Fair is foul, and foul is fair

Myles is auditioning for the role of Witch no. 2 in his school's production of, The Tragedy of Macbeth.  In his eyes, Witch no. 2 is set apart from the others in for in Scene III Witch no. 1 asks Witch no. 2

Where hast thou been, sister?

Witch no. 2 gallantly answers,

Killing swine.

Done and done. Witch no. 2 immediately became the dream role.

A few weeks prior I had picked up, Macbeth, Gareth Hinds' adapted and illustrated graphic novel for Myles.  I hesitated at first, for although I love the graphic novel movement, Shakespeare? Really? Isn't that taking things a little too far?   But, no it certainly proved its worth in this instance as Myles was familiar enough with the plot and characters to provide him with the gusto required for a ten year old to sign himself up for a play.  No small thing.

Here are the lines he will be reading:

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of pow'rful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.


Book Bag - no. 21 - Weekend Pairing

This is what I call a children's literary pairing. To help laud the beginning of a weekend, I love to have a tidy little stack of reads for the kids to pour over on a Friday afternoon. Ideally, it is a little fiction with a little non-fiction. It makes me happy when these selections have just the right amount of diversity for where Myles and Fiona's interests lie.
The fact that it is January 15th means that we have completed the celebration of three birthdays successfully. I am taking a break from cake baking for a while and will turn my attention to other pressing items.  The next thing on my list is to finish a short manuscript on the importance of villains in children's literature. I am focusing on one particular character in my writing and one day I will share it with you. Even if it means strapping myself to a chair until it is finished. I am borrowing this strategy from, Katherine Rundell.  In her acceptance speech for Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms which won the 2015 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for fiction she mentions this tactic among many other profound points about the significance of children's literature. You kind of have to read it.
Here is what I plan on reading this weekend.

And this is what Myles will be listening to:

These audio books are a saving grace on a weekend after birthday bonanzas. Exhaustion and winter weather call for this exact thing.  The production is so thoughtful and entertaining,  I am constantly giving thanks for Brian Jacques and his story telling band of heroes.

Happy Friday, Everyone!


A Christmas Ache

Last night we all gathered together and read, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.  I love this book for so many reasons; the harmonious language, the beautiful illustrations, the feminine resolve.  And I love how it makes me cry at the end. It is so therapeutically sentimental.  The story makes you ache with joy.  I remember how my mother first read this story when we were young.  It was freshly published then, and I remember her treasuring it, delighted to find a Christmas book wonderful enough to bring home to our collection.   Typically, Myles likes to flip through a Tin Tin while we read aloud, and usually I let him; but not this time.  I patiently patted the sofa square next to me until he finally relented to my call.  The story transfixed all audience members. Fiona was startled when St. Nicholas brought the church deacons switches during the Christmas pageant.  "But aren't the deacons good?" she asked.  I answered, "It is kind of like a Christmas joke." This did not satisfy her, and rightly so because her dad is a deacon of the best variety, worthy of much more than a switch.  

     I can find joy in these stories and in these moments.  The joy that is often elusive on the other side of the page.  Joy that one feels forced to find, to the point where we feel like we must manufacture it; especially for the sake of the children.  I remind myself during these happy/sad moments of a truth* told to me that "the sad seriousness and happiness comes together to make joy."  For me, I feel the importance of that blend.  It seems to me that joy does not feel authentic without confronting life's groans first.  And clearly in this season of expectation, the cries cannot be ignored.
     I think next our family will turn to the old Dickens standby, A Christmas Carol.  Here gratitude and joy flow together freely from me around the fact that this good man gave us something cheerily and merrily concise, when his other masterpieces feel out of reach for this stage of life.  Yes, a Dickens primer sounds perfect right now.

- - - 
A thought of Jerome Berryman, creator of Godly Play.


Holiday Gift Guide | 2015

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Alison Jay
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, illustrated - Jim Kay
Grandma's House - Alison Melvin
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune - P. J. Lynch
Alice's Adventure in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll, illustrated - Anna Bond
Twelve Kinds of Ice - Ellen Bryan Obed, illustrated - Barbara McClintock


El Deafo

This week in our home, El Deafo cannot be stopped. Ever since I pulled it out of the library bag it has been in constant circulation.  Myles puts it down and Fiona picks it up, and round and round it goes.  Last week was stressful.  Fiona is in a local Wizard of Oz production and rehearsals are ramping up as the show approaches.  And, Myles has needed careful attention with his school work. Therefore, I am having to work really hard at making sure everyone in the house is getting enough time to decompress.   This blue book has been our crutch, and it worked wonders.  As I begin to read El Deafo aloud, we huddle closer and closer following Cece's journey through life.  It is difficult to stop reading, which is perfect right now.

I am startled to realize that my anticipation of the holidays this year is filled with joy. Bringing out the box of decorations will help make our new home feel more familiar to us.  Our simple traditions will soften the pieces of our life that we are still growing accustomed to.  Part of me even wants to throw a party.  I'm not going to hold myself to that, but the fact that the idea doesn't terrify me I will take as a really good sign.