Motherhood & Words

Last night I was faced with the task of hemming Stella’s princess dress. (I know. It’s utterly shocking that she has chosen to be a princess for Halloween.) But I couldn’t muster the strength to go down in the basement and get the sewing machine and try to remember how to use it, so I used masking tape instead. I thought of stapling the dress, but decided the tape would be more discrete. I still have to iron it this morning (to create a professional finish).

It just seems difficult for me to manage anything these days. A thought is a struggle, writing a complete essay an impossibility. My head is an intellectual dead zone. This seems to have extended even to memes. I have two tags on which I’ve been meaning to follow-up, but it has seemed like such a big deal to sit down at the computer and just do them. (I don’t remember being this dull-witted while I pregnant with Stella, but I probably was.)

Here it goes. I was tagged by Jennifer at pinwheels to list seven of my favorite children’s books. I’m reading at a child’s level now, so this was pretty easy. Note that the following books are my favorites. Stella decides on a new favorite every day, so it would be much more difficult to track her preferences.

Ellsworth’s Extraordinary Electric Ears and Other Amazing Alphabet Anecdotes by Valorie Fisher. This book is filled with extravagant alphabetical dioramas. For example: “Pepitas pink paper parasols were particularly popular with pirates. Perfectly puzzling!” Little pirate figurines stand in front of Pepita’s store holding pink drink parasols. I love it. But the fun doesn’t stop there. The page is filled with other P figures. Can you find them all? Therein lies the challenge. Every letter is as much fun as the last.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. I actually love all of Kevin Henkes’ books, but I thought I should just pick one. Henkes is a master of creating a great kid’s story with enough quirky language to entertain adults. I must also mention Chester’s Way and Chrysanthemum. There is no end to the fun with these unusual mice.

The Listening Walk by Paul Showers, illustrated by Aliki. I’m actually not sure why I like this book so much. A girl goes on a walk with her dad and lists all the things she can hear when she is quiet and just listens. Maybe I’d like to be more like her? Capable of stopping the whirring thoughts long enough to enjoy a walk? (Of course, I’m referring to a time when I could actually think and when I was still able to go on walks.)

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. This is a beautiful book about a girl who wants to be like her grandfather and travel to faraway places and end up living by the sea. Her grandfather tells her she must do a third thing: make the world more beautiful. She grows up and travels to faraway places and settles by the sea, and then finally realizes how to make the world more beautiful. The illustrations are lovely.

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankhuyzen. This is a true story of the Berlin Airlift and the pilot who dropped candy from his plane over Berlin. I’ll admit it—it makes me tear up each time I read it.

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss. A seriously funny book about a worm and his observations on life. There is one error in this book, which I will mention lest you think it escaped me. (Stella actually noticed it before I did, but whatever.) In some of the early pages, the worms are drawn with teeth, but later in the book it is stated that worms don’t have teeth. Oops. Definitely still worth the read, though. I laughed out loud the first time I read it.

Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully. This is about a girl who doesn’t give up. Her strength and determination inspire a washed-up high wire walker. A good role model for me, too.

I’ll wait on the next meme, a writing meme, until tomorrow. (See, I feel I’ve stretched my mind enough for one day.) I want to specifically tag Toby’s Mom with this meme because she reviews children’s literature on her wonderful blog, but I’d also like to extend the tag to anyone who is interested. Link to your post in the comments, so I can visit your blog for your favorite kids’ books.

Gorge yourselves on candy. I plan to.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Toby's Mom on November 1, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Oh my goodness, my first tag! I’m so excited! (Though I think this is just your sneaky plot to get me to post something on my poor blog that has been silent for too long.) Now to pick just seven books…

  2. jennifergg on November 21, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for playing along! Some of these are already favorites; some are sure to become new favorites