Daily Archives: November 30, 2010

What I Read In November 2010

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
A Scholar of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (reread)
Widdershins by Charles de Lint (reread)
Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay (reread)
Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay (reread)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (reread)
All Clear by Connie Willis
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (reread)

I don’t have a lot of brain to recap, but in brief:

All Clear was simply excellent. It was so good I reread the last quarter again, then picked various scenes from Blackout to read in conjunction with scenes from All Clear in order to get a better idea of how things happened in a particular timeline, and then went headlong into rereading The Doomsday Book in order to get more of the Oxford time-travel project.

Catching Fire was good, Mockingjay was problematic. At first I thought the writing/pacing had fallen apart, but then I realised that it hadn’t failed, it was a reflection of a problematic narrator’s state of mind/sanity. Very interesting, though not comfortable, and has generated a lot of criticism around the Internet as a good/bad ending.

Heart’s Blood was a surprise; I had totally missed the fact that there was a new book from Juliet Marillier last year, so I found this one in paperback when it was released. It’s sort of got a Beauty & the Beast theme running through it, only it’s so much more, as you’d expect from Marillier with her Celtic settings and serious political stuff. I was worried it would be a bit too heavy on the romance, but it got very interesting about a quarter of the way in and absorbed me more and more, until I tore through the last third. Oddly, the marketing copy makes it sound like it’s primarily the male protagonist’s story, when in fact it’s told in the first-person from the female protagonist’s POV, and is more about her personal evolution/development that intersects with his.

Little Women has been my iPod book-on-the-go since the beginning of September, what I read if I’m waiting in a line or at the boy’s bus stop in the afternoon. I’d have finished it in October, except someone new moved into the neighbourhood and their kids were assigned our stop, so I had to be social instead of burying my nose in electrons. I’ve moved on to Little Men, also a reread.

Lots of rereads this month. I guess I was looking for comfort or a very particular feel in a novel, and so went to books where I knew I’d find that feeling or style.

Fine. I had more brain to recap than I thought.

ETA: I read both Mouse Guard Fall 1152 and Winter 1152 this month as well. Absolutely gorgeous art!

Major Milestone; Or, Reading Achievement Unlocked

Since the beginning of kindergarten, the boy has been enthusiastically experimenting with letter sounds and word recognition (especially repeated words within a large block of text, my favourite of which has been ‘gizzard’). Yesterday, however, he accomplished something huge, something that was the key to so much more.

He read an entire book to me.

He had two ped days at the end of last week, and woke up with a dreadful cold on Thursday. He was home with me on Thursday, spent Friday with his local grandma while HRH got the brakes changed on the car (all four, ouch ouch ouch), and had the weekend at home as usual (a lovely afternoon and dinner were had with HRH’s parents on Saturday, supplemented by the joy that Highway 30 is now 90% open between here and there, cutting our travel time by about twenty minutes!). Then despite all my efforts and prayers to the contrary, I had to keep him home from school yesterday because the cold just wasn’t fading quickly enough. His poor nose is a mess of chapped and cracked skin because we’ve been blowing it so often. Vaseline and Glysomed lotion are our friends. Anyway, I managed to get him to nap on Thursday, Saturday, and yesterday (possibly Sunday as well, but it’s such a blur I really don’t remember), although it was a battle each time. He kept insisting that he wasn’t tired; I pointed out over and over that more rest meant getting better faster. I resorted to easing into it step by step. He’d protest; I’d suggest snuggling and reading; then we’d turn out the light and snuggle and chat; then the chatting would get quieter until we were just snuggling; then the boy would pass out and I’d slip away. Each time he woke up with smiles and hugs and admitted to feeling better.

Yesterday he still wasn’t going to nap without a fight, despite yawning. “That’s my morning [meaning wake-up] yawn, not my tired yawn!” I was told indignantly. “Choose a book and we’ll read,” I said, and gave him a time limit within which to do it. When I got back, he was sitting on his bed waiting for me. “Mama, I’m going to read to you,” he said. “All right,” I agreed, and pulled the cover up over us, expecting him to do the first sentence then hand the book to me to finish as usual.

And he opened Lego City Adventures: All Aboard!, a level 1 reader, and he read the whole thing to me from cover to cover. I helped him with a word or two, but otherwise he sounded out the words he didn’t know on his own.

When he got to the end (even reading the advertisement in the back for other books in the series) he looked at me and said, “Mama, when I read you a book, can you not cry?”

How could I not? I was so proud of him, and so overcome by the thought of the freedom that now lies open to him. He can sound things out; he can learn anything, anywhere. With concentration he can read cereal boxes, street signs, books, flyers, magazines, letters. There is so much he now has the ability to do. And it’s that “so much” that overwhelms me. He’s been teetering on the edge, and now swoosh, here he goes into an entire universe of information and communication. It won’t be easy; he’ll get frustrated, and he already has, because blocks of letters in English aren’t pronounced consistently and his ear for discerning slight differences hasn’t fully developed yet (as demonstrated by his insistence that train starts with a ch sound, not helped by a picture of a train under the words “choo-choo” in more than one book). But it’s going to be a wild and wonderful ride.

It’s been a tough five days here. He’s been sorry for himself because he’s sick, I’ve been trying to fit work in while he’s home which never works, and we’ve been butting heads and rubbing one another the wrong way. We’ve had good times, too, of course, staying in jammies till noon, building train layouts and watching Sesame Street and Sid the Science Kid together (thanks be to all the gods for having PBS again!), making lunch together, and ‘working’ in my office together (he never stops drawing, it’s astonishing). I was very close to breaking yesterday when I was given the gift of my son reading a book from start to finish. No deciding he’s too tired and pushing the book at me to do it instead; no getting angry and slamming it shut; just a simple, focused recounting of the story. It was beautiful, and made up for a lot of the frustration we’d been experiencing together.

And then last night I lifted the calendar page to write something in December, and saw that he has YET ANOTHER PED DAY this coming Friday. That nearly broke me again, because Ceri and I had scheduled a trip to the yarn store to knit together that day (or rather, Ceri shall knit, and I shall spin or something) and I was kind of looking forward to a day off without him. But he can come with us, because he loves the yarn store, and I have promised to pack him a lunch. And there are the toys he usually plays with there, plus we’ll pack our usual going-out bag of his own toys and books, and I would not be at all surprised if Ceri, Ada, Molly Ann and whoever else may happen to be there are treated to a live reading of all 189 words in Lego City Adventures: All Aboard!. We happen to be going to the bookstore before the yarn store, and I suspect I will be buying him a new Lego City reader as a reward for reading the first one all on his own. Because the best thing to do when you finish one book is start a new one, of course.