105 Ways to Give a Book

ABC Storytime: E is for...

Er... I don’t know.

Funny story. In the eight years I’ve been doing alphabet storytimes, taking turns with my coworkers, I’ve never had the letter “E.” So today the letter “E” is brought to you by... YOU! Leave some suggestions for great storytime books about elephants, eggs, or earwax. Also fair game are books using “E” names like Eva, Erin, or Edward (but not Tulane).



Okay, okay, I can’t leave you with absolutely nothing. I would probably use Ella the Elegant Elephant, by Carmela D’Amico, The Egg, by M.P. Robertson, and “Eat!” cried Little Pig, by Jonathan London.

No Longer in Portland

Well, I’m no longer in Portland, but apparently I left all my verve there. Still so very tired. It’s almost dinner time and I’m just starting to feel human again. I’m thinkin’ tomorrow for a conference wrap-up. In the meantime, check out the great posts that are coming in from all over the kidlitosphere. There are pictures! There are stories! There are glowing references to me! (You know, probably.) So check them out, and I’ll tackle my summary after a good night’s sleep.

Still in Portland

Omigod, I am so tired. I had the choice of either leaving early this morning or late tonight, so I went with the red-eye back to DC. I’m not regretting the decision, as I had a wonderful day first at some waterfall that I am too lazy to look up and then in downtown Portland where I hung out with blogfriends and shopped at a street festival. But right now, I totally want to be home already. Like, now.

The conference was wonderful, and I will write more about it later. This quickie post is just to say that I was excited to meet new authors, to see some blogging friends again, and to make new blogger best friends forever. (Oh BFFs, you know who you are.) But mostly I’m writing to whine that I’ve got a long flight ahead of me and that I’m still, still in Portland.

Off to Portland

I’m off to Portland and the Second Annual Kidlitosphere Conference at an unspeakable hour in the morning. I’m also leaving at a crazy-late time on Sunday. But on the plus side, I’ll have plenty of time to see the city and hang with blogfriends. I’ll be at the hotel in the early afternoon — so conference attendees, look me up. Oh, and can someone hook me up with email access over the weekend? Thanks.

I ♥ Your Blog

This week, Ellsworth’s Journal awarded MotherReader an “I ♥ Your Blog” award, and I couldn’t be happier. Lately I’ve been feeling a little down about this blogging business, and it soothes my soul to know that somebody likes what I’m doing here. Thanks, El — you made my day.

Now to pass it on to other blogs that I love. There are so many that it was hard to choose. Especially since I haven’t been commenting much, and there are lots of posts I should have raved about, but didn’t. Really, I have some great blog friends out there running some amazing book blogs and I count on them to keep me In The Know.

Recently, though, I’ve found a lot of comfort and inspiration in writing blogs. I like to think of it as a step towards my book rising to the surface through the muck of my brain busy with work, family, and this enraging election. The best author blogs take you into the writing experience, but don’t bore you with the details. They teach you something. They open up new ideas, concepts, discussions, and connections. And for me, right now, they don’t make me look at my to-read or to-review pile and make me feel guilty and altogether inadequate. So I ♥ Your Blog:
  • Blue Rose Girls give me the viewpoints of varied authors, editors, illustrators, and poets. There’s always something interesting to read there.

  • The Longstockings never let me down with their own collection of authors sharing stories, thoughts, and concerns from the writing world.

  • Mitali’s Fire Escape makes me question if it could really only be Mitali Perkins writing, as there is always so much well-thought out stuff there. Mitali also makes me question books and more in terms of diversity, and I thank her for providing that voice.

  • Kelly Fineman has taught me more about poetry than I ever thought I’d want to know — and that’s a good thing. (But I especially love her for the post I’m linking to about YA for Obama.)

  • Finding Wonderland throws new thoughts out there all the time while I can only have, like, maybe one deep thought a week. I’m also ever grateful to TadMack for commenting at my blog, even as I’ve hit a commenting lull.

  • Original Content lets the blog name say it all. Except maybe the part about how the original content offered is often thought-provoking and funny.

  • Emily Reads may fall into the category of a book review blog, but with her haiku summaries of books, it could equally be called the blog of a poet. I love her small reviews, packed with punch.
Ready to pass on the love? Here are rules:
  1. Add the logo of the award to your blog.
  2. Add the link of the person who awarded it to you to your blog.
  3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.
  4. Add links to those blogs to your blog.
  5. Leave a nice warm message for each of your nominees!

The Cybils

Anticipation is building for the third annual Cybils awards. For newcomers, “Cybils” stands for The Children’s and YA Bloggers’ Literary Awards, and it still seems that it’s the only book award of any sort from the blogging community. So, yeah kids’ lit!

Nominations open to the public on October 1 at cybils.com. Anyone 13 or older — authors and publishers included — may nominate a book in one of nine genres. But note that there is a one-book-per-category rule for nominations. Books published in English between January 1 and October 15, 2008, are eligible. (Books that come out later than October 15 will be eligible next year.) The books will go through two rounds of judging. Finalists will be announced January 1, 2009. Winners will be announced February 14, 2009.

I’ll be organizing the category of Fiction Picture Books and serving as a first-round panelist. I’m excited to be part of the Cybils team this year. Start thinking of your best book choices now. Yes, right now.

ABC Storytime: D is for...

Just like “C,” there are so many good picture books to use for the letter “D” that sometimes I’ve done a program on just dogs, ducks, or dinosaurs. Here, though, I’m offering a combination of the three. I couldn’t pick the best of each subject — it isn’t possible — but these books offer a variety of styles.

The Letter D

Book: Dinorella: A Prehistoric Fairy Tale, by Pamela Duncan Edwards (this book uses the letter D a lot), or Dinosaur Roar, by Paul and Henrietta Stickland

Fingerplay: “Five Huge Dinosaurs”
Five huge dinosaurs
(Hold up five fingers and extend arms.)
**Letting out a roar
One went away
(Hold up one finger.)
And then there were four.
(Hold up four fingers.)

(Continue down the numbers replacing **second line with:
Crashing down a tree... [three]
Eating dinosaur stew... [two]
Going on a run... [one]
Looking for some fun... [none])

Book: Duck and Goose, by Tad Hills, or a shorter book, One Duck Stuck, by Phyllis Root (counting book)

Song: “Little Ducks”
Six little ducks that I once knew
Fat ones, skinny ones, pretty ones too
But the one little duck with
The feather on his back
He ruled the others with his
“Quack, quack, quack!”
Quack, quack, quack
Quack, quack, quack
He ruled the others with his
“Quack, quack, quack!”

Down the the water they would go
Wibble, wabble, wibble, wabble to and fro
But the one little duck with...

Up from the river they would come
Wibble, wabble, wibble, wabble oh ho ho
But the one little duck with...

Book: Dog Eared: Starring Otis, by Amanda Harvey

Song: “Where Has My Little Dog Gone?”
Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?
Oh, where, oh where can he be?
With his ears cut short
And his tail cut long.
Oh, where, oh where can he be?

Here! Oh, here is my little lost dog.
Oh here, he’s right behind me!
With his ears cut short
And his tail cut long.
Oh here, he’s right behind me!

Extra/Alternate Books: Mucky Duck, by Sally Grindley, or Dogs, Dogs, Dogs, by Leslea Newman, or your own favorite (short) dog, duck, or dinosaur book.

Poetry Friday: The Seldom-Ever Shady Glades

The Seldom-Ever Shady GladesThe Seldom-Ever Shady Glades: Poems and Quilts by Sue Van Wassenhove is one of the most beautiful books ever created. I kid you not. Unbelievable in its scope, the book uses intricate, gorgeous quilts as the backgrounds for poetry about the Florida Everglades. I can’t imagine ever being able to create even one of these quilts — and there are, like, twenty of them! Just amazing.

The poems vary in style, with some long and elegant, others light and funny. Here’s one I particularly liked about the tricolor heron:
The Tiny Shy Tri

It’s amazing
the tiny, shy tri
can find fish each day.

Its squawking
fly cry
should scare fish away.

But each flapping
spry try
snags a fish as its pay.
The accompanying quilt features three herons and is so detailed that it shows the rippled reflections of the birds and the marsh grasses in the blue water. Honestly, I don’t know whether to read this book or frame it. I had heard about it from poetry-lover Kelly Fineman, and based on her glowing review I requested a copy from the publisher. I rarely do that, but I had to see it for myself and I was not disappointed.

The focus is mainly birds, but the alligators and palm trees make appearances too. My favorite page is an absolutely breathtaking undersea quilt that features a poem perfect for a poetry slam.

And Portuguese
sea men-of-war
patrol the shore.
Oh, don’t you wish
moon jelly fish
had jelly bellies?
Weren’t so smelly?
Had no stringy
things that sting?
You know, this book would be a lovely gift for quilters, poets, and birders. And with the holidays just around the corner...

Today, Poetry Friday is hosted by Author Amok. Also, the Cybils announce the Poetry panel for this year! And hey, there I am as the organizer and panelist for Picture Books! Yeah, okay, I knew that, but I’m still excited to be part of the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards. I’ll be back Monday with more Cybils stuff, but for now check out the site as I take off for one last trip to the beach.

The Thursday Three XVIII: Board Books

ABC'sABC’s, by Charley Harper
I certainly don’t need a board book for my fourth and seventh graders, but I might have to buy this one anyway just for the artistic value. The lovely and interesting illustrations of Charley Harper are completely the point of this (mostly) animal ABC book. Alphabet book connoisseurs are probably wondering about “X,” and I’ll tell you that it is not “Ox.” Oh, the suspense.

Charley and Lola's OppositesCharlie and Lola’s Opposites, by Lauren Child
What can I say? I love Charlie and Lola. I love the original books. I love the show. I love the books based on the show. And now I love the board books written from the success of the show based on the original books. The books are very simple in text — big and small, many and few — but Child’s illustrations are wonderful.

CatCat, by Jane Kemp, Clare Walters, and Linzi West
Dog, by Jane Kemp, Clare Walters, and Linzi West

It’s surprising that it took three people to produce books this simple in both words and pictures. I also think that the two books could have been smooshed together — maybe into one of those flip-over books — so you’d get more bang for your buck, because seven pages isn’t much book. That said, they are cute books about, respectively and most obviously, a cat and a dog. Fun, lively pictures.

ABC Storytime: C is for...

There are so many good picture books to use for the letter “C” that sometimes I’ve done a program on just cats, chickens, or cows. Here, though, I’m offering a combination of the three. I couldn’t pick the best of each subject — it isn’t possible — but they offer a variety of styles among the books.

The Letter C

Book: Mrs. McTats and Her Houseful of Cats, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (alphabet book)

Action Rhyme: “Hey Diddle Diddle”
Hey diddle, diddle
The cat and [plays] the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
(Repeat verse and have the kids act out the action verbs — that’s why I’ve used “plays the fiddle.”)

Book: The Cow That Laid an Egg, by Andy Cutbill, or The Cow Who Clucked, by Denise Fleming

Song: “Ten Little Chickies”
One little, two little, three little chickies
four little, five little, six little chickies
seven little, eight little, nine little chickies
Ten little chickies in the nest.

Book: I Bought a Baby Chicken, by Kelly Milner Halls (counting book)

Song: “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”

(You know the song. This time just use the animals that begin with “C” — chicks, cows, and cats.)


Book: “C” Is for Clown, by Stan and Jan Berenstain


Extra/Alternate Books: Grumpy Cat, by Britta Techentrup, or Cats, Cats, Cats, by Leslea Newman, or your own favorite (short) cow, chick, or cat book.

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

In case you are wondering if the SNL sketch with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin is as good as people say... um, it totally is.

Second Annual Kidlitosphere Conference

Speaking as someone who procrastinated on buying her plane ticket until this week, let me state that there is still time to be part of the Second Annual Kidlitosphere Conference. I got a sneak peak at the lineup of topics, and it looks fantastic.

If you’re an author and want to find out how blogging can work for you, this conference is the place to go. If you’re a book blogger, and are looking for more ideas for growing your audience or expanding your voice, this conference is for you. The conference will be great for both authors and bloggers looking to share ideas, meet people, market books n’ blogs, and generally network. And you’ll have a blast.

Can you trade in frequent flyer miles? Set up a book marketing event nearby? Call in your education training requirement? I don’t know, set up a lemonade stand? It’s going to be great and we want you there.

(On a totally unrelated and political topic, I was watching McCain on the Presidential Forum last night and thought, “Man, why isn’t this guy running for president?”)

Message for CNN

Dear CNN,

This morning, on September 11th, there are touching memorial services in New York City, in Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon. I appreciate that you are covering these events live when it seems that all other channels are continuing with regular programming. I know that you are covering three simultaneous events live, and while I wish that you were doing a better job of it, I can understand the difficulty. I find the commercial interruptions extremely annoying, but I’m even willing, reluctantly, to let that go. However, I do have to say one thing to your anchors and reporters:

STOP TALKING!!!

Every second, every pause does not need to be filled with the inane things coming out of your mouth. Perhaps people watching the memorial services and the official dedication of the Pentagon memorial would actually like to hear the people who are speaking there. Not you blathering on. Perhaps the pauses are to allow our own thoughts and to add to the gravity of the event. Not so you can fill them by wondering aloud about Donald Rumsfeld’s activities over the last few years. Perhaps showing the moment when the benches are uncovered is more important than you talking about how the benches are going to be uncovered soon.

I want to reflect, to remember, and to mourn. Please, allow me to do that without a constant stream of filler comments.

In aggravation,

Pam

Political Words

Feel free to skip this post on the political nature of words. I wasn’t going to write it, but I can’t stop myself from writing it any longer. Forgive me.

The new lines have been drawn in this race for the White House, and they are no longer about the concepts of experience and change. They are about the words.

Not terribly long ago, regardless of your party affiliation, the decisions were fairly clear-cut. The Republican and Democratic candidates were in line with their parties’ platforms. Sure, people could argue about a maverick reputation or a liberal bias — and that’s pretty much what we’ve been doing for the last few months — but in essence, each candidates represented his party’s platform.

But not everyone votes on party, so focusing on the two candidates themselves, you could decide which was more important to bring to the White House in 2009 — experience or change. Again, people could argue about the details of these concepts — and they did — but the essence of the argument remained the same: Is it more important that our next president have lots of political/governmental experience or that our next president bring change to our current policies?

That’s a real choice. Certainly I’m simplifying, but that’s what it boiled down to for this election. Experience or Change.

So, now McCain/Palin have decided that they want change as their agenda. Not actual change, mind you, but the word. Because apparently, repeating the word is enough. People now believe that the Republican party is going to bring change — to the office held by the Republican party — and it’s all because the McCain/Palin ticket is running on “change.” Again, the word, not the actual concept.

And this scares me. Because the words that candidates use have to matter. They have to be true, and they have to mean something. If candidates can just make stuff up, then hell, I could have run for president. (Perhaps I can also be thin if I just say it enough. Thin... thin... thin... Poof! Size 6!)

On that topic comes this article from The Washington Post today: “As Campaign Heats Up, Untruths Can Become Facts Before They’re Undone.”
John Feehery, a Republican strategist, said the campaign is entering a stage in which skirmishes over the facts are less important than the dominant themes that are forming voters’ opinions of the candidates. “The more the New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there’s a bigger truth out there and the bigger truths are she’s new, she’s popular in Alaska and she is an insurgent,” Feehery said. “As long as those are out there, these little facts don’t really matter.”
Somewhat related (but mostly included because of its great headline) is this article from The Wall Street Journal, not known for its liberal bent: “The GOP Loves the Heartland To Death.”
[McCain] seems to think that small-town people can be easily played. Just choose a running mate who knows how to skin a moose and all will be forgiven. Drive them off the land, shutter their towns, toss their life chances into the grinders of big agriculture... and praise their values. The TV eminences will coo in appreciation of your in-touch authenticity, and the carnival will move on.
Then there is this article from The Guardian, which offers a frightening global view alongside its acknowledgment of the facts about Palin: “The world’s verdict will be harsh if the US rejects the man it yearns for.”
We know one of Palin’s first acts as mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska was to ask the librarian the procedure for banning books. Oh, but that was a “rhetorical” question, says the McCain-Palin campaign. We know Palin is not telling the truth when she says she was against the notorious $400m “Bridge to Nowhere” project in Alaska — in fact, she campaigned for it — but she keeps repeating the claim anyway. She denounces the dipping of snouts in the Washington trough — but hired costly lobbyists to make sure Alaska got a bigger helping of federal dollars than any other state.
And just to remind us that words can also bring us hope, and yes, make us laugh, from The Onion we get: “Obama Modifies ‘Yes We Can’ Message To Exclude Area Loser: ‘Yes We Can, Except Nate Walsh,’ Obama Says.”
“I have always said that the change we seek will not come easy, that it will not come without its share of sacrifice and struggle,” Obama continued. “And the last thing we need is dead weight like Nate Walsh adding another 20 or 30 years to the process.” The speech, entitled “A More Perfect Union Minus Nate Walsh,” was 26 minutes long and contained the words “change” 12 times, “hope” 16 times, and “Nate,” in conjunction with the phrase “with the exception of,” 34 times.
I’ll try to get back on the books, and writing, and libraries. Really, I will. But I had to get this out of my system. I hope you understand.

ABC Storytime: B is for...

Here’s the next installment of the ABC Storytime, featuring some great new “B” books. Enjoy.

The Letter B

Book: Grumpy Bird, by Jeremy Tankard

Fingerplay: “Two Little Dicky Birds”
Two little dicky birds sitting on a wall,
One named Peter, one named Paul.
Fly away, Peter; fly away Paul;
Come back Peter; come back Paul.
(With hand motions according to the words.)

Book: Dog and Bear, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Song: “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”
Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, show your shoe.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, I love you.
(With hand motions according to the words.)

Book: Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin, illustrated by Eric Carle

(Some call-and-response or singing or pausing to identify the animals can make this book more participatory.)


Book: Ha Ha, Baby! written by Kate Petty, illustrated by Georgie Birkett

Song: “Rock-a-Bye Baby”
Rock-a-bye Baby
On the tree top
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come Baby
Cradle and all.
(Kids can rock pretend babies or stuffed animals.)

Book: Bounce, written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Scott Menchin

(Then let the kids bounce on out.)

Those Wacky Greeks

Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers has been crowned the oddest book title of the past 30 years. The complete article, including the titles of close contenders, is available at The Bookseller. The complete list of candidates for oddest title is featured in this article.

I’m kinda partial to Simon & Schuster’s If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs.

Poetry Friday: The Miller's Son

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!When Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, by Laura Amy Schlitz, won the 2008 Newbery Medal, I wasn’t confident that kids would pick up this book and read it if it weren’t assigned. It is an interesting book of poems as stories. I enjoyed the look into the lives of the medieval people, and I liked how the tales were connected. But it seems more of a classroom book than a pleasure book. I’m wondering now that it’s had a chance to reach the public, what do kids think of it? Anyone know?

When I read it at the beginning of the year on a particularly moody day, I copied part of a poem to use for Poetry Friday (today at Wild Rose Reader). I haven’t felt like posting this cynical, hopeless poem until this week, when the Republican convention and Sarah Palin have me feeling rather cynical and hopeless.

Otho The Miller’s Son
Father is the miller
As his father was of old,
And I shall be the miller,
When my father’s flesh is cold.
I know the family business —
It’s been drummed into my head:
How to cheat the hungry customer
And earn my daily bread.

Oh, God makes the water, and the water makes the river,
And the river turns the mill wheel
and the wheel goes on forever.
Every man’s a cheater, and so every man is fed,
For we feed upon each other,
when we seek our daily bread.
Of course, there’s more to the poem about how everyone from field to mill to bakery cheats and nothing ever changes. And there’s more to my thoughts on the RNC and Palin, about how everyone lies and nothing ever changes.

I have to say that this week I feel like I’m in a bad dream or Bizarro World or even 1984 (“We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”). The candidate touting experience as the most important qualification for president picks an inexperienced running mate. Long-time Washington insiders are talking about shaking up Washington. The party in charge is running as the party of change. Palin tells us that she respects her daughter’s “decision,” but doesn’t see the connection to choice. She asks us to leave her family out of the discussion, but she uses them as her main talking point. The Republican party says they represent real Americans, but the convention was one big hall of white people in a country that is nearing a majority of minority populations. And perhaps most disturbing for me, I’m agreeing with most of a Krauthammer column. Up is down! Hello is goodbye! Prada is Payless! This perpetual state of cognitive dissonance is making my head hurt!

(Deep breath. Watch Change video. It’s going to be okay. I hope.)

ABC Storytime: A is for Apple

This fall I’m introducing a new feature here at MotherReader. It’s a weekly preschool program centered on the letters of the alphabet. I’ve done these programs in my library for years, and now have a full complement of them that I may as well share. Perhaps they’ll be useful to beginning librarians, preschool teachers, day care providers, homeschooling parents, or just plain parents.

At this point, I’m keeping it as short as possible, so I’ll skip the book annotations and the words to some of the songs. I also may have to play around with some of the songs or rhymes if I’m not sure of the copyright issue. Bear me with on this one. As to my book selection, I generally pick books that have the letter of the week featured in the title. For instance, my pick below of Snip, Snap What’s That? for alligator is unusual. Just one of my quirks.

Anyway, on with A is for Arugula. (Kidding.)

The Letter A

Book: Alphabet Rescue, by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood

Song: “The Alphabet Song”


Book: Snip Snap! What’s That? written by Mara Bergman, illustrated by Nick Maland

Rhyme: “Five Little Monkeys”
Five little monkeys swinging in a tree
Teasing Mr. Alligator,
Can’t catch me, you can’t catch me.
Along comes Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
SNAP!!
(Continue with “Four little monkeys…”)

Book: Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple Picking Time, written by Jody Fickes Shapiro, illustrated by Kitty Harvill

Song: “Apples and Bananas”
I like to eat, I like to eat
I like to eat, eat apples and bananas…
(Repeat, substituting a, e, i, o, and u sounds for the vowels all through the song.)

Book: I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track, written by Joshua Prince, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan

Song: “The Ants Go Marching”
The ants go marching one by one
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one
The little one stops to have some fun.
And they all go marching
Down to the ground to get out of the rain
Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum
(Continue to four, using “The little one stops to say ‘no more!’”)

Summery Summary

I had planned to do a “Farewell to Summer” post yesterday, but I was too busy faring well. Or farewelling. Or both. Anyway. I’m glad that I didn’t set summer goals because I think it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t have met them. Well, unless my goals involved increasing the household disorder and eating a lot of takeout, in which case I did pretty darn good.

My mantra of the year — Create, Connect, Comment — also went out the window. I didn’t create anything except mess as my writing was on hold. I only connected with my family, to whom I’m already well-connected. I didn’t comment on blogs, though I was able to make some snarky verbal comments about McCain — but I don’t think that counts.

In fact, on the commenting, I feel like I owe my blog-friends an apology and/or an explanation. At work, I can read book blogs — so I have been reading — but it pushes the limits to submit comments. I swear to myself each work day that I will go home and comment then, but I also swear to myself that I’ll resist the Call of the Oreos and that never pans out either. I’m hoping with the structure of the school year that I’ll get a better system going for this commenting thing. Stay tuned.

So I didn’t meet any particular goals, but I think we did all right for ourselves this summer.
  • Six pairs of jeans purchased at discount at Ross
  • Five nieces and nephews tickled and kissed
  • Four trips to Virginia Beach, including lots o’ niece time
  • Four weeks of the teen library play for seventh grader
  • Four meetings of Girl Scouts summer book club
  • Three nylon Prada handbags purchased on eBay
  • Two weeks of drama camp for both girls
  • Two yard sales for charity
  • Two long bike rides in the park
  • One Obama meeting, and hand-shaking
  • One stunning fireworks display at the beach
  • One trip to Lake Anna, including a trial run of the kayak
  • One huge yard sale haul of designer clothes at $2 a bag
  • One expedition to Six Flags, including water park experience
  • One fish pedicure with bonus daughter bonding
  • One exploration of Willoughby Bay, Norfolk, Virginia
There was also lots of reading, pool visits, and grilled steak. And of course, my new job at my brand-new library kept the summer interesting. (“Do we have a public phone? Hmmm. Let me find out.”)

Today I sent my seventh grader to, well... seventh grade at the scary middle school. Scary in that the school is huge. Bill and I hid behind my car to watch her get on the bus. It was like she was going to kindergarten for the first time except without the crying.

Okay, maybe I cried a little.

A Step Forward

FatherReader here, making a brief guest post (in no small part because Pam’s busy trying to get the kids ready for the first day of school tomorrow). But since she didn’t want to leave you, dear readers, without original content over the long weekend, she asked me to fill in. So be forewarned — I can’t claim to be as wittily smart-assed as MotherReader, so I tend to make up for it by being merely long-winded and inflammatory.

That said, I’m really just going to pass the buck and post a video we both found amusing this week. See, Pam and I are convinced that the main reason the G.O.P. campaign machine has promulgated the previously-unheard phrase “arugula-eating” in its attempts to smear Obama as elitist is that they needed something new: The de facto phrase when making such a smear — “latté-drinking” — just might raise some uncomfortable backlash accusations of racism. Y’know, what with Obama being of... blended racial heritage.

But rather than delve into a whole discussion on that topic (feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section, of course), I just thought I’d post this similarly-themed Onion News Network segment. And then go see if I can pick up some arugula while waiting for my own morning latté.