Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As Memorial Day weekend wraps up, we head into the final days of the school year and the beginning of my somewhat quieter period at work. It's a time of reflection and, ultimately, regrouping. I'm very excited about the phase ahead, mostly because the phase that is coming to an end has been particularly strong. It has been a busy and productive time in many ways but, as those of you who are parents can surely understand, my greatest highs and lows are generally tied to the highs and lows of my kids. All three of our daughters have had fabulous years academically and socially and they are each in an emotionally strong and healthy place. That's no small statement and not something to be taken for granted. It's actually deserving of a big "WOO-HOO" but I think I'd ruin the mood around here if I shouted it out the way I'd really like. Instead, I will quietly celebrate the wonder of kids. defines "wonder" as "rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one's experience". I am constantly struck by the mystery and newness of experiences with our daughters. I am endlessly challenged to find best practices for dealing with those mysteries - mysteries that are at once new to each one of us within our own experiences and yet shared by parents through the ages. Indeed, I am wonderstruck! Newness can be terrifyingly challenging and, at the same time, exhilarating. 

On an unrelated (yet, given the nature of this blog, quite obviously related) note, the newest thing I have seen or experienced in the world of children's books lately is Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck. Two stories are told on parallel planes in this book - one set in 1927 and told through illustration and the other set in 1977 and told through text. The two stories seamlessly intertwine and merge in both illustration and text at the end, to the reader's delight. The illustrations are awe-inspiring on their own (and at a breakfast during Book Expo America last week, Brian described his creative process and showed a room plastered in the illustrations that would become this book). But it's the transition between illustration and text that makes this book so unique and powerful - and the amazing detail. On top of everything else, Brian is a masterful storyteller - this is ultimately a mystery novel that's perfect for middle graders. It is also a warm and wonderful tribute to New York City. Curiously, some of the characters in this story are deaf and, as a reader, I found my own senses of sight and comprehension heightened while I experienced this book. 

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