Novel Ideas

Today’s topic:  finding the perfect novel to read aloud to my son – what I am seeking (yay!) and what I am avoiding (yikes!).


Yay: we like advanced vocabulary and young adult protagonists.  Yikes: the typical young adult “coming of age” novel is not appropriate for my son. Yikes, yikes, yikes:  themes of alcoholism, drug use, rash behavior, abuse, incest, death, disconnected parenting, suicide, sex, and people being outright mean to one another.  I preview loads of books so we don’t have to head down these dark roads.

Also, because I am the one reading aloud, I have some say in the book genre.  I have tried ’em, but I usually don’t care for sci-fi, fantasy, stories with recurring villains, or time travel.  Here is what I am looking for:  humor, adventure, mystery, self-reliance, team efforts, friendship. I am looking for the good read with storylines complex enough to warrant rereading.

We probably read 50 novels annually. Here are the books we cannot get enough of, so they get reread about once a year:

  • Hatchet – Gary Paulsen
  • Cheaper By The Dozen – Frank B. Gilbreth
  • Schooled – Gordon Korman
  • Surviving the Applewhites – Stephanie S. Tolan
  • While Mrs. Coverlet Was Away – Mary Nash
  • Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians – Mary Nash
  • The Wednesday Wars – Gary D. Schmidt

Here is what we worked on last night:

My son was presented with a long list of locations; his job was to divide them into city, state, or country categories. We finished the amphibian unit (yay!) and we started the lizard unit (yay!). We finished the pirate book (which was a disappointment to the end, although we did learn one teeny fact: Black Bart was the most successful pirate ever) (but we don’t know why) (sigh). Our Farmer Brown story problem dealt with the purchase of new water troughs for the pigs.  Oink.

Classical music theme: it was VIRTUOSO NIGHT showcasing trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

  • Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Concerto in E-flat Major for Trumpet, movement 3”.  Aw, such a lackluster title for such a lively, commanding piece.
  • Niccolo Paganini’s “Moto Perpetuo” (perpetual motion).  The goal for the listener is to determine where the trumpeter is taking a breath in this piece, which is essentially a four-and-a-half-minute endurance-test.  And note:  this performance is a small testament to the skills of Mr. Marsalis.
  • Jeremiah Clarke’s “Prince of Denmark’s March”.  Often referred to as “Trumpet Voluntary”, Clarke’s composition is used for many a glorious wedding processional.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH


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