Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reading Winnie-the-Pooh as an Adult

As popular as Winnie the Pooh was when I was a kid, I never actually read any of the original stories until very recently. I remember Pooh cartoons and Pooh stickers (stickers were SUCH a thing with the girls when I was in grade school -- does anyone else remember this???) And if my parents ever read me any Pooh books, they were likely picture book adaptations.

So of all the books we received at our son's baby shower last year, I was most looking forward to reading the original Winnie-the-Pooh friends of ours gave us. And with such a beautiful edition to start our collection, I just couldn't resist adding The House at Pooh Corner as well as the two volumes of poetry When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. I was a little amused to see two of the used copies I bought were actually inscribed because they looked like they were barely even opened, let alone read. I look forward to the day my son asks me who Rosie or Jack & Whitney are -- I don't know kid, but they were missing out on these books, I can tell you that much.

The Stories

Now, I knew Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner were not particularly short, but I was still surprised to realize they were each close to 200 pages. Both volumes are divided into 10 chapters, each of which is its own story. They are connected, but I think they could be read on their own as well. The writing style is sort of meandering which definitely took some getting used to, but I thoroughly enjoyed these stories once I got the hang of the dialogue. I struggled a bit reading them aloud, so it's good my son is a bit too young to notice! These are true classics that I know I will reread more than once. In fact, I've already listened to the first volume on audiobook. The professional narrator did a much better job than I did for sure! The Piglet noises were a little jarring, but the audio does bring the characters and stories to life. Between reading and listening, it is so clear to me now how the cartoon versions of these characters evolved from the source material.

The Poems

As for Milne's poetry, I didn't know much at all beforehand except that When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six are part of the Pooh collection. Now having read them, I think that's actually a bit of a stretch. Pooh and Christopher Robin make a few appearances, but that's about it. The majority of the poems have nothing to do with Pooh and cover a variety of other topics. They were still enjoyable, but not quite what I was expecting. I think they will only improve with rereading because I'll know better what I'm getting myself into. Also, I know I have a tendency to rush through poetry, so I'm certain there is more to appreciate in these volumes than I absorbed the first time around.

Now that I have read these four, I'm on the fence about trying The Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. It is a companion volume written 80 years after The House at Pooh Corner by another author, but supposedly captures the style of the originals in a series of new adventures. If any Pooh aficionados have an opinion one way or the other, please let me know what you think! And of course, I'm intrigued by the Winnie the Pooh cookbook, but maybe I'll just see if the library has that one.

#9 for The Classics Club

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Classic Children's Literature Event -- April 2016

Hosted by Simpler Pastimes

I have been on a major children's book kick lately. Combined with the fact that I revamped my Classics Club list to focus mostly on children's classics, I just couldn't pass up participating in this event!

There are no "children's classics" police for this challenge, but I'm going to try to stick with the suggested guidelines and read books at least 50 years old -- after all, that leaves plenty to choose from!

I would like to start off by reviewing A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books which I've already read. Next up, I should read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson since I picked it for the Classics Club's latest Spin. I'm also a few stories into The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter which I'm reading to my son -- I may not finish them all this month, but I'd definitely like to continue. If I have any additional reading time, I can choose from the (many) children's classics on my shelves:

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit
The Enchanted Castle, by E. Nesbit
Aesop's Fables, by Aesop
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
Grimm’s Fairy Tales, by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm (selected edition)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, by Howard Pyle
Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg 
(that last one was published in 1967 -- I'll call that close enough!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

March 2016 Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge: Wrap-Up Post

I almost didn't write this wrap-up post because I thought it would just be a rehash of my March #ShelfLove Update. But for this month-long challenge, I could read any book published prior to March 1, 2016 (library books included!), so I actually read quite a few more:

Children's/Middle Grade
Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
The House at Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne
Now We Are Six, by A.A. Milne

Young Adult
All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven

Graphic Novels
Amulet, Vol 4: The Last Council, by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet, Vol 5: Prince of the Elves, by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet, Vol 6: Escape from Lucien, by Kazu Kibiushi
Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt

TOTAL: 9 books read

Thanks to Kimberly over at Caffeinated Book Reviewer for hosting again! As my blogging has gotten more relaxed, I'm finding I really enjoy month-long challenges. I like having a focus for my reading for the month without the time pressure of shorter challenges. There are a few I have my eye on for upcoming months like the April Children's Classic Literature Event and Kimberly's May Clean Sweep ARC Challenge -- anyone want to join me? My sign-up for the Classic Lit event will be up soon!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

March #ShelfLove Update

March's discussion topic is Book Tropes That Get on My Nerves. When I first saw this question, I didn't think I would have an answer, but a recent read has reminded me there is indeed a trope that annoys me every. single. time. It is what I will call "The Misunderstanding" -- wherein the entire plot of a book seems to hinge on a miscommunication, a deception, a secret, etc. The sort of book where the reader watching from the sidelines knows exactly what is going on, but if the characters had a 5 minute conversation with one another, there would BE NO BOOK because everything depends on this rift in communication. I am well aware these sorts of things are realistic and happen in real life, but boy does it make a book a slog for me to get through.

Anyway, onto my #ShelfLove update! In March, I read the following books that were on my shelves prior to 2016:

Picture Books
Clifford's First Easter, by Norman Bridwell

Children's/Middle Grade
Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
The House at Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne
Now We Are Six, by A.A. Milne

March TOTAL: 4 books read from my shelves
2016 TOTAL: 17 books read from my shelves

I also started The Winner's Crime and a re-read of Diana Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn. But those didn't make this month's tally -- maybe next month!

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How has your 2016 reading been going?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Gift from a Friend

Mid-January, one of my husband's closest friends (and his best man at our wedding) passed away unexpectedly. As hard as it is to bury a friend at such a young age, my heart was broken for his friend's parents. No parent should ever have to bury their child -- no matter how old or how young, it's a grief that is unimaginable to me and every parent's worst nightmare.

Like everyone, my husband and his friend had their ups and downs and their phases when they kept in touch better than others. You always think there's more time, right? More time to plan that trip to visit, more time to make that phone call, etc. I will be forever grateful that my husband's friend did meet our son after he was born last spring. It had been a while since we saw him, but it was such a wonderful visit. He and his mom spoiled our little guy with gifts, including one particular toy that has become a favorite and I think of him every time our son plays with it. 

Then for Christmas, we got a package in the mail with a sweet note and gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Target. It's very likely we might have used the Target card for practical things like diapers, but when a few short weeks later, this friend had passed away, I knew I wanted to make his last gift something we would hold onto for years to come. My best friend helped us brainstorm and we decided on classic children's books of the silly/goofy/fun variety. Shel Silverstein sure fit the bill, as did Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Pippi Longstocking. I hadn't heard of A Long Way from Chicago before, but the description sounded like it would fit right in with the others. What better way to remember a friend than by reading a story and sharing a laugh?

And remember what I said about always thinking you have more time? Well, my husband stayed in touch with his friend a lot by text, so he thanked him right away. I wanted to send a thank you note also, but I'm the kind of person who remembers and forgets things at least a three times before they actually get done (especially if I don't write it down). And who ever thinks if you take a couple weeks to send a note, that you'll never get the chance? I know it had never even crossed my mind. So even with a busy schedule and a 10-month old to chase after, I've been trying to be better at not making excuses and putting things off. Make that call, send that note, plan that visit -- you won't regret it. And don't take friends or family for granted because you just never know what tomorrow might bring.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Classics Club Spin #12: What I'll Be Reading

The Classics Club Spin number has been chosen and I will be reading...

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

I've been wanting to read more of these illustrated classics even since I added them to my collection. I've also been wanting to read Stevenson ever since Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan two years ago. I've since read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, but that's it. Looks like that will soon be changing!

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Fellow Classics Clubbers, what will you be reading this round?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Reading Promise

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared,
by Alice Ozma & Jim Brozina
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Date: May 2011
Format: Audio -- 7 hrs 1 min
How did I get this book? purchased with Audible credit
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

So, I had a $1 paperback copy of this one from a library sale that I'd been meaning to read for the longest time. A bookish memoir is right up my alley, but I finally admitted this is exactly the sort of book I really love listening to on audiobook. So I set aside the print copy for my Mom and Grandma to read and used one of my Audible credits on it instead. In a nutshell, this is the true story of a father and daughter who make a pact when she was 9 years old to read together for 100 days, then 1,000 days, then all the way until the day Alice leaves for college.

Most of the book is read by Alice, but the introduction and quotations at the beginning of each chapter are read by her father who is an elementary school librarian -- what a gift he has! I could see from these brief glimpses why his daughter, students, and other audiences have enjoyed his reading aloud so much. The book addresses a lot of family issues and difficulties -- everything is not just sunshine, roses, and bedtime stories -- but through it all, they honored this promise they made to each other and kept their "Streak" alive for years. 

This was an inspiring and heartwarming memoir I'm so glad I finally read. In fact, I may have enjoyed it even more now that I'm a mom. I was only about six minutes in and getting a little teary-eyed! It's not really a tear-jerker, but hearing Jim talk about the importance of reading and spending time with his children tugged at my heartstrings. I already read a lot to my 10 month old son, but this makes me want to continue the tradition as long as I possibly can (translation: as long as he will let me!)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Classics Club Spin #12: The List

Between children's books, graphic novels, and audios I might have more books underway at once than ever before. And yet, I keep feeling the urge to dive back into more classics too. Two of the children's books I'm in the midst of are actually from my Classics Club list, but others keep calling my name as well. The only problem is I just can't decide which one to commit to next. Lucky for me, another Classics Club Spin is about to begin! I don't have the best track record, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to give it another go.

So how exactly does the Spin work? Basically, I pick 20 books from my list, the folks who run the club choose a number, and I read the book on my list that corresponds with the chosen number by May 2nd. In other words, the decision is out of my hands! Given my indecisiveness lately, I think this is coming at the perfect time for me.

I recently revamped my list and made sure to only include books I'm genuinely interested in and excited about, so really, I can't go wrong no matter which number is chosen. So without further ado, here's my Spin List:

1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
2. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
3. Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
4. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
5. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
6. The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
7. Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
8. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
9. Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit
10. The Importance of Being Earnest and other plays, by Oscar Wilde
11. The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
12. Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
13. Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
14. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
15. Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
16. Stuart Little, by E.B. White
17. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
18. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
19. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle
20. The Enchanted Castle, by E. Nesbit

Check back on Monday to see what book I will be reading!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 2016 Take Control Of Your TBR Pile Challenge

Hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer

This challenge is now in it's 4th year -- an impressive feat if you ask me! I've participated every year except 2015 when I opted for a March Madness challenge instead. But I'm excited to get back in the game this year.

I usually only add books I own to my "TBR Pile," but there is no such restriction for this challenge. As long as the books are not ARCs with future publication dates or brand new books coming out during the month of March, they can be read for this challenge. I have mostly library books on deck at the moment, but after those I'd like to pick up a few more from my own collection. Any dent I can make in my TBR is a good thing, if you ask me!

First up...

All the Bright Places on audio for book club
The House at Pooh Corner I'm reading to my son
2016 Newbery Honor graphic novel Roller Girl
The Titan's Curse graphic novel to catch up on Percy Jackson
Amulet #4-6 because I'm hooked!

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Click the challenge badge above for more info and to join in the fun :)

Monday, February 29, 2016

February #ShelfLove Update

This month's discussion topic is Book Significant Others and I'm afraid my answer is rather boring. Though I've encountered plenty of swoony characters, I don't really get into the whole bookish crush thing. Most of them already have a leading lady ::cough, cough:: Jamie Fraser ::cough, cough:: and it's the more the relationship I enjoy reading about than just the guy. So Claire can keep her man and I'll just keep on enjoying their romance from the sidelines.

Now, onto my #ShelfLove update...

I was on the fence about whether or not to count picture books for this challenge and have decided I will for a few reasons. First of all, there weren't that many unread ones from before 2016, so it's not like they will majorly inflate my progress. Secondly, I borrow SO MANY from the library, it's a good reminder to not keep passing over the few unread ones at home. And lastly, I made it one of my 2016 goals to read those stragglers at least once, so this is a good opportunity to make good on that goal.

On Goodreads, for rating/record-keeping purposes, I add children's books individually even if I am reading them from a collected volume. For this challenge though, I will just count the collected volume as one completed "book" from my shelves to keep things simple.

Picture Books
Jumbo's Jungle Colors
Llamas in Pajamas, by Russell Punter
Ten Playful Penguins, by Emily Ford
The Paddington Treasury, by Michael Bond
Mouse Cookies & More: A Treasury, by Laura Numeroff
Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury, by Arnold Lobel
Tomie DePaola's Mother Goose

Children's/Middle Grade
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
Winne-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne
When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne

Young Adult
The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski

The Year of Reading Dangerously, by Andy Miller
The Reading Promise, by Alice Ozma

TOTAL: 13 books read from my shelves + a TON culled from my collection

In 2015, I only read a total of 20 TBR books for #ShelfLove the whole year, so I'm very happy with my progress thus far. Even if I didn't count the picture books, I think I'm still doing pretty well.

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How has your 2016 reading been going?