Friday, August 08, 2014

Literary Children

Rachel walked out of her bedroom a couple of days ago with a list of all the volcanoes in Mongolia. There are five: Bus-Obo, Dariganga, Khanuy Gol, Middle Gobi, Taryatu-Chulutu.

"I just had to write these down," she said. "So I wouldn't forget. I just have one question."

"What's that?" I asked.

"Where's Mongolia?"

I pulled up a map and we found Mongolia, snuggly nestled between Russia and China. Then she ran back to her room to pick her book up again. She's been reading the Children of the Lamp series by P.B. Kerr and she's been loving it.

Tonight she walked out of her bedroom with tears in her eyes.

"Mom?" she squeaked.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

She pointed to the very last words on the page and blubbered, "It says 'the end,' Mom! Why did you make me finish it tonight? I could have finished it tomorrow!"

She had seven pages left in the book and wanted to start reading Ella Enchanted again but I told her to just finish with The Grave Robbers of Genghis Khan first because it's a library book and has to go back soon. And apparently that makes me a meanie because the series is over.

"It's the end of the book," I pointed out. "Of course it says 'the end.'"

"No," Rachel lamented. "None of the other books said 'the end.' This is it. There aren't any more Children of the Lamp books. I want more Children of the Lamp books! It isn't fair!"

It's kind of not.

See, the first book in the series is The Akhenaten Adventure. The second book is The Blue Djinn of Babylon. The third? The Cobra King of Kathmandu. Then there's The Day of the Djinn Warriors, The Eye of the Forest, and The Five Fakirs of Faizabad. Rachel just finished reading The Grave Robbers of Genghis Khan, but as we all know the alphabet continues well beyond G.

"Maybe there'll be another one," I said hopefully.

"Read this!" Rachel fumed, thrusting the book at me, open to the author's note.

"Good-byeeee! Good-byeeee! Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eyeeee!" it starts out. That alone is  a bit of a buzzkill. Later on he admits that he "had not intended that the seventh book should be the last," but felt like "the characters...were asking [him] to end it for them." And then he apologizes, asking "those readers who have read all seven titles" to "forgive [him] for not writing any more of them."

There will be no more Children of the Lamp books.

Rachel's going to work on that forgiveness. I think she'll have to dig deep to find it. She's feeling severely let down. Tomorrow I'll let her know there's a movie in the works. That might lessen the sting of her disappointment.

In other reading news Miriam has finally finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which I'll talk more about later, I'm sure. After finishing the very last lesson in the book she started reading the section at the end called "What Now?"

I suppose that's one way of knowing a reading program was successful or not—if, at the end of the program, the child is reading the instructions to the parent.

There's a list of recommended books in that section, which Miriam quickly read.

"Read that, read that, have that, read that, have that," she muttered, running her finger down the list. Then she gave an excited gasp. "Magic Tree House!" she squealed. "Mom! Magic Tree House is on this list and this is the list of what I'm supposed to read next so I'm ready for Magic Tree house! I know I am!"

Inside I almost groaned because I feel like we just got over our obsession with The Magic Tree House, but then I remembered that Rachel is the only one who's read any of those books. Miriam will probably enjoy them just as much because, well, they're good books. Soon after Miriam's finished with them, I reasoned, Benjamin will be ready for them...

So I hopped on Craigslist to see what I could see. And I found a set of books that was listed today for a very fair price. We picked them up after dinner. We gave Miriam the first few (it's not a complete set, so we gave her 1, 4, and 5) and she hugged them and danced around the living room with joy. I still think they're a little advanced for her but she's been plowing through them for the last two hours.

She just came out to tell me she finished Pirates Past Noon.

"You read every single word?" I asked.

"Well," she said. "My mind did it. I read it with my mind."

I'm not quite sure if she means she read it silently or if she skimmed through and looked at pictures. I'll have to quiz her in the morning (though she did also come out to tell me something about Morgan le Fay, so it might be legitimate mind-reading—I mean, silent reading).

We're holding onto the rest of them so we can give them to her slowly on special occasions like her birthday and Christmas and so forth. (Rachel, I know you're reading this, so keep it secret, please.)

On the way home from picking up our new-to-us books and doing the grocery shopping, Rachel was reading (from The Grave Robbers of Genghis Khan) and Miriam was singing to herself in the backseat. Suddenly Rachel burst out laughing.

"Miriam," Rachel howled with laughter. "Did you just sing, 'All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others'? That's hilarious! How did you even come up with that?"

Andrew and I looked at each other.

"Miriam, how did you come up with that?" I asked.

"I didn't!" she said. "That's not what I was singing at all! I was singing Everything is Awesome!"

"Miriam," Rachel said, struggling to regain her composure. "I heard you singing that."

"Why would she be singing that?" I wondered aloud. "The kids watched Daniel Tiger while I was in the shower, but I'm pretty sure..."

"No, Daniel Tiger wouldn't have a song like that," Andrew said. "How do you know that song, Rachel? You quoted it perfectly. Where did you hear it?"

"Huh? Me?!" Rachel asked. "I didn't hear it until Miriam sang it just now!"

"But I wasn't singing that!" Miriam insisted. "I was singing Everything is Awesome!"

The mystery remained unsolved but eventually, and only after a lengthy discussion of what that "song" meant, things calmed down and everyone went back to their former activities. Miriam resumed singing in the backseat. Andrew and I chatted quietly in the front seat (about Animal Farm and how in the world Rachel was quoting from it and when would be an appropriate time to introduce that story to her). Benjamin blew raspberries, kicked his legs, and searched for dump trucks in the traffic. And Rachel dove back into her story.

She'd only just cracked her book open again, though, when she burst out laughing again.

"I read it in my book!" Rachel wheezed between fits of laughter. "I only imagined that I heard Miriam singing it. Those words were just in my book!"

She handed the book to me, open to page 409, and there was that line from Animal Farm in all its glory:
"Then again, Mr. Khan might just argue that he should be regarded as a special case because he's so rich. The Animal Farm defense. All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. I believe that sometimes works."
We all laughed about it again, recalling times we've done similar things, like typing what people around us are saying rather than what you're supposed to be typing or reading a word at the exact same time someone says that word, silly things like that.

Rachel's about halfway through Ella Enchanted now, so I guess that means she got over her break up with Children of the Lamp. It also means that I should probably tell her to go to bed...

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