Saturday, June 09, 2007

There comes an hour when protest no longer suffices; after philosophy there must be action; the strong hand finishes what the idea has sketched.

Last week, on my way to go grocery shopping, Seg asked if we could go next-door to the Big Bird and play with the Thomas trains at the bookstore. Since he finished his preschool year two weeks ago, we were under no time constraints to get the grocery shopping done at a specific time, and I can get coffee just as easily at the B&N as I can at the BB, so what the heck. The boys staged giant train wrecks centered on the trestle bridge, and I looked at books.

Noticing that the last Jennifer Chiaverini Elm Creek Quilts novel was out in paperback, I scooped that up. (I have to read all my library books first, though.)

And ever since the library-book-replacement debacle, I keep thinking I should just BUY Primo’s books (because, you know, we have a twenty-dollar-bill tree growing in a sunny spot in my muddy backyard…). But I like to buy classics, books I think all the boys will eventually enjoy, and that bear rereading (we’re on our fourth reading of Paddington, and they’ve been pestering me for more Mr Popper’s Penguins, which has to be, upon rereading, one of the dullest books ever written). So I brought home Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now, the movie “Willy Wonka” is ODD (although I harbor a shamefully weird crush on Gene Wilder), and I won’t let the kids watch it yet; and many other Roald Dahl books are ODD (I still sometimes have nightmares about his story “The Swan,” from The Wonderful Stories of Henry Sugar and I was NOT an especially sensitive child by any means). But I thought Charlie might be a fun book to read aloud to the two boys this summer, before bed and during the lazy, hot afternoons, swinging on the porch swing. Well, that was the theory at least. Primo started it yesterday afternoon, propped up on his elbows in our front yard, his feet draped over the side of the wading pool where Seg pretended to be a polar bear. He gulped it down, begging me to stay up a little bit later so he could finish it before he went to bed (I let him. Sucker.) I was charged to bring home more Charlie books today – but our library doesn’t own Charlie and the Glass Elevator, so I checked out Matilda (my personal favorite) and the deliciously creepy James and the Giant Peach.

A ten-year-old friend recommended the Alex Ryder series, by Anthony Horowitz, and I did look at them but I think Primo is still a wee little bit too young for them just yet.

He also proudly showed off his Pokemon Pokedex, and now Primo wants one, too. Because that boy is digging Pokemon these days, and he loves nothing more than memorizing statistics. He reads the sports page every single blessed morning, and can rattle off batting averages, point totals, plus-minuses, and possibly even, who the hell knows, over-unders. I think nothing would delight him more than becoming a repository of useless Pokemon information.

Public schools wrap up Tuesday, and I am already fearing trying to keep that boy in books this summer.


Yesterday I began Betty MacDonald’s The Plague and I, a rollicking account of her year in a tuberculosis sanatorium. No, seriously, I do have to admit, probably only MacDonald could make this a good read. I mean, she made life on a chicken farm hilarious in The Egg and I so who was I to doubt? I have coupled it with a serious attempt to finish Clare Clarke’s The Great Stink because the reviews were so good, and the writing is so evocative. But that’s sort of the problem. It’s a book about the engineering and building of London’s sewer system – and even I, the great iron-stomached one, am finding it tough to read it while eating, which is my favorite way to read.

So I am off for my lunch hour – to read about TB or read about sewage. Tough call.


Anonymous said...

I read The Egg and I when dinosaurs roamed the earth. My parents had it on their bookshelf - not sure who bought it - next to the Reader Digest Condensed Books. I couldn't get enough of it and I think it's responsible for my obsession with "Books on The Farm/Renovating Old House/Moving to a Foreign Country/etcetera. I had no idea she had another book so now I'm off to find the TB book.

Kathy said...

I'd go with TB -- in fact, I may have to see if we have that book.

Bybee said...

I always wondered what The Plague And I was about. Thanks!

TLB said...

I wonder if Primo might like The Dark is Rising series. So excellent. Though it might be a little dark still if he's on the young side. (I don't remember how old he is. Bad blog friend! Bad!)

Iamthebookworm said...

The Alex Ryder series IS good, but how old is Primo? My library catalogs them as Young Adult which means at least age 12. The kids in the library keep asking for Brian Jacques. I've never read them though. The kids in my neighborhood have started getting into Pokemon (including my 9 year old nephew) but I think they trade just to trade!

Sarah Louise said...

I'm glad we can still be friends and not read the same books. I don't know , do boys read Pippi Longstocking and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle? I loved those when I started reading. Also, the children of noisy village (my British edition is the children of bullerby.)

I can help keep you "in books" all summer--it's what I do...

Jess said...

Oh, Dahl....I drool...

Don't forget The Twits and The Witches and The BFG and George's Marvelous Medicine and Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Magic Finger and The Vicar of Nibbleswicke.


We went through a BEEG Dahl thing here - he's marvelous for small boys.
He's written a few biographical (Boy and Going Solo) books, as well, although they may be a few years too old for your boy. Something to keep in mind, though, as he'll probably love the adventures.

(His adult fiction is good too, although hard to find now.)

Jess said...

I SWEAR I wrote a nice long comment with several recommendations. I remember it clearly...sigh.

If you haven't already tried these...Edward Eager, Lloyd Alexander, Helen Cresswell (Ordinary Jack is the first), Kate DiCamillo...I know there were others.