Authors You Know, Books You May Not: What We’re Reading

It’s Wednesdaaaaaaaayyyyy!!!! Allllllmost!  And yes, that is me siiiiiinging!

And no, I have not had a single beer.  But I DID go out to dinner with my handsome husband and 4 children, all of whom received free dinners at Islands thanks to the (totally awesome yet completely unnecessary) Summer Reading Rewards program at our library.  Let me do the math for you:

Kevin’s last week of work
+ TWELVE year anniversary coming up this weekend,
+ no food in the house that this preggers deemed fit for baby-mama consumption
+ a little moola left in the “eating out” envelope (thank you, Dave Ramsey.)
+ plus the free dinners for reading (like we always do every day)
= Islands dinner for 6 for $20.  Everything is Awwwwwwesome! (singing again.  Sorry)

Don’t worry.  Got a fancy romaaaaaantic dinner all planned and budgeted for this weekend, sans les kiddos.  But we also had a really enjoyable dinner out, in which no food was thrown, everyone stayed seated, the kids colored, the parents chatted.  {Sigh}  It was just wonderful.  Almost like being a grown-up!

On to the books.

I discovered this gem at the library the other day, while I was searching for The Hobbit: Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. “Everybody’s Favorite” Tolkien.  (The one linked there is to a different edition, and it includes Farmer Giles of Ham, which I did not read.)

Who doesn’t love finding a book  by an author they enjoy that is heretofore unbeknownst to them?  No one I know, that’s for sure.  (In fact, I justhisverysecond sensed a theme running through this post.  But give me a second with that.)  This story is about a little village (Wootton Major) that gives a giant feast every 24 years.  As a part of that feast, there is a party for many of the good children in the village.  At one such feast, the son of the smith swallows a fairy star and his life is changed forever.

This is a far cry from the epic Tolkien novels, but a perfect length for a child who loves fairy tales but is just moving on to chapter books.  I really love true fairy tales, ones that make us wish and dream and imagine far away things without depending for trite endings.  This is a great one for that.  I have to admit, I haven’t read this one to the kids yet.  I read it myself one night, easily in one sitting, and I will read it to them soon.  Just as soon as we finish the next book.


Trumpet SwanIn one of my Theme Thursday posts, I admitted that I don’t like birds.  I think Cari almost broke up with me after that.  So it’s a funny coincidence that at the same time she recently recommended The Trumpet of the Swan, I was given a copy by a friend who had an extra.  I’ve been reading it aloud to the girls and we’ve been enjoying it immensely.  I don’t know how I missed it during my youth, but that deficiency probably directly correlates with my irrational fear of justifiable contempt for most birds.  Louis the Swan is certainly an exception.

Since I think I’m probably the last adult human to read TotS, I’ll spare you the summary.  But here’s a quote that made me laugh, considering the context:

The last note seemed to linger on the still waters of the lake.  From their beds, the boys heard the beautiful sound.  They felt sleepy and serene and happy – all but Applegate Skinner, who did not care for birds at bedtime.  But even Applegate was soon asleep, along with the others in his tent.  He was asleep, and he was snoring.  People who dislike birds often snore. 

Touché, E.B.,  touché.


We’ve had Tomie dePaola’s Favorite Nursery Tales  for years, but I put it away awhile ago and just rediscovered it the other day.  We had to go get ANOTHER new tire this week {grrrrrr} and I knew what that meant: sitting for an hour or more in the waiting room with 4 antsy and curious kids.  This book (plus a short walk) kept them occupied for the whole hour, plus some.

What I love most about this book: it has REAL nursery tales – Joseph Jacobs, Brothers Grimm, Aesop, etc, – but without the super-intense illustrations that sometimes scare off my youngest ones.  Their imaginations are vivid enough, don’t you think?  Anyway, the boys haven’t stopped asking for this book all week.


Gianna picked Instructions by Neil Gaiman up at the library today, and I was immediately drawn to the illustrations.  It was only after I sat down with it that I noticed the author.  I know a few of you regular WWRW-ers are avid Neil Gaiman fans, but I haven’t yet read anything by him, so this is  a novice’s review.

The illustrations by Charles Vess are vivid and interesting.  The storyline is… intriguing.  It is, I suppose, an instruction manual for living life.  Or a fairy tale.  There’s probably a lot of deep allegorical writing in this, but I keep looking at it through the eyes of a child and seeing… confusion?  In all fairness, I haven’t read this one to the kids either, so I’ll try to update this tomorrow with their opinions.  As for now, my official opinion is: this is a piece written for older kids or adults who have the meta-cognitive ability to analyze themselves within a work of literature.

So now, do you see the connection?  A whole bunch of authors you know, and books you may not have heard of.  Head on over to Jessica @ Housewifespice for more good books to read.  And make sure you send up a prayer that her little late-comer baby makes an entrance sooooooon!



  1. I was just about to write about Trpet of the Swan for WWRW! We just listened to the audio of EB White reading it himself, and it was fabulous. Beware however the ending has a bizarre twist that my animal sensitive kids did not like at all.

    And happy anniversary!! We just celebrated our 12th on Sunday too!
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  2. Trumpet of the Swan was my FAVORITE book growing up. Favorite favorite. What a great story.
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  3. Congrats on the anniversary! And thanks for the recommendations. I’ve got the Tolkien book on request at the library. Can’t wait.