Weekly Wrap-Ups #14 & 15

These past few weeks have been slow and dense in my reading materials. Both my audio and book selections were pretty high up in vocabulary. So much so I encountered new words. Yes, even an erudite like myself doesn’t know everything (joke! haha).

So, I’ve finished 2 Audiobooks and 2 Books, a non-fiction and a YA, for the month of April thus far.


Elsie Dinsmore volumes 1 & 2 by Martha Finley

See my review here.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

It was a wonderful surprise that just when I wanted to learn more about Norse mythology, Neil Gaiman annouced that he was compiling a few Norse myths into a new book. I was stunned and waited patiently for it to become available on audio (since Neil has the best reader voice; you’d never know he suffered from speech issues as a young boy!).

He collected a number of Norse myths and rewrote them. Since I am not familiar with the stories, I do not know what changes he may have made to the “originals” (although we know folktales gets morphed quite a bit through time so staying true to the original is a bit hard when there isn’t really one). But hearing these tales make me want to read more. I like them a whole lot better than the Greek myths. The Norse gods seem to be more human; so much so that I get frustrated with them because I keep thinking you are a god! You cannot fail!

My favorite retelling thus far has to the story of how poetry came to be.


The Terror of History: On the Uncertainties of Life in Western Civilization by Teofilo F. Ruiz

Yet another one of those books whose title does not really explain the contents! It was false advertisement. However, since I have to finish books I start I stuck with it. This book was of academic quality and thus tedious to read at leisure.

This book is not really about all of the uncertainties we face in present day life in the West. Rather it is about how we escape all of the unseemly and terrible histories we have both personally and collectively. Professor Ruiz of Princeton shares three main ways in which we avoid (some of us perhaps subconsciously) dealing with the traverses of history: faith, pleasure, and aesthetics.

I appreciate that Ruiz does not negate the power of faith. He respects that for some it is a real force to help them deal with history. He also gives the impractical side of pleasure-seeking (sex, intoxication, etc.) but does explain how it truly allows for escapism. The aesthete (look at this new word I learned!), which Ruiz is himself most of the time, uses art to ponder and avoid history. In the end, Ruiz admits that regards of how we try to escape history (and essentially time), “time will eat all of us [as Saturn and his children], but that is really fine. It is as it should be.”

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson (a fellow Texan!)

Johnson is a wonderful writer; he is humorous and all of the characters, secondary or not, are dynamic and rich. However, I have mixed feelings about the premise of this book. The whole idea behind the book is fixing a Student Council election. Everyone at this school is trying to swing the election in favor of someone, instead of just letting the student voice speak. Well everyone except Gaby de la Cruz who is running for president. But her brother and friends, including the one and only Jackson Greene, know something fishy is going on with the other runner for Student Council president, Keith Sinclair. The reader learns that Keith’s father has bribed the principal to swing the election in favor of his son. What ensues is plot after plot to rig the election for Keith and for Gaby. Instead of going to some higher authority with the speculation that the election is going to be thrown, the “Gang Greene” kids try to fix it to come out for the best candidate, Gaby. While the book is amusing, I don’t know if I’d personally promote it since it deals with throwing an election.


Theo’s class explored music in his preschool class a week ago. Here are some of the ones he wanted to read at home again, plus some others we have enjoyed these few weeks!

Dooby Dooby Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

A fun read aloud book where you get to practice your singing! The animals at Farmer Brown’s farm get wind of a talent show at the upcoming fair. The cows sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” with “dooby” and “moo.” The sheep, pigs, and duck also come up with equally entertaining acts. The end is funny and Theo and I refer to this story quite a lot!

This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt and illustrated by R. G. Roth

My perennial favorite for doing music for preschoolers. I partially love this book because of the tune (“This Old Man”) and partially because of the art. I also find it an accessible Jazz book for kids. I always like to show Theo who writes and/or illustrates books and it was nice to be able to tell him that each of the 9 Jazz musicians were real people.

Punk Farm by Jarrett Krosoczka

Another lovely book to read out-loud! I think I enjoyed belting it (a rendition of “Old MacDonald”) out more than Theo likes hearing it.

Sam Sorts by Marthe Joceyln

A terrific book for boys who like to make hide-outs consisting of everything in their rooms and need support to “clean up.” Yes, Theo is said child and thankfully Sam is, too. Sam takes his time to put up his heap of toys and miscellaneous items because he sorts them in different ways. A perfect introductory book to the idea of same-different; I would even call this a math book. Theo loved it.

Humphrey’s Mixed-up Magic Trick by Betty Birney and illustrate by Priscilla Burris

Another Tiny Tale! In this one, Golden-Miranda uses Humphrey for a magic trick. Room 26 is exploring careers and Golden-Miranda wants to be a magician. A.J. doesn’t think girls can be a magician, but in the end, thanks to help from Humphrey, she shows him that girls can be magicians.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd

A sweet book about a silly little bunny boy who wants to run-away. He wants to run-away so badly that he tells his mom. She lets him know that no matter how he run-aways, she will follow and bring him back. He then decides that he will just stay where he is.

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

This 2017 Caldecott honor book is wonderful. Theo loves it so much. I love it, too. I mean, yes I’m a librarian who likes cat, but beyond the whole cat connection, I’m impressed with how Wenzel introduces children to the different way animals see. He shows how the cat looks to different animals and insects, from by sound (emphasized by the size of the cat’s bell), by heat waves, and in different colors. A masterpiece. I especially love the ending.

Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth by Jarvis

This 2×2 book is a favorite of Theo. I think it’s a little too silly, but it is SO MUCH FUN to read aloud. Alan is an alligator who comes from a long line of snazzy snappers. He loves to scary his follow jungle friends. One day, something happens to his snappers. Will he get them back and keep scaring his neighbors?

Maisy Takes a Bath by Lucy Cousins

Maisy is getting ready to take a bath. But her friends keep interrupting her! A nice bathtime book.

What have you been reading these past few weeks?


  1. I’m gonna reserve the books you read to Theo for my son. Since my last comment, I listened to The Help. I’ve seen the movie, read the book, but still thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. It’s a great audio book. Took a little break and listened to the sound track of Hamilton, the musical, via Hoopla. With my children, we listened to Appleblossom the Possum. Have you come across this book? It’s quite cute. The same author wrote Counting by 7s, which has a totally different tone compared to Appleblossom. The former is lighthearted and fun, the latter is quite serious and definitely geared for older kids or going adults. I’m currently in the midst of listening to Zookeeper’s wife, so far so good, and with the children we have a bunch of Ramona audio books lined up. We recently had a field trip to a play called Ramona Quinby, so it’s neat to visualize the characters while we listen to the books.

    1. Yes, I listened to Appleblossom the Possum! I enjoyed it as an audio, too. And I just love Ramona. Next year when Theo turns 5, I’m totally starting him on Ramona (I actually like her better than Henry Huggins! but that may be because I’m a girl…). Zookeeper’s Wife looks really good; I may pick that as my next audio as I’m running out of titles!

  2. I forgot to mention that I borrowed a bunch of Flat Stanley Worldwide Adventures for my second graders. I think they like them, but not love them. They like Roscoe Riley books a little more I think. Anyway, I try to borrow books and have them around the house so they’ll pick up and read them.

    1. That’s a great idea–leave books around and see what peaks their interest. I’ll have to remember that one. I was unfamiliar with Roscoe Riley, but I see it’s by Katherine Applegate. She’s a good author, except in my opinion for Crenshaw, but that’s one for when your girls are a bit older.

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