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  Archived Posts From: 2008


The Pause That Refreshes ~ Part II

Written on: December 29th, 2008 in Learning Journeys

Kathy here: My tale of runaway reading last week was only part of the story. You remember that I was swept away with the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.

What you don't know is that Meyer Followers lined up to purchase the final book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, hours before the sales began at midnight on August 2, 2008, including my 26-year-old daughter. Book stores likened the frenzy to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter phenomenon. And, frenzy is the right word.

While I missed this round, I was a part of the Harry Potter rumpus.  Wandering Barnes & Noble at 11:30pm., waiting with hundreds of children, teen and adults from all walks of life…many dressed as their favorite character…for our turn to possess, to hold, to own the next installment in Harry's adventures. It was hard not to hug the person next to you.

What did this add my learning path? I recall that around Book 3, Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, I pulled out my old "research" into the power of story, the need to write/tell/hear them; I even dug up my old copy of Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth.  I began to explore the topic anew.

Meanwhile along the way, an entirely new vein in the experience emerged when the Harry Potter titles moved to film. Attendees couldn't help dissecting the director's interpretation of the book, discussing what points were made, where sub-plots fell away. I witnessed the same with Peter Jackson's vision of the Lord of the Rings ; the chorus there was "It takes a true fan of the books to make the movies. And Peter is one." 

Now, Twilight has hit the big screen. Yes, I went to see it with my daughter. Yes, the theatre was full of 12+ females madly in love with the male lead. Yet, imagine my delight when I heard them give approval to the portrayal of the Cullens' home in the woods or to the completeness of the dialogue in the high school cafeteria.  This was still a strong group reading experience. 

And, the group reading experience is the rest of this story. Wouldn't it be great if an adult novel stimulated this sort of reaction? How about you? Any altering reading experiences you would like to share?


The Pause That Refreshes

Written on: December 22nd, 2008 in Learning Journeys

Kathy here: The peculiar incongruity of my role as "Author Girl" at the Delaware Book Festival is my inability to read in the weeks before and after the event. Oh, I do read titles from our attending authors and rounded out October with Laurie Halse Anderson, Dale Brown, W. Michael & Kathleen Gear, Tess Gerritsen and Jon Scieszka. But, while I am now or continue to be a fan of these authors, the selections fall more into the "book club required reading" column than my "personal choices" column, don't they? 

My 'Pause That Refreshes' began the evening of Wednesday, Nov 19th when I cracked the cover of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, Volume 1 of her Twilight Series. Before I knew it, I had devoured the book. Reading before work, at lunch, after work…I moved through the remaining 3 titles swiftly. By Friday night, I had finished. And, boy was I refreshed.  My head stuffed full of the world Stephenie opened to me, a quiet settled in…refreshment.

I'll share more about the series next week. But, tell us…have you ever been drawn into a reading experience in this way?  Have you felt the pull that won't let you stop reading? Please share a title or two with us. We may need a new Pause That Refreshes.

An aside:  Remember The Pause That Refreshes? It is the Coca-Cola ad from 1929! I was investigating the history of the jolly Santa Claus created by Coke and found Winspiration. See more Coke ads.

Last, favorite Christmas book?  Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, of course!


My Story of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Written on: December 17th, 2008 in Learning Journeys

Laura here: This summer my friend needed to buy a book for a mutual
friend of ours as a birthday gift. I was in town and we were all getting
together to celebrate the last couple of birthdays for our group. The recipient
of this book was smart and had listed a specific title: The Story of Edgar
by David Wroblewski on her wish list. As a book lover I was surprised I hadn’t
heard of it, but sadly I hadn’t—odd title, unknown author.

My friend had made a purchase for me on her Macy’s card in
addition to buying me a lovely birthday gift so I explained I would purchase
the book so we’d be even. I assumed her silence was acceptance of my plan. Ha!
This dear friend is not a bookstore browser like me—I can browse for hours. We
found the book within five minutes and then spent fifteen minutes reading laugh
out loud birthday cards before selecting one and going to the checkout.

At the moment I was passing the book to the cashier
explaining I needed to pay for this my friend deftly lifted the book from my hand
and told the clerk something about me being her guest, this was her
town, and she needed to pay for the
book. I, less deftly, reached for the book— friends don’t grab—but my friend was quick! I had my hands on one end of the book she had a vise like grip on
most of the book and we were doing our darndest to wrestle the book away from
the other! For a more helpful visual here you go: I’m 5’9’’ and my dear, sweet
(strong) friend is 4’ 11”. In retrospect it IS funny isn’t it?

I came to my senses—I let go. It was a BOOK, we might damage
it; horror of horrors! The book lover in me won out over the responsible friend
part of me. And I find it interesting that my first experience with this particular
book was a ‘struggle’, because as much as I loved this book once I read it, I am
still struggling with it.

Since then I’ve purchased the book, selected the ideal time
to read the book in as few a days as possible—I knew I’d be swept away. I
discovered an exceptional storyteller in David Wroblewski and lifelong memorable
characters in Edgar, Almondine and the other Sawtelle dogs.

I loved this book. I didn’t want it to end. Yes, I’m a dog
person but I’ve never read an animal story as insightful and uniquely engaging
as this one. The chapters written from Almondine’s point of view (Edgar’s
canine soul mate) felt true and achingly real to me—as though we as readers
have stepped into an alien yet familiar mind.

If you’ve read the book maybe you’ll understand my struggle
with the end, and if not perhaps you’ll be intrigued enough to experience it
for yourself. This truly is a book to be experienced and mulled over, then
talked about, and talked about some more. I hope you’ll share your experience of Edgar’s story with

NOTE: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was chosen as an Oprah's
Book Club selection and you can read more here. There is an excellent Q&A
with David, but warning there are ‘spoilers’ here so if you haven’t read the
book browse with care.


All Tattered, Torn, and Well-Loved

Written on: December 10th, 2008 in Learning Journeys

Honoré here: The other day I pulled out my Christmas decorations, among which are several of my favorite holiday books. One I've had for I bet close to twenty years is Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas. This is a book that my grand-nieces , now 22 , 16, and 7, along with others, have read and enjoyed, year in, year out. And it looks it: the dust jacket is in pieces and I keep thinking, what can I do to salvage it?

I've come up with several ideas from tape to collage to scanning the cover and then printing out on fabric – how clever is that? (Taking that route would also require another learning curve: editing the scan in a photo-editor software program, printing on fabric, etc.). And finally, I thought the easiest thing to do is to buy a new book. Besides, it's time my nieces had their own copy.

Well, a quick check on Amazon  tells me that plan doesn't work either; t'aint any copies available in English and those that are – collectibles- might cost $175!  Ummm…back to the drawing board. And for the time being, guess I'll just remove the dust jacket on my copy, make a photocopy of  what's left of it to use on a temporary basis until … Sounds like a plan to me.

What are some of your favorite Christmas and holiday books? Please share them with us.


A week without reading!?

Written on: December 3rd, 2008 in Learning Journeys

Honoré here: Last Sunday I was reading  the latest  (Dec/Jan) issue of "Quilting Arts Magazine". Award-winning art quilter, Katie Pasquini Masopust was featured and when asked about her process, she replied: "I am very focused and work/play at my art daily." (p.31). Well, bells went off in my head. What a profound thought and immediately, I decided that's just the formula I need to adopt . I decided to do a little more research on Katie and other quilters/artists' takes on how they practice, on a daily basis, their art – whatever the medium.

So, to the Internet I turned. In addition to books, I find blogs a great Book stack
resource for discovering an artist's examination of her process. In reading one blog,  I was stunned: the blogger was reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way (TAW) and was at Week/Chapter 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity.  During this week, "the tasks, essays and exercises are designed to catapult you [the reader]  into productive introspection and integration of new self-awareness." One tool Julia Cameron warns us  not to skip is reading deprivation: no reading for a full week – count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 days! "Say w-h-a-t?" ( in your best Hannah Montana voice).

I immediately scanned my bookshelves for my copy of TAW; found it; found the chapter and read all about Reading Deprivation, p.87 – 89). The blogger, understandably,  was beside herself. And I? Well, I decided I'd re-read TAW; after all, it has been several years…and so I am, along with a few other titles, several are by Katie Pasquini Masopust.

What will I do when I get to chapter 4? I'm steeling myself for that – not that I have to not read for a week – but I might just for the experience (horrors…and this coming from a librarian!). Reading is very much a part of my life; I begin each day reading, journaling, reflecting… I'll let you know when and if I do not read for a week and how it was. And if any of you want to read TAW, just click on the Delaware Library card logo to access the catalog and locate a copy in a library. Oh, and BTW, any one up to the challenge of not reading for a week?