I just realized I am guilty of a thing that I hate that other people do: not putting Goodreads links (or Amazon or wherever) for books I’m currently reading. I will no longer make that mistake.
Hello! This has been a whirlwind week. First, I have to say I am officially OFFICIALLY on vacation now. I know I said I was on vacation last week (and I was), but I had to wrap up some search committee work, which meant I had to go to work twice. TWICE. That does not count as vacation, especially since I had to (a) set my alarm and (b) go to work and do work. Interviews! Work.
Anyway, it’s over now, and I have three months with no teaching or search committees ahead of me.
A funny thing keeps happening to me. I cannot for the life of me remember what I am planning to do in my classes in the fall. I always remember three of the four assignments I have planned. And it’s only ever three. Usually it’s the same three, but this time it’s a different three. My plan is to put the missing assignment in my phone as soon as I remember.
But I digress.
Vacation, vacation, vacation, vacation! Also: vacation.
I am not at Jay Pritchett levels of luxury or anything, but I did wind up taking super long naps every day since Wednesday. You know, not to brag or anything.
(Okay, okay. A little bragging.)
Anyway, this week, I have some appointments so it may be a while before I can get to that nap level again. Oh well.
I may post about being on vacation every week, just so you’re all forewarned. Did you know school doesn’t start until August? Oh, this is just delightful.
Not because it was hard, but because (a) my daughter kept talking to me and (b) I kept getting distracted by The Oscars. And Twitter and Facebook. Also, I was trying to figure out which leggings to buy. Anyway.
Okay, I had to look at my calendar to see what I actually did this past week. Is that sad? It feels sad. I guess it’s a good thing I’m doing the Slice of Life challenge next month, huh? Anyway, that’s where I am. So yes, this past week I:
- went to a Hamilton trivia night (my team lost)
- went to the dentist
- went to a search committee meeting for the church’s new minister
- attended a plagiarism hearing as a witness
- visited an astronomy class as part of the pilot Teaching Squares program at my school (and learned quite a bit!)
- attended a student conduct hearing as a member of the conduct board
- went to see a student production of The Drowsy Chaperone, which was super fun (I love a good farce and a good meta-narrative)
- dropped in to a party I wasn’t invited to to visit a friend who was only in town for one night
- went to the Women’s March celebration and activist fair held by the local chapter of the march
And that doesn’t even count my regularly scheduled activities (work, gym, etc.).
Traveling to the march this past weekend put me behind on everything. Sigh.
First things first, though: I didn’t make it to the actual march because on the way there, about two hours outside of DC, I got sick and knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the walking or the crowds.
However, I still had a positive experience because of all the awesome women in my life, most notably my friend Monique who was willing to brave traffic, etc. to pick me up from RFK at 7:30 a.m. when I told her what was going on and also a woman named Crystal on our bus who supplied me with Dramamine and anti-nausea meds when I got motion sickness on the bus ride home (before I knew her name, even!).
And, yes, that means I got sick on the way there AND the way back.
Anyway, the best sign I saw this weekend was black text on a white background that said, “NOPE.”
Then, of course, there were the books.
As part of my passion project, I’ve recently finished (and loved) two of Walter Dean Myers’ early picture books: Where Does the Day Go? (illustrated by Leo Carty) and Fly, Jimmy, Fly! (illustrated by Moneta Barnett).
Where Does the Day Go? is delightful. A group of kids are in the park with one of the children’s father, and they have a pretty serious conversation about what happens to the day when it turns into night. Each kid has a theory, but each theory leaves the group with questions. So they take turns telling their theories and trying to answer the questions.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is Top Ten Books in [x] Genre. I realize that the picture book isn’t a genre (it’s a format), but I don’t care. That’s what I’m doing anyway.
1. Jimmy’s Boa Bounces Back by Trinka Hakes Noble, illustrated by Steven Kellogg – This story is so wacky. I love it. My first grade teacher gave it to me because I was her favorite.
2. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe – This story is delightful, and I love the daughters’ names. In fact, the illustrations are so badass, the book has been used to teach perspective in photography classes.
3. I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow – “I like myself, I’m glad I’m me. There’s no one else I’d rather be.”
4. The Great Big Elephant and the Very Small Elephant by Barbara Seuling – You know, it makes so much sense that friendship stories are my favorite. ❤
5. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel – Another friendship book! Naturally. My favorite bit is when Toad helps Frog with his depression.
6. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Michael J. Smollin – Spoiler alert: it’s Grover.
7. Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff – “All my friends are dead.” (Okay, that’s not from the book, but still.)
8. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – There is nothing as sad as a snowball that doesn’t last.
9. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – “I’ll eat you up, I love you so.”
10. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent – “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo!”
Ah, here we go. Children’s literature is kind of my jam. I’ve always, always read it and when I figured out I could study it in college and grad school, well.
So, basically, I love children’s literature is what I’m saying. My favorite thing about children’s literature is that most of it lacks the pretentiousness of adult literature. That doesn’t mean it can’t be serious or deal with serious issues, but just that, usually, I’m getting a good story without that air of trying too hard.
I have so much to say about this topic, but I’m going to try to keep it simple. Please keep in mind that these lists are by no means comprehensive. My daughter is 14, so I’m going to draw on what she used to read for the bulk of this list, except for the YA. Also, I want to apologize in advance to any books I may have unintentionally left out.
Picture Books My Daughter Loved
- Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
- I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
- Don’t Forget to Come Back! by Robie H. Harris
- But No Elephants by Jerry Smath
- The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole
Question: I asked her about her favorite books, and we cannot remember the name of this picture book series that starred animals that all lived in the same neighborhood, and their names started with the letter of their species (e.g., Alan the Alligator, Ziggy the Zebra, etc.) (Of course, we can’t remember any of the characters’ names, sigh.) We remember two storylines clearly: one was about this dirty cat who wanted to throw a party so her friends came and cleaned up for her. Another was about the zebra or alligator whose bathroom tub overflowed. Then there was one about an animal who was trying to build a shed or something. Does anyone have ANY idea what I’m talking about? We read the entire series A-Z, and now I can’t remember them! Ugh.
Picture Books I Loved as a Child that I Shared with My Daughter
- Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
- The Snowy Day by Jack Ezra Keats
- The Great Big Elephant and the Very Small Elephant by Barbara Seuling
- Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
- Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff
Chapter/Middle Grade Books My Daughter Loved
- Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
- The Wedding Planner’s Daughter series by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
- Eleven (and the rest of the books about Winnie) by Lauren Myracle
- The Frog Princess series by E. D. Baker
- The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
- The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Ok, now when it comes to Young Adult Lit, there are TOO MANY to list. So just a handful of my favorites that I have reviewed here:
- Sharing Sam by Katherine Applegate
- Tangerine by Edward Bloor
- Seven Days to a Brand New Me and If This Is Love, I’ll Take Spaghetti by Ellen Conford
- Where She Went by Gayle Forman
- Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green
- Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
- Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
- The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
I left so many books off. It kind of hurts.
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio (illustrated by LeUyen Pham) is about a girl who decides to run for class president because she notices that there have only been men presidents. Each kid then represents a state and its electoral college, so Grace and her opponent campaign to win electoral votes.
Yes, this story teaches about the electoral college in a fun way. Yes, the racial and gender implications of Grace (a little black girl) running against an athletic, white boy are present.
But you know what I loved most about this story? Grace is ADORABLE. Not only is she adorable, but she has natural hair. And not only is her hair natural, but she has locs!
Reading about Grace made me so happy. She is so awesome. And like a little Leslie Knope, honestly. A little brown Leslie Knope with locs.
So, yes, the illustrations are stellar, and I am forever grateful to DiPucchio and Pham for introducing such a smart, vibrant, and beautiful little girl as the main character of this book.
I know you’re not thirsty. That’s bullshit. Stop lying. Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep.
Don’t worry, the book is not for kids. It is strictly written for adults, any adult who has a kid that won’t just go to sleep already. And, yeah, all the love in the world doesn’t keep parents from secretly cursing their children who won’t go to sleep.
The illustrations are great. All these scenes of nighttime tranquility and an awake kid just right there ruining it all.
Let me put it this way: my daughter is thirteen and I can STILL relate to this book.
So much fun. So, so much fun. A book for parents to read while they wait for their kids to go to sleep. Brilliant.
Oh, and if you haven’t heard it already: Samuel L. Jackson reads the book. And talks about why the book speaks to him. Ha!
The librarian suggested Nappy by Charisse Carney-Nunes after hearing a conversation I was having with another woman in line about finding a natural hairstylist. Carney-Nunes intends the book to “affirm the beauty and strength of black hair” as per an interview at The Brown Bookshelf.
I mention how she sees the book because I absolutely did not like it, nor did I take get the intended message from the book. I can see what it’s trying to do–link natural hair with the history of blackness in the U.S., specifically the triumphs of black women.
The problem is that black natural hair is presented as a burden. It’s painful, it’s a nuisance, it’s a struggle to have. The repeated line is that God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle like having nappy hair is some great tragedy that has to be overcome. It’s equated with the Civil Rights movement, slavery, etc. Which is fine on paper because, yes, that is the history.
But the little girl that’s getting her hair combed is in pain. There is nothing enjoyable presented about having nappy hair. As a mother of a child whose hair isn’t chemically treated, I would not want her to read the book about how her hair is some great trial to overcome, that it’s SO HARD to wear her hair the way it is.
We enjoy hair time. We watch movies and talk. If I’m hurting her when I do her hair, it’s because I’m doing something wrong–like not moisturizing her hair enough. The only great struggle for me, as a woman who has stopped using chemicals in my hair, is not wanting to do my hair, which was an issue I had when my hair was relaxed.
So this gets a big thumbs down for me.
Although I did like the mini-biographies presented of the women featured in the book.
POC Reading Challenge: 13/15