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Fly Away – Patricia MacLachlan

fly away patriciaOh this book. This Gigantic-fonted 100 paged innocent looking thing. I read it in just an hour or so but it will stick with me for a long time. Patricia MacLachlan is talented. I haven’t read her other works yet (but definitely will) but she writes complex ideas with minimal words. This is a book a young child could read easily, but it is not a simple boring story.

It’s about family (I suspect most of this author’s works are) and how one messy family came together when a flood was threatening their house. Frankie lives in the house her sister and she grew up in, but now, the river is coming and the family wants to help. “That river. She’s a her in my book. She’s been a friend most of these years, bringing boaters who deliver groceries. Bringing birds and beauty. We’ve lived through storms and sunrises and sunsets. Winter Squalls. I want to see how far she’s going to crawl up my hill. I want to know if she’ll come into my house. Sometimes I talk to her at night. She’s great company.”

So the river flood is happening, but as in real life so are a million other things too. Our main character, a child named Lucy secretly wants to be a poet, lives in a family of singers and cannot carry a tune. Her sister is an amazing artist but no one quite knows yet, and it turns out Lucy is the only one who knows her 2 year old brother Teddy can sing like an angel. He doesn’t use words, but every night he sings just to his big sister. The adults have their problems too, but they are all through the lens of a child so it is felt, but not explained. The mother I related to more than I wanted to. Her youngest hasn’t bonded with her as well, and she feels guilt over it. She also wants to be or do something more with her life but can’t quite put her finger on it.

“No, it isn’t you. Mama needs something all her own, that’s all,” he [Dad] says.
He goes out to where Mama is.
“Mama needs more than us,” I say.
“Not really,” says Frankie. “she just doesn’t quite know what she has. She never did. She’ll find that out one day. I promise.”

If you are a mom, you know exactly how that feels, if you aren’t there are other things in the story for you to relate to, and that’s the brilliancy of it all. The whole book reads almost like a long poem, while still being accessible to anyone. More happens, secrets come out and the family comes together. I laugh because the little 2 year old is brilliant but quite. It reminded me so much of my little girl. We were so worried about her because she was a late talker, only to have her bust out counting to over ten shortly after she began saying “Mama.”

Everyone is unique with something to offer. Everyone has secret dreams and hopes and this book gets that.  Now, will my daughters like it?  Who knows, I am sure there will be things they can relate to with Lucy – like wanting to be good at something like everyone else… but It’s too early to say.

  • Author: Patricia MacLachlan
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN:1442460091
  • Copyright: April 8, 2014

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The Children of Noisy Village – Astrid Lindgren

The Children of Noisy Village

Some people, when they find out they will be having a baby, dream of Ballet classes or Baseball games with their little ones.   Me? I had visions of reading great books to mine.  I have been reading picture books and board books repeatedly for the past 5.5 years and finally… Yes, FINALLY my girl and I read a novel together.  Am I excited?!? You bet! I kind of questioned if this day would ever get here.

IMG_6431It’s so funny because these pre-parenthood visions are never very accurate and don’t quite turn out how you imagine they will.  I would have never guessed that “The Children of Noisy Village” would have been the first book my little one would let me read without many pictures in it.  I had tried Pippi Longstocking, the Little Prince, my Father’s Dragon and they were  a no-go for one reason or another.  (those are still on my list though)  It’s hilarious because this book, the one to capture my little one, is about nearly nothing.  There is no hero, there is no danger, there is no conflict at all in this book.  It’s about a little girl named Lisa who lives with her two brothers in a village in Sweden where the go to school and celebrate holidays with the neighbor kids.

I included this picture because it makes me laugh. Lisa and her friend give their best dolly to a girl who is sick. Oh good- my little one is learning some great stuff here… and then she said to me “Mama, I hope that someday I get sick and someone gives me their best dolly” wow! seriously, that’s crazy! That’s something I definitely need to work on! Work started immediately after that was said.

Maybe that’s the true brilliancy of it all. I have been laughing ever since, because I found the book to be very nearly boring compared to many I have read, but she ate it up.  But then, today I took my little girls to the bank to cash in their piggy bank savings so they could buy a toy they have both been wanting very badly for the last month.   That trip, which is an every day kind of thing for me, was so special to the girls;  From the quite bank where they repaired her ripped dollar bill and gave her near magical paper money in exchange for her baggie full of coins, on down to the toy store where she handed the money in for herself and got a new toy.  The day to her was wonderful, and amazing, and all kinds of interesting.

Maybe, Just maybe everything is an adventure to kids of this age.  Maybe, just maybe she didn’t need dragons, or girls stronger than  10 men, or alien-prince characters to hold her attention because every day is new and interesting.  Walking to school, or playing with friends IS the adventure and I somehow missed that.  Nice work Mrs. Lindgren, I think you got that a long time ago.

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Rasmus and the Vagabond

rasmus and the vagabond

Poor Poor Rasmus.  If only he had curly hair and better yet- was a little girl instead of a boy with straight hair. Surely if he was, the nice families would come and adopt him from the orphanage, Right?  While the older boys try to tell Rasmus to stop hoping for a family, he simply can’t give up the dream and settle into the orphanage life, which is all he has ever known.  Rasmus is a pretty good boy, but he just cannot take the orphanage anymore and he runs away wishing for freedom and hopefully a family.  It turns out, freedom is scary when you are a little kid in a dark, cold and foodless world.  Oh, he forgot about hunger! And Man, is he cold!  Thankfully our little friend bumps into the friendly Oscar not too long into his newfound independence.  A disheveled, friendly man who declares himself to be God’s best friend.

Together Rasmus and Oscar travel the countryside in search of food.  They sing for their supper (Oscar is a wonderful accordion player how can earn decent money when he tries) and do various chores to get by.  The country setting makes me want to get out of the city immediately and go for a stroll down some dirt road and just enjoy the world for a bit.  In fact, I was jealous of it all if I am honest and can see why Oscar chose to be a wandering bum.  The world isn’t all rosy for our friends.  The police suspect them of stealing all the time, and they bump into two very bad men.  I do not want to wreck the surprise or storyline, but this isn’t just a cute story about a friendship between a lonely boy and a nice man.  There’s action in it to keep the kids entertained.  Action with guns, and rolling fist fights, Jail-time and secret hideouts.

For a book written in 1956, Rasmus and the Vagabond sure is a timeless and wonderful read.  Astrid Lindgren does a fantastic job writing books that kids and adults both love.  There was emotion that made me want to hug poor little Rasmus and his fantasy of a mom to hug him when he is sick, and action enough that kept me reading late into the night to see what was going to happen. When I closed the book… I literally sighed a happy sigh and went to sleep with a big silly smile on my face. I thought I knew how it would end, but I didn’t guess correctly! I have read a number of Lindgren books, and this one is my favorite so far.  I am so glad that Plough Publishing re-released this story (using the same illustration as the older hardback versions) the book world is a better place because of it.  New York Book Review is releasing two other Lindgren books in May that I am eagerly awaiting so I can read them too. Mio My Son, and Seacrow Island so be on the lookout for those too.  It has gotten to the point where I don’t have to know what the book is about, if Astrid Lindgren wrote it, I’m going to read it.  I know it’s early in the year still, but for now Rasmus and the Vagabond is my favorite read of 2015.  I received a copy of this book for review and its going on my favorites shelf to read to my girls when they can handle chapter books.

  • Author: Astrid Lindgren
  • Illustrator: Eric Palmquist
  • ISBN: 978-0874865974
  • Publisher: Plough Publishing House
  • Copyright: 2015 first published 1956

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Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.