In Which I Know Everything and Nothing, Simultaneously

One of the lovely things about writing this blog is that every now and again I receive and e-mail from a publisher wondering whether we would be interested in reviewing a book. I almost always say yes.

Which brings me to how I know nothing, and how we came to receive this book in the mail.


I picked it up at our post box, and took a look on the way home, then another look when we got into the warm house. And I thought, "Eh. Not so great," and I put it on some open surface and went on with other things.

No doubt you can guess what happened next.

I came upon Chestnut reading it. Not once, not twice, but over and over. Also piping in with useful facts about Flamenco whenever such facts were needed (which ended up being often). Also stomping around the kitchen a bit. All of which made me remember that in fact I am a grownup, and while I sort of think I know everything, I really don't. I don't know how exciting it is to read about something new you never heard of before when you are 9, I don't know much about the origins of Flamenco, I don't (or didn't) know where the Romany people originally came from. I knew nothing about how excellent this book was going to be for Chestnut.

But now we get to the point where I know EVERYTHING. And for it to make sense, you must first know this: Chestnut is scared of almost all movies. With a few—very few—exceptions, she finds them both terrifying and terrible. We have successfully been to a movie theater maybe three times in the past 9 years with her. At home, we can watch Totorro (greatest kid's movie ever made) but not Kiki's Delivery Service; we can watch Meet Me in Saint Louis sort of, with lots of hand-holding; we can watch a filmed version of Pirates of Penzance. And that's about it.

We try and try to get over this hump, but we very rarely succeed. Until we read this book. And then I remembered something: I remembered Strictly Ballroom. And I may not remember how excellent it can be to find a book about something you knew nothing about, and I may not be able to predict what will entrance a very tender and timid 9-year-old brain, but I know a good movie, and how to take advantage of an opening in the armor.

Suffice it to say we watched Strictly Ballroom last night, and it was excellent, and loved by all. And certain readers in this house were back with Olé Flamenco this morning, trying to teach themselves more about dance. All in all, despite my too frequent periods of know-nothingness, we are feeling pretty good here.

6 thoughts on “In Which I Know Everything and Nothing, Simultaneously

  1. What a comforting story! My eleven-year old niece is like Chestnut: She’s scared of almost every movie. Maybe I should recommend Strictly Ballroom to her. (Ah, now I remember the pasodoble! Must watch it again myself…)


  2. I love this story! Have had similar experiences with review books & my kid, too.
    Have you seen Mad Hot Ballroom? It’s a documentary about a bunch of 5th graders in NYC who all do a 10-week ballroom dance program in their public schools. At the end of the program there’s a big competition. The kids are endearing and amazing, and the editing is fantastic, and my kid loved it so much that she watched it over and over until she’d pretty much memorized the dance steps the kids learn.
    I don’t think flamenco is part of the program, though. (I just asked my kid and the 5 dances are: swing, meringue, rhumba, tango, and foxtrot. She listed them right off and then said, “Oh I really want to see Mad Hot Ballroom again.”)
    And it is pretty suspenseful. So who knows whether Chestnut will go for it. Might be worth a try, though.


  3. Love the wisdom of this. I’m also thinking it must be a pretty good book to have conveyed the excitement of DANCE, of all things, as vividly as it apparently did.
    And Totoro is definitely the greatest kids’ movie ever. Or at least that I’ve seen.
    Finally, whether or not you go for Mad Hot Ballroom as Els suggests, docs in general might be a way to try for more movies. This summer, for instance, our family, which includes someone who knows right away when something has reached an even remotely scary place, thoroughly enjoyed Babies.


  4. Interesting post. Flamenco – who knew?
    My 10 year old has never been a fan of movies either – too loud, too dark. For years, the only way to do it was to have her sit on my lap, and we left many movies before they ended.


  5. Documentaries, yes, except for the nature docs (ominous music whenever the predators come onscreen…).
    Three cheers for flamenco! I took lessons for a year (as an adult, after being intrigued for years) and thoroughly enjoyed them.


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