When I graduated, I was sure I was just going to write here ALL THE TIME. IN ALLCAPS. I would get SO MUCH BLOGGING DONE and CATCH UP ON ALL THE BOOKS.
Then I realized I had other stuff to do in the real world, off the internet, and that hasn’t happened. But I’m bound and determined to get some more writing done, so I’ve decided to write some more “postcard” like posts. Here are three fairly recent books I’ve been meaning to write about but never got around to during my PhD. They form kind of a theme along the way, about quiet and isolation and family. I have to get the Changeling from school, so this is quick and largely unedited– but, trust me, the books are good.
In no particular order, three books I loved and you and your kids might love, too.
Vera Brosgol’s Leave Me Alone! comes first. I found this one at Type Books in Toronto over Passover. God, I love that store– if you’re ever in Toronto, check it out! Best-curated book shops in the city, I’m convinced of it.
Anyway, this one practically jumped down off the shelf at me. It’s humorous and cranky, yes, but strangely tender, too. OK, I have to acknowledge before I go any farther: knitting is involved. Yes. But, like Extra Yarn, it’s not a knitting book. This one is a book about time and love and family. About needing space and quiet (very reminiscent of Five Minutes’ Peace, in some ways…), but, in the end, also needing society and company and love. BUT through a deliciously cranky, spectacularly ornery, old lady– not unlike Sophie after her transformation in Howl’s Moving Castle. I love it, the Changeling loves it– it’s perfect for her at age almost-six, but anyone who loves goats and aliens and children will love it.
Remember Liz Wong and Quackers? (APPARENTLY that was her first book, which I don’t think I fully realized at the time, but, oh my God, I’m jealous!) I rather liked it. I believe I recall suggesting she get the Nobel Peace Prize, at the time. Well, she came out with another book this year, The Goose Egg, which is equally adorable and earned a face-out display at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline.
I actually, as I prepare to sum it up, sense a theme here: Henrietta the elephant seeks peace and quiet at all times. She loves Darjeeling tea and the faint murmur of the water beneath the lake. And then– she ends up with a goose egg. No, not that kind of a goose egg. A GOOSE’S EGG. And then with a gosling. A noisy gosling. And then… one day… with a goose. And, once the goose flies, no more goose, but peace and quiet again. So Henrietta should be satisfied again, yes?
As a parent who loves peace and quiet and longs for quiet, tidy mornings, I deeply appreciated this ode to noise and mess. And I suspect you will, too. I think it would be perfect for a clever 2 or 3 years, up to about 7. My Changeling still loves it, and she’s almost six now.
OK, this last postcard is about a book which came out in 2018, and I have a SIGNED COPY– you know how I feel about that– a signed copy by SOPHIE BLACKALL (!!!) of her wonderful Hello Lighthouse.
This book almost made me cry. OK, so maybe there was a little moisture around the eyes. OK, so maybe I was very close to a sobbing mess.
You see, I’m a Maritimer by birth, and I love me a good lighthouse. I remember the excitement of introducing my Changeling to her first lighthouse in Pemaquid, Maine. There’s something beautiful and stirring about them– the quiet heroism of the lighthouse. The isolation and grace and loneliness.
But– loneliness? Not necessarily. Sophie Blackall shows the quiet, yes– except for the roaring of the waves and the battering of the wind. She shows the distance and isolation, yes– except for the letters and, ultimately, the family. The loneliness, yes– again, except for the wife who shows up and the child who is born… you get the picture.
Picture! Oh, the glorious pictures. Remember, this is the Sophie Blackall of Finding Winnie, and, you know, all of her other work. She doesn’t need me to advertise her, but, please, this book is special, even out of her other amazing work. It’s also about quiet, loneliness, and family, like the other books in this post, but ramped up to ten.
So there you go! Some weekend reading for you. Tell me, what else have I missed while I was writing?