“Let the wild rumpus start!”

“Let the wild rumpus start!”

Happy Birthday, Maurice Sendak!

3b5bf0e698a854997fa38351d2597336

“king of all wild things.”- Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

This beloved children’s author and illustrator turns 89 today, or at least he would have if he had not passed away in 2012. Best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak has influenced children’s literature in so many ways. The story of Max and his adventures in the wild forest with its wild creatures is one of my favorites. Dressed in a wolf costume, Max lives out his wildest dreams of adventure and reveling with his new friends, he is eventually crowned the King of the Wild Things. Donning a wild crown, Max eventually decides to return back home to find a hot dinner waiting for him. Filled with such beautiful illustrations and enduring lines, Where the Wild Things Are encourages adults and children alike to give in to their sense of adventure and wildness.

Another favorite is Little Bear, a series about a bear and his family that Maurice Sendak illustrated. Little Bear goes on many adventures with his woodland friends, loves his mother and father, who is a sea captain, and is just a generally lovable little bear. The illustrations are less fantastical than those found in Where the Wild Things Are, but both are uniquely and beautifully Sendak.

If you have little ones, read them these books today and relish the illustrations and imagination of a truly unique artist. If you don’t have little ones running around, “let the wild rumpus start” all on your own!

Looking for another way to celebrate Sendak’s big day? Check out some of my favorite Wild Things-themed goods at the links below.

How cute are these max crowns? Perfect for a photo shoot, dress up, birthday party– the only limit is your imagination.

Wild things t-shirt? Yes, please. Wild things t-shirt for grown up dudes? YES, PLEASE!!! Wild things t-shirts for the whole family? I can’t even deal…

Awesome advice for a little boy or girl. Make sure they can see it everyday with this nursery decor. Let the wild rumpus start!

Looking for something a little sweeter? Tell them how much you love them with this nursery decor.  I’ll eat you up, I love you so.

Wild things matryoshka nesting dolls.  Need I say more?

Get your own copy of Where the Wild Things Are here.  Little Bear can be found here.

 

Happy Birthday, Maurice Sendak! May we all act a little more like a wild thing today and everyday in your honor.

 

The Fault in Our Stars- John Green: Book Club Questions

Here are some things to think about as you read and discuss John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

tumblr_mxt40bvrOI1sldldqo1_500

– Hazel and Gus purposefully do not act as we “expect” cancer patients would. Why do you think Green portrays his characters this way?

– Towards the end of the book, Van Houten reveals why he treated Hazel and Gus the way he did in Amsterdam. Do you think that his reaction and explanation are understandable? What did you think of Hazel’s treatment of him?

– How does Green portray Gus and Hazel’s classmates? Do you think that this is an accurate depiction of what would happen in real life? What is Green saying by including this in the book?

– What did you think of Green’s depiction of a teenage girl? Was it convincing?

– Is this a cancer book or a love story? What do you think is the central theme of the book?

Find more at Lit Lovers: An Well-Read Online Community and read a Q&A with the author on his website.

The Fault in Our Stars- John Green

9780525478812_custom-7eb6cc16a8a3f2266865895e1718ac9e9d6232e0-s6-c30Last week I read The Fault in Our Stars. I’m guessing that those of you who have read this book understand why I don’t offer any other explanation. It is simply not necessary for, or even worthy of, the magnificent book that John Green has created. Don’t expect to feel uplifted and happy about life’s troubles after reading this book– it is a “cancer book,” after all. But about the human spirit? Absolutely.

As much as I enjoyed reading the book, today’s post is not going to focus on the fictional teenagers at its center. As I started researching the movement around John Green and the seemingly endless praise for his work, I realized something very remarkable. So many of the comments on  his website and Twitter feed are from teenagers. A generation that we, productive adults, have counted out as lost. Kids today, we say, they just don’t get it. We complain about their sense of entitlement. We complain about their lack of personal responsibility. We even complain about their communication, their text-speak. But, reading the comments of these tweens and teens, it struck me how much we have been missing about who that generation really is. We overlook the fact that they feel entitled… to choices and opportunity, and are willing to correct situations that don’t offer them. We don’t see that they take responsibility… for their own expression, doing whatever they can to find out who “me” is. And as we are shaking our heads at their LOLs and YOLOs (by the way, TFIOS=The Fault in Our Stars–it’s a thing), we fail to realize that they are communicating… to each other and the world at a rate never before available or seen.

Go over to John Green’s website or follow him on Twitter, @realjohngreen to find out more about him, his work, and his amazingly wonderful readers.

Book club questions coming tomorrow!

Someone- Alice McDermott

916weFnVRVL

The Home Book Club is back after a brief hiatus with Alice McDermott’s quiet and beautiful novel, Someone. Returning from  her own seven-year hiatus, McDermott tells the story of Marie, a girl growing up in Brooklyn to Irish parents, later a woman with a family of her own on Long Island, through the lens of the everyday. Beginning with the death of a young girl on Marie’s street, the novel softly begins the job of building a life. Marie experiences heartbreak, love and marriage, motherhood, and aging, of herself and her family. Without fanfare and including the mundane with the life-changing, Someone captures the reader from the very first sentence.

McDermott is no stranger to works fused with delicious description of the seemingly common. In an interview with PBS Newshour’s Jeffrey Brown, McDermott expressed the importance of language in her writing.

We are surrounded by story. Story is very accessible to us, more so than ever. But what I think literary fiction does is raise the level of the sentence to be as important as the story the sentence tells. The rhythm, the beauty, the music of it is as important as character or plot.

Featured in The New York Times Sunday Book ReviewSomeone is a treasure. A small and delicate treasure full of the exquisite, sometimes surprising, beauty and pain that makes up an ordinary life.

Discussion Questions for Someone:

– How does Marie’s internal observation differ from what she communicates to the world?

– What does the novel say about family and community?– What roles do Marie’s mother and father play in her life? How does their perspectives influence hers?

– Each passage seems to offer a different view of Marie: daughter in a power-struggle with her mother over baking bread, young woman at her first job, sister offering help to a hurting brother. What does that say about the experiences that we get in life?

McDermott’s other works include Charming BillyAfter ThisThat Night, and others. They have been awarded the National Book Award, finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and have been featured in literary magazines and newspapers.

Watch the PBS Newshour interview here.

Family Reading- The Giver

the-giver-by-lois-lowryThe Giver is, I think, one of the best books to read with your family. Actually the first in a collection of four novels, The Giver tells the story of Jonas, a twelve-year old boy who is given the task of “keeping” all of the memories for the people of his community. As his friends are given adult assignments like taking care of the elderly or newborns, Jonas is selected to fill a much more challenging role. He must leave his family unit and take on the burden of human experience, with only his elderly predecessor as a guide. Lois Lowry brings to light topics such as family, sacrifice, and the importance of fully living and experiencing life.

– There are many redeeming qualities about Jonas’ community: strong family bonds, no poverty or unemployment, equal treatment for each citizen. How do these aspects compare to the lack of diversity? What do you think is lost and gained by adhering to community structure the way that they do?

– How is Jonas’ family different from others in their community? Do you think this has an impact on Jonas and the choice he eventually makes to leave?

– Do you think that Jonas was happy about being chosen to be the next Giver?

– While training to become the next Giver, Jonas experiences both painful and joyful memories. Why do you think that both are necessary?

– Why do you think that Jonas leaves the community? Would you have made the same choice?

– In her acceptance of the Newberry Award for this book, Lois Lowry allows for various interpretations of the ending, saying “There’s a right one for each of us, and it depends on our own beliefs, our own hopes.” How did you interpret the final scene of The Giver?

This book is particularly good for young readers. In fact, is is often included in middle school curriculum and has been included on NPR’s “100 Best-Ever Teen Novels” and Goodread’s “Listopia: Best Young Adult Books.” Enjoy it this season with your family readers!