Archive for February, 2010

Telling Stories

What if Shira reads Castle Barebane when she grows up, is appalled by the real story (although it’s pretty tame by today’s standards), and wonders what in the world I was thinking telling herĀ  a kid version of the story. The ending I told her had elements of the real ending (bad guys in a boat, sailor saving the day), and it was suited to her, just as the rest of the story that I fashioned for her tastes and age. But I can’t help wondering, after I sort of backed myself into a corner by starting the whole retelling the story as I was reading it, about its lasting effects. Am I like silly Annot, telling scary old stories to the children just because it seems like a fun thing to do to pass the time? I’ll have to find some of Joan Aiken’s children’s lit. and introduce Shira to that. Either way, it’s got to be better than the Barbie Fairytopia story she picked out at the library this week.

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February 26, 2010 at 12:04 PM Leave a comment

Joan Aiken, Children’s Author

OK, she really is a children’s author, writer of the popular (in England, at least, in the ’70s) Wolves Chronicles series. And I remember reading some of her books when I was a preteen and then some of her adult fiction. Check out www.joanaiken.com–it’s a neat website with great graphics.

I found Castle Barebane at a library book sale and started reading it a little while ago. This is one of her later books, published in 1976, and set in the 19th century, and has a fun feminist feel. (I know, what could be fun about that, but imagine writing a book in the ’70s about women’s lib in the Victorian era.) Not exactly children’s literature, though. But making conversation with Shira, and knowing how much she loves princesses, castles, and girly things, I started telling her a 4-year-old’s version of the story, starting with a detailed description of the dress the main character, Valla–who is a far cry from a princess yet reminds me of the paper bag princess—wears to her engagement party. The story works surprisingly well for Shira–as I’m reading, I’m picking up on parts that will interest her to the point that the other day she told me, “Mom, you have to read more so you can tell me what happens next.”

February 19, 2010 at 12:43 PM Leave a comment

Norah Jones, Children’s Musician

Well, she was on Sesame Street, singing “Don’t Know Y” the letter Y left her high and dry–that was in 2007–but I’m talking about “Man of the Hour” from her latest album, The Fall, released last year. If you haven’t heard the song, don’t let me spoil it, get your hands on it and listen to it now.

OK, so the cover of the CD is a big clue, but it took me several listens to figure out that the song is about her dog. So as Shira and I were heading to work and preschool one morning and I was trying to avoid listening to “Starts and Stripes Forever” for the billionth time (although I am glad she appreciates Sousa at such a young age), I tried to interest her in Norah Jones by telling her I thought the song was about a dog and we should listen to the lyrics and figure it out. And believe it or not, it worked. It’s a great mystery kind of a song for a kid to figure out.

February 17, 2010 at 10:57 PM Leave a comment


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