Monday, July 21, 2014


Three Little Girls.

Ivy: (After accidentally dropping something) Oops! Buff my buffers!
Esky: It's "Bust my buffers."
Ivy: Bufst my buffers!

Every day:
Ivy: Mia is awake, can I touch her now?!
Me: I'm pretty sure you touching her is why she is awake.
Esky: Yup, she was stroking her cheek again.
Ivy: But now she is awake, can I touch her?
5 minutes later:
Ivy: Papa!  Papa!  Mia is awake, you can touch her now.

Esky: I'll be Elsa.
Ivy: I'm Elsa. See my cape and glove? (Twisting to reveal tied-on scarf and splaying fingers within one of Mia's socks)
Esky: I know! We can both be Elsa!
Ivy: Na.
Esky: Don't you want to be Anna? She's the real hero.
Ivy: Did you see my glove? Splay.  Splay.
Esky: Okay, I'll be Anna.
Me: Good call, E, she is the real hero in my book.
Ivy: No Mama, it's a movie.

Ivy: Car sounds like our car! (Pointing at a car of the same make and model, while out and about.)
Esky: It's "Car like our car!" You cannot hear if their engine is just the same, you just see they are a silver SUV.
Ivy: Car like a car!

Whenever we drive down a steep hill (which is often, in this city):
Ivy, then Esky: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

June (a friend): Let's play pretend. I really like this bed, this can be my bed. (Her hand on Ivy's bed rail)
Ivy: This bed is only for Ivies.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A New Canavan Series
Thief's Magic, Trudi Canavan
  • Like the The Black Magician series and The Traitor Spy Trilogy, Trudi Canavan's latest novel harnesses multiple storylines, giving each equal attention.  In this novel, there are only two leads -- one male, one female.  I found both stories of equal interest...but I am disappointed in Canavan's treatment of something in this department!  Ah!  How could she?!  HOW COULD SHE!?
  • Yes, I'll keep reading this series.
  • Both of these compelling narratives move along at a fair (but not fast) pace. And Canavan's writing has this confidence to it that I settle into, sighing with certainty I am in good, intelligent hands.
  • The world-building is tremendous, as I expect from Canavan.  The magical system is sophisticated and fascinating.
  • The characters are incredible, as usual. Like many of Canavan's protagonists, they operate in a moral grey area, but are essentially good, and likeable.
  • There is some unpleasant sexual content, but I think it was handled with care and was integral to the story (a rare thing, I've found!).
  • There is some world-specific terminology again, but it is again carefully meted out so as not to overwhelm.
  • There is no really nasty violence or offensive language.
Overall, Thief's Magic is another strong fantasy installment...although I let out an exasperated "Ah!" at its closure.

Review copy received from Hachette.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon: The Book

How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell
Hachette recently released a movie tie-in edition of the first book in this series, and when review copies became available, I seized the opportunity to read this popular tale;
  • As many already know, this novel for young readers is very, very different from the film -- so don't let the film's animated hero on the book's cover mislead you -- the two share a few features, but they are not the same story.
  • One of the chief differences lies in the absence of young ladies in the book.  The only reference to females being the lads' mothers (a few times), and then, they are brutish and uninteresting.  Whether to make the movie more marketable or no, I think it a wise move to inject some gutsy girls in the mix.
  • And when the label "for young readers" is bandied about, I would add the novel is for very young readers; as the silliness of "Dragonese" and the abundance of bodily humour (boogers, farts, warts and so on) would patronise those more advanced. 
  • In fact, I enjoyed the movie (and its humour) more than the book and book's (it isn't the first time this has happened, it does, on occasion).
  • A negative for me; the book reads as a guide to insults and reinforces stereotypes.  Yes, an unlikely hero triumphs, but in branding him unlikely the book has done little to upset bullies everywhere.  All Hiccup has to endure before he's received a hero unsettles me, a little.  I don't like suggesting to young people that if they are skinnier, or have red hair, or have hobbies others perceive as "geeky," they are less likely to succeed...especially since the opposite can be true.  
  • That said, I think sticking it out in spite of the naysayers is honourable.  And I do like the message that we are the masters of our own destiny.
  • There are a few irresistibly funny moments and some great similes for young readers to sink their teeth into.
For the very young reader who still snickers over boogers, this is a solid and accessible adventure tale, peppered with illustrations to entice even more reluctant readers.  For me?  Not as enchanting, amusing or powerful as some other children's lit, but I was happy to read it in virtually a single sitting.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Eight things you probably didn't know at 8:00

  1. I keep gum in the car and I chew before my Sunday School and weekday piano lessons because I will not be That Teacher.  If you think gum is like cud, I empathise....but I will not. be. Her.
  2. Christopher Plummer (who played hunky Captain von Trapp) coined and trafficked the term The Sound of MucousMore diverting trivia here.
  3. I am craving salted caramel...
  4. ...but thee pasta remains my favourite food above all other foods.  Above watermelon, Yum Neua, a Jitsu plate, Canadian hot chocolate or a slice of pumpkin pie.  That's how serious this is. 
  5. I have been known to use my car-voucher-scissors to trim my hair, in-car, now and required.  My class?  She be boundless.
  6. Jimmy Fallon has a doppelganger. (11, 17 and 18 are also personal faves.)
  7. I have paid two catch-up visits to the local laundrette this winter, even though I have a working washer and dryer at home.  6 loads' worth in 40 minutes is worth quite a bit to me.
  8. Ivy currently gets to down a shot of "strawberry" milk after successful Hans Solo in-bowl urination.  The quotation marks on the flavour are because really, it's standard milk with a few drops of colouring. Yessir, we'll be ridin' that deception train as long as we can.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Books We're Loving: 5 years ii

Hooray for Feet! Susan Pearson
This book introduces verbs and synonyms in fun, rhyming lines without an over-arching story.  Simple and splendid. 
Dragon is Coming! Valeri Gorbachev
A simple and short story stemming from a misunderstanding. There's lots of room for different voices for the reader here (/fist pump), and accessible humour for young ones.
Zizzy, Penny Matthews
A sweet little premise played out with soft and irresistible illustrations.  I do great voices for this one too, you should know.
A Paddling of Ducks, Marjorie Blain Parker
A vocab booster book -- those ones you can fly through easily but store store store those (semi-useful) new words!  The humourous illustrations and quirky terms are a treat.
Sam the Cat, Sam Bowring
I've read Sam Bowring's cheeky bloodbath novels.  They're good.  So's this.  But this story is only cheeky, I assure you.  My girls enjoy it, and Esky particularly enjoys the feline illusions of grandeur.  The illustrations may not be in Shirley Hughes' style, but the tone of the tale reminds me of how she might have told this story if she were to capture it in ominiscient "third cat" (cf. third person).

More children's books favourites, by age:
18-24 months i
18-24 months ii
24-30 months
Almost 3
3 years
Almost 4
4 years 
4.5 years
5 years i

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