Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting My Vote

I actually made it to my local rec center to cast my early ballot this week. The election officials were quite gregarious. I learned all about their grandkids (as I had my own kids with me) while we were waiting for the computer to find me (of course I didn't have my voter's registration card with me).

Identity verified, we walked over to a voting station. My two-year-old only almost-knocked-over two of the adjacent rickety voting stands before I was done with the nine touch screens. As we were leaving, my five-year-old asked me, "What was that all about?" After patiently listening to my impromptu spiel about democracy, she said, "No, what were those kids doing there?" alluding to the after-school program's roomful of kids. And, "Do they get doughnuts?"

If you are tired of the real issues being swept aside by talk of doughnuts (or in this year's case, fortune cookies), try Hope was Here by Joan Bauer.

Hope and her aunt travel from restaurant to restaurant trying to find success. Hope works as a waitress, and her aunt works wonders in the kitchen with her signature deep-dish apple pie. Moving to Wisconsin from New York, Hope is nervous about starting over...again. Fortunately, the owner of the diner they are working for decides to run for mayor. Thrown into the campaign, Hope finds friends (and hope) in the people she works with to rally support for the underdog candidate.

Bauer's style aptly captures the staccato banter of the diner counter and the campaign trail. As in all reputable YA novels, she also includes a first kiss, a wayward mother, and a funeral. So maybe when my daughter's twelve, she can read Hope was Here and get a little perspective on a small-town election. If the election theme doesn't grab her, there's always the pastries to entice her.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sick Day

We've already started with the runny noses, sore throats, and not-feeling-goods. When that happens, I try to stock up on Tylenol, tissues, and popsicles. Luckily since we live across the street from El Rio Grande, we're never lacking in the latter.

In addition to the aforementioned remedies, providing some relief this week was a copy of Carmen Tafolla's What Can You Do with a Paleta? Suggestions in this whimsical tale range from painting your tongue green to gaining an advantage during a baseball game (Rangers take note). The illustrations by Magaly Morales are soothing, bright, and dreamy.

If your son shushes you when you try to read it in Spanish, distract him with a grape one.

Fresh out? Go here. What will you do with yours?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Tomorrow is Too Far"

Dust whirls. Husbands are snatched. Babies spill fresh palm-oil blood.

A girl's brother is jailed for being a suspected cult member on his university's campus. Two women from disparate backgrounds hide out from a riot in an abandoned shop. A newlywed of an arranged marriage finds out her husband is already married.

Intrigued?

You can hear Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discuss her collection of stories called The Thing Around Your Neck here. I'll save you a seat.