Thursday, August 21, 2014
There is this one sweet second grader. I'll call him Robert, but obviously, that's not his real name. I saw him several times over the summer, and a couple of times around the school before the first day. Every time, without fail, he runs up to me as if he's spotted a celebrity and gives me a big hug. He is simply overflowing with enthusiasm for life, and I hope that never changes. I don't know what kind of student he is, but I'll tell you this, he is one of those kids that can just light up your day.
I've set up a few displays; my "LEAF Summer Behind and FALL in to a Good Book" ensemble is taking up the ginormous shadow box outside the library, and inside is my new book display, and a display of the books I read over the summer. One of those on my summer reads display is "Caddy's World," the most recent of Hilary McKay's books about the eccentric Casson family of London.
Let me start by saying I love McKay's Casson books. They are just the perfect blend of funny and serious, and all the strange happenings of this little family unit will keep you guessing constantly. This was the only one of them I hadn't read, and though it departs from the others in terms of it's timeline, it has the same spirit, and made me smile just as much.
In this offering, McKay takes us back in time to when Caddy was twelve, and baby sister Rose was about to come into her life. Even then, the Casson household was turbulent and topsy-turvy, although Caddy can remember a time when it was just her, Eve and Bill. She loves her family and home, and doesn't envy her friends, except perhaps for their stability and normalcy.
Caddy has three best friends. Ruby, the smart one, is being raised by her four grandparents together, in a quiet, scholarly home with an enormous pet cat. Beth, the perfect one, has a perfect home, a less-than-perfect little sister, and a beloved pony. Alison, who hates everyone, is all about image. Caddy is the bravest of the brave, but if I had to label her, I would call her selfless. She wants the best for her friends, and encourages them to be their best selves, even if it impacts her own life negatively. Each of these girls has problems in their seemingly idyllic lives, but none of them quite measure up to Caddy's.
Into her already eccentric home, the new baby has arrived early and clings precariously to life. Caddy, who has unsuccessfully nursed a succession of orphaned animals, has the feeling her fragile little sister will suffer the same fate. Father Bill is much more present in this book than he was in any of the others, and ends up being quite likeable, though Saffron refers to him even then as "Bloody Daddy."
I especially enjoyed how the book ended by flashing forward to the time of Caddy's fateful driving lesson, where, with little Rose in attendance, she meets darling Michael for the first time.
Though this is part of a series, this book could easily stand alone. It was equally as enjoyable as the others. These are books I would like to own, because I could read them over and over. Good thing they are on my library shelf; I can grab one any time I want. They never fail to put a smile on my face.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
|Giddy with Anticipation!|
So thank you, Veronica Roth, for an amazing series. I know you have other things to write, but if you ever wanted to write more about Four, I would buy it. I loved it all, except, you know, for that little part in the third book that I (and pretty much the rest of the world) absolutely hated. But still, I own them all, and they have a place of honor on my shelf with my other favorite YA books - The Hunger Games trilogy, the Matched trilogy, the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series'. Dear readers, the bottom line is this: "Four - A Divergent Collection"is a must-read for anyone who enjoyed the Divergent trilogy. Do yourself a favor, just go out and buy it.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Life sneaks up on you. I realized that I had managed to procrastinate all summer on getting my kids their dental appointments and check-ups. With only a couple weeks until starting back to work, I was suddenly under some deadlines! I've managed to get all the kids in, but there are now cavities, wisdom tooth extractions, and orthodontic consultations to plan for. Not one, not two, but three orthodontic consultations! Let me tell you this, boys and girls, do NOT neglect your teeth!!! We are regrettably lax in our household about our daily dental care, and it has caught up with us!
|Emma as "Rich Person"|
There have been a few nice days sprinkled in, but the rain continues for the most part. While the housework beckons, I decided to sneak in a book review before the kids get up. Today's book is "The Fourth Stall," by Chris Rylander. This book was a bit of a sleeper for me. I picked it off the shelf at my library because I knew it was popular with boys from the middle grades. It didn't grab me right away. I was not instantly struck with an intense desire to find out what happens next. But it had a sneaky way of building up, and by about six chapters in, I was hooked. I kept finding time to slip off to my room to read another chapter or two.
The whole concept of the book is clever and imaginative. Mac is a 6th grader, a little on the small side, not much of an athlete, not much to look at, but he more or less runs his school. You see, Mac and his bestie, Vince, operate a business out of the fourth stall of an unused restroom. Mac is the problem solver. Vince is the manager. Together they make peoples troubles go away in exchange for money or favors. Generally, it's nothing illegal; Mac and Vince are nice guys, and they don't want to see anyone get hurt. But then someone else moves in on Mac's territory, and starts an all-out war.
I expected to dislike Mac. Given the premise of the book, I thought he would be one of those thoroughly smart-mouthed kids who are too big for their britches. Surprisingly, Mac is a thoroughly likeable guy. He is smart and resourceful, but also compassionate and intuitive. And in Staples, Rylander manages to create a villain who is at once detestable and sympathetic. Some of the funniest moments in the book come when Vince quotes metaphors from his senile grandma, such as "Don't wash the cat until the raccoon eats his glue stick."
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. We have books two and three at our library, and while I won't be beating down the door to get to them, I will probably read them eventually. Even if these are books that don't pique my own personal interest, they are well done, and their appeal to middle grade boys is obvious and undeniable.