curiously enough we were pretty dead on for every other character and the songs).  We’ve now heard it six times.  And it’s no less charming on it’s sixth than on it’s first, though I’m not sure her Daddy would agree.  LMAO

Anyway…  instead of sharing a book cover as I often do when I’m writing about a book we enjoy, I’m going to share a picture the girl did up yesterday.  She took a photo (using the iPad) of Deedee, and then proceeded to edit it.  So here’s Deedee, or as the girlie put it – giggling hysterically:  “She’s a Chihuahua with a Mustache!”

A Chihuahua with a mustache

Telling Stories

I’ve always been a story teller.  As far back as I can remember, I’ve been telling tales.  When other kids brought things from home (like a new toy, or their stamp collection) to share during show and tell, I’d make up glorious adventures about dragons, and ogres, and trolls, and unicorns.  I really can’t remember a time when fantasy didn’t draw me in totally and completely.

When asked to read aloud in class, I did so with vigor and excitement.  My voice filled with drama reflecting the mood of the story.  It never occurred to me there was another way to read.  I told my own stories with fervor, why would I not give the same commitment to the words of another?

I remember the first time I read out loud in grade eight.  It was a significant point for me.  I’d transferred to a new school that year, and for the first time I was in a class full of kids who didn’t know me from Adam.  I began reading, filled with pride – I was always such a great orator.  When the class erupted in laughter I was completely taken aback.  I remember pausing, looking around to see what had everyone in stitches.  When I didn’t see anything, I picked up where I’d left off.

The teacher cut me off when the class fell apart into peels of laughter for the second time.  I’ll never forget her words:  “Maybe we should let someone  else have a turn.”  It was at that moment that I realized that the laughter was directed at me.  Me.

I sat down, completely in shock.  Everyone had always been in such awe of my tremendous reading and narration  skills.  This was one of the few intellectual areas where I had truly excelled.  I was an advanced reader, and had always impressed my peers.  So the fact that this area of pride was – in this new arena – an embarrassment was… well…  dumbfounding.

I learned quickly to dumb myself down when talking to people.  No one wanted to be outshone…  especially by a girl.  There were only eight girls and forty boys in the two grade eight classes in the school.  And the girls all seemed to take pride in their lack of intelligence.  It really was a turning year for me.  Strange, and peculiar in so many ways.

I love now having the chance to again be reading fantasy adventure…  with excitement, emotion, and enthusiasm.  The way these stories were meant to be read.  Giving value to each line.  Giving voice to every character.

The wee girlie loves reading “chapters” at night with me.  Tonight we couldn’t help but read four (rather than our usual two).  We’re at an exceptionally exciting part of the story…  and it can be hard to put it down.  Lily-Ann may only be three, but I never have to worry about dumbing down a story for her – like I used to do for those eight graders.  We relish the experience together, and I know she’s in for a life-time passion for the written word.  It’s something that thrills me totally and completely.

We’re currently on book three of the Keyholders series.  And I heartily recommend every book we’ve read so far.  There have been times that she has jumped, cried out empathetically, busted a gut laughing…  She’ll shout out:  “It’s a dragon!!!”  “Bring bells!!!  You need bells to scare them away!!!”  “The queen is coming!  RUN!!!!”  And that says sooo much to me about the quality of this series.  It’s one I’m sure she’ll come back to when she’s able to read it herself.  For now though, I’m happy it’s something we can share together.

Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Oink

Three of Lily-Ann’s favorite stories… again, just playing with my depth of field (or DOF).

stubby little books, depth of field

Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Oink

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