As for me and my house, we will prefer the real.

I've fought the e-reader movement since its inception. I will continue to do so for a lot of reasons-- but I'm still trying to flesh out exactly why I resist yet. I have the Kindle App and admit that it does get used to download a few out of print books that I couldn't otherwise afford and need for homeschooling. But I always grimace a bit when we have to read on it.  Here, this particular columnist makes the case that some types of books are better suited to an electronic apparatus than others. I might be able to concede the point for large collections of reference materials. But I really do love some of these quotes from that piece:
More fetching than a girl with a dragon tattoo has always been a girl with a Penguin Classic. With e-books, you have no idea what anyone is reading. This is an incalculable loss, not just to fleeting crushes but to civilization.
I’ve tried poetry on each of these platforms: Larkin, Dickinson, Philip Levine, Amy Clampitt. It’s not happening, at least not for me. There’s not enough white space, nor silence. The poems seem shrunken and trapped, like lobsters half-dead in a supermarket glass pen, their claws rubber-banded. Poems should be printed on paper, or carved onto the dried husks of coconuts, so one can hoard them.
You can’t read an e-book in the tub. You can’t fling one across the room, aiming, as Mark Twain liked to do, at a cat. And e-books will not furnish a room.
Also don't miss this article on the cerebral gymnastics our brains go through when reading excellent fiction.

Jonathon Franzen, a best-selling author, had an evocative statement about the physical, tactile experience with a book that makes a lot of sense to me:

“I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change."

See more of his warnings against ebooks here

Lastly, I think there is one sad thing in losing the tangible aspect of books: the inability to easily share something.  When gushing about a new book I just finished to a friend and eager to foist it upon her immediately... I need to have something physical. Sure, there are Kindle titles can be shared depending on the publisher's allowances, but the spontaneity of handing over a creased book that has a page stained in the corner with chocolate or one with the ticket stub to a show left forgotten as it marked the page... nothing really beats that I think.  A friend was here last weekend who talked quite clearly about the relationship a reader develops with a book. It is an interaction, an engagement... an investment of time and interest on the part of the reader into the heart, knowledge and the creativity on the part of the author: a two way relationship in a way. Certainly something gets neutered in this relationship with ebooks.  Indeed masses of clean, electronically gray words do not even come close to the smell of book, paper, ink... life.  I'm convinced losing books is doing much, much more than simply saving paper. So while we may pat ourselves on the back in saving the earth we are perhaps killing a piece of our humanity. Laugh if you think it's all dramatic hyperbole.  But, there it is: my honest opinion of it all.

More Wintry Titles

Aside from the titles, on my Top Ten Winter Book list, we've gone on another library binge of snowy titles in a desperate attempt to will some snow to come before spring!  So here I'm just throwing out some collected seasonal picks as we round out our wintertime.

Snow by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Lauren Stringer. A completely evocative book, slow and deliberate, with a delicious, stunning spread of a pink sunset reflecting on the snow. I've never seen THAT moment captured in an illustration before this... lovely all around.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas. An easy, living book if there ever was one. Contemporary, clean illustrations.
Over the snow, the fire crackles, and parks shoot up to the stars.  I lick sticky marshmallow from my lips and lean back with heavy eyes. Shadows dance in the flames.  Under the snow, a queen bumblebee drowses away December, all alone.  She'll rule a new colony in spring.

Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen. I've been thinking on Van Dusen for some time... just how I want to pinpoint him as an author/illustrator and decided he deserves his own post quite soon.  So look for that. Until then, suffice it to say, we are big fans of Mr. Magee in this house!

The Snow Globe Family. A novel little story that will make you wish you had your own living snow globe family.

Snowmen at Night by Carolyn and Mark Buehner. Rhyme time!  Best enjoyed by the younger crew and recommended as a board book!

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Yellow Sled by the one and only Maj Lindman.  As a child, I couldn't get enough of these Swedish triplet boys and their female counterparts Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka. I know the 1940s innocence of these stories are a bit contrived but I can't help loving them nonetheless. Such sweet morals and goodness in these series.

Winter Shoes for Shadow Horse by Linda Oatman High and Ted Lewin.  I was surprised that this book had no written reviews on Amazon, so I had to make one. It isn't really snow focused. It's just a lovely, well written book about a young boy learning to do a man's work under the watchful eye of his father.
I pry, and salve, and whisper, and tap and nip and rasp and clinch, Papa's hand on my shoulder. Shadow Horses's back ripples and I flinch, scared. "Go on," Papa whispers, his hand heavy and strong.
Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli and Marjorie Priceman. New in 2012, this book is bright and vividly illustrated; the ultimate snow storm picture book emphasizing community! Includes simple and yummy recipe at the end. Now all we need is some snow to make it happen!

Pick of the Week: Mice on Ice

Mice on Ice by the Rebecca Emberley and her father Ed. This was a random grab at the library, chosen for its season appropriateness and because I am a big fan of Ed Emberley. I credit all his drawing books to really jumpstarting my boys with the confidence to become little artists of their own. We own several of his books and will happily check out more when given the opportunity!  Regarding this particular title, I love it for three main reasons.

1- The illustrations are fun, bright and engaging!
2- It's a reader book with very basic wording, yet not boring.
3- There's an unexpected and clever little "development" in the book that I appreciated very much and won't spoil for you with details. Otherwise, you're pretty much just enjoying pictures of mice on ice the whole book.

And it's as simple as that folks!  Fun, easy reader book that is both wintry and engaging!  Readers usually suffer from one two problems: they are either commercialized character books (which annoy me aesthetically and concern me parentally, when fed in excess to children) or they are dry as dirt in their story lines (if you can call a cat sitting on a mat a story).  Usually they are both.  I understand that the stories HAVE to stay simple to some extent but this is proof that they don't have to be banal.  A refreshing change up.


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