Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon by Mini Grey

Fun story about the dish and the spoon "after" the nursery rhyme. The dish and spoon become a vaudeville act and become famous but dish gets caught up in gambling and drinking until they borrow money from the wrong people to keep up their habits. They rob a bank to pay the money back and they get caught and have to go to jail. Eventually they re-find each other and put on a show again for free and live happily ever after together. I liked this book because it was funny and had some true life aspects to it but it does have some more adult themes that I had some difficulty explaining to my 3 year old. I would recommend no younger than 5 on this story. The illustrations were beautiful.

The Accidental Zucchini: An Unexpected Alphabet by Max Grover

This is an alphabet counting book with a somewhat different choice of words for the examples. Instead of A is for Apple, A is for Apple Autos with a picture of people driving around in apples. Very cute and my son liked it. I would recommend it for any children learning their alphabet. Even my daughter who knows her alphabet laughed at the funny pictures and liked the funways they did the illustrations in this book.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

This was a memoir of a lady in the year after her daughter falls terribly ill in the hospital and is in a coma and 6 days later her husband dies. This total and complete loss can resonate with all of us. I don't know how I would deal with this sort of tragedy. She makes it through helping her daughter get well and then deals with her second significant illness that year. But through the book, she realizes that she is having what she calls magical thinking. She can't get rid of her husbands shoes because her subconscious says that he can't come back if he doesn't have any shoes to come back to. She goes through these stages of grief and it really resonates that this cannot be anything but the way that grief is. I cried numerous times throughout the book. I imagined how I would feel in the same situation, I grew with her. One of the things that I got out of the book the most was that while everyone says that you will grow into a new person due to these traumatic events, the author doesn't feel that to be the case. Maybe a different person but not one that grew. I think that is the way that I would be too.

Have you lost someone close to you?
What stages of grief did you go through and how long did it take for you to feel like you were actually living your life again?
How did you move through that oppressive weight on your chest that makes you feel like you can't breathe?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Well, this book was great! I never have seen the movie that they made out of it and now I am definitely going to have to borrow it from the library! It was a great story about a little girl that moves to a new town and has to leave all her friends behind and so is lonely. This brings up her long-term hurt of her mama leaving her and her dad when she was only 3. Then she gets a big, ugly dog and names him Winn-Dixie! Winn-Dixie gets into all sorts of things but he also introduces Opal to all sorts of people! She makes friends and in the end, her and her dad are closer and she feels like her heart is full. I personally thought this was a great feel good book and at the end, I was really happy with the way it turned out, even if there were a few tears along the way.

These are taken from the scholastic site and I thought they were great discussion questions for the book. If anyone else wants to read the book and then discuss it with me, I would love that!

Opal makes a lot of quick judgments about some of the characters in the book, such as the Dewberry brothers, Otis, and Amanda Wilkinson. But as she gets to know them, her opinions change. Have you ever judged someone too quickly? Did you eventually change your opinion? What made you change what you thought? Why is it important not to "judge a book by its cover"?

What decisions does Opal make in this story that end up changing her life? Have you ever made what seemed like a small, unimportant decision, but it turned out to be very important? Explain.

Gloria Dump says she thinks "the whole world has an aching heart." Do you agree that everyone has their own sadness? Why?

What do you think Opal and her dad, the preacher, get from having Winn-Dixie? Who or what in your life is like Winn-Dixie?

When Winn-Dixie is missing after the thunderstorm, Gloria Dump says to Opal, "There ain't no way you can hold on to something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it." What do you think Gloria means? Do you agree with her thought? Why or why not?

At the end of the story, Opal seems to accept that her mother is not coming back. Why is this an important part of the story? What is something difficult in your life that you've had to accept?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Well, I never met a book I didn't like. This book was a memoir from Ms. Walls dysfunctional family life growing up. They didn't have food or clothes most of the time her and her 2 sisters and 1 brother were growing up and they basically lived in run-down shacks. It was interesting and the book was well written. I liked her style - plain and simple but really illustrative of her personal feelings! Throughout the whole book, I kept thinking, Dang! Where the heck is child services? And really, child services should have been called in during these children's lives. In the end, you really get a sense of the uncertainty she lived with as a child.

The most important and overarching thing I got out of this book was that even though the reason all these things were happening to her were the crazy ideas her parents had and she knew it, she still loved them. She still thought the world of her daddy even though she saw him for the alchoholic he was. She still loved her mother even though it turned out that their mother had had other financial resources to support the children the entire time they were children. It just goes to remind you that children have an unconditional love for their parents and we have a duty not to abuse that power.