“Eli, who’s that for?”
“I haven’t decided yet. But I have some pretty good ideas.”
Mom on the edge.
“Eli, who’s that for?”
“I haven’t decided yet. But I have some pretty good ideas.”
This post should have been written months ago. For months I’ve been thinking about how much I love Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, about how consistently hilarious all the books are, and about how Sophie Blackall could illustrate anything and I’d love it (she has taken this to heart and illustrated Craig’s List ads for us).
At the beginning of September I received a review copy of Ivy and Bean: Make the Rules, which is book 9 in the series. Here’s the deal: I was confusing this series with something else. I can’t figure out what I was thinking of, but for some reason I thought this was a series of insipid frothy “we hate boys” girlishness. I’M SORRY. I was completely wrong.
I gave the book to Zuzu. I said, “Here, you’ll like this,” because she’s going through a phase where she picks way-out-of-her-age-range chapter books at the library, based solely on girls and sparkles on the cover, and then carries them around possessively and pretends to read them.
She wanted me to read her this one. This was when I couldn’t really walk, so I figured I might as well read it, since I was stuck on the couch anyway.
Ivy and Bean Make the Rules starts off with Bean’s older sister Nancy getting ready to go to Girl Power 4-Ever Camp, which, of course, totally cemented my wrong preconceived notion that this was a book about lip gloss and how much fun it is.
But then. Well. Something happened. The book started to get funny. Really funny. Then my boys came home from school, and we all squished onto the couch and read the whole darn book, stopping occasionally to laugh really, really hard. See, what happens is, Ivy and Bean make their own camp, Camp Flaming Arrow, which is loosely based on the informational sheet about Girl Power 4-Ever Camp that Bean’s mom pulled out of her purse, and by the time we got to the chapter where they practice first aid, and one of their campers, being a doctor, says, “One-twelve over five in the plexercarpaloo,” we were smitten. In love. We wanted way more Ivy and Bean.
And so, now, every time we go to the library I grab all of the available Ivy and Bean books like I’m getting the last Tickle Me Elmo on the day after Thanksgiving. And then we read them over and over.
And this morning, something happened that made me realize I just had to write this post already. Zuzu, Ramona, and I walked to our local bookstore to get gift certificates for teachers, and right after we went in, Zuzu started screaming, and she grabbed my arm and pulled me to the back of the store, pointed at the Ivy and Bean paper dolls, and said, screamingly, ‘I NEED TO HAVE THAT.” (And then I did a terrible thing: I bought them, and now won’t let her have them until Christmas.)
If something with book characters on it makes my kid SCREAM with excitement, like she’s seeing whatever boy band people are screaming about these days, well, then, I need to tell you about it.
One last word of book recommendation love from me: there need to be more series like this. I can’t think of any chapter book series besides Clementine and Ivy and Bean that thoroughly captivated all of my kids, from the 2-year-old to the 9-year-old. It’s not an easy thing to do. And Clementine and Ivy and Bean are amazing, amazing books. And luckily for us there are five Clementine books and nine Ivy and Beans, so just reading and rereading those should take us a while.
(There are other series like Invisible Inkling that the boys and I love so much, and I realize this is a RIDICULOUS thing I am asking for: a chapter book that will entertain humans from age 2 through adult. I just get all excited about the ones that do.)
Ok, here it is! After juggling 6 catalogs, 12 browser pages, and a super-secret piece of paper with notes and circles and arrows on the back, here is the World of Julie rundown for this holiday. (Forgive me for the lack of pictures, but I’m compiling this post with kids in the house, and I don’t want them to see anything.)
List makers breed more list makers. Here is Henry’s list for today.
Note: I am now redoing everything, so this can be my daily list too.
Can I even tell you how much I love this?
This book…oh, this book. I’m kind of speechless about how awesome it is (well, not THAT speechless, since my review today on Brain Burps is one of my longest ones ever). It’s a beautiful book, visually, but it’s also timely and, frankly, very very important. It’s a book about lifting your head up from all those electronic devices and really seeing the world again. Remember trees? Remember people? Real people, in front of you? Remember your kids? Hello!
I will also say that I recorded this review at 8:00 pm on election night, as an effort to get myself to stop maniacally refreshing twelve different web pages of election results. So if there’s a slightly crazed, hysterical edge to my voice in this review, that’s why. Another little funny thing for you to listen for is that I inexplicably didn’t start gesturing until halfway through, and you can hear me start talking a lot more animatedly. Yes, I even talk with my hands when I’m all alone recording reviews for you to hear.
Check out the review on the latest Brain Burps podcast, which is an interview with the amazing Tony DiTerlizzi, who is an incredible illustrator, and co-author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, which are my favorite kidlit chapter books set in Maine.
One last (important!) thing. If you buy hello! hello! by November 30, 2012, Matthew Cordell will send you ALL KINDS OF STUFF. He’s so cool. Check out his blog post here about all the cool art and things he’ll personally send you if you have a receipt that proves you bought the book!
How do you raise a reader? Head on over to the Nerdy Book Club to read my post about what I’m doing to get my children to love reading. By request, here is a list of the books I mention in the post:
Board books and picture books:
Easy Reader and Chapter books:
Note: the above are Amazon affiliate links. Please visit your local independent bookstore whenever possible!
I’m so honored to be the guest over on the magnificent Colby Sharp’s blog today. Go over and read about how Bridge to Terabithia was the first book that made me cry. And leave a comment saying what your favorite Newbery book is!
Did you catch my review of Piggy Bunny on Brain Burps last week? You’ve got to read this book. If anything because it has now inserted the phrase, “This is a problem that’s called fixable” into our lives. Ok, reading that sentence, that doesn’t sound that earth-shattering. But once you read the book, you’ll see how great that phrase is. C’mon: it’s a pig who wants to be the Easter Bunny! Even though his family doesn’t even believe in the Easter Bunny! You can hear my review on Episode 118, here.
What else? On Halloween Adam Rex, Genius, had a Twitter contest to write a Halloween poem that fits in a tweet (140 characters). In a fit of chocolate-fueled madness I wrote a few, and tweeted the best one. And: I won! Or, well, was a runner up. We’re getting two signed Adam Rex books as a prize! The kids were super psyched. I’m totally thrilled, even though one of the books, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, is the earwormiest book that ever did earworm (meaning, you’ll get songs stuck in your head for days). I’m still so completely giddy over this win.
And congratulations to my pal Carter Higgins, who was also a runner up! (And make sure you check out Carter’s astoundingly awesome trailer for Picture Book Month, which is also happening right now in November and you should go play around on the Picture Book Month website for a few hours right now.)
November is the month for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). I participated last year, and I got a huge batch of ideas. My favorite part is how the whole idea of writing down one book idea a day primes me to see ideas everywhere. I got a dedicated PiBoIdMo notebook this year, so I’m hoping I can keep that inspired-by-the-world vibe going way past November, and fill that notebook.
Ok, last thing, for now: knee. Getting better. I can almost walk like a normal person. Though I still go up and down stairs like a toddler (one step, one step, one step, one step). However, I got yelled at by a physical therapist because my knee is not as straight as it should be by now. Scary. Like, if I don’t get it straighter asap, it’ll NEVER BE STRAIGHT AGAIN. Yikes. Never mind the fact that I can’t bend it very much either. But straight is more important at this point. So I work a lot on getting it straight, which, frankly, hurts like the dickens.
The work around here continues to be colored by my knee. Apparently you don’t just have ACL surgery and then hop up the next day to do the hustle. It takes six months before that can happen (and then another six months of intensive dance lessons from Leif Garrett). And so, two weeks (and change) later, I am off crutches, but still in the giant knee brace, which renders me slow (and on stairs, slower).
So I’m still sleeping in the library off of our living room (note: this is an actual room; I’m not sleeping in the Little Free Library). Which makes it really hard to put the books back on the shelf, so the library floor is now taken up entirely by a mattress and huge drifts of books.
We put the bathtub (tiny tiny bathtub) in our upstairs bathroom-to-be (tiny tiny bathroom-to-be). Progress!
Zuzu likes to take the camera and take 48 photos of toys she wants from a catalog, 22 photos of her feet, and 14 super-close photos of her own face. Dave swears she looks exactly like me in this one:
And here’s one where she doesn’t look so serious:
And with this post I further cement my role as The Blogger Who Isn’t Afraid to Show Her Messy House or Her Crusty Children.
You know how sometimes you just kind of randomly grab books at the library, and don’t really screen them until you get home? Sometimes I do that and get weirdos that I quietly hide back in the library bag. And sometimes I get books like Dear Flyary, which are so cute and silly and surprising (and sometimes I use the word “sometimes” too much). This book is the diary (or, well, “flyary”) of an adorable alien named Frazzle, and it takes a moment or two to get your head around Frazzle’s galactic vocabulary, but author Dianne Young does such a brilliant job of writing it just on the edge of comprehension. Ok, that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but what I mean is, she uses alien words, like “noteymaker” for an instrument, that are foreign enough to sound strange, but close enough to be understandable, so the whole reading does seem like you’re reading another language, but it’s a language that you somehow are able to speak. Listen to my review — I read a few sections, and you can get the idea of what I mean!
Plus, look at how cute Frazzle is with his one giant eyeball!