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I always know it’s really summer in Oregon when I can go blueberry picking.
(Okay, so this picture is from 2007, but do blueberries really change? No.)
I went on Friday – I had the day off for working the weekend – and there’s nothing like a not-too-hot hour spent wandering between overgrown bushes, picking and eating and picking.
Now, to turn them into a blueberry tart! I’m thinking one of those ones with a sweet crust, pastry cream filling, and blueberries mounded on top. With leftovers for munching or freezing or turning into muffins.
Going into this book, I knew it would be sad. It has the subject heading “grief – fiction” for crying out loud, plus I’d read several reviews before ordering it for the library and that gave me a heads up. But sometimes I’m just in the mood for a tear-jerker, so I picked it up and waited to see what would be so devastating.
The first half of the book is the story of a family dealing with the usual upsets of life, with the added hurdle of running a family restaurant. Narrator Fern feels like the invisible one, her older brother hasn’t come out but they all know he’s gay, oldest girl Sara is taking a year off before college, and three-year-old Charlie is, as always, dirty and sticky and looking for affection.
When things go wrong for the family, Knowles writing felt like it tightened up. Each person blames themselves for what happened, and they have to figure out how to go on. The sadness never felt maudlin – it was always sharp and painful and vivid. Although the sadness in the story is specific to this particular incident, I always think that good tear-jerkers evoke a universal sort of grief. This may not be your tragedy, but if the emotions ring true, you are put in the character’s shoes. Their grief and any grief you hold get mixed together.
This isn’t an easy book to read, but I think it fits well into that canon of children’s books that do this sort of thing well. It made me think of both Bridge to Terabithia and A Summer to Die – books with very different plots but a similar ability to call up emotion.
Source: my public library
I am alive, although awash in summer reading busy-ness and laziness at home. I wish “summer reading busy-ness” meant I’ve been reading in record quantities, but alas I’m just busy at work. We’ve been down a librarian for five weeks (sob) – two weeks longer than expected – and those of us holding down the fort are feeling the effects. We really do need three children’s librarians during the summer.
But the work is oh-so-satisfying, which helps make up for the occasional insanity. It’s endlessly entertaining to hand out prizes to kids and free books when they finish summer reading. It’s a relief to see some of the shelves empty off, and circulation go up, as people stock up for all that free time that summer brings. I suspect that parents are less likely to limit their school-age kids on how much they check out at once. As a librarian, I want to pile them up with books until they can’t see to walk upstairs!
Storytime is always a delight (except when all the background noise is coming from the parents, not the kids…) Three years into librarianship, I definitely feel like I have storytime down pat – I can throw it together quickly if I need to, and I feel confident in all my usual routines. I can’t decide if this means I should shake things up or leave them be.
Last summer I experimented with a teen craft program – teens have totally been the neglected group in my library for a long time – and it was poorly but faithfully attended (the same three girls came each week). This year I switched from evenings to afternoons and lowered the minimum age from 12 to 10. I think that combination worked, at least for now. I think most of the attendees have been between 10 and 13, but I’ve had much larger groups and they’re focused and enthusiastic. Last week we did duct tape wallets and roses (the wallets in particular required a lot of step-by-step instruction from me) and this week we did ‘make your own postcard.’ Next week we have someone lined up to come in and teach origami. I am calling it a success.
In terms of my personal reading, I’ve definitely slacked off on reviews (I gave myself permission to do that, but I didn’t expect to get this lazy…maybe there was a reason I became a perfectionist about it). Hopefully, after a little break, I’ll get back into the swing of things.