Maeve Visser Knoth: What To Read if You Are Not Reading HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Last week on our family vacation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, our 12-year-old was immersed in the newest and last Harry Potter adventure. While he read it three times, he left the rest of us to find other things on the shelf to amuse us. Graciously, the Curtis Public Library allowed our family to have a visitor library card for the week we were in the area. We checked out books on Monday, read until the library re-opened on Thursday, checked out a couple more and returned the lot in the book drop on Saturday as we drove out of town towards the Marquette airport.

What did the rest of us read? I searched the shelves in the Curtis Library for things that I can't find easily at our local library. I have found that when I am using a small town library, I can find some gems that are no longer in print. Maybe with the lower circulation books last longer, but some of the titles I was looking for have long ago fallen apart from the San Carlos Library.

While in Curtis my 9-year-old and I read KATIE JOHN by Mary Calhoun (something I remembered from my childhood that still holds up). We borrowed several books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. We reread EMIL'S PRANKS and EMIL AND THE SOUP TUREEN. These read particularly well out loud since each chapter is a discreet episode and 4, 5 and 6 year olds so delight in reading about mischievous children who do the outrageous things they wish they could do. Our nine-year old read Anna Sewell's BLACK BEAUTY for the first time and loved the romantic, tense story. e both also read BLUE RIBBONS FOR MEG by Adele de Leeuw, a novel from 1950 about a little girl moving from Boston to a frontier fort to live with cousins. I was disappointed with the stereotypes in this one but the main themes- about becoming comfortable in a new community and getting a horse of one's own- were thrilling to my daughter. Now that we are home she is snatching up every book with a horse on the cover, tearing through it and begging that we move to a farm.

We managed to read a few new books as well as the older things. I read THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick. I had read a lot about this book that is a novel, a picture book, a graphic novel all wrapped up in 550 beautifully designed pages. I am a sucker for book design so I loved holding this book on my lap (yes, it is large enough that I wanted to rest it on my knees rather than hold it up). The paper is lovely, the book designed with details that help set the novel in the Paris of the 1930's. Once my son was finished with Harry Potter he read HUGO CABRET twice himself. I would be curious to know what others think of this illustrated novel. Did you turn the pages quickly for a cinematic experience or did you pore over them in case there were clues hidden in the art?

Lest you think our children are readers above the ordinary, I must admit that they pored over old MAD MAGAZINE comic collections during the week as well. The Curtis Library has a phenomenal collection of MAD comics from the 1970's. Wow was the material dated!


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