Thursday, March 2, 2017

February 2017 Book Reports

1. Old MacDonald Had A Truck by Steve Goetz, illustrated by Eda Kaban

Emil, Colin and I sang this book instead of reading it. Old MacDonald has all kinds of heavy equipment on his farm in this book. They're building something, but what could it be? When we reached the last page Emil was so delighted that he declared, "The is the best book EVER!" It truly combined every single thing Emil loves the most. We recommend it to anyone who likes to sing or who likes heavy equipment and big tires.

2. Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney

This is the story of a pancake and a piece of French toast racing to get the last drop of maple syrup in the well-stocked, talkative fridge. I think I liked this more than the boys because I was the one reading out loud and there was rhyming in addition to all the fun interpretations of what kind of personalities the foods had. My favorite was the surprise ending - hint; what else needs syrup?

3. Boot & Shoe by Marla Frazee

Boot and Shoe are dogs who were born on the same day (like Emil and Colin). They like to eat at the same time (like Emil and Colin), go to sleep in the same place (like Emil and Colin), and pee on the same tree (hopefully not like Emil and Colin). Boot and Shoe DO NOT like to sit all day in the same place, though. One likes the front porch and the other likes the back porch.

One day a squirrel disrupts the dogs' lives and they end up chasing the squirrel ALL OVER the place. The squirrel walks away after all that chasing, but the dogs are on the wrong porches and are worried about the other. That would TOTALLY happen to Emil and Colin! Ha! Very fun book to read out loud.

4. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

This was a too-long book for Battle of the Books that Bridget and I read together. It takes place during Medieval Times when there are all kinds of rules about what princesses were supposed to do. Princess Cimorene (Bridget and I did not agree on how to pronounce her name, but I deferred to Bridget since she is more of a princess expert than I am) breaks the mold, of course. She wants to know how to sword fight! She wants to learn Latin! She wants to learn magic! Every time her father catches Cimorene learning anything that isn't "proper" for a princess, he puts a stop to it.

Cimorene is betrothed to Prince Therandil and after meeting him and seeing what a dum dum he is, Cimorene runs away and becomes the princess of the dragon, Kazul. I guess in this world dragons have princesses who work for them as a status symbol. (Eye roll.) Cimorene and Kazul get along well. Cimorene can make cherries jubilee! And she can organize the many books in the dragon library and catalog all the treasures. Cimorene is also really great at foreshadowing, if by great I mean obvious. Bridget and I always knew what was going to happen next.

There were some interesting elements in the book - how dragons live, their politics and all that. One of my beefs with the book was all the superfluous filler. Too many words that didn't advance the plot or reveal anything about the character. And, of, course all the predictability.

5. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is the host of The Daily Show. I've enjoyed what I've seen of him, which is mostly clips and an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld. Noah was born in South Africa during Apartheid when it was literally a crime to be an interracial couple. Noah's mother couldn't be seen with him in public as his mother - she had to pretend to be his nurse.

This book has a lot of swears, but I still recommend it because I learned so much. I've never thought for a moment about what it might be like to grow up in South Africa, let alone to be a colored (mixed race) person growing up in South Africa. Trevor Noah is not a victim - he doesn't want pity and he speaks in a strong, insightful voice (I listened to him read the book). His words about race and language blew my mind!

“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”

Most of the stories Noah tells from his childhood are kind of unbelievable, but yet they had to be true. Who would make that stuff up? :) One of the most fascinating to me was the one about Trevor and his friends deejaying for an interfaith conference. He and his buddies were representing hip-hop culture and the mostly-Jewish audience was loving their performance until Noah asked them to welcome their principal dancer, a kid named Hitler. At the time, Trevor thought they got kicked out of the venue because of the provocative dancing. South African kids had not been taught about Adolf Hitler the way some parts of the world had learned about him. They were taught that he was a dictator and a bad guy, but Noah points out that there have been many millions of Africans murdered because of their race. Their names weren't recorded as the Jews' were during the Holocaust. Whoa.  Genocide being part of life is beyond my comprehension.

There were many times during the book that I thought about things I've never thought about before. Trevor Noah is brilliant in a strange and exciting way.  One more quote:

“I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.”

6. The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy by Rainn Wilson

I was binge-ing on The Office during February and Rainn Wilson's performance as Dwight Shrute makes me so happy, I thought I'd enjoy his book. Meh, not so much. Wilson is a very talented actor - I could watch him all day (maybe only as Dwight). I could not read him all day, though.

Wilson's childhood is pretty unusual (not growing up in South Africa-unusual, but still) because his parents were members of the Baha-i faith and he lived in Nicaragua when he was a toddler. Other than that, it felt like he was attaching too much meaning and drama to a situation (parents getting a divorce, Dad getting a new job, moving to a new state) that is mostly normal for a lot of people.

When he was in high school, Wilson moved to Chicago where he had a chance to re-invent himself. I remember this part of my life, except my re-invention as a new kid in 8th grade was several steps down from the status I enjoyed in my previous junior high. Suddenly I was getting threatened by a "rocker" in my Home Economics class. In Rainn Wilson's case, he could act like he was a super-cool, funky drama guy. Hard pass on that personality. He sounded disproportionately proud of this part of his life.

There was a lot of odd and not delightful stuff leading up to his time on The Office. I loved hearing that they often couldn't get through a scene because they were laughing so hard. Wilson said the very worst instance of that was a scene where he and John Krasinski (Jim Halpert) are the party planning committee and they've forgotten Kelly's birthday. Dwight makes a sign that says, "It is your birthday." He also barely blows up black and brown balloons to decorate the room. Both men are totally out of their element, sweating and fighting like two 11 year old boys. It is one of the funniest things on that whole series. I really liked that they thought it was as funny as I did.

Then it was back to boring ol' Rainn Wilson thanking every person he loves by name. I absolutely agree with his philosophy on how to love and show love to another person. I'm happy for him that he found a religion and philosophy that brings him happiness. I was left wishing that he had a weird cousin named Mose who would come run alongside my car if I visited his house.


1 comment:

Jill said...

Born a Crime is a favorite of mine! So good! I listened to it and I would recommend that for sure. Loved his accents!