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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out her books I gratefully handed over the quarter (or two, I can’t recall exactly how much it was) that the paperbacks withdrawn from the library collection sell for.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Inside my copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard, the withdrawn stamp and the kraft paper envelope...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.  😉

New House Nerves and Medusa the Mean

Okay, ya got me.  I’ve been kind of a lazy blogger lately.  My posts aren’t really sounding like me, they are short and not nearly as engaging.  Yeah.  I know.

The fact of the matter is, with everything on my brain lately, I’m just not quite myself.  I’m stressed about the house…  packing up and leaving this place behind is tough.  I’m super excited about the new place and what it will mean for our family, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is our home.  We got engaged in the bathroom.  We first talked about having a baby sitting in this bedroom.  We’ve lived lots of places together, Damon and I, but this was the first one that was home.  Nine years here.  It’s a hard thing to walk away from, even if the place no longer meets our needs.

So yeah.  With the house on my brain, it’s hard to think of much else for long enough to blog about it.  …and I’m guessing you don’t want to hear me posting about the house every day.  😉

We take possession one month from today.  We already have so many boxes packed that it’s tough to move around in here.  We haven’t got even a small portion of the packing done yet.  There’s more than one reason we stayed here nine years (even though the intention was about three years when we bought the place).  LOL

It’s a good thing.  This is going to be such an amazing thing for us.  But that doesn’t take away from how difficult it is.

That said, here’s something cute and fun:

We’ve been reading Medusa the Mean (yep, another book in the Goddess Girls series).  Lily-Ann absolutely LOVED chapter 7, Kindergarten Buddies.  Of course, being IN kindergarten herself probably had a lot to do with it…  though it was a super adorable chapter that made her giggle and grin repeatedly (especially when she realized that there was a crush starting between Medusa and Dionysus, and then further imagined her Daddy as being like Dionysus and herself as Andromeda).  So tonight, before bedtime, she decided to draw Medusa and Dionysus – as inspired by the Goddess Girls books and the cover illustration of Medusa the Mean.  And for a five year old?  I was darn impressed.  😉

The cover art for Medusa the Mean, and the girl's interpretation of Medusa and Dionysus.

Medusa and Dionysus

See you again soon Eva Nine! We’ll miss you!

Okay.  It happened.  I didn’t think it ever would, but it has.  I’ve been ruined.  Yep.  You read that right.  Ruined.  I can no longer read juvenile fiction without comparing it to the amazing The Search for WondLa.   Tony DiTerlizzi has ruined me.  From this point on, his magnificent work is the yardstick by which all other chapter books will be measured.

The truth is, I fell in love with DiTerlizzi’s prose and word-use within the first few pages of The Search for WondLa (which you may remember me raving about HERE).  I enjoyed reading it, if for nothing else, than his easy way with language, the way the words dripped off the page and onto my tongue like some sweet honey made just for my delighted writerly senses.  That would have been enough.  But then he made me fall in love with his characters as well.

Rovender Kitt?  Seriously, seriously love him.  I love the lessons of interconnectedness he bestows on Eva, which so closely resemble the things I’ve hoped to instill in, and inspire with, Lily-Ann.  I’ll miss this particular character even more than I’ll miss Otto, the giant water bear, who speaks with kindness and gentleness telepathically to our young heroine, Eva, whom kid-kid enjoyed so very much.

Tomorrow we have to begin another book.  The second book in the WondLa trilogy, A Hero for WondLa, isn’t available at our local library, and we don’t have the funds just now to run out and purchase it (or I would).  We would so like to linger on Orbona a little longer, but it is what it is.  I know whatever we choose to read, it won’t absorb us like the fluid, easy, natural flow of language that is Mr. DiTerlizzi’s masterpiece.  However, I also know that we WILL make it back to read more about Rovender, Otto, and Eva…  even if we are pulled away for a while, and that?  It’s a very nice thing to know.

the search for wondla, ipad wallpaper

We’ve Begun our Search for Wondla

I had forgotten what it was like to read something so beautiful that the words alone remind you of what it is to be passionate.  How they are strung together, the choice of each so careful and deliberate that your heart soars with each syllable.  So used to the simple choices of most children’s books I had abandoned the memory of things so attentively scribed.  Tonight I thrilled in the sublime usage of words divine.

Ahhhh….

Truly.

It has been so very long since I read something where the words alone thrilled me so.  We’re only two chapters into The Search for Wondla but already my writerly self is more fulfilled and ecstatic than it’s been in a very, very, VERY long, long, long while.  LOL

I’m sure for some folk this may not make even a lick of sense, but for those of you who do get it?  I know your hearts will be leaping along with me on this little discovery.  It really is so rare these days (among literature of ANY kind) to find work that makes your heart leap.  Awesome stories?  You bet, there’s a lot of them out there.  Fabulous characters?  Even more so.  Intricate worlds?  There are still a few new places to explore.  But words worth reading just for the sake of how beautifully they are composed?  It has been decades since I read something where the words alone made my head spin with possibilities.

I’m aware that The Search for Wondla is juvenile fiction, but if you’re any kind of word-nerd, head over to wondla.com right now.  Order a paperback, hardcover edition, or even the ebook or audiobook.  Trust me.  Like I said, we’ve only begun to dive into our search for Wondla – we’re only two chapters in…  and already I know it’s going to be unforgettable!

The Search for Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi

The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi

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!

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.

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