at any rate, todays books are awesome. and a little obscure. woo hoo! i love finding awesome books i never knew existed. (as well as awesome music, art, movies... food... it's all good.)
for the little ones, today's pick is My Many Colored Days, by (you'll never believe this...) Dr. Seuss!!
maybe i've just been under a rock for the last 30 years, but i had never heard of this particular volume of Seuss fiction before. but it's a good read. like so many of his books, it looks at serious childhood (and - who are we kidding - adult) issues though the lens of playful understanding. (and now i'm wondering how many other amazing seuss-books there are out there that i haven't yet read...)
plus, it's a spectacular springboard to a study in color for young children! having just turned two, naomi is at the perfect age to start learning to distinguish and name her colors, and even annika, at age four, still sometimes confuses green and yellow.
so we created the RAINBOW JAR PROJECT!!
i tend to save things that i think i can reuse (either practically, or for art-project goings-on) and noticed recently that i have almost an entire drawer full of empty glass jars. (pickle, spaghetti sauce, olives... you get the point)
and so, in an attempt to both work with the girls on their colors, and clean out my over-full drawer, we made these.
for the labels, i just grabbed some notebook paper and colored in a square for each color of the rainbow. (you could make these labels a lot cuter, or more fancy, but we were trying to get these made quick, so we could get to the fun! and they ended up looking like squares on the candyland board, as annika observed. which was fun for her.)
so the game works like this:
(of course, feel free to change the rules to suit your house / time schedule / personality etc. this is what works for us... at least, it did today.)
we read the book together (really, any color-themed book would do) and then i showed the girls the jars. we said the color names together as we pointed to each jar. then i explained the rules. throughout the day, and entirely without warning, i - the color fairy - will blow my whistle three times. when i do, the girls have to choose a color and run around the room in search of some small object of that color that can fit inside the jar. (note, they do NOT take the jar with them. two-year olds running around with glass jars is not the goal here.)
it worked so much better than i had hoped. they LOVED the game, and kept asking me when the color fairy was going to blow the whistle. (note, the mischievous color fairy enjoys blowing it at inopportune moments. such as: during dinner, while the girls are in the bath, when they're outside playing... etc. the expression on their faces when they hear it blowing is AWESOME. i wish i had my camera handy when we were doing this, but alas, it was not to be found. ((we did find it later, fortunately, in a coat pocket. ugh.)) )
anyway, after a day of color-fair whistle-blowing (bell ringing would also work well, i think, and be slightly less stridently loud...) this is what we have collected:
not bad, girls. and thanks for the fun day!
for the middle-sized kids, today's pick is Mr. Pudgins by Ruth Christoffer-Carlsen
i loved this book, growing up. Mr. Pudgins is the unlikely babysitter for a family of interesting kids. He makes all sorts of wonderful things happen. flying bathtubs, faucets that run soda, a visiting DoDo bird... it's whimsical and delightful, and broken into stand-alone chapters that can be easily read in one sitting.
and for the grown-ups, a fantastic read you might not have heard of, today's pick is The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.
this book manages to be both honestly funny, and sweepingly romantic.
read what the critics wrote:
The History of Love spans of period of over 60 years and takes readers from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe to present day Brighton Beach. At the center of each main character's psyche is the issue of loneliness, and the need to fill a void left empty by lost love. Leo Gursky is a retired locksmith who immigrates to New York after escaping SS officers in his native Poland, only to spend the last stage of his life terrified that no one will notice when he dies. ("I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I'm out, I'll buy a juice even though I'm not thirsty.") Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer vacillates between wanting to memorialize her dead father and finding a way to lift her mother's veil of depression. At the same time, she's trying to save her brother Bird, who is convinced he may be the Messiah, from becoming a 10-year-old social pariah. As the connection between Leo and Alma is slowly unmasked, the desperation, along with the potential for salvation, of this unique pair is also revealed.
The poetry of her prose, along with an uncanny ability to embody two completely original characters, is what makes Krauss an expert at her craft. But in the end, it's the absolute belief in the uninteruption of love that makes this novel a pleasure, and a wonder to behold. --Gisele Toueg --