Pink and loyal, like Wilbur

Flora: Isn’t Ender just like Wilbur, Mom?

Jane: Wilbur? Like Charlotte’s Web’s Wilbur?

Flora: Aha.

Jane: Um… I don’t see it. How is he like Wilbur?

Flora: Well, he’s pink. And he’s loyal. And he’s downright terrific.

And when you can say that about a two-(and-a-half)-year-old pesky brother who’s just peed in your shoes, eaten your art work, flushed your dance leotard down the toilet, and gleefully smashed your tea set with a meat mallet—that’s love.

An iteroparous organism is one that can underg...

Charlotte’s Web has been a constant companion here for months–here’s another, more serious, post about it.

Writing For Children

Anybody who writes down to children is simply wasting … time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. Children love words that give them a hard time, provided they are in a context that absorbs their attention.

E.B.White, “The Art of the Essay” (Paris Review, 48, 1969)

… and therein, you have, I think the secret to why E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web continues to delight children (and their parents) more than 50 years after its debut. Reporting from a household where there’s a cardboard box labeled “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig” in the kitchen, a two-year-old who thinks he’s Wilbur, a seven-year-old playing Fern, a dog cast as Charlotte, and a “I’m too cool for this” almost 10-year-old who drops everything and sits down to listen the second “Fern” starts playing the audio book of Charlotte’s Web for the one-hundredth time.

Here, by the way, is a great story by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan about how the book was “spun.”

Charlotte's Web

Book Piles

I’ve been quietly participating in Project Simplify at over the last couple of weeks. I love the Simple Media site and all (well, most) of Tsh’s and the other bloggers’ strategies and action plans. And participating in Project Simplify every year does help me cull and get control on the clutter. But my house never gets to look even like Tsh’s worst before photos.

And I think it might be because of the book piles.

This is what’s spread around the house right now:

Flora’s sleeping with Jeff Smith’s Bone. She’s got the books piled by her pillow and arranges and rearranges them in various configurations. They need to go to the library soon. I hope the Book Depository order comes in soon…

Both Flora are reading Goscinny & Uderzo’s Asterix. All of them. At least it feels like all of them. I think we might have left a few copies at the library. Another half-dozen, possibly full dozen, Asterix adventures are strewn around the house. So that no matter where one might plop down, there’s an Asterix within arm’s reach.

I’m reading them Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski’s Bone: The Quest for Spark. We’ve finished the first book and, um, lost the second. It’s somewhere in the laundry pile, I think.

Sean’s reading them JRR Tolkien. The Hobbit‘s been digested; Lord of the Rings is going down very slowly. A great put-to-bed book. Better than Moby Dick. (Flora’s also sleeping with Moby Dick under her pillow. If you can’t guess why, you have to read Bone.) All three books in the series are beside the bed. Just in case they suddenly finish Book I and need to get to Book II in a hurry.

On audio, we’re all listening to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief and Heroes of Olympus: Son of Neptune. Yes, at the same time. Well, not exactly at the same time. One mostly in the car, and one mostly in the house. Also Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In what seems to me to be completely random order.

Sean’s reading Felix Gilman’s The Half Made World. I’m re-reading Ngaio Marsh, everything. And reading for the first time Leslie Daniels’ Cleaning Nabokov’s House. Plus about four or five cookbooks. And Joy Hakim’s History of Science.

The book piles don’t just create the mess–it’s a pretty aesthetic mess, anyway. What they do is create an irresistible magnetic pull. There I go, marching to the bookshelves–or the kitchen pantry–hell-bent on ruthless decluttering and purging. And out of the corner of my eye I catch the Orson Scott Card book Sean just finished re-reading that’s in a “put back on the bookshelf” pile… I grab it, perhaps even with the intention of putting it back in its rightful place…

…and 15 minutes later, I’m sitting on the floor, reading it. Until one of the kids comes to me waving a copy of Bone or Asterix

To read about Project Simplify, go here.

I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good

Harry Potter Overdose: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as bedtime reading; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on CD in the car and on DVD as the good night movie; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on CD in the kitchen.

I’m expecting owls to fly in with the mail in the morning. Flora wants a broomstick and Austen wants to get “I solemnly swear I am up to no good” tattooed on his forehead.