Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Updates, Mark Twain and Books to Make You Cry

I haven't blogged much lately, or really since summer started. In my defense, I did spend a little over three weeks in Europe. Since my return, and while there is still not a plethora of daily responsibility, I have been reading and reading and reading. More on much of what I've been, and what I currently am reading to follow.

The boy and I always have a book we are reading together. We just finished The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Twain is one of my favorite writers. I relish much of what those American writers have written. This was my seventh reading of ol' Huck. The boy and I had previously read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and he also read that again at school. This was his first dip into Huck. I'm not going to dip into all my thoughts on Huck and Tom and Twain right now, but boy, that Mark Twain sure can write a book!

Of course now we are at the challenging part where we choose the next book. Truth is I dictate what we read. Don't be fooled, I don't run a democracy, I'm a full on dictator in my house. I pretend that there are choices, I usually pull four or five books and present them to the boy for us to choose from.
Yesterday I pulled five books, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (pushing the Dickens obviously), Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

I presented these five titles to the boy, he looked through them and immediately protested the inclusion of Where the Red Fern Grows.
"No way, not reading this one," he said.
I asked him if he'd already read it and what his protest was.
"Sad. It will make you cry." He told me.
He explained to me that anytime there is a dog, or other animal on the cover of a book it is sad, you'll cry, and usually the animal dies. I wondered if he had found some truth I wasn't fully aware of, and realized there might be something to this.

I thought of the other books with animals on the covers that I've read with the boy:

The proposed book:
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
synopsis: sad, will make you cry, dogs die

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
synopsis: sad, will make you cry, dog dies

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
synopsis: sad, will make you cry, deer dies

Sounder by William Armstrong
synopsis: yes again...sad, crying, dead dog

The Call of the Wild by Jack London
synopsis: sad, but really adventurous, maybe a sniffle, dead dog

Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten
synopsis: sad at times, and maybe some tears, death but Oh!! So worth it!

I realize why he has come to this conclusion.

I think we are going to read some Dickens.  


Here are some of my favorite Twain quotes:

"Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often"

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” 

“Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.” 

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” 

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn't do
than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
 Sail away from the safe harbor.
 Catch the trade winds in your sails.
--Mark Twain

"My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not institutions or officeholders.
Country is the real thing;
the thing to watch over, care for, be loyal to;
institutions extraneous, they are mere clothing,
& clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable,
 cease to protect the body...
To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags,
to worship rags, to die for rags
-that is a loyalty of unreason."
--Mark Twain
"Let us endeavor so to live
that when we come to die
 even the undertaker will be sorry."

 The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy of the Extraordinary Twins
by Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Encyclopedia Brown...Boy Detective - filled with facts learned in BOOKS!

Yesterday I was looking through the books at my sister's house and picked up an Encyclopedia Brown book, I told her, "these are the best books to keep in the bathroom!" Haha. We always had a copy or two in the magazine rack in our bathroom when I was a kid. (Wait, do other people have magazine racks in their bathroom? That now seems a bit TMI).

Didn't realize then that this conversation was timely until today when I read that Donald J. Sobol, the author of the books recently passed away on July 11, 2012, at the age of 87. This prompted me to delve deeper into my memory of Encyclopedia Brown.

The detective was actually named Leroy Brown. He earned the nickname "Encyclopedia" because he was so smart and had such an amazing range of reference knowledge that he was a walking encyclopedia.

 "Leroy Brown's head was like an encyclopedia. It was filled with facts he had learned from books. He was like a complete library walking around in sneakers."

If the books were written today he would probably be called "Wikipedia Brown" because most kids have little usage of encyclopedia sets.

Leroy's father was the chief of police, and so he had the crime fighting nature in his family! Most of the crimes were little things, thefts and those types of mysteries, no murders or violent crimes. The perfect introduction for kids to the detective/mystery genre.

All the mysteries were small chapters which you could solve yourself, the solution to the crimes was found at the back of the book.
(Confession, I always turned immediately to the back of the book. Oh ye of little patience...)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pausing to Let the Vacation Enter Inside of Me...

The adventure is over. 
Everything gets over, and nothing is ever enough. 
Except the part you carry with you. 
It’s the same as going on a vacation. 
Some people spend all their time on a vacation taking pictures
so that when they get home they can show their friends
evidence that they had a good time. 
They don’t pause to let the vacation enter inside of them and take that home.

 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg

More Truths from Lemony Snicket

“No matter who you are,
no matter where you live,
and no matter how many people are chasing you,
what you don't read
is often as important as what you do read.”
Lemony Snicket

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seen the Movie? Read the Book!!!

Princess Bride
by William Goldman

'"When I was your age, television was called books."'
'"Has it got any sports in it?"
"Fencing. Fighting. Torture, Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters.
Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders.
Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men.
Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes.
Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."'
"Who can know when this world is going to change?
Who can tell before it happens, that every prior experience, all the years,
were a preparation for ... nothing."
'"True love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops.
Everybody knows that."'
'“Let me get this thing straight, Inigo--we had SCRAPS for dinner?
I'M in YOUR fantasy and the best you can come up with is SCRAPS?"
She turned toward the door then.
"You have no chance of winning my heart.”'