April 24, 2009

i used to live in stoneybrook

Just spent 3 PBS credits on Babysitters Club titles. I got into the books in the fifth grade, when I ordered one from a Scholastic leaflet (it was The Truth About Stacey (#3), which taught me about friendship, Connecticut, and juvenile-onset diabetes) and grew so deeply esconced in the lives of Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne and Dawn that I didn't grow out the series when everyone else seemed to. (Or were they hiding their BSC behind their R.L. Stine like I was?) My interest in continuing faded around #51, but re-read my favorites often. The Ghost at Dawn's House, Kristy and the Snobs, Kristy and the Mother's Day Surprise, Dawn's Wicked Stepsister ... The stories that weren't too farfetched but still brought the good old Stoneybrook drama.

And now, re-reading oldies and fervently ordering and devouring the ones I never read, it's like I never left. I've so far refused to pick up an Abby book because I'm something of a purist and didn't even really like the Logan and Shannon chapters in the Super Specials, but I made room for them - adding Abby, was that really necessary? She seems like a spaz.

Last night I read The Babysitters Remember which I thought would be a throwaway Super Special (recaps, whatever) but it was actually pretty good. It filled in some gaps from the regular series (e.g. why was Shannon Kilbourne such a bleeping bleep when Kristy met her?) and made me tear up (e.g. when Mimi went to bat for six-year-old Claudia, who was humiliated by her teacher for drawing a butterfly self-portrait.)

Revisiting Stoneybrook reaffirms my goal: to re-build the entire collection and house it in my classroom (holy cow, that's a lot of "re"s). The kids who tear through Twilight and Gossip Girl should at least taste the more wholesome but still funny writing of Ann M. Martin (and her ghostwriters). 1) Kristy Thomas has a kick-ass vocabulary. 2) The art of expositing background info? Ann M. Martin is queen. 3) As a kid reader, I loved that the babysitters (while babysitting) seemed closer to 30 than 13. As an adult of course I'm more skeptical (what sane parents would leave an infant in the care of two eleven-year-olds?) but as a kid it made me think that kids really could do these things - run a profitable business, organize Color Wars, solve mysteries, and put irresponsible adults in their places.

On deck: #113 Claudia Makes Up Her Mind. Boys, school and blessings in disguise. Yum. When I've finished my short stack of BSC, I'll get back to The Golden Notebook, but for now, it's still the weekend ...

April 13, 2009

armadillo claws

I have borrowed my friend's copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany and am unable to put it down. I had many opportunities this less-than-stellar weekend to steal away to her quiet apartment to read, with her sweet orange cat perched on my tum. Which occasionally made it hard to breathe, but he's so sweet I couldn't bear to move him until serious oxygen deprivation set in.

I flipped through The 158-Pound Marriage, which she also had lying around, but the name "Utch" and a scene involving a cow on a hot day made me put it back down. Perhaps a book for later.

April 8, 2009

my FLW pop-up reviews

For Maurice Sendak's Mommy? and Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart.


April 6, 2009

like the '90s all over again

I think I've figured out why I like mailing PBS books so much. It's like therapy. Printing out a two-sheet mailing label, finding some way to scotch-tape them together to make something big enough to wrap an oversized paperback, and securing the whole thing with enough packing tape to immobilize a full-grown man - there's something so 1996 about it. As well-intentioned and sweetly primitive as a mix tape, all wrapped up and shipped off with all your hopes that the receiver will like it as much as you did.

Mailing Hotel Honolulu today.


April 4, 2009

the pig is a magical animal

Wow. At last check-in, I swore no one would touch my PBS bookshelf with a ten-foot pole, but thus far I've gotten four requests: The Blank Slate: Modern Denial of Human Nature, Tales of a Female Nomad, Exterminate All The Brutes, and Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next Book 2).

Since I was so awesomely productive, getting all the books down to the PO on time (although I did send them off at the recommended parcel post rate, which is dreadfully, awfully, hideously SLOW), I took myself to Barnes and Noble and bought Kitchen Confidential.

Yah, I know. Defeating the purpose of blah blah blah. But not really! Because I am slowly - and I daresay, albeit prematurely, surely - clearing the shelves of the books I will probably never read. I am clearing the shelves of the books that need a better home than the one I'm providing. And I'm replacing them with books that get gobbled up on the spot (like Kitchen Confidential and the one PBS book I've received so far, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America. Next to Bourdain, Bill Bryson might be the love of my nonfiction life.

Today I took great pleasure in an activity most others would probably find very weird: I got a takeout lunch (chopped salad and chicken chowder) and sat in my car in a congested mall parking lot, reading and eating. Bliss - the perfect end to an imperfect but satisfying Spring Break.

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