Books for a Nine Year Old Girl: Read by a Fourth Grader

Tippytoes-creadingPeople will often ask what Clover is reading and I stand there looking dumbfounded instead of responding. I have no idea what she's reading, which makes me look like the least involved, most permissive parent ever because she could be reading Fifty Shades of Grey, for all I know, but it is really because she goes through books so quickly that there are moments where I know what she's reading, but in a blink, she's moved on. 

Clover tears through books quickly, which makes purchases seem wasteful. Recently she saved her money to buy Big Nate, and the book arrived Monday night after softball and just before bed time, but was still finished by the time she returned home from school next day. It was finished in an 18 hour period that included sleep and school. If it had been the weekend, it would have been finished by lunch. Thank god for her library card.

We're proud library users, which means books can come and go with less parental review. Everything is from the young reader section, so it isn't FIfty Shades of Grey, but standards for books that come for free are much lower than for ones that need to be purchased. Last month I did buy books to cover our trip East (we don't travel with library books) and Easter gifts, so this is what I know she recently read:

Princess Knight, Part One – She loves manga and comics, plus the book has a female main character, making it a winner.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – This is where my lack of oversight cost me because she'd already read the book at school. When I told her I'd save it for her brother, she took it from me and read it again, probably just to claim ownership.

Half Magic - Pre-Harry Potter magic and wizardry.

The Silver Crown – Another old book about magical powers, this time via a mysterious crown.

Oddfellow's Orphanage – We love Emily's artistry (The Black Apple) and had to have this. 

A Whole Nother Story – A time machine, scientist dad, a psychic dog, and kids, all on the run from the CIA.

Arabel's Raven – Funny book about a girl and a crazy raven. I think the NFL team was named after this book.*

Savvy – Each member of this family receives a super power on their thirteenth birthday. This book has won a bunch of awards, and it looks good enough that I'll likely pick this when it's our turn to suggest a book for our Mother-Daughter book club. 

Darth Paper Strikes Back – This is the second in a very cute series. I bought the first book about Yoda thinking it was strickly an oragami book. Clover loved it anyway.

*Belief not based on facts. 

40×40: Read Brideshead Revisited


I bought this book almost exactly 19 years ago and it has been nagging me ever since. I was a freshman in college and a whole group of people I knew loved this book. Really loved it, in the way tween girls love Justin Beiber. I bought it before heading to Spring Break, which was dumb because who reads anything more than a magazine while on Spring Break in Palm Springs? I remember reclining poolside with hands oily from suntan lotion, trying to get some momentum on this book. It didn't happen. Nor did it happen the other times I tried to read it over the past 19 years.

That is, until last Monday night when I cracked it open, with absolute determination to grit my teeth and get through it. Very quickly this time, I fell into it. I loved it. It was finished within days. I can't believe it took me this long to complete.

But I still don't know what made me think it was appropriate reading for Spring Break.

My Boundaries are Easily Tested

Mominatrix_book_sm2 When the Mominatrix book arrived, I immediately hid it in my closet.
It’s just a book and not even a graphic book, but my
Catholic-quasi-Puritan upbringing kicked in and I freaked out. We had
someone coming over that day and while I doubt this person was going to
demand to check out every corner of our house, I still wasn’t ready to
display this book. It reminded me of a family house warming where we
were all surprised by the sex books on open display. Maybe it was the
astonishing number of sex books that surprised us. It was a childless
house, but I still couldn’t imagine wanting to share that information
about myself with everyone I knew.

This book was brought out of hiding the next day and placed on my
nightstand where it’s remained, even though I’ve finished reading it.
The book is better suited toward new or pregnant moms because for me,
almost four years postpartum, the post-baby stuff has all been long ago
worked out. However, the last few chapters of the book include
mom-friendly suggestions to spice up anyone’s sex life. It’s gentle enough for those quick to blush, like me. As I reported to
Kevin about what I read, he told me he was all in favor of any
“research” I was doing. I imagined myself writing, presenting and
defending a dissertation on the subject, but I don’t think that was
exactly what he meant.

Now to find a spot for the book.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of The Mominatrix Guide To Sex by Kristen Chase as part of the Silicon Valley Moms Book Club.

Her First Author Meet and Greet, From This Side

Pre-pants tug of war

Clover may have been most excited about the promise of dessert, while I
was just happy to give her a new experience. We were fortunate to both
be invited to a book signing and reading from local author and teacher
Phillip Done last week at a friend's home. I couldn't remember if
Clover had ever been to an author reading before, perhaps at the
library or the local independent bookstore, but I knew being at a home
with a small group would be a totally different experience…and it
was. Clover writes a lot of books in her room, even adding her own
blurbs on the back praising the book and illustration. She's probably
not the only author who has wanted to blurb their own work.

We took with us to the reading our copy of Done's latest book, Close
Encounters of the Third Grade Kind
, which I had only finished the night
before, so Clover hadn't even seen it before the event. It's not for
kids, as Done repeated to the small group of moms attending, but having
read the book, I didn't feel it wasn't not for kids either. When
picking up any book, parents are deciding – even a snap judgment – if
the subject is age appropriate. With advanced readers, it's a little
trickier because complicated words are not a problem, but the subject
matter in books at an advanced reading level may be. My feeling is that
Done's book is not complicated on any level, giving me no reason to
object to Clover's reading it. After he signed the book for her, she
sat down and started reading, so it was a good thing that I had no
objection. It's not like it was a Danielle Steel book signing for moms
and elementary school kids, after all.

Done gave a dramatic reading that demonstrated why he's such a popular
teacher. I think his real calling may be in the theater. The kids sat
perfectly still and listened, not to mention he did a great job of
calling them out by name to compliment them on their behavior.
Following the reading, he answered questions from the adults and kids,
all while Clover started to spread out. First she had to book on her
lap as she read, then she curled into a ball, then she sat face down in
the book, but butt up in the air. All the while, her slightly large,
low rise pants kept dipping down until it was too much for me. I kept
tugging at the back belt loop, trying to get her pants up to a more
modest level, never making much progress before they sagged down again.
I gave up.

It was past Clover's bedtime once the talk ended, and Clover was upset
I would not keep a light on in the car while we drove home to allow her
to keep reading the book. While Kevin helped Clover get ready for bed,
he asked her how it went. Well, she said. She had a brownie bite and a
cookie, but the only bad thing was the kid behind her who kept pulling
her pants up and top down. After getting her settled, Kevin asked me
about the kid who was tugging on Clover's clothes. I said it was me,
the modesty police. No doubt not the last time I try to rework the
coverage of her clothes.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of Phil Done's book for free.

Philosophically White Trash

1_2The good news is that I do not need to cancel my subscription to Martha
Stewart Living. I took the quiz in The White Trash Mom Handbook and I am not white
trash, although after reading this book, I do share the white trash
philosophy. And I have a loud laugh – a mom at school told me the other
day that she could hear my laugh from the parking lot – which is a
white trash trait, apparently.

I thought this book – written by Michelle Lamar, a Deep South mom
blogger – was funny and I whole heartedly agreed with one of the book’s
main messages: get involved in your child’s school. Michelle wrote that
“pitching in always helps your child,” which is so true. For those moms
who may be naive to school politics, the lesson is helpful. It’s best
to blend in and participate in a visible way. Politics is everywhere,
it is a fact of life and The White Trash Mom
Handbook spells out how to best navigate the school scene to ultimately
help your child. When I was young, my mom worked as a yard duty (“yard
nard” as the kids called these moms) a few days a week at our
elementary school and I know that her involvement got me and my sisters
spots in the classes with the more popular teachers. Even if we did not
acknowledge our mom while she was patrolling the playground, her being
there helped us.

Also, I have never been big on kid’s music, making my kids listen to
NPR or music that I liked, which throws me into the White Trash
category. Sure, we have all of the They Might Be Giants kid’s albums,
but I liked them before they got into the kid realm, so I still think
of them as a regular band. I’ve always justified the lack of hokey kid
music by arguing that I was doing them a favor, exposing them to more
complex music. But really, I don’t remember listening to children’s
music as a kid. My parents were heavy into disco and many of those
songs formed the soundtrack to my childhood. I turned out just fine.

Other book club takes on The White Trash Mom Handbook can be found here.