What Camden’s loving – June 2018 books

We’ve been busy this month playing outside or getting out of the house, so there’s been a lot less time spent reading during play time. Most of the books on the list were hits for bedtime.

Monster Park by Annie Bach

monster park

This one has limited rhyming text on each page so it is easy to read in a perky and dramatic voice which is what I think Camden loves the most about it. I loved the colorful illustrations and that the book ends with the Daddy saying, “We can come back another day” which is similar to what we tell Cam when it’s time to leave anywhere. We say “We’ll come back soon!”

Maybe a Bear Ate It by Robie Harris

maybe a bear ate it

In this one the kitty (?) drops his book while reading in bed and has trouble finding it. He comes up with several dramatic things that might have happened to it. I like this one because it encourages kids to create dramatic plots in their heads. I’m sure not every kid needs encouragement with that, haha.

Courduroy Goes to the Beach based on the character created by Don Freeman

corduroy goes to the beach

This book has some flaps for the kids to lift, though most are smaller than lift-the-flap books for younger kids, none bigger than an inch or so. I thought flaps might be old news for Camden, but there are about four on each page and it’s almost like a look and find in that you have to figure out which parts of the picture are flaps.

Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney

little excavator

This one has everything for a 2 1/2 year old boy to love: all kinds of construction equipment. The text has lots of action words to describe what the machines are doing, but the illustrations tell the whole story which is that the little excavator keeps trying to help with jobs he’s too little for, until the last job needs to be completed and he’s the only machine small enough to do it.

I just now noticed that it was written by the creator of the Llama Llama series. I’m not crazy about those books because I feel like the Mom is portrayed as very “Anything goes” when it comes to Llama’s behavior and I like to have clear expectations for behavior even when Camden is sad or mad. He liked the image when he saw it on Netflix though and so we had to give it a try… sigh.

 

What I’m loving – June 2018

What I’m loving – June 2018

Mondays aka my days to write!

I am working on writing a novel…er, practicing writing a novel. I have an idea for what I’d like my first book to be about, but I have never sat down to try to write anything like it before. In my head the idea is a home run, so I don’t want to just sit down and try to write it without practicing being in the habit of writing first.

I’ve heard authors say that beginning the project can kill all the excitement about it because what you start to write isn’t as perfect as you imagined. In a way I feel like I’m setting myself up for success by working on my ‘throw away’ project instead while I keep outlining in my brain ‘the’ novel.

I know this all sounds like a procrastination out of fear, and it probably is, but it’s my path. I’ve actually been really enjoying the throw away project and have mostly been able to do a full chapter each week so who knows maybe this manuscript will be completely finished in 6 years. It’s a bit cliche, but the more I work on it and develop characters and make it authentic the more I have my fingers crossed that it will also be something sellable…

Speaking of selling a novel, my next favorite thing is:

First Draft Podcast by Sarah Enni

For this podcast Sarah talks with lots and lots of published authors (mostly YA authors) about the when, the how, and the why of writing their novel and how they got it published. The podcast was my first insight into the business side of writing a book and I love it that I’m learning so much–but in an inspiring way.

To me it’s the equivalent of the “How I Built This” podcast but instead of how to build a successful business it’s building yourself into a published author. Sarah is set up for success in each interview because she’s there to talk with authors about their ‘baby’, the product of their passion. But Sarah also brings her authentic excitement to the interview and it seems like each author is immediately comfortable with her resulting in a personal and enlightening interview.

My favorites (so far) were versions 1 and 2 with Ava Dellaira and Morgan Matson

GOOD BOOKS

This month’s favorites were:

Bucky F*cking Dent by David Duchovny

Ted is an aspiring writer whose agent tells him he writes unpublishable crap. Without an inciting incident there is no plot. Ted’s life mirrors his quest for a sucessful novel and on the very next page we get the inciting incident: his estranged father is dying.

I’m pretty sure his father is already dead and the story the narrator (Ted) weaves is just himself working through some issues while writing a more satisfying and compelling story of their lives. Without this twist it’s just a cute story, but the twist makes it more interesting.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Jacket description: Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonweatlh is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

Ann Patchett is just the best. She writes so beautifully and is really good at coming up with new plots. I hope one day to write as well as she can. Here are two of my favorite quotes:

“There’s no protecting anyone,” Fix said, and reached over from his wheelchair to put his hand on hers. “Keeping people safe is a story we tell ourselves.” P. 258

If her mother hadn’t been so pretty none of it would have happened, but being pretty was nothing to blame her for. P. 312

One is a universal truth and the other is essentially the point the whole novel revolves around. I might write a more in depth review because it can only help me become a better writer if I practice dissecting good literature.

Armchair Expert Podcast by Dax Shephard

When I first peeked at this podcast, I was not excited. Each episode is approx 2 hours long and I have found with other podcasts of this length that there’s a ton of time to talk about stuff that’s just not very compelling.

For instance, I also tried “You Made It Weird” with Pete Holmes. The first episode I tried was the Andy Samberg one and for about the first 20-30 minutes they just talked about obscure references to things that made them laugh. That’s fine, and I still enjoyed listening to them laugh but I thought, “This is going to have to be an ambient noise podcast and I have far too many podcasts that are packed with interesting and inspiring content to get through…”

For some reason I did end up finishing that epidsode anyway and it did get much better, but it still left me with the feeling that a long podcast is a big commitment. I’m trying to manage my iphone storage space here peiople!! (BTW some other episodes of this podcast are much better and you should still give it a try, especially Mark Duplass’s episode)

Back to Dax. Dax played my favorite character on a little show called Parenthood. Somehow I saw an advertisement for his most recent podcast with Mae Whitman who also starred on this show. From reading Lauren Graham’s book “Always Looking Up” I know that they were all basically a family and loved to hang out between scenes so I thought at minimum I’d get some cute nostalgia.

I could listen to this podcast all day long. All. Day. Long. Dax is curious, sincere, open, funny AND a great interviewer! He keeps the conversation rolling through the whole thing.

Somehow he can effortlessly switch between being deeply in his guests’ mind and then sharing a personal anecdote or struggle. Dax is very open about things that trigger his insecurities and I love how easily he can speak about them. He is “woke” as they say. I wish we could all talk as easily and humorously about our own triggers! It is very obvious that he shares himself in order to uplift others and I just love that so much.

The only thing I’m not sure I’m 100% on board with is the way the end of the podcast is basically an audio version of the show notes. Dax has his assistant (?) Monica “fact check” whatever has been said and they discuss. I’d hate this part if Monica wasn’t cute and if it didn’t give me more of a chance to see what hanging out with Dax would be like.

So let’s be friends, k? Tyler and Kristin would be fast friends and entertain themselves while we jibber jab. P.S. we love her show The Good Place

And finally, Knobels! 

Our whole extended family went to Knobels Amusement Park this month. It is one of the last amusement parks that doesn’t charge for general admission so if you plan to ride two rides the whole day and just want to hang out, or if you are a grandma who wants to meet up for a picnic lunch you don’t have to pay $50. They sell books of tickets or hand passes if you will ride a ton. Plus it is shaded so it doesn’t get unbearably hot. We go on a weekday so it’s not too busy. My favorite part was that Camden loved it so much he wanted to look at the map we brought home and find all of the rides. He especially wanted to locate the “Fire ride” that was really loud and scared him while we were there. When he finds it on the map he says, “Mommy, fire ride please? Camden not scared!” So cute. Featured image is Camden too asleep with a Knobels map blanket.

Life is About Connection – Supporting Characters

Life is About Connection – Supporting Characters

Talk about life teaching you a lesson! Holy crap, lately I have been having a bunch of what Oprah calls “A-Ha!” moments. Some of them have been while I’m running which helps me to work through things. Some of the moments have been while reading an amazing non-fiction book. This moment was brought right to my lap.

I’ve been working on a fiction writing project that started out so easy for me. I decided to make a version of myself the main character so that I wouldn’t have to agonize over what the “character” would say. I made the setting a place I love to be and the writing became an escape to that place. There was, of course, a love interest. He was charming and funny so I enjoyed escaping to hang out with him too.

I was surprised how easy some of it was proving to be since this is the first time I’ve been brave enough to plan out a plot and try to write it… But then the writing stalled. I was able to come up with a general plot structure, but I had no idea what to fill in all the space with. As I thought through it, I realized, “This is never going to work without some supporting characters.”

And that right there was not only an “A-ha” moment for my writing project, but for my LIFE! I guess if I’m being honest, this “A-ha” moment came courtesy of all the routes I listed before. I’ve been seeing this message in everything: Life is about connections with others. Sure, the most fun are the romantic connections, but the kaleidoscope of color is made from all the quirks of the supporting characters.

I began thinking of some of my favorite stories and how their substance is more than just the epic romance. The perfect examples were:

  1. Pride and Prejudice – Can I get a “what what” for silly Mr. Collins and cheeky Mr. Bennett and obnoxious Mrs. Bennett?
  2. You’ve Got Mail – Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner’s romantic leads were more loveable because of what their friends and acquaintances taught us about them.
  3. Gilmore Girls – I literally don’t need to say more
  4. The Mindy Project/The Office – some of the characters seem to exist only as tools to better deliver some jokes. Who would Michael Scott be without his employees? Mindy would fall flat if no one in her office cared that she was being dramatic and watching her character would be the textbook definition of “A bit much” without the relief from a well-timed and well-placed Morgan Tookers joke.

I could go on and on because all my life a written character has been more desirable than going out and finding one that exists in real life. It just takes so much work! Haha. When I realized I needed to brainstorm some new characters I also thought, “That’s a lot of work”. Haha. Instead I spent a couple hours thinking back to characters who were well written and real to me. I made lists of books I needed to re-read so that I could study how they were created and how they developed and all the different ways they could be inserted. I don’t think that’s such a bad idea. After all, if you want to get better at something, observing some masters can help.

Observing is something I’m good at. I am a certifiable introvert. People tend to suck the life and energy from me. To be specific—the wrong people tend to suck the life and energy from me. Even introverts are able to connect with some chosen few who can share in the things that feed our souls. If I had a Kirk from Gilmore Girls in my life I would hide from him like the plague. I would be annoyed by him instead of charmed at the random stupidity of his essence. I would NEVER talk to Babette because she’s your neighbor and I have mostly lived in apartments during my adult life. Rule #1 of apartment living (especially as a single woman) is to NEVER speak to your neighbors.

I think the best love story of Gilmore Girls is the love between Rory and Lorelei (duh). Although they are mother and daughter and literally share the same name, they are Yin and Yang. Lorelei feeds on attention and talking to people. Rory would much rather read and speak to her select few favorite people. They are the same in the way it counts though. They have the same sense of humor and lots of the same interests; as a result they are able to help each other grow.

In life, you are lucky to find a person who gets you but is also different from you. Our default state is attempting to be comfortable. When reading a book and connecting to the characters, if it’s just not happening, the worst you have to lose when you quit halfway is losing the time you invested. If you like the characters, but their quirks or flaws are a bit much, you just have to put them to the side for a bit. Was reading my crutch? (Ooo boy that’s a question for another day, I’m not ready to criticize my favorite past-time)

Isn’t it funny that when I try to conjure a detailed character for my own writing I’m drawn instead to all the characters I’ve met before? Talullah Hipster (a character I just created) thinks, “That’s soooo derivative.” Thanks Talullah…go suck a lemon. I’m ok with that being my knee-jerk reaction because I agree with Paris Gellar and Ralph Waldo Emerson:

I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.

However, for my future books and also, for my future life, I want to create a story in which the main character has a happy ending but the supporting characters bring meaning as well. I guess we’ll see how that unfolds…

Grief – Desire for Control of Surroundings

Grief – Desire for Control of Surroundings

calm

Since first watching the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice I have been an anglophile. My Aunt Linda has the same interests and has always passed me books and movies that enhanced this obsession. Shout out to Charles Dicken’s #1 fan Linda! Linda is a curator. She has this amazing talent for bringing people new things to experience. She planned a trip for herself, my Aunt Bethie, my Mom and I to go on a bus trip around England, Scotland and Ireland. The trip was truly once in a lifetime. I’ve always loved books because they let me travel the world in my mind and here I was able to go THREE countries.

The trip began about 9 months after we lost Adam. If you have never travelled oversees or on a sightseeing vacation there are some things you should know. You’re not always going to be the most patient person. There’s this thing called jet lag that will steal your joy. Because we were doing a bus tour, we were frequently driving with 30 other people.

We were travelling with Rose.

Did you read that with a voice dripping in loathing? Well you should have. Rose was an elderly woman who just wanted to see some of the world in her retirement. Poor Rose was Canadian and probably because of the universal health care system, was not able to arrange to have her knee replacement BEFORE the trip. I don’t know if you know this, but there are steps leading onto a bus. There are steps leading up to castles. There are steps leading into restaurants—lots of steps—steps that will cause her to have a panic attack in front of them and leave the ENTIRE REST OF THE BUS waiting out in the street when all we want after a long day of travelling is just to sit down and eat. Boy, I did not give her any grace. All this friggin perspective you’re getting of her point of view and how hard it was for her—there was none of that in my brain or in my heart. I wanted to throw her out the window. I kept thinking, “Why should she be ok with ruining the trip for the rest of us. It’s just complaining all day every day for her.”

Rose was just doing what everyone on the planet tends to do each day. We are each struggling with our own battle and we’re not inclined to think of how it’s affecting others. It’s natural.

What wasn’t natural was my expectation that people SHOULD be more aware. You see, I have this intense desire for fairness. If Rose can vomit her struggle onto my day, why don’t I get preferential treatment for mine? If they knew what I was dealing with they might leave me in peace. Can’t we skip the part where I have to explain what I’m dealing with and jump to the part where everyone is just super nice and understanding with me?!

This was THE biggest theme of my grief. My logic was this: The world is cruel and dangerous. People should be kind and if they can’t be kind they should allow me peace.

Newsflash! People aren’t living their lives to make YOU feel a certain way. If you are waiting for them to treat you the way you deserve—if this is the standard of a good life to you, you will be severely disappointed. Even people who love the crap out of you are not going to be able to hold that standard for very long. Please, take it from me, if this is your expectation you will be very angry when it is slashed every damn day.

If I could mentor myself, I would tell that Sarah she needs some coping mechanisms. A great coping mechanism for this situation would have been gratitude.

On the trip I tried using my journal to vent my frustrations, but venting didn’t release them. I was still stuck in a cycle of “It’s not fair I have to deal with this.” When your mind is spinning on a loop like that, you need to reverse the direction completely. If I had sat and picked three things I was grateful for I might have been ready to release the frustrations. Maybe I could have focused back on what was important, which was the quality time with my family in these amazing places. Instead I internalized my frustrations and it made me even less patient; as a result I fear I was just another Rose.

It’s not the load, it’s how you carry it

It’s not the load, it’s how you carry it

The title of today’s blog post is from a quote by Lena Horne:

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. I’ve been wishing there were more time in the day. I know life is all about balance, but it seems like to make time for one thing I have to steal from another thing.

Specifically sleep. I want more time in my day and I would love to wake up early to get that, but since I’ve been sick my body is just demanding a bit more than usual. Today I had to steal time from my job in order to get a much needed nap. I had wanted to wake up at 5 this morning in order to do some walking meditation, but that was a no-go too.

With feeling overwhelmed over all the effort life is taking lately, it wasn’t the right time to get some discouraging news about my thyroid–but hey the medication needed a refill so it was blood test time.

It certainly didn’t help that I finished “Blue Nights” by Joan Didion and was thinking heavily about my mortality. Joan described the tragedy of her daughter’s battle with illness and her own losing battle as well. My mind was already dwelling on my feeling that I’m losing in the fight to live a health life despite having an auto-immune disorder (Hashimoto’s). More on this in a later post…

I was feeling very low, but I could see this and wanted to do something about it. So I did the following:
1. Reached out for advice from people who might be able to help

2. Went for a run

On my run I began with deep breathing, blowing my exhale out heavily for a full four count. I could feel the tension in my shoulders leaving. The humidity was 95% so it was not easy, but the track was beautifully foggy and not too hot. I listened to some music I love and even sang out loud sometimes even though there were other people around.

I was able to remind myself that I can only control the present. Although my body has issues, it’s still able to bring me happiness in other forms. I will remember gratitude and mindfully live in this moment.

This is what I feel the quote means. You can carry your stresses and disappointments with a macro view of, “Oh, this is happening to me” and despair that it will continue happening to you. Or you can look at it as something that you can’t control, feel ok with doing what you can to help and then shifting your perspective to what really matters.

Take the light with the dark.

*A note on the photo I chose for the featured image. This is a watercolor painting by one of my favorite artists Steve Hanks. If you have ever dabbled in watercolors you will know how amazing it is that there is so much detail in his work. Most watercolor painters have an ethereal, loose, watery effect to their works. Hanks’ signature is the sharpness of his image despite the medium and his ability to make the light seem so real. I love the emotion that the figure shows, but to me the star of the painting is the sunlight shining through the window.

What I’m Loving – May 2018

Devon Yanko

Anything I can read or listen to about her! Specifically her Hoka One One ad

“My life has not been super easy. People like to define you very specifically by events and they extrapolate out your whole life from it. Being sexually abused is not the story of my life. It’s not necessarily what made me strong; I was strong before that and because of that strength I was able to survive that.

When I was in that situation it was really complex and if I didn’t have the ability to say anything or talk about what was going on in my life I could literally go exhaust myself by running as hard as possible. It helped me separate from everything else that was going on in my life and it just gave me a break.

I had to fight really hard to be who I am today and I faced it and I feel like that’s how I want to face the world. Light and dark are part of our lives and you have to hold them with the same levity because you’re going to go through those things. 

Running is a perfect metaphor for life…you will see me crying and being like ‘I don’t think I can keep going’ and then like 30 miles later I’m like happy go lucky, ‘gonna crush it’ and that’s what I love about it. I love that all of those things can exist together. ”

I wrote a post about what running means to me Here but after I heard this I just thought, “What was the point of trying to explain it in my own words when she said it in a more meaningful way?” I just love that people feel the same way as I do. It’s like we all go to the church of running.

If you don’t know much about her you should watch the documentary Western States 100 on Youtube about a 100 mile race in California. Devon is an ultra marathoner and a very positive person. You can also read her blog. I am excited to listen to her interview with Tina Muir on the Running for Real podcast during my run tomorrow.

Vicki Carr – It must be him

I discovered this song in high school and it’s amazing. The song is about a woman waiting for a phone call. Pretty simple. There aren’t many lyrics, just a lot of “OH DEAR GOD” and “I SHALL DIE”. I recently tried to explain to my husband what it means to be “extra” and this song is basically the perfect example in song format. Go listen!

I don’t come across this song often, but I was watching Live From Lincoln Center with Andrew Rannells in concert (Elijah from GIRLS) and he had it on his set list. It was so fun. Plus that concert is the only time I’ve enjoyed listening to “Born to Run”.

This Old House in Charleston

I am a huge nerd when it comes to watching This Old House. I’ve always been fascinated by the guys and how they carry themselves, so I’m willing to watch even if they’re doing a super boring house or working with a home owner who has god-awful taste.

At one point I thought about quitting college and just becoming a carpenter because they made it look so worthwhile to work with your hands and do a job well. I know now that would’ve been a horrible idea because I hate to problem solve all day every day and working as a contractor you gotta be good at that.

Tyler and I recently travelled to Charleston for the Cooper River Bridge Run and we were loving all the architecture. Now I’ve discovered the show is in Charleston and is working on multiple properties!

I basically swooned when they went to the American College of the Building Arts and showed me this beautiful plaster work some students were creating:

This old house 1This old house 2

David Austin Roses

I have big plans for the landscape at my house and I also love to collect beautiful things. For years I’ve been getting the catalog for David Austin roses. David Austin is a horticulturist who specializes in traditional English roses. I love every rose he has created because they are usually full like a peony bloom and beautifully fragrant. Each rose has a fancy name too and since I’m an anglophile I’m such a sucker for that.

I got this rose for my Mother’s Day present and I plan to add another bush each year. This is Carding Mill:

carding mill rose

Oprah Super Soul Podcast – Jack Kornfield: Buddhism 101

I am not ashamed to admit that I love Oprah’s podcast. A part of me thinks it’s so cliche to be part of the throng of Oprah lovers, but she is so positive and curious and strong that it was impossible for me not to see how awesome she is. Each time I listen to the podcast I feel uplifted.

A lot of the podcasts where she talks about spirituality ring so true for me. I’ve been thinking really hard about life and my part in the cosmos and this podcast in particular was a perfect match for what’s been going through my mind.

PLEASE listen to this one, even if you already follow a religion. I feel that if we were all to practice some of the principles they discuss our world would be a much more peaceful place. Be curious!

The New Yorker

So many times I’m just shocked by what good writing and curious minds can bring to me through this magazine. They can even make an article on stink bugs interesting:

Across the country, vineyards are facing a double threat, because brown marmorated stink bugs eat both grapes and grapevines. Worse, they tend to migrate to the center of grape clusters late in the season, then get harvested along with them. According to one study, the threshold for detecting a flavor change in grape juice is twenty-five stink bugs per thirty five pouds of Conord grapes. On the plus side, or something, evidence suggests that fermentation makes it somewhat more difficult to notice the taste of crused stinkbugs in wine.

Home Invasion by Kathryn Schulz

Date night

It’s been a long time since Tyler and I went out for a date night. For his birthday we arranged a babysitter and we were going to go to a minor league baseball game. Then it rained. We kinda hemmed and hawed about where we were going to eat and what we were going to do for fun and all the indecision was making me cranky.

Then I brought my mind back to the whole point of the damn thing, which was quality time. Even if we went to the same restaurant we always go to and didn’t do anything particularly date-night-y, that’d be just fine because we’d be paying attention to one another without distractions.

It. Was. Fantastic. We got to talk about so much and my favorite part was talking about my dreams. I’d like to write a book and I already have an idea for that so we were talking through it a bit. He likes to say I should just take my journals from my teen years and type them up because he’s sure I’d be interesting enough for a young adult novel. That’s so romantic that he thinks I’m that interesting. A book is gonna take a lot more work than that, but I can’t wait to do it so he can be proud of me 🙂

 

That’s my list. Hope you came across some things that you LOVE LOVE LOVED too.

What Camden’s Loving – May 2018 books

Camden is now 2 1/2 and I feel like I’m making great head-way in training him to love reading. Since he started sleeping in his own room we’ve been reading three books to him each night before bed. We always end with Goodnight Moon.

Probably shortly before Camden turned 2 he began asking to read books during playtime. He is willing to play toys by himself sometimes, but when the option of one on one time is available, he likes to have all of your attention. I think this is why he loves to sit and read books with us.

To introduce him to books during playtime, we started with touch and feel books until he was about 1 year old, then graduated to the Karen Katz lift the flap books like “Buzz, Buzz, Baby” and “Where’s Baby’s Bellybutton”. These work for any kids!

For his first birthday I bought him some Bizzy Bear books by Benji Davies:

bizzy bear deep sea diver

bizz bear demo

At 1 year old his little fingers weren’t yet strong enough to push the sliders, but he loved to watch mommy do it and is still interested in the books. (The video and pictures of Cam are recent so 2 1/2 years old) There are very few words with these stories, but the rhyming and the moving parts make them very exciting for early readers.

Most of my favorite books to read to Camden are rhyming because what’s more adorable than that? Books for bedtime are more likely to rhyme. One of the books he’s loving right now that is written with a great rhythm and some rhyming is:

The Pizza that We Made by Joan Holub and Lynne Avril Cravath

the pizza that we made

Because I want to provide him with a wide variety of books and topics we are not afraid to grab books that are way above his age recommendation. Some people might avoid these early reader books assuming they’ll be too long for a pre-reader. I actually think they are easier to grab without thinking than most hard back books because I know they won’t be too wordy. This one is great because it actually has a plot instead of some books where it’s just “Look out!” and “Brian is sad.”

I picked this next one out because brain washing is always a good idea:

Hooray for Books by Brian Won

hooray for books

Turtle knows he leant his favorite book to someone and has to go around to his friends to ask them. I love the message that it’s ok to like one type of book a lot, but if you try others it might be really fun! Everybody in the book loves to read, thus the brainwashing.

Puppy Parade by Jill Abramson and Jane O’Connor

puppy parade

In this book Scout is participating in a parade while hoping to win a prize for best tail or fur, etc. Scout narrates in first person and there’s enough emotion to read the story dramatically. The illustrations are really cute and so is the way Camden says the title.

The Littlest Train by Chris Gall

the littlest train

Camden is not insanely obsessed with trains, but like most little boys I know he has a solid interest in them. Lately this has been the book he asks to read over and over and over again. The littlest train falls off his train table and decides to explore. He gets homesick and wants to find his way back so other trains help to carry him home.

I love how it is illustrated. The author is the creator of Dino Trux which started as a book but was developed by Dreamworks into the show you can find on Netflix. The layout of the pictures has a distinctive comic book feel.

I do not love the way it is written. It feels like the illustrations were drawn, much like a story board is done first, and then there was an attempt to write the book around them. The plot is disjointed in places. In the beginning of the book it seems like “Mr. Fingers” will be the villain of the book, but at the end we find out he is the little boy who loves the train enough to miss him while he’s lost.

I’ve made a list of other books about trains that we’ll be working through in the next months so I’m sure you’ll see more of those on Camden’s list of books he’s loving right now.