We like to read around here. We read a lot. Over the summer, we’ve gone through piles of books. Piles and piles and piles of books. We take a rolling cart to the library — one of those two-wheeled carts with a large, soft bag to hold your groceries that little old ladies use — and we so overloaded it with books every single week (and sometimes twice a week) that the wheels fell off mid-August.
Which, unfortunately, left us just starting our walk home with nine hundred kilos of books and a non-functioning cart. Which had to be carried. Did I mention it’s a little over two kilometers to the library? So… two skinny kids, one gently rounded Mama, a zillion really heavy books, and not one but two broken wheels lying on the sidewalk like bizarre mineature tractor tires, if tractor tires were warped into ovals and cracked almost completely in half.
We took the bus home from the library that day.
And bought another cart.
We read out loud together while cuddled under a blanket on the couch. We read quietly by ourselves in a little nest of pillows behind the couch. We read in the backyard, in the grass, in the hammock, and (when Mama can kick the kids out of it) with Mama swinging in the hammock and the kids on our brightly coloured picnic blanket on the grass, listening. We read in the tent. We read in bed. We read at the park. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that we read just about everywhere you can comfortably settle for a half hour or more.
Just the other day I realized I’ve not been blogging about what we’ve been reading. This lack of sharing is partly because we’ve been so busy doing so many other cool things, like spending entire days at the park, attending an archaeology program at the Billings Estate Museum, watching Shakespeare in the Park, geocaching with friends, raising baby birds, and all sorts of other crazy summer adventures.
It’s also partly because the kids have fully embraced my summer challenge to read as many chapter books as possible — and with $1 per book as a reward, they’ve been reading a lot of chapter books this summer! Every time I turned around, there was a kid with their nose in a book. I had to pay out $82 on the last day of summer and I couldn’t be more proud.
But mostly I haven’t been blogging about books because at the moment our reading list looks like an ode to Gordon Korman. It’s true. The kids are absolutely addicted to Korman’s books, and this summer has been an almost total Korman-fest in terms of our read-alouds.
It all started the February before last with Why did the Underwear Cross the Road, quickly followed by This Can’t Be Happening At Macdonald Hall. Those of you who are familiar with Korman’s work will know that you can’t reasonably expect a kid to read Macdonald Hall without reading Go Jump In The Pool, Beware the Fish, and Wizzle War too. So we did. Mama was starting to overdose on Bruno and Boots at that point, so we moved on to other things… only to add No Coins, Please and The Toilet Paper Tigers a few months later after another perusal of the “Juv Fic Kor” shelf at the library.
But then, we discovered a new style of book. K, being a newly minted ten-year-old boy, has become interested in adventure stories. When he spotted the Island trilogy at the library, we brought home the first book, Shipwreck, and he devoured it in one sitting. And then he insisted I read it aloud to his sister and him since it was so good that we absolutely had to share it. Had to. Had to.
So we did.
Which, of course, necessitated the reading of the next two in the series, Survival and Escape.
Those were followed by Zoobreak, leant to us by my sister, and it’s prequel, Swindle, as an audiobook from the library that B listened to as she drifted off to sleep one week. And while she did her morning chores. And while she played. And while she coloured and drew. In all, she listened to it three times through before it was due back at the library — thus giving Korman the highest form of praise an author can get.
When it came time to choose the next read-aloud, there was no question in the kids’ minds — another Korman series. But which one? With each library visit, they poured over the choices. The Everest series? B worried it would be too scary. More Macdonald hall? They weren’t on the shelf, we will have to request them and wait for them to come in. The hockey books? Too much hockey for B, and the covers were too young-looking for K. Kidnapped? Hmm, maybe, but they sounded sort of scary, so maybe we’d better wait until B is older (said a very worried-looking K). We left without a firm decision that day, but we also had a few more days of reading in the last book, so we had time.
That same night, B came running all excited because she knew what she wanted to get K for his birthday: books. Not just any books… Korman books. So we did. The Dive trilogy, all three books. We’re almost done book two and about to start book three, though on our recent trip to Montreal, K polished off both of them in the car so he’s listening now for the pleasure of it and absolutely bursting at the seams with excitement because he knows what’s coming next and can’t wait to see our reactions to it.
But I can see the end coming: in a few more days, we’ll be finished with the Dive trilogy and be looking for another. No more Korman? After a year and a half of almost continual Korman? How could it be?
When B ordered K’s birthday books online, she discovered the most wonderful, magical, exciting-est news in the world: Korman has a new series coming. A trilogy. About the Titanic.
So she pre-ordered them. All three books.
And, to my great surprise, I find I can hardly wait until they get here.
But that’s not what convinced me that we all have Korman-itis. What convinced me that we all have Korman-itis was a visit to the mall to order new prescription glasses for this Mama. The Man We Call Dad took K and wandered off while B bounced and spun on a chair at my side until all the fitting and measuring and choosing was done. We, too, wandered off for a bit since the boys were out of sight, and we wandered ourselves right into a book store. (In an entire mall full of stores, it’s the best place to be, isn’t it?)
The children’s section of this particular book store is at the back, and we started browsing book spines and backs — just out of idle curiosity, of course. B gravitated to the Magic Tree House books and on her way there, found a new-to-us author with books geared specifically towards girls, and so she scooped up a copy of The Tomorrow Girls — all three books — and held them tightly in her arms, just in case we decided we needed to buy it. Not that we were there to buy books, of course. We were just looking.
One series in particular caught my eye, perhaps because it occupied almost an entire shelf, but also because I’ve seen the distinctive logo on the cover being read by kids at the park and on the bus and in the neighbourhood. The 39 Clues, it reads, and each one has a big number on the side so you know which book in the series you’ve got. I grabbed one of the books and flipped it over to read the back. Looked interesting, and it would definitely appeal to K. I cracked it open and read the first few pages. Definitely interesting, and worth looking for at the library. Then I thought I’d better check who the author is, so we can find it more easily on the shelves when we go to the library next week…
It’s Gordon Korman.
He didn’t write all of them — book one is written by Rick Riordian, for example — but he wrote book 2 and book 8, and at least one of the second set in the series. And as soon as I saw his name on the cover, something inside of me sighed with pleasure and whispered “now this is going to be a good read!”
Korman-itis. We’ve got it, that’s for sure. An incurable case.
As for the book store, its shelves are now a wee bit lighter, and ours are a bit heavier.