Something Old and Something New


Part of one out of seven bookshelves in our home.

Part of one out of seven bookshelves in our home.

Nothing opens one’s eyes to how much stuff she herself has accumulated as helping someone else downsize. That was the project last summer. My overall goal now is to not have too much stuff. My day-by-day goal is to reach an average net loss of one object per day. It will be a long time before I’m going lightly through life.

In the last blog I mentioned decreasing my fabric stash. And, you probably won’t be surprised, my bookshelves also overfloweth. I’ve had to ask myself the hard questions like: “How many of these are you realistically going to reread in your lifetime? and “What about the books you bought and never got to the first time?”

So I’m learning to let go and pass many of my books on to someone else. The Little Free Library is a good outlet . . .

Our Little Free Library, opened and dedicated on 11/10/13

Our Little Free Library, opened and dedicated on 11/10/13

Here’s how the process works in reality. I pull a book off the shelf that I’m pretty sure doesn’t need to stay with me forever or be reread.

But maintaining one’s resolve—aye, there’s the rub. I waver and decide to read the first chapter hoping to confirm that I don’t really want to read it again.

Sadly, that’s only worked on a couple of books. And, in the meantime, new books are being written all the time. What is a reader to do?


It’s interesting reading some of my older middle grade books. They take more time getting to their destination than current books tend to, and I’m really not sure how well they’d fare in today’s marketplace. But two past Newbery nods reminded me of what an old friend used to say. He had loved the Hardy Boy mysteries as a kid because he always learned something. (I liked Nancy Drew mysteries, but mostly remember being it annoyed that she always stopped for “luncheon”, not lunch like a regular person. But, once again, I digress.)

                                                                     The Old

. . . and now Miguel was written by Joseph Krumgold (who also wrote Onion John) and published by Harper & Row in 1953. Twelve-year old Miguel’s goal is to go to the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Each summer the men in his family take the sheep to higher pastures for the summer. The book depicts rural mid-20th century life in New Mexico.

Miguel does everything he can think of to show he is ready to help as a man. Some attempts are more successful than others, but along with rooting for Miguel, the reader learns about sheep.
MIguel has the job of keeping track of the branding numbers. The same number is painted on the ewe and her lamb. This is very important since if a ewe is separated from her lamb for too long, she doesn’t recognize it and won’t feed her baby.

Part of a shepherd’s work is to keep the sheep matched up and make sure no one is alone. Kind of a nice thing to know.

Girl DisasterI was pretty sure I wouldn’t need to read all of A Girl Named Disaster, written by Nancy Farmer and published by Puffin in 1996. Nhamo is an orphan who lives with extended family in a village in Mozambique. When the family decides to marry Nhamo off to placate an angry ngozi or spirit, Nhamo’s grandmother encourages her to run away. The story is about Nhamo’s struggle to survive the journey to find her father’s family. It reminded me in some ways of The Island of the Blue Dolphins. (I couldn’t stop myself.)

Both of these books had stretches where nothing much happened to move the plot along. But readers will learn a lot about the daily ins and outs of different lives. They remind us that handling the boring daily stuff is part of how we move and grow.

So much for my average net loss.

                                                                     The New

Have you seen Flora & Ulysses, written by Kate DiCamillo   and published by Candelwick in 2013? It’s a treat! You, or more accurately I, wouldn’t call it a graphic novel, but it has enough illustrations to make it a hybrid and a good choice for a reluctant reader.

And it’s funny!  Flora & U

The flap tells you what you need to know. “She is a natural-born cynic! He is an unassuming squirrel! Together, Flora & Ulysses will conquer villains, defend the defenseless, and protect the weak. Or something.”

                                                                 The Surprising

My kind of fireworks--morning glories--and no traffic to contend with.

My kind of fireworks–morning glories–and no traffic to contend with.

I just put that there because after The Old, The New, my brain hears a flute playing the theme to “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” So I needed a third category.

Other than 2014 is already half way over, I don’t actually have anything else to add right now.

Please comment on anything that is currently surprising you—especially if it’s a good book.

And happy 4th!

Peacock at the zoo setting off his own brand of fireworks

Peacock at the zoo setting off his own brand of fireworks!