Sunday, January 31, 2010

You Learn Something New Everyday

Two weeks ago a good friend of mine and her husband were here from Ireland and spent an afternoon with me and the kids. My friends lovely Irish husband inquired about what nine year old daughter has been reading lately. She was happy to report that aside from her beloved Roald Dahl of course, her current favorite author is Eoin Colfer. She raved about the Artemis Fowl books and recommended The Legend of Spud Murphy for his young nephews. She and I kept pronouncing the author's name as if it is pronounced "Ian." When my daughter showed my friend's husband the books, he congratulated her on her wonderful taste in books and then informed her that Eoin is pronounced like "Owen." Who knew? Hayden politely thanked him for this information, but when he left, she told me that she "Ian" Colfer and so "Ian" is how she will continue to pronounce his name, at least as long as we are here in the United States. Then she went back to reading his The Supernaturalist. She has since finished and wants me to read it.

In other mother-daughter book news, I've finished Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, and I've been selling it to anyone with ears. My daughter took the bait, but asked me to check the print not CD version out of the library for her as she "can't imagine where she would find seven hours to listen to it." I did, but I think she will be missing out on Gaiman's fantastic reading. His voices and accents only enhance an already fabulous story.

It's cold out there today. At least it is here in New Jersey. I hope you can carve out some time to curl up with a good book in a cozy spot today.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On the Edge of the Driver's Seat

In my ongoing quest to satisfy my boys' desire for scary books that I feel are appropriate, I have hit upon a real doozy. I've been listening to Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book on CD as I drive to and from work this week. I'm almost hoping for a traffic jam. It is gripping! Before checking it out of the library, the sum total of knowledge I had of this book was that its author also wrote Coraline and that it won a number of awards last year, including a Newberry. Now I know I love it. It tells the story of Bod, Nobody Owens, orphaned as a toddler when his family was murdered and now being raised by the inhabitants of a local graveyard, ghosts, that is. I don't want to give a single thing away, and perhaps I can't as I still have about an hour of story left, so I'll just leave you with these words- this is the best thing I've checked out of the library in months and I'm looking forward to reading it with my kids.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


All day I've been thinking about the people of Haiti who are surely suffering in the wake of yesterday's earthquake. It serves as a good reminder to support the Red Cross. It also makes me think of Tracy Kidder's amazing book Mountains Beyond Mountains about Dr. Paul Farmer and the work he does in Haiti. It is a wonderfully written and inspiring book. It's a book about an infectious disease specialist and Harvard professor which I think about often. I recommend it and give it as a gift frequently. Let's all hug the people we love and be grateful for our safety today.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

School Nurse Books

Were you the kind of kid who frequented the school nurse's office or avoided it like the plague? As a kid, I was never a big fan of visiting the school nurse. Do not misunderstand; my elementary school nurse, Mrs. Koch, was a lovely woman. I even played her in a tribute/school play when she retired. I think I landed the part because my own mother is a nurse and had a uniform, complete with nurse's cap, for me to use as a costume. Despite that, I didn't want much to do with the nurse's office. I always failed the eye test and feared failing the scoliosis test (Deenie, anyone?). So I was a little shocked yesterday when my daughter was upset that she missed the school nurse's visit to her classroom. Head lice are apparently running rampant through my town's public schools. The nurses are coming in to check all of the kids' heads. (I apologize if you are now hypochondriachally scratching your head as you read this.) My daughter was out of the room as her class was being checked. When I asked why this bothered her, she told me, "The nurses puts these like chopsticks on your head and it feels so good." I love her, but that kid is strange sometimes!

It got me to thinking that I don't know of any school nurse books besides The School Nurse from the Black Lagoon. I also imagine that there might be a Cherry Ames: School Nurse, but that's all I can come up with off the top of my head. That is kind of odd considering the big role the nurse plays in the lives of many schoolchildren. I am curious if anyone out there knows of a good school nurse picture or chapter book?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Somehow Santa got wind of our plans to take a family trip to Europe in the spring. The Bookbenchers are headed to London and Paris for a week this year and the giftgivers jumped all over that, much to my delight. We unwrapped maps and guides to those two cities as well as novels set in them. My boys received Stepping Stone easy reading chapter book versions of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Last night we read the first two chapters of Quasimodo and Esmeralda's tragic story before bed. We were all hooked and can't wait for tonight's installment. Before you get to thinking, "Wow, that Bookbench family is so cultured, reading 19th century Victor Hugo classics," let me just say we spent the two hours before the read aloud watching Dodgeball (funniest sports movie evah!) and laughing so hard someone fell off the couch. We are a mix of high brow and lowbrow over here. I'm worried the European vacation may have more than a little in common with the Griswold's European vacation.
Happy New Year!