Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shakespeare Obviously Never Had Stinkweed In His Garden...

Oi, the dumb things I think to write about! But alas, it has never stopped me before...
What's in a name? The legendary Bard was the first to pose this query through his young and "star-cross'd" Juliet. So...what IS in a name? Quick story. Recently my daughter's friend's sister had a baby. Did you follow that? Her parents named her Leslie. Now, for those of you who do not know, my name is Leslie. It has been my name for 40 years, but I rarely hear anyone say it. A few girlfriends, but that is about it. I am not complaining, just stating the facts. My daughter pointed out that she rarely thinks of me as a Leslie. Of course not. She is 17. She thinks of me as "the warden" (Or the ATM). You see, when I was a wee lassie, I could not pronounce the letter "S". Only a problem if your name is Leslie Sprague. Which mine was! Consequently I called myself Leli Peg. That's Leli as in jelly, like Leslie without any "S". Get it? It stuck. And stuck good. That is what I am still called by my family and old friends. Cute right? And then of course my kids all call me Mom and everyone at church calls me Sister Awesome (not my real last name, but I have to protect my secret identity somehow). And the teenagers call me Momma A (short for Awesome if you missed that). Then there is Hunky Hubby. The list of pet names from him is long, starting with Poopkins at the top and Babe and Schmoopie rounding out the bottom.
I like my name now, but when I was a kid I had some doubts. It was just coming into popularity for girls when I was little so it still seemed sorta like an old man name. But that is not the best part of this story. I was a bit of a tom-boy, in stark contrast to my lovely little sister, only a year my junior, and almost all girl! Leslie is from the gaelic and means "dweller of the grey fortress." My middle name is Cameron (until Ms. Diaz came along this was ONLY for boys) and it means "man with a bent nose." Are you getting the feeling my parents wanted a boy? Little Sister on the other hand was called two names that mean respectively "Womanly" and "Epitome of femininity." Hmmmm...
Times and names have changed over the years. I have an 8 year old. I cannot pronounce half of her classmates' names. And even if I can, I cannot spell them. What is up with Aschleigh, Whitknee & Gnoah anyway? That which we call a rose...
I am a bit disappointed in myself that I did not have the guts to name my kids anything too unusual. It would have been fun to tell people my kids were Harmony Sunshine and Hogarth Huckleberry. Yeah, I am sure they are better off. I chose my children's names carefully, as most parents do. They all have first names from the Old Testament and middle names after some family member. Their names seem to suit them, each winding up with a nickname or two. They seem to like the names they have been given AND I carefully checked to make sure none of the names had meanings even casually eluding to some deformed body part! You're welcome.
Quote of the Day: "Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive. ~Thomas C. Haliburton author

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Never Judge A Book By Its Movie...Wait, What?!

Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every child has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.
--Strickland Gillilan
I know it is not mother's day. The day when this sentimental little piece of poetry soars to the pinnacle of its ubiquity. But it is the start of our summer vacation and so....Books. This post is about books. My mother read aloud to us. Oh, I know, all good mothers do this. But our mother KEPT reading to us, well after we could read for ourselves. Whenever she came to a good part in a book, she would grab the ear of the closest child, spill all the backstory and then read the passage aloud. I know the full story of dozens of books I have never read. She still does this. We were visiting my mother's home last week and sure enough...read she did. This is a tradition that is clearly being passed down to generations. I read aloud to my children who are all capable of reading themselves. They read to me and to each other as well. Stories were meant to be communal experiences, yet we often consider reading only as a solitary pleasure. Shame. So, in celebration of another wonderful summer of reading pleasure I thought I would share some of our favorites. Tough because there are so many, but they are just suggestions. I would appreciate any comments on other suggestions of your favorites.
Holes by Louis Sacher
Probably one of the best books for children ever written. Two beautiful stories artfully interwoven and skillfully joined and resolved in the end. There are lessons to be learned in every chapter of love, friendship, heroism and choices. It is humorous and adventurous leaving readers feeling joy and sadness all at once. The movie adaptation is well worth watching due largely to the author's involvement in the making of it, including a cameo appearance in the film.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe series by C.S. Lewis
I do not suppose this even needs any explanation, but these are timeless stories with plenty to offer boys and girls from the smallest in your home to the oldest. Again, decent film adaptations have recently been made that thankfully did not diminish the religious aspects of the books. But certainly read the book first!
Matilda by Roald Dahl (actually ANY of his books)
Roald Dahl is by far one of the most gifted of children's authors. He never writes "down" to children. The heros and heroines in his books are strong, and good always triumphs over evil. In Matilda, the lead character is dealt a bit of a bad hand in the beginning, but finds an inner strength that allows her to tap into power she did not know she had and turn her life into what she dreams it can be. Beautiful story of resilience and courage in the face of difficulty. Wonderful movie adaptation as well!
Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
This well written story of a mouse family who find a secret band of super intelligent rats is all about adventure and a bit of mystery. Readers are required to think about society and intelligence and humanness and what makes us who we are. The film version is awful and does not stay true to the book, a big time no-no in this house!
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
This is the first chapter book I ever remember reading all the way through when I was a girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old. I couldn't put it down. I gave a copy to my oldest when she was young and she had the same experience. Engrossing bit of historical fiction with plenty to discuss. Not terribly long, but packed with adventure and a strong young female protagonist. Rumor is a film is in the making!
Junie B. Jones (Barbara Park) in all her glory is worth reading aloud anytime, anywhere no matter how old your kids get. Have them read it aloud. Do the voices. You cannot get better!
Oooh and The Inkworld trilogy (Iheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath) by Cornelia Funke. These are some of the best adventure, mystery stories ever written for kids. Long, but so engaging that you cannot put them down. Amazing characters and well written (they were originally written in German, it might be even better but I do not read German). The movie is terrible.
I had better stop I guess. Ugh there are so many more to cover. Perhaps this will be a two-parter. Or perhaps no one gives a dang what we read around here! But I do love to share so...there you have it. Don't forget to leave a suggestion and a little synopsis. Happy summer reading!
Quote of the Day: "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
Mark Twain