For Christmas 2013, Mr. Grassroofs and I were pretty busy getting married. We had all manner of family in town, full time jobs, second jobs, a wedding, and oh yeah Christmas. “Oh Yeah Christmas” is my favorite type of Christmas. Being summarily broke, we had to get creative.
Mr. Grassroofs got creative by giving me a year of books- coupons redeemable each month for a new book. Don’t you just love getting a new book?! The thrill of hoping you have nothing left on your to-do list that day so you can rush straight home, fix a cup of tea, put on those not-fit-for-public comfy socks and read for hours.
So here’s how my year went. My year of tea and socks and love and loss and travel and hate and compassion.
The Fault in Our Stars- Man, the starts are so freakin’ faulty. This book left me in a puddle of tears on a cramped airplane ride across country. Beautiful is not even sufficient to describe this love story. All great love stories are wrought with joy and sadness, but John Greene flawlessly paints the watercolor of this unique sadness, blurring the lines between where it starts and joy begins so that all readers are left with is the essence of what pure love is in this world. I read I do, turned the page-blank and quiet, and I was ruined for all other books.
Locomotive Locomotive, by Brian Floca, is still sitting on the top of my filing cabinet at school. That majestic place where I put books that I want kids to know of, but I don’t actually want them to interact with my copy. Maybe…definitely, that makes me a sub-par teacher. But this book is beautiful. The story of the transcontinental railroad, the book is written with a variety of poetic elements (including onomatopoeia that kids love) and coupled with masterful illustrations that can be adored multiple times. Several times, students have asked me to bring it down from the filing cabinet so they can read it and each time I do it begrudgingly, with a look that says sometimes I’m not the most generous teacher and if you return this book with dog-eared pages or accidently spill your water bottle on it, you’ll never hear the end of it.
Journey Journey is a fun, wordless picture book. When I showed it to Mr. Grassroofs, he called it an updated Harold and the Purple Crayon. The story begins with a bored child who shortly finds a magic red crayon that opens doors to a fantastical world. There is lots of day saving, rescuing, creating, and imagining. This book is definitely one worth buying and exploring over and over again.
The Paris Wife I read The Paris Wife on our honeymoon, which was potentially a silly time to read a book based on womanizing scoundrel, Ernest Hemmingway. Narrated by Hems first wife, Hadley, this book is great with wine and cheese. Hadley illustrates for readers a world like that in Gatsby, leaving you to wonder just how memoir-ic Fitzgerald’s book really was. Yet, as I read, I felt as though part of Hadley was in me, like I had been her at many moments in my short adulthood- surrounded by a life too big for me, not understanding how this “larger than life” love of my life could possibly love me in return, feeling as though my frumpy clothes and lack of social graces were my defining characteristics. The Paris Wife is a good book for the EveryWoman.
More on April next time!