Read-Overs, or the Books I Memorized By the Time My Kids Turned 2


The What Kids Do post got me thinking about all the stories and movies my kids read and watched over and over gain. That and the fact that I’ve been sifting through my book collection, trying to weed it out so I have room for more books. I came across some old favorites and realized that some of the oldies but goodies had disappeared. Probably too much love. Anyway, here are the lists of books and movies Scott and Liz L-O-V-E loved.

The Must-Reads of Sir Scott and Queen Elizabeth

  • A to Z Animal Band (Play a Sound series) – one of those Sam’s Club buys that totally captivated him from the time he was 1 to about 3 or 4. I so clearly remember sitting on his bed reading this to him when I was hugely pregnant with Liz. He’d get mad because he’d put his head on my belly and she’d kick him. He and I would take turns making the sounds. It was pretty hilarious at the time.
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin – this is the quintessential picture book — wonderful colors and shapes, and a catchy little refrain that Scott still repeats sometimes.
  • One Hungry Monster by Susan O’Keefe and one of my favorite illustrators, Lynn Munsinger. Both kids loved this one and so did I. I’ve used it in storytime on many an occasion, and the illustration of the monsters with peanut butter painted on their mouths is priceless. Liz dug out our old copy and used it this year when she read to the 1st graders at school.
  • Sailor Pig (a Furry Face Board Book) – Liz especially liked this one, although Sailor Pig’s snout was pretty smushed by the time she got him.
  • Whatever You Do, Don’t Get a Gink by Dr. Seuss, but really Louise Gikow – Every now and then, Scott will say “hey Mom! Whatever you do….” and I respond “Don’t get a gink!” and we both just totally crack up.
  • More, More More Said the Baby by Vera Williams – Scott absolutely loved this book. He’d have me read it over and over again, and each time we’d act it out and he would laugh uproariously. What made this book extra special was that it was given to me by Ann Gibson and she had it signed by Vera Williams.
  • Hi Pizza Man! by Virginia Walter – Both kids loved the repetition of this story and we spent hours thinking of other people and creatures we’d like to have deliver our pizza. Even today, whenever we order pizza, one or the other of the kids will invariably holler out “Hi Pizza Man!” when the doorbell rings.
  • Uncle Wiggily’s Storybook by Howard Roger Garis – I’ve never been able to figure out the affection Liz had for this book. The stories are so dated and not very interesting, but she asked for Miss Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy and Squirrel time and again.

There are more, but this post is a-gettin’ long so I’ll cut it short for now. I’ve been surprised at the number of books that are counted among our favorites. Part two will come soon….

What Kids Do

I couldn’t help it. I saw this book on Anne’s desk last night and I had to pick it up. Mary Engelbreit holds the same weird fascination for me as Martha Stewart, and her involvement in this book is total and complete. It’s a simple little book featuring Mary’s illustrations and short, sweet and sometimes trite sentences to describe what kids do. Of course, the illustrations are the key, not the simple text. And maybe that’s why there’s no author listed. I can totally imagine Mary’s promotions team sitting around a table looking at leftover illustrations from one of her other wildly popular publications and saying, “You know, we really must do something with these darling illustrations. How about a book of cute little sayings about kids? And we can sell it for 10 BUCKS!”

Some of the things kids do in Mary’s world?

  • Like reading a favorite book over and over again.
  • Seldom clean their rooms.
  • Give the best hugs.
  • Watch the same movies over and over again.
  • Show off.
  • Spoil their dinner.

Some of the things kids do in *my* world?

  • Spray their brother’s deodorant on to the bathroom mirror at close range and ruin the finish on the mirror.
  • Chew an entire pack of Bubblicious bubble gum…all at once.
  • Maintain hidden stashes of candy throughout the house, thereby attracting every damn ant within a hundred miles.
  • Wear the same pair of socks for a week because the others in the dresser suddenly became invisible.
  • Enjoy spraying me with the hose every chance they get.

I can only dream of the perfection of life in a Mary or Martha world, but I can’t help but suspect that life would be awfully boring. I’ll take wet-hugs-right-out-of-the-bath and ice-cubes-down-my-back any day.

The 48 Hour Book Challenge – For Real


I don’t have a lot of time right now to blog about every book I read last weekend, so I will settle for just listing the titles. Let me just say, it was a fabulous weekend of reading! I hope Motherreader is happy!

  • My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prudhomme – I love Julia even more after reading about her life in France. Boy, those snooty chefs at the Sorbonne must have *hated* her!
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall – Can anyone say “Bobbsey Twins?”
  • Men of Bronze by Scott Oden – an odd combination of war and sex in ancient Persia & Egypt.
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray – Good but not great, bad, but not terrible.
  • When the Missisissippi Ran Backwards by Jay Feldman – interesting, and scary, history of the New Madrid fault and the great earthquake that changed the course of a war and a country.
  • Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads – excellent treatment of how fads can affect our lives when they’re adopted by the medical, educating and business communities. TQM, the bane of my existence at library meetings during the span of 1998-about 2002 or 2003, is totally skewered.
  • Food Court Druids, Cherohonkees, and Other Creatures Unique to the Republic by Robert Lanham – totally hilarious. I think I have a touch of “Happy Monday” in me.

I really wanted to read more YA books, but I never made it to the library last week to get some. I was on vacation, for those of you wondering how I couldn’t make it to the library when I work in one!

City of Falling Angels

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt is plain and simple the most oddly compelling book I’ve read in ages. It’s cataloged as fiction, but it reads like a gossipy biography or memoir, and yowsa is it good.

You may remember Berendt as the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which put Savannah, Georgia on the map for millions of readers. His treatment of the off-beat, eccentric elegance that is Savannah made for a good read, but his similar treatment of Venice, Italy makes for a great one. Berendt use the destruction by fire of the Fenice Opera House in Venice as the hub in the wheel of all these strange and lovely stories about the people who inhabit this most unlikely of cities. When I started the story, I wondered how Berendt was going to deliver on the promise written on the flyleaf and become a detective investigating the fire. As I read, it became clear that the fire was the vehicle Berendt used to insinuate himself into the daily life of Venetians. His reporting put him in contact with a colorful array of personalities, including

  • Ludivico deLuigi, a renegade artist who is ultimately disappointed when the carabinieri don’t arrest him for defacing a public painting.
  • Friends of the American Peggy Guggenheim, who describe to Berendt how she re-enacted the sinking of the Titanic, during which her father died, by walking naked into the Grand Canal along with a full orchestra.
  • Archimedes Seguso and his dysfunctional family of glassmakers – Archimedes, a master glassblower who, in the days after the Fenice fire, spent all his waking time creating representations of the fire in glass; and his son, who split from the family business, started his own glassworks, and attempted to copyright his father’s name.
  • Jane and Philip Rylands, who made their fortune and achieved their position in society by hornswoggling rich old ladies like Peggy Guggenheim and Olga Rudge, the longtime lover of American poet Ezra Pound.
  • and so many others I can’t recount them all…

Reading this book was an oddly uplifting experience. I felt a little guilty reading all about the various sins and personal quirks attributed to all these people, but at the same time I began to feel as though I knew these people and I cared about what happened to them. I also learned a little bit of Italian, which is just a two-for-one kind of bonus. Definitely a book worth your time.

The Art of Detection


I was so psyched when this book landed on my desk earlier this week because Laurie King is always one of the top five authors who rock my world. So I happily took it home Tuesday night, got all comfy in bed, cracked the book and started reading. And promptly fell asleep. No kidding. I got through the first chaper okay, but the second chapter…my God in heaven, what was she thinking? It took four or five, maybe even more, pages of freakin’ description of a remote park in San Francisco, and multiple paragraphs of description of every damn person encountered before the cops even got to body.

Even so, I’m always going to give Ms. King the benefit of the doubt…maybe I was just a little too sleepy Tuesday night to fully appreciate the story. So I tried again Wednesday night. And remembered why I really don’t like King’s Kate Martinelli series. There’s little action, the characters are really annoying and boring ( except for Nora, who is always cute), and the heavy use of physical description that King employs so well in the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes series just bloats up and stinks in this century.

It’s weird. I really like everything else King has written, except the Kate Martinelli stuff. And before I’m accused of homophobia, let me just say that some of my closest friends are gay, so that arrow ain’t gonna fly. I am willing to admit, however, that boring people just really annoy me, especially when they’re at the center of a 200+ page book. There are too many other good things out there to read and I resent wasting time on a dog like this one. Nuff said.