May 7, 2014

Kids' games and books and stuffs....

People ask me about what books I recommend all the time...which baffles me because I don't know any more about books than anyone else. But it's fun to talk books, so I try to answer as best as I can.

That said, stay tuned for a few good, classic kid recommendations at the end. But first....let's talk about kids, and their imaginations.


For the past week or so, Zoe's been coming home from school with some truly harrowing tales. You see, she and her buddy, Patrick, have been going through some stuff. They've been enduring. They've been fighting to SURVIVE.

(Her words. Not mine.)

This is not a game, mind you. They are truly battling against evil agents for the Overlord of the Underworld.

Every day during recess, she and Patrick get together and solve riddles (most of which involve writing small poems...that RHYME!), find secret tunnels and a magical root (??), and work to stop the bad guys from KILLING ALL THE THINGS!

I love listening to her stories. They're hilarious. Sometimes their other buddy Sammy is a good guy; other times, he's bad. They all get tummy aches when the bad guys are nearby, trying to steal their super-powers (Zoe has the power of wind...but that's a secret. Don't tell her I told you.).

Apparently all the kids' dads are the bad guys, including Charles. Charles is...remarkably ok with this (surprise, surprise!).

Last night Zoe and I went for a walk around the block, and she was all caught up in telling me about the game (of course, in her mind it's not a game but is REAL and SCARY). She had a constant stream of chatter going for the entirety of our walk. It went something like this:

Wait. Mom, wait. Oh no. The bad guys are at it again. I can feel it. Something is very wrong.

Wait. Mom. Oh no. I have to leap over this grass, and land on that metal thing, in order stop them. Wait, here I go. Ok, phew. I stopped them.

Wait. Mom. Oh no. See this footprint in the sidewalk? This was made by my dad, a hundred years ago when the street was made (!!). It's a clue. It means...oh no. It means we're all...going to....DIE.

Wait. Mom, wait. Oh no. I solved the riddle. The kids above are going to break, if this stick you do not take. Oh no. I need to tell Patrick. RIGHT NOW.

Wait. Mom. Oh no. I think Sammy's a bad guy. But Patrick! He's here! And here's Maya too! They're here to help! 

This went on and on and on, accompanied by dramatic gestures, and leaping and climbing and hopping.

Best. Walk. Ever.

I love how kids commit to a story. I love their imaginations, their ideas. The absolute abandon with which they give themselves over to a world of their creation. 

As a writer, if ever I decide to really write some kids' stories, I hope to write like that. With utter abandon and commitment. In the meantime, I'll enjoy Zoe's tales, and be inspired by them.


But books. I promised you books. These are of the middle grade/kids' book variety. One of my very favorite things about life right now is that Zoe's reading non-stop (especially at night). She's found all kinds of books, and I'm going to keep introducing her to some of my favorites as well. Here are a few of my enduring loves:

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume: Zoe started this classic last night, and already she's telling me all about baby turtles, and fish, and Fudge, and what a troublemaker he is. I think this weekend, if I have some free time, I'm going to try to read it. The nostalgia brought on just by hearing all the names was intense; re-reading it should be a trip. But she's in love already, and so am I.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsberg: This was one of my FAVORITES as a kid, and I ordered it for Zoe today. It's about a couple of kids who run away from their suburban home to hide out for a few days in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since that was one of Zoe's favorite places we saw in NYC last month, I have a feeling she'll love this book as well.

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell: Another childhood favorite of mine, and another one I just ordered today. I don't remember much about it, but there are worms, and mud, and all kinds of hijinks. I think Zoe will love it. I know I did. 


There. I think that covers it for today. I hope you have a GREAT hump day, and I'll talk to you soon!! 

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