In Which I Ignore Everything That Is Swirling Through My Mind and Just Talk About a Cool Book

So, I went to BlogHer'10. Whew. I met a kind and excellent person, who writes warmly and winningly about food (sausage, anyone?).

I hung out with Kablooey, who is darkly funny, which I find soothing (in an existential sort of way).

I thought about all the changes I'm going to make, and the redesigns I'm going to do, and the kid's literature conferences I'm going to think about attending.

But not now. Now, I am going to shove all that stuff down to think about later, and instead talk about this bizarre yet engaging book that Diana discovered in art class:

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I was talking with a few people about reluctant readers, and I was thinking about how much we want other people to like what we like. I see Diana reading Warriors and I want—so much—for her to read Watership Down.

And I want it all while knowing that inspiration is just about the most particular-to-a-person thing there is.

So, Art Fraud Detective. I think that many reluctant readers are just not ready to enter fully into a long, written narrative. Who knows why? But these same readers will go crazy over Where's Waldo? or The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book. And I think it's because they're doing something. And for some people that's the way it works, at least for a while.

With this book, you're looking for differences between the real works of art (mostly old masters), and their clever "forgeries" which are the exact same paintings with ridiculous things like an umbrella or a fish cleverly hidden in the background. And you use, get this, a magnifying glass that's attached to the book with a special ribbon.

Yes, it's all a bit silly, but when I see it lying on the bed, I am powerless to resist picking it up and examining the Rousseau for marks. And all of a sudden  there you are, lost in a book—maybe not the way you thought you'd be, but who's counting?

Besides, I believe that every time you connect someone to a book that they love, an angel gets its wings (or maybe you get a slight karmic edge on finding good stuff people put out on the curb, I don't know).

4 thoughts on “In Which I Ignore Everything That Is Swirling Through My Mind and Just Talk About a Cool Book

  1. What an interesting perspective. The “doing something” angle. I have never considered that. I am about to begin teaching college freshmen remedial reading for the first time in my short career. The last thing I taught (nine years ago) was first grade. I have been trying to figure out how to lure them in, and I will have to do some more thinking about this idea! Thanks!

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  2. Good on you for at least addressing BlogHer, even if only to table the topic for later. It’s more than I’ve done. (In my defense, my daughter monkeyed around with my keyboard and now my “m” only works with persistant and particular effort.) Our gateway books are funny ones or, in past, lame ones featuring characters she knows from cartoons. At least they’re books. (I console myself with this re: the tv spin-off crap.) But Knuffle Bunny? Funny is funny. “She went boneless” is genius. BTW, I’m putting “darkly funny” on my tombstone.

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  3. That sounds p e r f e c t for my daughter! She is not a reluctant reader, but she is currently into ID’ing the canonical masterpieces. (She loves the art section of freerice.com and the Go Fish for Art games.) Plus, really, who doesn’t like a magnifying glass?
    And, Megsie, having taught developmental reading and writing, I highly reco the active “doing something” angle, even if it means making it up for pieces not specifically designed as such…

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  4. That looks like a fantastic book. My sister is an art historian, and I can barely identify my colors. : ) But it reminds me constantly how different our strengths can be, and I can see her, as a kid, getting really excited about this. Plus, magnifying glasses are awesome. I think you make a great point about the “doing something.” For people who enjoy the falling into a story, books like Where’s Waldo may feel simply lazy. But for people who can’t stand the sitting still and just reading, I can really see the appeal in getting to participate in the book.
    And Kablooey, we just discovered Mo Willems because they had a bin at the library. And Lord, he is funny. We are now reading Knuffle Bunny five or ten times a day, and I feel that I’m morally obligated to get all the Pigeon books. You’re right, funny is funny, and how great it is when parent and child get to bond over genuinely funny stories.

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