Santa loves books. Grandma loves books. I love books. Christmas books and book gift certificates meant that the Poohsticks shelves have been blessed with new books to read, to look at, to study, to wonder at, to ponder.
So, for Mom...I didn't forget to answer your question about "book hits" so far. Ok, I lie. I did forget. Then I remembered but I didn't have time, so I forgot again. Then I remembered again, but my good friends Ben and Jerry wanted to hang out and watch Project Runway, and I couldn't say no. And then....well, dang it....I've finally gotten to it. Here it is:
Ten Christmas Hits, or What We're Reading
1. Catwings series, Ursula LeGuin.
Stories of four cats born with wings and their adventures. First-grade gent devoured these books one after the other. His favorite: Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings. Or Jane on Her Own. Or one of the others. He couldn't decide on a favorite after all.
2. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak.
Amazing. Deserving of a separate post, which I hope to write soon.
3. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Who hasn't read this lovely classic? Lovely lady, 12, is enjoying her way through her very own velvety copy of The Secret Garden. We've already got a tattered second-hand copy, which means that once she's finished the book, the velvety copy will be her very own. She struggles with reading comprehension, so we're using this gentle story as a learning tool and taking it nice and slow.
I told her today, "Ooo, tomorrow you get to meet Colin. Oh, Colin and Mary are such a good match."
"You mean they'll get married?" she asked.
"No." I laughed. "Remember what Mary's like, kind of cross and disagreeable? Well, Colin and Mary are two peas in a pod."
She puzzled through "two peas in a pod," then remarked, "Well, Mary's getting a little bit nice, anyway."
I think my delight in this story may be rubbing off on her.
4. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Oliver Sacks.
A recommendation of my mother's, I bought this for myself with a Christmas gift certificate. Sacks examines music and neurology together. It is fascinating. If you're a music-lover, interested in our quirky and complex brains, or both, this is the book for you.
5. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I'm cheating a little. We didn't get any Little House books for Christmas, but I just finished reading Little House on the Prairie to the fine young gents, and we were all sad when it was over. We fell in love with life on the prairie, both with the Laura's stories and with the prairie itself. The descriptions of the landscape are breathtaking. Coming at the tail end of a history unit on pioneers, we were fascinated by the accounts of establishing a home on the prairie.
6. Hannah Montananovels and High School Musicalnovels.
I have no idea who writes these, nor have I read one, but I've got a lovely lady who absolutely swoons over teenybopper pop star stuff, and she reads them obsessively. So I'd say they're a hit.
7. Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song, Les Beltsky.
The title says it all: This book offers the songs (or squawks or screeches or moans) of 250 different North American birds. Turn to the beautiful illustration of a bird you'd like to hear, find the bird number on the digital strip to the side of the book, and press the button to hear the bird call. The fine young gents and I are fascinated by this book, and it will be a fun addition to our spring bird study.
8. Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, Barry Lopez (Ed.) and Debbie Gwartney (Ed.).
Also deserving of a separate post, Home Ground is a nature study for the word lover. Or is it a word study for the nature lover? At any rate, the books offers definitions of landscape features, words that we're slowly forgetting as we lose our intimate connections to the land upon which we live.
9. Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning : A Story for Mother Culture, Karen Andreola.
Written as the fictional diary of a young mother, Pocketful of Pinecones is a gentle how-to for the art of keeping Charlotte Mason-style nature journals. It is lovely and inspiring, though perhaps a bit simplistic and heavy-handed regarding the virtues of back-to-the-land farm life over life in the city. Nature descriptions, gentle parenting, the art of leading children to learning, nature poetry, and a deep sense of faith and wonder at God's amazing Creation are woven beautifully into the story, so that it inspires rather than instructs.
10. Any book about bugs.
The fine young gents were given several books about bugs for Christmas. The books have been pored over and I have been asked many times to "Look at this cool/gross/huge/funny bug, Mom!"
11. (Because I can't stop without mentioning this amazing book) The Arrival, Shaun Tan.
Long long ago, I wrote a book post which included mention of The Lost Thing, also by Shaun Tan. My mother remembered that we're Tan fans and sent The Arrival for the Poohsticks readers. I use the word "readers" loosely, as The Arrival is an incredible worldess graphic novel. Tan's amazing artwork really captures the strangeness of the experience of an immigrant coming to Australia. First-grade gent likes the detailed pictures, and the book has depth enough to entertain and inspire even the teens and adults in the family.
And of course, all of the other new books on our shelves...some eagerly anticipated at the top of the to-be-read stack, some quiet gems with which we haven't yet aquainted ourselves.