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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

One pricey book order

I loved the scholastic book orders when I was a kid.  Mom and Dad always made sure I could get a new book (sometimes two or three) every month.  I looked forward to going through the brightly coloured pages of the order, searching for the right one.  Something that piqued my interest:  often it would be something about unicorns, or wizards, or fairies.  So You Want to be a Wizard was one of my very favourite books, and I remember with fondness the Unicorn Queen series as well.

The Secret of the Unicorn Queen, book one, Swept Away

I absolutely love that the kid being in school means we once again get the excitement and joy of a monthly book order.  She loves looking through the pages as much as I did.  And her teacher always makes sure to find us a copy of the “big kids” book order sheets too.  After all, the pre-k book order is all picture books and board books – and we generally like to order chapter books.

Normally we get a book or two, or if there’s a really good deal on a pack of books we’ll get that.  This last one though?  Eeeps.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on a book order.  But honestly?  It was something we couldn’t pass up.

The best time to teach a child about ANY topic is when they are passionate about it.  And right now, thanks to first reading a book about Odysseus and now reading the Goddess Girls books, the girl LOVES learning about Greek myth.  So when a four piece children’s encyclopedias all about mythology showed up in the last book order, what else could we do?  We figured out the money, because one doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.  😉

So soon, we’ll be sitting down with the girl’s very first encyclopedias.  And she couldn’t be more excited about them.  It’s going to be really cool, and I love that this is a topic that enlivens her.  Learning can be so much fun – especially when you are allowed to follow your passions!

Little Dog Lost: a must-have book for every child’s library

I’ve already blogged about We Give Books and their amazing program that allows you to both read books online for free AND to donate a book to charity for every one you read.  So I won’t go into it any more than I just did.  But I do have to share about one of the books we read today, Little Dog Lost.

screen shot from the book Little Dog Lost by Monica Carnesi

Little Dog Lost is based on the true story of the heroic little dog known to the world as Baltic.  I don’t know how many of you would have followed his story on the news a couple years ago, but I know I did.  As mom to some amazing furkids I found it absolutely terrifying to know this poor little one was lost out on the ice flows of the Baltic sea.  Thankfully his story had a very happy ending, and it has now been immortalized in this beautiful book.

As we read, Lily-Ann was so moved by the words and images.  You could see her concern visible in her face and body language, and hear it in her voice as she asked questions and read along with me.  The story asks “Is it a seal?”  And just as the book declares, she too would say “No!”

This one is one of the few children’s picture books that I believe will become a classic.  Definitely a must have for every child’s personal library, and a must have for every school and daycare library.  Wonderfully written, and gorgeously illustrated!

Go check it out, and give a book to charity at the same time:  http://www.wegivebooks.org/books/little-dog-lost?auto_launch=1

back cover from Little Dog Lost

Goodnight iPad (a modern bedtime tale) & We Give Books

Two things to share tonight.  🙂  One is the We Give Books website/program.  It’s simply too awesome NOT to share.  And the other is a book we stumbled across while there.

Goodnight iPad screenshot from We Give Books

"Goodnight iPad" screenshot from the We Give Books website

We Give Books is an incredible website where you can read new, classic, and popular Penguin Books titles to you children…  for free.  That’s right.  FREE.  We only discovered the site this afternoon and have already gone through seven titles that were brand new to us (the girl loves the Ladybug Girl books).

You can sign up for free (there’s that word again) using your FB or Twitter account, or the old fashioned way by filling out a form.  Then you choose a campaign to support…  which is where We Give Books gets even better – yep.  Better than free!  Can you imagine?  What happens next?  Just pick out a book and start reading.  When you get to the end, a button will show up that says “give a book”.  Click it.  Know what that means?  It means a book has just been donated to whichever campaign you chose to support.

Check it out!!!  Seriously!

We Give Books – www.wegivebooks.org

Now while you’re there, you have to look up “Goodnight iPad”.  It’s way too freakin’ awesome.  A parody on the classic bedtime story “Goodnight Moon” for those of us who are plugged in.  It really is fabulous, and, no joke, it had my husband and I laughing out loud as we attempted to read it to the kid.  😉

So, there you go!  Two fabulous discoveries!

Now get reading!

Aphrodite and Isis – Two Goddesses of Love

We’re laying in bed, snuggled up together.  She eating a bedtime snack of applesauce.  Me reading our nightly chapters.  We’re on page 140-something of Aphrodite the Diva (one of the Goddess Girls books by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams).

Aphrodite is holding a contest for the mortal girls of Greece, when Lily-Ann exclaims “Hey!”

“Hey what?” say I.

“There can be two Goddesses of Love!  Aphrodite is the Goddess of love for the Greeks, and Isis is the Goddess of love for the Egyptians.  They don’t have to fight, they can both be the Goddess Girls of love!”

“Oh my goodness!”  I marvel at her wit, “You’re right.  I wonder what will happen next in the book.  Do you think they might figure that out?”

“I don’t know momma.  Keep reading!”

Seriously, is there anything more cool than the aha moments of a clever four year old?

A page or so later we read how Aphrodite is confiding in Ares, about how she feels about her part in the Trojan “incident”.  When another lightbulb goes off:  “Mom!  We’ve read about Odysseus before, in another chapter book.”

“That’s right, he fought in the Trojan war.  We’ve talked about him a few times, haven’t we?”  She nods her head enthusiastically.  “It’s neat when we meet the same characters in different books, isn’t it?”  She grins and nods again.

Lily-Ann asks “Do you remember the Trojan horse?” the wheels obviously turning, making connections.  Then she giggles over the brilliance of Odysseus and the lack of foresight demonstrated by the Trojans.

“I do.”  I smile at her and give her side a little tickle.  “Should I keep reading?”

“Yes Mom.”

We settle back in for some more cuddles and read on.

goddess girls bookmark - showing the covers for books one through six

 

Is it any wonder this is my favourite time of day?    🙂

 

Our Odyssey into Chapter Books

The kid and I have been reading chapter books together for over a year now.  Our nightly adventures have taken us many places included Mistress Lily’s fairy school, Mount Olympus Academy, and we’ve even been to the Underworld a few times.  We’ve uncovered clues leading us to discover who’s dog was frightening the sheep of a local farmer, and had dinosaurs come to our aid when we were chasing bad guys in a kayak.  We’ve helped a mom who’s baby was under a strange enchantment, rode winged ponies to and from the realm of humans on several occasions,and winged sandals?  We’re old hat at wearing those.

To be honest, I’d never really sat down and thought about all the places chapter books have already taken the little girl.  After a lifetime of reading you can lose sight of the magic a little bit…  take it for granted, I suppose.  But tonight we were looking at some of the chapter books she owns (many of the ones we’ve read were borrowed at the library, but she’s getting quite the collection of her own books too).  As she touched the spines of several of them, one at a time, she’d mention the name of the hero:  “Athena, Aphrodite, Persephone, Artemis, Odysseus…”  I didn’t realize how much we’d read that came from stories of the ancient Gods and Goddesses, until I heard her mention four or five names in a row.   We’ve read older stories, like Black Beauty and Beauty and the Beast, and newer chap books like The Goddess Girls and Tales from the Odyssey.

One love this has rekindled for me personally is my childhood love of book orders.  I remember waiting every month for a new order form, browsing through the current offerings, getting to pick out one or two every time… and then waiting impatiently for them to come in.  I again get to order books, excitedly from Scholastic every month.  I forgot about the great deals (or maybe I never realized just how well priced they always were).  We just got the first five of the Goddess Girls books for fifteen bucks vs the five or six bucks a piece you’d pay for them at the book store.  We’d only read the first three from the library, so we’re both excited to continue with the series.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.  It’s a bit of a ramble.  But if I could say nothing else, it really has been an odyssey.  An exciting, fantastic, wonderful odyssey.  🙂  So get reading!  You could be helping your child start a life long love affair.

My favourite thing in the whole world…

I’ll admit…  the reason I’ve had a really rough couple of days has been Ron.  I’ve mentioned him before.  He’s one of the two special needs gentlemen who live at my parents place.  We affectionately refer to him as the “grumpy old man”, but the last couple of days there hasn’t been affection there.  At ALL.

My parents left for Cuba on Sunday morning.  They’ll be there for two weeks.  It’s the first time they’ve ever taken a vacation like this…  a trip just for them:  not to visit family, not to work, not to take us kids somewhere, just for them.  It’s something they sooo deserve.  So this Summer, when they asked if I’d stay here for two weeks to take care of everyone I was more than happy to do so.  And I still am.  But Ron has been VERY difficult.

It’s not like I haven’t stayed here to watch everyone before.  My mom has gone along with Dad on some of his band gigs before, and they always ask me to watch over the house, my two sisters who are still at home, the pets, and the guys.  I stayed here for 10 days in the Summer, so this fourteen day stretch isn’t totally out of the ordinary.  So Ron and I have a history of being together in this type of situation.

Ron is like family, he lives here, and is usually a sweet old guy.  We call him “grumpy old man” because he’s got a crotchety streak.  You’ll catch him muttering, mostly unintelligibly, under his breath.  And then, amongst all the grumbles you’ll hear the curse words, clear as day.  You can’t do anything but laugh.

“Groudms bumsle nurm hulmna SHIT bramt blurf laub ramb…”

I crack a grin every time I overhear him on one of his tangents, talking to no-one in particular, lost in a moment.  We’re all awfully fond of the old guy.  He’s easy to love, and is always so sincerely grateful for your praise, affection, and support.  It’s something he hasn’t had in his life, and something he deserves.  He really is one of this worlds forgotten seniors.  It breaks my heart.

Ron has been absolutely miserable the last few days, and it has been very hard to live with him.  He has been purposefully hurtful, nasty, and MEAN.  It’s a side of him I’ve glimpsed very rarely.  He has actually lashed out physically a couple of times, he hasn’t hurt anyone, but he’s made it clear he wants everyone to bugger off.  So tonight?  I was sooo happy to have our OLD Ron back.  Whatever dark cloud was hovering over him has broken, and the sun is shining again.  Ron gave me a big hug, with tears in his eyes, and I gratefully returned it.

Damon taught Ron and Steven (the other special needs fellow who lives here) how to bowl on the Wii tonight.  It was the coolest thing.  Ron and Steven bowled a ten frame game together, and Ron won!  He was SOOO excited, so proud.  He walked around telling everyone “I won!  I won!”  You’d think he’d just been awarded a huge gold trophy.  It was wonderful.  And I am SOOO glad to have our old man back.  I’ve missed him the last few days.

So, my day has improved tremendously.  And it has become easy to find the joy again.  Then, to make things even better…  we ended the day the best way possible.

My favourite thing in the whole world is when the wee girlie falls asleep as I read.  This is only the second time it’s ever happened, and it makes me blissfully happy.  There is something so special about sharing such an amazing moment, seeing my daughter so contented, feeling so safe, so cared for…  drifting off sooo happily.  It makes my heart sing.

Novels at bedtime are wonderful!

We are breezing through the Fairy Blossoms series by Suzanne Williams.  One more chapter and we are done the second book.  At this rate, we’ll finish the series before the end of January.  They just read so easily, so smoothly.  The stories are charming, and the characters are equally so.  It might be tough to come up with something Lily-Ann devours like these books next.

😉

Night all!

Wishing you joy.

 

Our second chapter book.

Reading with my dad is one of my earliest memories.  He used to sit beside my bed and read me some of the greatest stories ever written.  It’s where my love of books began.  I still have the copies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that he read me all those years ago.  They are beat up pretty bad, and can barely hold in their pages…  but they are very well loved, having been read again and again and again.  I hope that one day my daughter will look back on our night time reads with the same fondness, and that it will inspire her to a lifetime of adventuring.

Lily-Ann and I finished our first chapter book on December 26th.  It was an adaptation of Tangled (the new Disney princess movie based on the Rapunzel fairy tale).  We found it in her school book order, and I figured we should give it a go.

On Tuesday we picked our current read.  I first consulted my most trusted group of writerly friends (the MomWriters, an email based group of women writers of which I’ve been a member for the last ten years).  I look forward to following up on many of their recommendations.  But this go round the girlie favoured the first book in the Fairy Blossoms series by Suzanne Williams, Daisy and the Magic Lesson.

So far, we have BREEZED through the first29 pages.  Its such an easy, flowing read.  And the characters are so personable, a group of nine year old fairies just beginning at Mistress Lily’s fairy school, what could be more delightful?  I have a feeling we’ll be sticking with this series for a while.

the next chapter

tonight's chapter...

Reading with Grams

On Library day, when we drive my sister Jewles home, we always head in for a visit.  Dad and Damon talk sports, Jewles and I hang out, and the wee girlie and her Grams read her library books.  🙂  It’s one of the many reasons I love library day.  It’s just a nice way to end a nice evening.

Lily-Ann and Grams, reading a book

Reading with Grams

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