It's been a long time since I've done a book review. Because it's been a long time since I've read a book.
I did read Silas Marner in January after boards. And I liked it more than I thought I would. Granted, it did have the overly long conversation in the tavern that many of the classic 1800s English novels seem to love.
I actually have been reading. For the most part, it is material that no one wants me reviewing on my blog. No doubt my review of Anesthesia and Co-Existing Disease would be enthralling, but I'll spare you. Because it's Monday.
I've also been reading to Bug. My boys and I read together every single night. Call it a family tradition (my mother read to us every night.) It used to picture books: Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Verdi. With Monkey, it still is.
But since Bug is now a little older, we've been branching out to novels. We've read Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlotte's Web, Black Beauty, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, The Little House on the Prairie series.
And then I was stumped. I didn't know what to read next.
Until I came across a review for Kate DiCamillo's books. The review was so complementary that I immediately decided they would be Bug's and mine next books.
We started with Because of Winn-Dixie.
Told from the point of view of 10-year-old India Opal who lives with her father, this is a story told openly and honestly. After all, given the chance, children will be open and honest, even if to a fault.
India Opal's mother left her for her father to raise when she was 3 years old. Lonely and feeling disconnected from everyone around her, she happens upon a stray dog. And through Winn-Dixie, she finds friendship, forgiveness, and love.
There were mature themes throughout the book, including discussions about alcohol abuse, death of a child, and parental abandonment. But the story presents them simply and openly, allowing Bug and I to talk about the issues without them feeling awkward or overwhelming.
I'll be honest. I'm in love with this book. The writing, while simple enough that my seven-year-old understood every line, is poetic and haunting. Over and over, I found myself aching a little because of the sadness and beauty. There is humor and anger and happiness.
There is no exciting story line. No climax of the plot. This is a story about relationships and emotions, not about plot twists or surprise endings. It is written for children. I saw Bug connect to the heroine and her dog more than he has connected to any book so far. But the writing and themes made me enjoy this book just as much as my son.
I can't wait to read the rest of DiCamillo's books!
And if you have any suggestions for books to read out loud to a very smart seven year old boy, please let me know! We only have 3 DiCamillo books left!