Books Parenting

There Once Was a Boy Named Pierre

My kids and I have enjoyed a series of Scholastic DVDs where classic children’s books are read aloud with bare-bones animations. They blur the line between a book and a movie. And they work for all ages (important when you have a 3-year-old and 11-year-old watching the same screen). I enjoyed our latest find so much I’m sharing it here.

It’s a DVD of Six Maurice Sendak books (from the Ann Arbor library). Including Where the Wild Things Are, sure, but the bigger hits with us were In The Night Kitchen and Pierre. Pierre is a gem in particular, the rare case when the movie version improves on the (already very good) book. It’s set to music and sung by Carole King, complemented with snappy drumming. Enjoy:

The lion looked Pierre right in the eye and asked him if he’d like to die

It’s irresistible, with great melody and a delivery that navigates often-irregular meter and rhyme. I’d somehow been unfamiliar with Carole King (“Regarded as one of the most significant and influential musicians of all time“, doh) and have since come to appreciate her skill as a performer and composer.

This adaptation of Pierre is from a 1975 musical, Really Rosie, that Sendak and King created together, based on his books. I’d love to see it performed.

The story’s moral is unobjectionable. It’s a little preachy, but I’m on board with the message as I see it: life is brief and precious, so engage with it earnestly. (In my case, read books like Sendak’s while my kids are young). The book/song is funny, quirky, and above all a heck of tune. I keep playing it to get it out of my head, but it hasn’t worked yet. Pierre’s in there!

Books Parenting

Reading the Caldecott Medal Winners

My oldest child turns 10 this month. That means I’ve been reading children’s books for most days over the last decade. Not to her, anymore; now she reads herself Harry Potter. I still read picture books to my 6-year-old and 2-year-old.

I recently realized (a) that most of my children’s book reading is now behind me (b) I like reading these books (c) there must be many great ones I’ve never read. I spend most of my reading time now on children’s books, not grown-up ones. I ought to make the most of these next few years while that remains the case.

To that end I thought I’d start with the Caldecott Medal winners as an easy entry point. I was reading Where the Wild Things Are and A Sick Day for Amos McGee and explaining the gold sticker (Caldecott medal) on the front covers to my youngest and thought: these are great books. The other Caldecott winners are probably good too, right?

Books Climate change ruminations

On Timefulness

I enjoyed and was moved by the book Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World, by Marcia Bjornerud. This post is a review & reflection I’m finishing many months after reading it.

“Rates of technological progress far outstrip the rate at which human wisdom matures (in the same way that environmental changes outpace evolutionary adaptation in mass extinction events).” – Marcia Bjornerud, Timefulness

The book has a few threads going at once but the bulk of it is a geological history of the world, in a more layperson-friendly format than a textbook. It’s heavy on the science and I learned a great deal of earth science. For instance:

Books Climate change

The Overstory: “You have been spared from death to do a most important thing”

I recently read and enjoyed The Overstory, by Richard Powers. I often miss connections in books & movies that are obvious to others; here I wrestle with one particular line near the end that I noticed is a callback to an earlier chapter.

This post contains spoilers.  If you haven’t read the book, you’re better off reading it than this post.