*This post was first published in January 2014.
Layla, Z, and I have been on the flu rotation since three weeks ago and we all sound like Tina Turner impersonators–some more than others. I’ve been good and have managed to go through my lone bottle of pineapple tarts slowly, yet I’ve already had to wipe out my supply of chrysanthemum tea and ling yang.
But well, I’m still enjoying those Mandarin oranges.
We’re going to be keeping our germs to ourselves for the festive season. I haven’t made plans to visit anyone save for my parents this weekend, and the only place we were hurrying to today was the library before it closed early at 5PM. Layla came home from school yesterday with a recommended reading list, and I spent an hour googling every author on the list to see what we could get our hands on. The list was a very thoughtful gesture, but as I went over it I wondered what the selection criteria was. Some of the books were so old that they weren’t available on Amazon or at the library. I couldn’t help but feel that this list was either compiled years ago, or based on whatever was available at the school library.
Still, it was useful because if you’d asked me to name authors for the 7-10 set, I’d stop at Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Paula Danziger, and Roald Dahl. (Layla hasn’t asked for Enid Blyton and I’m happy not to make any introductions.) The list catered for a range of reading abilities and included picture books too, like Stellaluna and Rooster’s Off To See The World. I wouldn’t discount picture book recommendations because so many of them are beautifully written, much more so than the series books that seem to be hogging the children’s book charts now. Through the list, I discovered a few authors that I hope Layla will enjoy, and here’s what we picked up from the library today:
* I, Amber Brown by Paula Danziger. When I was a kid, I read The Cat Ate My Gymsuit and Can You Sue Your Parents For Malpractice? I think Paula Danziger’s books are interesting because she deals with insecurities, going against convention, and standing up for your beliefs, but yet she keeps it light and funny. You can read reviews of her books here.
* Rumblewick’s Diary #1: My Unwilling Witch Goes To Ballet School by Hiawyn Oram. The school recommended another title by this author that was out of print, so I did some searching and found this series. Was quite eager to borrow this after reading this review from a parent: “In a world of girl’s fiction that is short on substance and long on silly, the Unwilling Witch books are a breath of fresh air.”
* My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards. This puts us in familiar territory: I read this to Layla when she was 5, and it’s illustrated by Shirley Hughes. This was the first book from our library pile that Layla chose to read; it’s much like the Ramona series and I think we can move on from the pesky little sibling genre after this.
* Crow Boy by Taro Yashima. I’ve seen this around, even at booksales, but never picked it up. It’s a simple story but a touching one, and you can watch an animated version here. (Note that the ending has been left out.) I think this is what I miss most about picture books–that it takes all of 10 minutes for you to be transported into the story world, grasp the book’s message, and get closure!
* Ten Good And Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin. Ann M. Martin is the author of the Babysitters Club series; the titles and covers made it seem like fluff so I didn’t even open those books. I was really looking for her Newberry Honor book A Corner Of The Universe, about a shy girl’s bond with an uncle who’s autistic as well as schizophrenic, but it wasn’t on the shelves. I’m keen to read that myself. This book that we’ve borrowed has been described as “Ramona-esque,” so I suppose Layla should be enjoying this too.
I also borrowed a few books that weren’t on the list:
* Albert 2, Albert 3 by Lani Yamamoto. I borrowed these because we have Albert 1, where a little boy has some pretty big questions about his place in the universe. I found this at the NLB booksale and thought it perfectly represented the sorts of questions that we should be asking more often, about everything.
* Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. I wanted to pick this up for Layla right after she saw the movie. I think a bit of fantasy would be a nice change from what she’s been reading lately.
* What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. This is another book I’ve been meaning to pick up for Layla, and I’ve bought this as a gift for another child before. It’s about a feisty girl who’s dealt a blow when she becomes (temporarily) bedridden after an accident. It’s definitely old-fashioned, but I like stories with resilient characters and still think it’s a good coming-of-age story.
From her reading list last year, Layla’s done with Charlotte’s Web, and she recently listened to Peter Pan and Wendy (this version, available at the library). She wound up liking Roald Dahl more than I thought she would so I got her a few more books from the Evernew booksales, like The Twits, George’s Marvellous Medicine, and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and she’s finished them all. Here’s what’s left for her to tackle from our home collection:
And finally, our beautiful copy of The Wind In The Willows was a friend’s gift for Layla’s 7th birthday. I’ve already borrowed the audiobook for Layla and she’ll be taking a break from her Ramona audiobooks (narrated by Stockard Channing; I love her voice!) to get to this. Another lovely gift was Pea Boy And Other Stories From Iran, which Layla has already started on. It’ll fit right in with our Read Around The World Collection.