The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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The next spectacular thing March 8, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 7:30 pm
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“Some family,” I said. “No one’s paying attention to the mother. Who could blame her if she took off? Look at them.”

A minute or so went by, and then Mrs. Windermere said, in a voice as soft as summer blue air, “Skinny Delivery Boy, you have it all wrong. Look how she’s standing close to her little one. She’s looking around to watch for the next spectacular thing that’s going to come into his life.”

And I’m not lying, she was right.


(from Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt)

I’m loving this book from the 2012 Lone Star list so expect several quotes and passages from its pages to appear here in the next few days. It’s all about art’s power to bring light in darkness, empathy and understanding, crossing cultures, looking at people as individuals rather than assuming that their families can define them. Just lovely. It boldly shows the truth that even among teachers there are real bullies and among children there are true heroes. Read it. I know you’ll love it.

 

An ordinary person January 31, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 12:40 am
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Annemarie admitted to herself, snuggling there in the dark, that she was glad to be an ordinary person who would never be called upon for courage. (from Number The Stars by Lois Lowry)

 I want to say something about this quote but the words won’t come. I want to say something about how it came to mind when I watched a mama walk into her son’s memorial service, how all I could think was, “How can they bear it?” Sometimes I think about how people look in their wedding pictures–so happy and hopeful and full of love–and how when they promise their lives for better or worse, they do it at a time when they can’t even conceive of the worst. No one thinks on that day that someday they might be the ones who have to face cancer or betrayal or loss. Or death. But I also think that on that blissful day, it’s impossible to predict the best of the times you will have. How can you know beforehand the joy beyond words of a child that is part of yourself? How can you understand that your love for each other can grow and grow as you earn the type of love together that you never dreamed existed? You can’t know ahead of time what joy and love the picture slide-show of your life will show. And you can’t know ahead of time if that slide-show of the best of times will play to give you comfort at the epoch of your worst of times. I know this is a babbling post. I hope you will forgive me. It is even more jumbled in my mind. The truth is we are all ordinary people. And the truth is we will all be called upon for courage. It is when someone answers the call for courage that she becomes remarkable. It takes courage just to live and to love and to risk loss. In Each Little Bird That Sings, we are told that “It takes courage to look life in the eye and say yes to the messy glory.”

 

Why do I love the Little House books? January 24, 2012

On the smooth, cream-colored page, in Ma’s fine handwriting, Laura read:

If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,

Five things observe with care,

To whom you speak,

Of whom you speak,

And how, and when, and where

Your loving mother

C L Ingalls

(from Little Town On The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

I received a comment a week or so ago asking why I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books so much? I assume this question is mostly in response to the volume of quotes I have used from the Little House series in the last year. Typically, on this blog, you will see groups of quotes from whatever I’m reading at the time. So, in re-reading the series last year, I found many notable quotes and used them during that time. But the question is still an interesting one. Why do any of us love the books we end up loving? I thought about it for a while and I have some answers for this particular series.

First, I love them because my Mumsie gave me the boxed set for my eighth birthday. That was my favorite-ever birthday party: my mom and aunts set up little stations all through our house for my friends and me. We had a make-up station, hair station, and dress up station. She had my great-grandmothers beautiful old dresses (from the days when ladies had many occasions to dress to the nines) shortened for us to play in. We had the dresses, the gloves, the hair-spray smell, the ridiculousness of make-up on eight-year-old faces. Then we had petite fores and punch and other fancy things on my mother’s good china. There was a lace table-cloth on the table. I remember I had asked for a basketball for that birthday because my PE Teacher scolded that I needed lots of practice at home (I couldn’t dare tell her that in our two-sister home there were no basketballs to practice with and DON’T get me started on the PE methods in public education). I did get a basketball–just what I asked for and didn’t want. But I also got the boxed set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I didn’t ask for them. I didn’t even know they existed. I had never heard of the television show based on them, we had not yet read one of them in school, but Mumsie told me she loved them when she was growing up. “Growing up.” That’s how she said it. Not, “I loved them when I was a little girl,” but “I loved them when I was growing up.” It made me feel like she thought I was growing up.

I read them straight through. In class later that year we read The Long Winter and I felt great that I had my own copy at home, so much better than the textbook version. By The Shores of Silver Lake was the first book that ever made me cry, when Laura became Mary’s eyes in a world that had gone dark, when she learned to sacrifice her own selfish desires to work toward sending Mary to college. For years after that, if I needed a good cry and couldn’t get the tears to come, I would pull Silver Lake down from the shelf and read a few chapters about Mary’s blindness. Silly, I know, but true. So I love the books for the memories first. Like my grandmother, I loved them when I was growing up.

And, I love them as a grown-up for a new set of reasons. I love them because they offer a gentle wisdom and a simple lifestyle in a crazy, commercial, speedy world. They take me back to the basics. They chastise me for always taking the easy way or the convenient way. They remind me to live well within my means, to not chase after everything my friends and neighbors have but to live with contentment. The Ingalls and Wilder families show beautiful examples of courage under pressure, grace in the face of tragedy, acceptance of hardships, determination, pluck, relationships, and humor. Sometimes I can hardly believe what they went through. I love the history of this country told through the eyes of a girl growing up in it. I love the romance between Charles and Caroline Ingalls and the romance between Laura and Almonzo Wilder.

In re-reading the series as an adult, I have been challenged to do things for myself that I might not have a few years ago. I am sewing my baby girl’s bedding and some other things for her nursery. I am venturing in to the world of cloth diapers (something I seriously thought was insane a couple of years ago when I had my son). I am making my own household products if I can’t find them at the rock bottom price I want to pay: laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, etc. I make gifts for people I love instead of shopping around to buy them something. I feel like I’m living more abundantly and counting my blessings more readily. When something is hard for me, I think how easy my modern life is compared to the pioneer life and I am grateful.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to depend on the weather for the very food to feed my family. I’m grateful to be having babies in the twenty-first century when my 8lb 4oz breech baby could be delivered by c-section safely, when I can get a glimpse of my daughter in an ultrasound video to know she’s growing well. I’m grateful for electricity and technology, for community and all the books I want.

I love the Little House books because they remind me of growing up, because they challenge me as a grown-up to live more simply, to do without what I don’t need and to appreciate the luxuries of living when i do, and because they’re just flat good books that have stood the test of time.

 

 

An awfully big adventure January 18, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 9:33 am
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Next moment he was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face and a drum beating within him. It was saying, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” (from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)

 

What your figure will be January 12, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 3:04 pm
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“What your figure will be, goodness knows,” Ma warned her. “When I was married, your Pa could span my waist with his two hands.”

“He can’t now,” Laura answered, a little saucily. “And he seems to like you.” (from Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

This one made me smile. I’m glad my husband still seems to like me despite my greatly increased waistline. The bigger challenge for me is to still like myself (I mean, my physical self). It’s hard at times to accept a body that changes, even harder at a time when the public ideal is either skeletal thinness or body builder type muscle. It leaves the rest of us working incredibly hard to maintain something that at least looks okay when fully clothed.

I remember going to a museum a few years ago and seeing plaster castes of Renaissance era Greek statues–beautiful nudes of full-figured women lounging or standing. I couldn’t see any of their ribs, nor did a single one have defined abdominal muscles, but they were beautiful. At the time they were sculpted, they were the ideal of womanly beauty. In fact, many of them were the artists’ depictions of goddesses. It occurred to me then that the modern ideal of womanly beauty would look almost grotesque on a sculpture of that style. But that doesn’t keep me from yearning for a thinner, leaner figure.

I struggle to see the beauty in what my body has become–a heck of a lot closer to a Greek statue woman than a modern swimsuit model. I read a question the other day that made me laugh and sigh: If you could go back to your childhood or teenage years what is one thing you would do? My answer: I would wear shorts every warm day and appreciate my darling, thin, gorgeous legs. But I actually can’t go back to the summers when I had darling legs and wasted them, so what do I do with where I am now?

I take an honest look and force myself to be appreciative. My body has been good to me. It has done some incredible work. It grew up. It carried a baby (quite a good-sized one) and endured surgery to give him a safe entrance into the world. It provided his nourishment for the better part of his first two years. Now it is carrying another baby. It will endure another surgery in a few months. It is nurturing and growing an entire human who is growing at a remarkable rate. Once again it will produce milk to sustain the life of my child. My body is tired, but it keeps on giving to the baby. It is preparing for the next phase even as it does the good work of the phase we are in. It has a scar. It has more padding than it used to. But it’s a good body. It’s the body of a woman, not the body of a child. I’m actually pretty proud of it…even if I can’t wear shorts with much confidence anymore.

(Seriously, if you are sixteen years old, WEAR SHORTS every day that is warm enough!!!)

 

Grown-ups never understand January 10, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics,Picture Books — Kristi @ 12:05 am
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Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. (from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

I didn’t understand that being the best mom possible would mean learning the truth that there is no such thing as a perfect mom.

I didn’t understand that it wouldn’t be my job to teach him patience; it would be my job to learn it by being his mom.

I didn’t understand that trains are more important than schedules, that dinosaurs will never be extinct in the minds of little boys, or that bacon is the real magic word.

I didn’t understand that the first tucking-in doesn’t always take. I didn’t know that sometimes you just have to say goodnight five more times with kisses and prayers.

It seems I rarely understand anything for myself and Benjamin is always and forever explaining things to me.

 

Untangled January 3, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 11:31 pm
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Laura’s thoughts untangled from their ugly snarls and became smooth and peaceful. She thought, “I will be good. It doesn’t matter how hateful Nellie Oleson is, I will be good.” (from Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

This has been such a struggle for me lately–untangling my thoughts from their ugly snarls when other people are misbehaving. It is hard. My sister is going through a really hard time with a person who is just making her life more and more miserable with every interaction. For me, to find it in my heart to forgive the person who hurts my loved ones is so much harder than forgiving the person who hurts me.

But as much as I despise this person (and I really, really do), I hate more the way it feels to be filled with hatred. I want my thoughts to smooth out, to untangle and be peaceful and calm. It was hard for Laura Ingalls and it’s hard for me–it’s probably hard for everybody–but I will decide to think about things that are uplifting, pure, noble, and good no matter what others may do or say.