And with a deep breath and a loud sigh, here I am, back again. I have a separate purpose to this post, but before I dig in, I just wanted to say that I hope I’m back for a little while and for more than just a sporadic post here and there. I officially graduated from my Master’s program ten days ago and received the “all clear” from my advisor yesterday. All my submitted grad had been received, graded, and is approved; I’ll receive my transcripts and official diploma any day.
So, with all that out of the way, I can turn my attention back to things that I didn’t have as much time to enjoy here: writing for fun and sharing things from my life that I’m loving or are resonating deeply.
At the moment there are two books that are very overdue, but before they landed back in the return pile for our next trip, I wanted to share them with you.
Initially I took The Mermaid by Jan Brett off the shelf more for me than for either one of my children. E. seems to be well out of her mermaid phase and M. never seemed to take an interest, so I wasn’t sure if it would ever really get read; I thought I may just thumb through and enjoy the gorgeous illustrations some night after putting the kids to bed. As it turned out, E. and M. were as intoxicated by the illustrations as I, and were eager to enjoy this book together one night before bed.
The story is simple, a play on Goldilocks and the three bears (M., who’s five and well-versed in fairy tales now, was eager to point out the similarities). Despite the predictability of the plot, both E. and M. enjoyed the silly changes of a mermaid in the place of Goldilocks and octopuses in exchange for the bears. And again, the illustrations are truly sumptuous; the stripped down story allows those who are enjoying the book to soak in the gorgeous colors and playful scenes.
The Dragon and the Unicorn by Lynne Cherry came to us through the recommendation of our local children’s librarian, Annika. As it happens, dragons and unicorns are a big deal in our house right now, and when Annika pulled this off the shelf I knew it needed to come home. On Mother’s Day, in the midst of chaos and getting ready to leave the house to go visit Grandma, I pulled it out, hoping to create a space of calm before tears and bickering got out of control. I don’t think I could have made a better choice.
The story is a ecologically minded one, taking place in the beautiful and lush Ardet Forest. This is where a dragon and unicorn live together, peacefully, among the more typical forest creatures. Eventually, people make their way into the forest and things begin to change, and not for the better. The story goes on to weave together themes of friendship, environmentalism, and caring for others into a hopeful conclusion. It is a slow moving, thoughtful tale accompanied by intricate and beautiful illustrations. While I would have thought my 5 year old would not be able to keep his attention, he, along with E., was rapt the entire time. It created exactly the kind of space and peace we needed.
What I appreciated deeply about these books, beyond the sweet stories and lovely illustrations, was their capacity to bring both of my children together, a girl and a boy, one ten and the other 5. It is not as though they live these incredibly disparate lives, but as they’ve gotten older and wrapped up in their own diverging interests, it becoming harder and harder to find these moments where we are enjoying something together. I love that books allow us to do that still.