Today Miss M and I did something we haven’t done in a long time – we actually had extensive read-aloud time during the day instead of just at bedtime! With the slower pace of summer (and the boys otherwise occupied playing), we hung out on the couch and read. Then we moved our reading outside to a blanket under a tree while baby J enjoyed playing with his toys on the blanket with us. When Mr. K was a baby (and Miss M was not yet reading chapter books on her own), Miss M and I would spend what seemed like hours reading almost every afternoon. Maybe I should get a “patience” award for the fact that I read her dozens of the “Rainbow Magic” fairy books that she just loved during that year. 😉
Luckily Miss M’s taste for read-alouds has improved drastically in the past two or three years. Today we were finishing up “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Selden. This was a relatively straight-forward read that Miss M could have accomplished on her own, but since I had never read it, I decided to select it as a read aloud. The chapters are short and had our schedule been typical over the past two weeks, I think we would have finished it quickly. But our life has been consumed by busy weekends and evening swimming lessons the past two weeks, very much disrupting our usual bedtime schedules.
In The Cricket in Times Square, Chester Cricket accidentally makes his way from Connecticut to New York City trapped in a picnic basket. He finds himself in the Times Square subway station, and becomes the pet of a young boy named Mario, and a friend of a mouse and a cat. Chester turns out to be no ordinary cricket — he has musical talent and uses it to bring joy to those around him. This was a pretty straightforward story of friendship and finding out what truly makes one happy.
Miss M asked if this book was one of a series, and I replied that no, I didn’t think it was. However a quick search on Amazon just informed me otherwise! Selden wrote a few other books about Chester and his friends! I think I’ll be reserving those for Miss M at our library.
Prior to finishing The Cricket in Times Square, we read The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson. I was just too busy packing for a camping trip to write about it last week. 🙂 Another book in the “dolls that have a life of their own” sub-genre, this story features Miss Kanagawa, a rather large handmade doll from Japan that is sent to America with a whole group of Japanese dolls to serve as ambassadors of goodwill in the late 1920s. The Friendship Doll alternates from a 3rd person narrator’s point of view, telling the story of four different girls who come in contact with Miss Kanagawa over the years, and a first person point of view of Miss Kanagawa relating her experiences. Miss Kanagawa doesn’t quite have the charm or grand historical scope of Hitty (a favorite of ours from this sub-genre this year), but it has a lot of depth.
Bunny, the first girl in the story to cross paths with Miss Kanagawa is a bit of a spoiled brat who learns a lesson about friendship and stepping into the shoes of others in the late 1920s. The following three girls are in a bit more desperate situations. These three girls all live during the Great Depression. Themes of economic hardship, poverty, discrimination, sickness and death are all touched upon as Miss Kanagawa influences the lives of three girls in three very different situations. For a while in the middle of The Friendship Doll, I was beginning to think that the subjects were getting too heavy for me to really enjoy this book. I must admit that at this stage of life I am really preferring books that are a bit more “light and happy” in general. But I pushed on through my doubts and was finding myself moved by Miss Kanagawa and the lives she touches.
Miss M didn’t seem bothered by the heavy themes in this book, though I am glad we didn’t read it any sooner in the school year than we did. She was excited to hear about each of the girls in the story, though she wished that more of the story had been told from the doll’s vantage point (the sections written in the doll’s “voice” are really a pretty minor percentage of the book as a whole).
Finishing The Cricket in Times Square marked the completion of our 25th read-aloud for this school year! We’ll be taking a bit of a different turn with our read-alouds this summer by working on a series together. (I was going to make that change after Friendship Doll since we completed that at about the same time as our actual school year, but I just couldn’t resist making it 25!). This summer Miss M and I are going to start the “Rose” series of Little House books that follows the life of the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We’ll read those until we finish the series, the fall arrives or we get bored of it I guess…whichever comes first!
I’m linking up with Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!