Our week in books, week one

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That cover!

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Here’s what we’ve been reading this week:


  • An Everlasting Meal: a re-read of an old very inspiring favorite. She is a big advocate of using every last bit of food, and her philosophy and techniques have gifted me time and time again.
  • The Story of a New Name: Just finishing up the second book in the Neapolitan series. Like the first book, I am finding it compelling but at the same time uncomfortable to read. There is truth here, and reliving those feelings of my early twenties is not always my favorite thing. The fact that she can evoke that amazes me. I’m looking forward to the next book. The covers put me off this series for EVER, as I am notorious for book judgery. Ooops.
  • The Moonstone: I picked this up (in paperback for a song, though now I want that clothbound version I linked to) at Powell’s on the strength of this review and have not been disappointed. Fun fact: I have read every Agatha Christie book ever written, and own a lovely clothbound Dashiell Hammett. I love Father Brown. So after I read that review I was left wondering why oh why I hadn’t heard of Wilkie Collins before? Other authors I haven’t read but cannot understand why: Dorothy Sayers, PD James. So many books, so little time. Also, thanks a lot for this list, Guardian. A great many I have read, but a great many I have not. I have a love/hate relationship with lists of this kind.
  • Hold On to Your Kids: also a re-read. I recently had a conversation with my husband and realized that what I was talking about was covered in this book: the unsung importance of aligning your children to yourselves as parents and to your family as a whole.
  • The Folded Clock: I just started this one, a diary from a 40-something writer. The form alone is enough to keep me going. I’ll update next week on how I’m liking it! Plus, that cover is so beautiful, how could I not check it out?

The girls mostly share/swap/read each others’ books, so I’m going to split their reads into older (ages 9-11) and younger (ages 5-7). These are the free reading choices that have gotten the most love this week.

Older girls’ books:

  • The 50 States: If you already know and love Maps (aka the book that always gets asked about in my Instagram photos), you will love this one. All the girls pore over this one. Totally worth the purchase price, not just for educational value, but for sheer power of holding their interest repeatedly. Now I think we really need Atlas of Adventures!
  • Treasure Island: A re-read for Maya, because who doesn’t love a little swashbuckling? We have the lovely clothbound version in that link, and it has served us well over many, many readings. I think our recent re-listen of our beloved Swallows and Amazons (book here, on Audible read by the inimitable Alison Larkin here) may have prompted this, because apparently we do not have a copy of Robinson Crusoe kicking around. Note to self: must remedy. Sidenote: We also have this audio collection, which includes Treasure Island among some other really great titles! If you have Audible you can get the whole thing for one credit, an amazing deal.
  • Protector of the Small: First Test: Maya is reading this one. I love this series but whoa, those new covers are something else. Please don’t judge the books by their covers. It’s sort of medieval fantasy meets girl power, but nicer than that sounds. The library covers are great, I’m sad that the new ones are so annoying.
  • The Magic Pudding: Cassidy is reading this one, though we have read it aloud in the past. We have the copy in that link, because we are collectors of NYRB Children’s Collection books. I think it’s probably best as a read-aloud first, and one does have to have a sense of humor to pull it off! It is quite funny! Also, an Australian accent does not go amiss here. My brother lives in Australia and so the girls really connect with all things Australian, including this silly book.
  • My Secret War: Cass is a huge fan of this series of books, the Dear America Series, by Mary Pope Osborne (how does she write all those books?). Honestly, I find them well-written and appealing to exactly the right age set. I was so anti-Magic Tree House in the beginning, but kind of grew to love them. They aren’t great literature, but they are a fun way to learn a little bit about history and culture, and I feel the same about this series. I can let Cassidy loose in the series section at the library on these books and never worry. I’ve read all the Christie, she’s read all the Osborne. It’s a thing.
  • Thing Explainer: This is SUCH a fun book! We have all learned something from this one. Appealing to all ages, from the five year old right up to the parents. Highly recommended.
  • The Right Word: A picture book biography of Roget, of Roget’s Thesaurus. I loved the hints it gives about his endless curiosity and list-making. An excellent biography and celebration of the passion of learning. It’s in the older girls’ list, but could easily be in the younger girls’. We have all enjoyed it.

Younger girls’ books:

  • The Story of Noodles: Ying Chang Compestine is a family favorite, but this one and The Story of Chopsticks are at the top of the love list. The charming antics of the Kang brothers and the invention of noodles and chopsticks never fail to delight.
  • Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Go To Market: Flicka, Ricka, Dicka 4ever. This is a fun one to read right now as things are getting up and going in local farmers’ markets.
  • Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls: This was the closest Tintin to hand at the time of writing this post but I could just as well write ALL THE TINTIN BOOKS EVER. The seven year old (not quite reading yet) spends a lot of time with her head in these books. The older girls like them too but it’s Willa who is really taken with them right now. I never read Tintin as a child, but my husband loved them and brought some home early this year, officially beginning the craze at our house. As some have pointed out, there are (clear) issues of race and culture going on here, but don’t let that scare you off. It (hopefully) will not be your kids’ only exposure to any of the cultures/races represented here, remember that.
  • Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory: I am reminded of Lucy in the chocolate factory. Except with a monkey. Enough said.
  • Max & Ruby’s Bedtime Book: Molly is going through a major Max & Ruby phase. Something about the contrast between the proper Ruby and the often dirty, mostly unintentionally mischievous Max really tickles her funny bone. I was thinking it must really be what it feels like to be the youngest. As an eldest child I feel the pressure to be the Ruby. You know what I’m talking about.
  • The Bat Poet: This is currently the younger girls’ bedtime read-aloud (my husband reads to them every night). Rob was impressed that they’re all learning so much about poetry. Considering the younger girls’ love of William Blake and Shakespeare, I had hoped they would be well-suited to this little book. As a sidenote, Jarrell’s beautiful Animal Family is one of my very favorite books. Lyrical!
  • The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature: Loads of pictures/rhyming words in Berenstain Bears style, covering a variety of science/nature topics. They love it.

Commuting listening:

  • The Princess and Curdie: In case you haven’t figured it out, we have a well-used and well-loved Audible account. When in the minivan for more than five minutes, which is almost always, we listen to audiobooks. We just finished a re-listen of Swallows and Amazons (see above) and are now listening to this, the sequel to The Princess and the Goblin. I love, just love George MacDonald, beauty and magic and goodness and truth all rolled up into gorgeous prose. Listening to Ian Whitcomb narrate George MacDonald is even better. His pacing and phrasing are impeccable. I’ll be sad when this one is over.

4 thoughts on “Our week in books, week one

  1. I was just getting ready to order up our library books for the week (hooray for online catalogs when life gets nuts!) and my 9 yr old girl has been asking for new reads. Serendipity! I’m so glad you’re blogging again. 🙂


  2. An Everlasting Meal is my all-time favourite cookbook, though I have a hard time labelling it as such. I just love the way she strings together words, and inspires me to be attentive and intentional as I prepare our meals. I just read Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” and I basically want to make every single recipe in there. I am seriously considering adding it permanently to by cookbook shelf, which is a Very Big Deal.


  3. I just finished reading the final book of The Neapolitan novels. So good!! I’m glad I read them all. I’m currently reading Wolf Hall and LOVING it. I really think you might enjoy it too. The kids and I just finished The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt as a read aloud, it was long but they thoroughly enjoyed it’s epic quest nature. Also going to give a shout for Sewing Happiness, cute book, nice patterns and inspiring to get back to sewing!


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