Friday, November 13, 2009

White Picket Fences

Mia's x-ray showed that her elbow has healed enough for her to go without a cast, for which we are all so happy! I dropped her off at school after the appointment, and she must have overused the arm, because she was in tears when she got off of the bus from pain, and she's wearing the sling again just to offer some support. She's still out of gym for another four weeks just to make sure it heals completely.

Figuring out what she wants for Christmas this year has been interesting. When the Fleet Farm toy catalog arrived in the newspaper last month, she couldn't wait to sit down and circle all of the toys she wanted. Going through it with her afterward, it was difficult to find a page on which she hadn't circled something. There's an item that she's been asking for for a couple of years that she didn't even put on her list, but I've picked up already, and I had a few other things in mind based on her circles. However, the other night she told me that the number one item on her Christmas list this year is a Pillow Pet. I'd never heard of it before, but when she sang me the jingle, I realized that it's one of those "As Seen on TV" items. I looked it up online after she was in bed, but the one that she wants, the unicorn, is completely sold out! Now I'll have to ask her gently, without letting her know why, as to which is her second favorite Pillow Pet.

We added another item to her list last night. Every Thursday, the kids in Mia's class get to select a book from the classroom library to bring home and read with their parents. It gets sent home in an envelope that I have to sign to prove that we've read it together. Mia's selection this week: a Children's Dictionary. That in itself was surprising, but even more so was her demand that we not return it until we had read every single word in it, including the photo credits at the back! I suggested that rather than hold the book hostage for the next several months, she put it on her Christmas list and that we skim through reading whatever words caught her eye.

We flipped through the pages looking at random words until we came to geyser, and she was disappointed in the dictionary's definition. "That's not enough. I want to know more!" So I wiki-ed it which led to her seeing some pictures and wanting to know what one looked like. We headed to YouTube next and watched several different geysers before detouring to volcanoes (we had read the definition of erupt shortly before geyser) and finally tornadoes. By bedtime, she was determined to be a meteorologist when she grows up. Who knew a dictionary could be that much fun?

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner is a powerful novel about how the past shapes the future. Amanda Janvier gets more than she expected when she allows her niece, Tally, to stay with her family after her brother/Tally's father disappears. Amanda has worked hard to keep up the illusion of the perfect family, but Tally's arrival exposes the cracks in the foundations, and a school project between Tally and Amanda's son Chase brings up long hidden secrets and wounds which will leave them all permanently changed. Meissner's books are lyrical and haunting telling truths about the present by creating parallels in the past. With fully-fleshed characters and realistic dialogue, her stories captivate both the reader's heart and mind.

Thank you to Waterbrook Press and Random House for providing me with a copy of this book!

Congratulations to Bill Kamke who won my giveaway copy of this book! I'll be starting a new contest on Monday, perfect for all Twilight fans!