In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Traveling with friends

Dear Aunt Debbie,

Thank you for getting us entered into the Independent Book Blogger Awards!  Readers, please go vote for us there starting tomorrow (Tuesday)!  I'm looking forward to perusing some more book blogs I don't know about yet.

Our regular reader (and my former awesome student) Erica has corrected me in a comment on my use of the term "book trailer" to describe John Green's vlog about The Fault in Our Stars.  I spent a little bit of time tonight looking at John Green and his brother Hank's Nerdfighters site, which seems to be a rich and intense world.  Their goal: "We fight to increase awesome and decrease suck."  Looks like a nice community to be able to join, especially if you're a nerdy HS student.

I'm still left with the question: publishers are pushing for authors to make book trailers and have more of an online presence, but are people really watching these things regularly, if they're not part of an organic community with a larger goal?

We've been on vacation this week, which means very few new books, but a lot of good rereading of old ones, especially skinny little books that can slip easily into the back of the diaper bag so I can pull them out when we're waiting in line at an amusement park, or at the table in a restaurant before the food has come.

So hello, old friends: Little Bear, Poppleton, A Bargain for Frances, The Golly Sisters, the Nutshell Library.  Eleanor and I are rereading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which is just as gripping as it was for her the first time around, and opens the way for different conversations than it did when she was 3 1/2.  I love that book.

But our Narnia comes in a nice heavy hardcover, so we needed a chapter book of reasonable length to keep Eleanor occupied without weighing down the diaper bag.  Enter Molly Learns a Lesson, the second in a series of six American Girl books which Eleanor received for Christmas and her birthday from her grandmother, my mother-in-law, along with her Molly McIntire doll.  You and I have chatted briefly about the American Girl experience.  I was pleasantly surprised when we read the first one a few months ago: reasonable writing, interesting historical detail.  Molly is the spunky 1944 girl whose father is a doctor over in London helping treat soldiers in a military hospital.  There's a kind of Little Women feel to some of it -- a fatherless family pulling together on the Home Front and trying to help the war effort, while the children are drawn into their own smaller intrigues.  There's also a certain amount of Learning of Lessons, even in the books that don't have it in the title, but all in all both Eleanor and I are engaged.

It's interesting to read them today and think about what aspects are anachronistic -- I remember reading my mom's old copy of Junior Miss, by Sally Benson, published in 1941, and both enjoying it tremendously and feeling a little uncomfortable about the gender roles portrayed in the relationship between Judy Graves and her friends.  (This, in a brief review on a lovely librarian blog, is the copy I read.)  In Valerie Tripp's Molly stories, there's a lot of boys-against-girls stuff going on, but it's also carefully modulated: the very smart girl wins the class multiplication bee, rather than the obnoxious boy, though Molly herself isn't very good at multiplication.  You can feel the hand of the editor urging caution in creating female characters with the right combination of strength, endearing flaws, and historical accuracy.  It's an interesting mix.

Love, Annie


  1. Best of luck in the Independent Book Blogger Awards race. You've got my vote.

  2. Hi Annie, How nice to find another blog run by family members. We think discussing books leads to all sorts of adventures and misadventures in our faamily!

    1. M, your blog is terrific. Makes me look forward to the conversations to be had in the next few years with my girls, too.

  3. Hi! Found you through the IBBA awards nominees for YA on Goodreads! :) thought I'd make some new friends while trying to win votes in the Adult Fiction category! :) I'm now following your blog and I hope you will consider following mine (and voting for me in the Fiction category if you haven't already voted for someone else):