52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with the Library

The One with the Library

I looked at the weather yesterday and decided we needed to stock up on Ice Storm Essentials. Our list included a stop at the drug store for milk and cereal, and a stop at the library for all the books.

The boys yelped with joy. It’s been awhile since we’ve found made time to make it to the library. I justify it by pointing at the massive bookshelves all over our house, the piles of books sitting atop night stands and end tables, the books spilling off of tabletops in their playroom. We don’t need new books. We could read through everything on our shelves and not be required to purchase or borrow a book for multiple years.

But

These two brother sure do love the library.

On the way down the road, they chattered about which books they most wanted to seek out, which books they might even consider borrowing again. They asked me if I remembered where certain books were shelved, and I mumbled back some half-answer. After they jumped out of the car and began running toward the library building, a memory stirred from deep within the recesses of my Mommy Brain.

2010, OMG!
2010 on a snowier trip to the library. Also, those cheeks. Also, how weird is it that they’re standing in the same position with LittleBrother turned in toward BigBrother. WEIRD.

We’ve been making our way to and from the library for all of their lives. Baby Storytime came and went. Preschool brought about a decline in our attendance in library offered classes because of schedules and other activities like t-ball and soccer and so on. Last year, BigBrother tried to attend the spring after school program every other Friday, but wouldn’t you know it, he ended up with Friday baseball practice during the class time. While we’re not as involved as we once were, these two still love the library.

I sent them off to the kids’ section while I paid our fines (which I refer to as “supporting the library system”), and eventually made my way over to the children’s library. I rounded a corner and found them looking at books, but they didn’t yet know their mother had arrived. I listened to their conversation. Not facing one another, BigBrother focused on the shelf of graphic novels and LittleBrother staring intently at a new arrival, they carried on a conversation — about books. One assured the other that his pick would be good, while the other said that, yes, the second Pokemon seemed to be quite interesting. Next, they decided, they would go put their books down on the table and head over to the paperback chapter books to find their favorites.

In the Stacks

I snapped the photo. They both looked at me, their books still in hand. They didn’t even bother saying a word, just walked toward the kids’ table area and did as they said they were going to do. They set down their books. LittleBrother took off his coat and hat. They set off in search of new finds and old favorites alike.

Together.

I let them know I was heading off to find some books for myself. They barely acknowledged me, using stage-like library whispers to talk about main characters and plot lines and villains and everything I dreamed of my children discussing. I wandered the rows by myself, without holding the hand of a child or repeating, “Shh, we’re in the library.” For ten minutes, I made my way up and down the aisles, picking books off of shelves and judging them based on their cover. I eventually ended up in the New Arrivals section, picking and choosing, when suddenly LittleBrother was at my side.

“Mommy, BigBrother wants to get the book that I picked out but I found it first.”

“Don’t we live in the same house? Can’t he read it if you check it out?”

“I guess.”

He flopped back to his seat, not content with my guidance. Are kids ever content with their parents guidance?

By the time I made it back to the table, they had switched off the book in question, entering into a lively discussion as to whether or not the treehouse had a toilet. I sat down with my books, shook my head, and paged through my picks to see if I would take them home or not. They looked through their books, doing the same.

Checking Out the Books

Eventually content with our picks, we gathered our things, checked out, and walked back out to the car. On the ride home, not a peep came from the back seat as they began reading fully through their library picks — even sharing them back and forth. So much has changed over the years of our library visits, but I am glad that they still enjoy going — together. And I am so glad they have found joy in books.

 

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52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 10

52 Weeks of Brotherhood

52 Weeks of Brotherhood

I used the camera this week. Bonus.

52 Weeks of Brotherhood Week 10

52 Weeks of Brotherhood

I needed to go to the library the other evening after dinner. Before I told the boys what I needed to do, I asked them what they wanted to do.

“Can we go to the library?”

“Yeah, I want to get some new books.”

Yes. Yes we can. And yes we did.

Despite the fact that I complain they’re growing too fast, one of the joys of having children who aren’t fully reliant on my every breath is that they don’t need me every second of every moment in every place. Yes, there’s some sadness to that as well, but let’s focus on the fact that, oh my goodness, I can walk the rows of the adult books without someone sighing or whining or saying, “Haven’t you found a book yet?” Instead, we hit the children’s department first. I help them pick books. They mostly know what they want, but I offer up suggestions as well. They usually get one book they pick out entirely on their own and one book I help locate. Last time, LittleBrother ended up with a book about tarantulas as I know he’s going through a big bug phase. He loved it.

After they pick their books, they sit down at the tables. Sometimes they read the books they have picked. Sometimes they read the magazines that sit next to the tables. LittleBrother has discovered the Scooby Doo comic books and regularly picks one up. I can sometimes hear him giggle while I’m off, touching the spines of books and reveling in the smell and space and time. Less so as I’ve reminded him to use his quiet voice in the library. This past time he remembered; I heard not a peep from him as I judged books by their covers, held them in my hands and put them back. He even whispered to the librarian when it was his turn to check out his books. I died of cute.

LittleBrother can read on his own now, but every now and then, he’ll ask his brother, “Will you read this to me?” BigBrother sat down this evening and read through the Elephant and Piggie book that LittleBrother brought home and has read to me no less than ten times. Then he ran to his room to find another of Mo Willems‘ series from his shelf to give to his brother as he recently did with the Fly Guy series books.

Bonding over books?

Oh, my heart!

Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Can I confess something?

I put off reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson until now for lots of reasons. Having been let down by blog-to-books in the past, I didn’t want to read it just in case. I mean, sure! She’s funny online! But would it translate to book? Could she possibly keep up the funny for 366 pages? Would I be horribly let down and thus fall out of something akin to blog-crush?

Untitled

After buckling down and agreeing to read and review the book with the BlogHer Book Club, the answers to my questions are yes, yes, and no.

Though I’m kind of perplexed.

You see, quite frequently in the beginnings of the book, Jenny talks about this minority of people who don’t a) get their water from a well, or b) know how to gut a deer, or c) only have have one gas station in their towns. Well, you see, I grew up in a town with two gas stations… though one eventually closed. We didn’t even have a stop light until after I moved away. I KID YOU NOT. When I tell people that, they are horrified. I shrug. And yes, we grew up with a well, though we didn’t have a radon infested well. That I know of. And… that whole deer thing…

Well, my dad wasn’t a hunter. His friends would receive permission from both my parents and grandparents to hunt on the Back 40 — which anyone with a large amount of acreage knows isn’t necessarily 40 acres. I didn’t eat venison until I was in middle school and only because a good friend tricked me into it; yes, it tasted like beef but I was still so mad at her. I swore I would never marry a hunter.

I also swore I’d never live in Ohio.

Yet, here I sit. In Ohio. Married to a hunter. There are four deer heads in the family room in the basement. When my husband texts me photos of dead deer in the last week of November, it is a cause for cheering, not for vomiting, because it means we will have meat for dang near a year. I know how to cook it — to the point that you won’t know it’s venison. And yes, Jenny is right; deer blood has a smell. I can agree with that even never having worn a deer sweater.

I think Jenny was attempting to poke fun at small town life at the beginning there, but I kept cringing a bit, thinking, “Oh wait. That’s me. That’s us. Oh dear. Oh my. We’re the kind of people that people make fun of, aren’t we?” And then I laughed the deep laugh of someone who understands, who gets the joke more than the other people in the room.

Because if I’ve learned anything from being different over the years, being the kid of people that others like to make fun of is almost always a good thing. Almost always.

I enjoyed Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but if you’re my mother-in-law, please don’t read it. There’s far too much cussing for you.

The BlogHer Book Club is reading and discussing the book right now. The first discussion asks what your favorite funny childhood memory is; I’m still thinking of my answer as there are too many to choose from!

 

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: A Good American

I’ve needed to read a book like A Good American by Alex George for awhile now. I’ve needed to escape with characters, to care and feel for them as though they were my own. I’ve needed to read good writing, the kind of writing that makes you re-read a sentence just for the pure joy of watching how the words mesh together in just the right way. I’ve needed to call my grandmother on the phone and say, “Oh grandma, do I ever have a book for you.”

Loved it. #bhbc

It shouldn’t surprise you then that I obviously loved the book — and recommend it as a Must Read. I haven’t read a book for review that left me feeling this strongly in over a year. It’s a good feeling.

The book follows Jette and Frederick as they come to America. We follow them as they end up in a mostly German town in Missouri, quite by accident, and begin their life — and their family — in the United States. The book follows down the generational line as we see changes to the country, to their family, to the town, to their way of life — repeatedly. Heartbreak, intrigue, sadness, laughter, murder, loss, more laughter, and on and on. The book is real in a way that you don’t quite expect. Every chapter ends with enough intrigue, which meant a lot of late night reading for me. “Oh, well I can’t stop now! I have to read one more chapter.” Needless to say, I had a lot of late nights and tired mornings while reading this book.

Quite honestly, I was sad when the book ended. I thought perhaps that the author could have left us with a cliffhanger, instead of finishing off some unanswered questions to wrap everything up neatly, and written a sequel. I am left wanting more, wanting to know what comes of certain storylines that, perhaps, have room for more attention. I am left wanting to know more about grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I want more answers, more questions, more perfectly constructed sentences that take my breath away. When a book leaves you wanting that, wanting more of exactly what you just read, it’s a good book.

And if I put a book down, even before I’ve finished it, to call my grandmother and tell her that she absolutely has to read it when I’m done, well, it’s a keeper. If you think I’m judgmental about writing, you haven’t met my grandma. Perhaps she needs her own book blog. All the same, I know she’ll love it — maybe even more than I do.

The BlogHer Book Club is discussing the book now. I encourage you to check it out, and join in some of the interesting conversations. But mostly I encourage you to read the book. Trust me.

I will offer up a warning: There’s talk of miscarriage and adoption in the book, though neither overtly saddened or annoyed me.

 

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: What Pete Ate from A to Z

I picked up What Pete Ate from A to Z by Maira Kalman in mid-January for LittleBrother. I had to buy BigBrother the most recent Captain Underpants book in the series, and I can’t buy one book for one kid without buying one book for the other kid. I mean, I could. They probably wouldn’t be too bent out of shape. But I physically cannot do it. Must have all the books.

What Pete Ate

As you might know, we got a dog in September 2012. LittleBrother has wanted a dog for his entire life and has adored dogs for just as long. He is over the moon with our Callie and has started angling toward books about dogs in most of his recent book picks. That’s why I grabbed this book; the added bonus of it being about the alphabet as he faces Kindergarten registration in the near future wasn’t lost on me. I figured he would like the book well enough and life would be just grand.

What Pete Ate

What I didn’t expect was to love the snot out of this book. Or the dog slobber, as it were.

Seriously. This book? IS HILARIOUS.

Or, I mean, it’s probably only hilarious as our German Shepherd doesn’t eat absolutely everything in sight. If your Blue Heeler -slash- Miniature Poodle ate everything, the book might not be as hilarious. Oh, who am I kidding, the book is just downright fantastic. I’d read it every night for bedtime if I could. And twice on Sundays.

In short, Pete the Dog is a dog who, you might correctly guess, eats just about everything he comes in contact with — an accordian, an emu egg, all of the leashes at a dog show, shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes. Everything but, of course, his dog food. That made me laugh as we were struggling yet again with Callie’s dog food. He gets in all kinds of trouble in a rhythmic, lilting tone. It’s a fun book to read aloud, which is a good find as not all books that are funny are good read alouds.

I asked LittleBrother to show me which page he thought was the funniest. I already knew which page he would pick.

What Pete Ate

Yeah. Pete ate Cousin Rocky’s underpants. Uggh!

The book has lots of little hidden educational gems: teaching the words edible and inedible, geography with Morocco and Africa, and an important lesson about dog ownership.

Quick Question: Would you love a dog who ate your lucky quarter, the Q from your alphabet collection, your porcupine quill? Even if for the quadrillionth time you said, “Quit it. Don’t eat that,” and he did, would you still love that dog? Quite a lot.

Because even if your Blue Heeler -slash- Miniature Poodle eats all of the things, you’ll love your dog. Even if your German Shepherd eats the cord to your headphones or Spiderman’s foot or through another leash, you’ll love your dog. You will. You might be mad. You might yell.

And even if your dog dogbombs the photo because she wants to be in it because everything should always be about her and she’s really unimpressed with Pete because, goodness, she’s the best dog and where’s her book anyway

What Pete Ate

…you’ll still love her.

 

It wasn’t until I was writing this post that I realized Maira Kalman wrote another of our favorite books, Fireboat. The tone and rhythm make sense now!