August 12, 2012
Hello world: I’m on vacation right now, where my brain gets to slow down and open up to things as beautiful as this line of poetry from ”Above Ivanhoe” by Devin Johnston (published in The New Yorker, July 30, 2012).
Light pursues each instance,
catching what it can.
A frog pond of pewter.
The dull shine of hair.
At the ferry crossing,
broad and shallow,
a chain still glints
beneath the spangled current.
August 2, 2012
Last winter I picked up a copy of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett at the library and began reading it to my children. A bad idea: my daughter’s too young, my son only wants to read books about boys having adventures where the bad guys learn a lesson. But oh, this story! The joy of fresh air! A house you can get lost in! The potential for beauty in a dormant garden hidden away from everyone but you! And then check out Burnett’s descriptions of human emotion. Here she is on what it feels like listening to a tantrum:
Even when she pressed her hands more tightly over her ears she could not keep the awful sounds out. She hated them so and was so terrified by them that suddenly they began to make her angry, and she felt as if she should like to fly into a tantrum herself and frighten him as he was frightening her…”He ought to be stopped! Somebody ought to make him stop!”
And then from the perspective of the tantruming child:
If he had ever had anyone to talk to about his secret terrors – if he had ever dared to let himself ask questions – if he had had childish companions and had not lain on his back in the huge closed house, breathing an atmosphere heavy with the fears of people who were most of them ignorant and tired of him, he would have found out that most of his fright and illness was created by himself. But he had lain and thought of himself and his aches and weariness for hours and days and months and years.
Children to Burnett were like plants: they needed water, light, air, sun. But she also shows us how children need to be listened to and heard. I think too many times, like Colin, they’re suffering with secrets they don’t dare share, so convinced they are of the damning nature of the information they possess. As a parent, I want never to forget this.
Even as I force my children to stick with Edwardian morality tales when all they want in the world is to watch Power Rangers on TV.
July 17, 2012
My ever vigilant husband Rick just uncovered The Amanda Project: Unraveled’s first review. Check it out here on Readergirlz.blogspot.com, a fairly fantastic teen literacy website focusing on strong female protagonists and run by a group of YA authors, a few of whom I had the pleasure to read with, and one of whom joined me in a remote gazebo location at a day camp in New Jersey, folornly waiting for kids who had been promised a rock concert to stumble upon us before the show began.
Here’s my favorite line from the review:
Overall, Unraveled was a very satisfying end to the Amanda Project series, and provides a conclusion worthy of the complex mystery developed in previous books. The book is engaging, fast-paced, and also educational, as the guides learn about topics including genetic structures and events in U.S. history while following Amanda’s clues.