There is finally peace in the house. My husband is off with friends watching the Patriots game, getting in some much needed male bonding after being with the hyper gaggle of girls over here. It's not my fault he gave them some sugar spiked drink that just upped their enthusiastic need to sing and dance to The Cheetah Girls at whirlwind speed. Now they are tired out, happily fed and zoning out in front of the tv. And I'm armed with my coffee and my new list of strong girl role models for the books I've read this week.
First, I need to share this hilarious bumper sticker I noticed earlier today on a shiny, pristine Suburban, "Men are Idiots...And I'm Married to the King." Oh, I laughed. Laughed out loud. Not that I think this is true. Of course not.
Now the List:
1. Clementine from Clementine by Sara Pennypacker - Darling Clementine starts off this week's list. Mother Reader recommended this book, and I must say, she certainly knows how to pick them. Clementine is sweet, smart, and creative. She's a fun sister and willing to help out a friend. And Clementine is so funny, my daughter wants to read this book. What can be better than that?
2. Thora from Thora: A Half Mermaid Tale by Gillian Johnson - For girls who ever wanted to be a mermaid, this enchanting tale will entertain you. Thora's mother is a mermaid; her father is human. Thora reminded me of Pippi Longstocking, but without being too over the top. Thora is kind, loyal and generous to her friends, ready to help all in need, and is a confident free spirit. She doesn't mind being or looking different. In fact, she uses it to her advantage. This is an enjoyable read.
3. Susie Salmon, her sister Lindsay, Grandma Lynn, and Ruth from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - Okay. I was a bit surprised when I read Chicken Spaghetti's post about this book. I first read The Lovely Bones about 2 years ago, and fell in love with this book. At the time, it never entered my mind that this would be appropriate for middle school age kids. So I had to read this book again this week. And once again, I was an emotional wreck. I think if the teen is mature enough to handle the topic, then so be it. With all the shoot 'em up, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll movies and YA books out there; the exposure to violent national and international news; the public hanging of Saddam -- I wonder whether the topic of this book would affect them as much as it does to us adults, who grew up in a more innocent time.
Given that, Susie Salmon's beautiful description of her heaven brings glimpses of hope and beauty. She is anxious about her family and watches over them and wishes she could show them she's okay. Susie's sister Lindsay is one cool character in dealing with her grief over Susie's murder. She ends up risking it all to find some sort of clue that would link her strange neighbor to her sister's murder. Grandma Lynn is just outrageous and shows up when the family needs a strong female figure to keep things together. She really proves there are cool grandmas out there. And Ruth is quite interesting. She barely knew Susie, but becomes quite the friend after Susie is murdered. A very disturbing, very beautiful book that gives hope of a perfect heaven, shows the beauty of life, and the promise of healing.
4. Annabel and Lucy from The Steps by Rachel Cohn - This is a charming coming of age story about how 12 year old Annabel is dealing with her parents' break up, her parents' new relationships, her new step family and trying to get her Dad back. Sound confusing? It must be even more confusing for a kid who has to deal with all these conflicting emotions and wants things to be the way they were before. Annabel is funny, pretentious and sassy. She misses her Dad, hates her step family and wants her Dad back. By spending time with her stepsister Lucy, Annabel ends up understanding that she is not the only one who feels lost. Annabel and Lucy become friends, stand up for each other and welcome each other as sisters.
5. Princess Allie, Princess Mellie and Princess Libby from Princesses Are Not Quitters by Kate Lum - A cute premise for a picture book. Princess Allie, Princess Mellie and Princess Libby are bored and decide they would trade places with their servants for a day. They do all the work and do not quit, even though they are tired. The industrious princesses realize there is more work to be done and they are determined to get it done, no matter how long it takes to complete the work. They simply will not quit. This was a bit too didactic for me, but overall, these princesses are on my list since they realize that being spoiled with nothing to do is just as bad as all work and no play.
6. Claire from Claire and the Unicorn happy ever after by B.G. Hennessy - This is a beautifully drawn picture book. Claire loves fairy tales and wonders what makes the characters in the tales "happy forever." Her Dad tells her to think about it and tell him in the morning. As Claire dreams, she asks a Library Fairy, a princess, a frog, a fairy godmother and a wishing well "what makes someone happy ever after." Everyone tells her a different thing. Claire learns everyone has different needs that will make them happy. Very sweet.
7. Dona Flor from Dona Flor by Pat Mora - A Southwestern tall tale picture book of a gigantic woman, Dona Flor, who has a huge heart. Children laughed at her in the beginning because she was different. Soon Flor's friends and neighbors fell in love with her, realizing Flor's differences were to be admired and respected. Flor is generous, kind, loving, and helps her friends and neighbors. She loves to read too! Nice story.
8. BabyMouse from BabyMouse, Queen of the World! by brother and sister team Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm - When I ever saw my second grader bring home this book from the school library, I groaned. Great, I think. A silly comic book. This is all I need her to start reading. How is this going to encourage her to read a real book? So I read it. And BabyMouse is sassy, funny, dynamic and a great friend. She wants to fit in with the popular group but soon realizes she would rather be with her true friends. She is true to herself. A great role model in an easy to read fun format with great comic drawings. This is a truly, truly entertaining graphic book that will encourage my child to want to read. How about that?