Sunday, January 10, 2021

Book stories

We played Hand and Foot with Rachel and Miriam tonight. They deserved some fun grown-up time with Mom and Dad after a day of hard work. Miriam helped me reorganize our storage room when Andrew came home from picking up groceries and Rachel cleaned the kitchen really well (among other smaller chores). 

So, briefly, a few funny stories from that...

Andrew went out so quickly the first round that no one had any books but him, which meant he got a lot of points and the rest of us got very few. Then Miriam went out very quickly on the second round, which meant she got a lot of points and the rest of us got very few points. And that's about where my attitude started to fail me. Like, I'm an excellent second- or third-placer. I don't really love winning because winning makes me feel bad. But I also don'e losing because...human nature. I don't mind it so much if I feel like I still have skin in the game, but when I'm losing so badly and am not really making any sort of progress at all, I start to feel frustrated and bored. 

Rachel is incredibly gifted at keeping her cool during games (which she pointed out this evening is interesting because she doesn't always have the best control of her temper in day-to-day situations), so she was probably doing better than I was, attitude-wise (even though she was in last-last place). 

The game turned for me in round three (though, to be fair everyone got books that round). 

Anyway, at one point Andrew leaned his head on my shoulder so of course I immediately accused him of cheating.

"Are you...snuggle-sneaking?!" I asked. 

He looked at me with puppy dog eyes.

"No! I'm just sneaking!" he said. We all started laughing at him and it took him a minute to realize his mistake, but when he finally did he said, "I mean snuggling! I'm just snuggling! No sneaking!"

And later when he was tallying up the score he said, "Okay, this is tricky. What's...10 + 12?"


The girls and I all stared at him for a minute before bursting out laughing again. 

"Stop! guys! I just..." he tried to speak through his laughter.

"I mean...22 is the answer if you really needed that," I said.

"I reordered things in my mind before I spoke out loud! It really was trickier than that!"

It's still kind of wild to me that we have two teenager-y beings in our house (Miriam won't be a teenager for nearly two years, but still, she's in YW, which is wild). 


We're reading Julie of the Wolves for school right now, fine. I remember reading it when I was in school and remember some very specific things about it (like the part where she finally obtains food and makes herself only eat a little bit so her stomach can readjust to being fed again; that has stuck with me since, like, grade three (I'm not sure why but knowing about that really freaked me out and I remember even being afraid to fast for a while after we read that book at school)). Anyway, I'm not sure that it's the best source for knowledge on Inuit culture, but it's actually not entirely easy to find books by Inuit authors. I checked out every book our library had (Fatty Legs, for example) but in the end grabbed this book, too. 

Anyway, at one point, Miyax (later Julie) is listing the few things she was able to take with her when she ran away from home—a backpack filled with about a weeks' worth of some food, needles, matches, a sleeping skin, a ground cloth...

"A sleeping skin?" Zoë said, pinching her arm and smiling proudly. "Of course, I always bring my sleeping skin. Don't even have to pack it!"

We explained that it was more like a sleeping bag made out of animal skins (which Miyax explains a little later on; I think it's caribou (or moose) hide lined with rabbit fur). That was a pretty funny misunderstanding (I'm not sure what she was imagining when Miyax said she had to pack her skin). Zoë was so confused about why one would ever have to pack their sleeping skin.

This evening before bed I was reading to the kids from Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park, which has been a fun read so far. I didn't know about the Chinese Massacre of 1871 and really hadn't spent much time considering how it might have been to be a Chinese immigrant in that time period (though I knew there were many immigrants who came to work on the railroad and so forth). It's been an interesting thing to consider. Linda Sue Park isn't my favourite author, though I admit I haven't read many of her books (A Long Walk to Water, which again was interesting but I didn't entirely love the treatment of the subject, as well as Gurple and Preen, which...meh). I though I perhaps simply didn't enjoy A Long Walk to Water because it's a middle-grade novel and was intended for a younger audience and so I gave it the benefit of the doubt (Benjamin loved it; loved the back and forth between the stories and immediately wanted another story just like that, so I had him read Refugee, which he also loved). 

What really gets my goat in Prairie Lotus is Park's use of pauses. She's always interrupting her dialogue with "pause" or "a pause" (there might even be a "breath" or "a breath" in there as well). It might be fine if it happened every so often, but it feels like it's happening a few times a chapter and I find it a little annoying. Pause. But I'm willing to overlook it because the story is otherwise very well told. 

Anyway, today Zoë found out that Mr. Harris is "the law," because Mr. Harris said so. 

"I'm the law around here," he said (or something like that (I don't want to go grab the book; sorry)). 

"How can he be the law?" Zoë asked. "Like, a person can't be a law..."

"But he's the sheriff," I said. "Saying they're "the law" is another way a police officer might refer to themselves. It means that they are in charge of enforcing the law, or that the law is in their hands."

"Oh. So the law means he's the sheriff."


But later Papa flies off the handle when Hanna confronts him about an altercation and he says something like, "You wanted me to break the law!"

Zoë interrupted once again to make sure she understood. 

"Break the law..." she said. "Here the law is like...a rule...right?"

"Yes. This time 'the law' means a rule."

"Good!" she said, letting her whole little body relax. "At first I thought he meant he was going to break the sheriff, but I don't think Hanna really wants him to break a person! She just doesn't think the rule is fair. So sometimes if a rule isn't fair then it might be okay to break it. But it's never really okay to break a person."

"All very good points. You're right. Hanna doesn't want her dad to hurt or break the sheriff! She just didn't want him to make life harder for the Native Americans she saw, which would mean they would have to break a rule—an unfair rule, but a rule.


  1. Huh. I did not notice pauses or breaths in Prairie Lotus.

    1. I think it might have been easier to ignore if I wasn't reading it out loud?

      Page 10 (Papa speaking): Papa thought for a moment. "Half turnip, half potato. Tasty enough, as I recall." A pause. "Good thing you fed them..."

      Page 27 (Hanna speaking): "Thank you." Pause. "There's school here."

      Page 33 (Mr. Harris speaking): "...I'll tell Miss Walters to expect a new student on Monday." Pause. "Thing is, we don't want any..."

      Page 70 (Sam speaking): "Just my pa." A pause. "My ma, she..."

      Page 76 (Pa speaking): "We aim to settle down here and run a good business." A pause. ""If there's going to be any trouble..."


      Page 194 (Mr. Harris speaking): "There's no courthouse here, but I'm the law, and everyone has to answer to the law." A pause. "If you don't, that's called contempt..."

      There are plenty of examples between page 76 and 194 and I'm sure we haven't had our last encounter. Hahaha. Like I said, it's probably much more noticeable simply because I'm reading it out loud and I feel like it throws off the pacing of the narration. Like, just let me decide where the pauses are! Or write them in a less obtrusive manner, more natural manner (not like stage directions). The story is fine...but those pauses! Haha! (And I'm sure there was a "breath" or two in there, too, but I didn't really take note of them as I was reading and didn't find any while I was scanning. :)

  2. Wowsers!! I think I just skimmed right over those pauses!!!

  3. I guess if you are reading aloud, you can pretend they are stage directions!!