Invisible Parenting

Rachel Giese profiles Meg Rosoff at the CBC site here.

This is good:

“To be honest, I just don’t care about writing about the relationship between children and parents. I’m more interested in writing about people’s relationship to the world. And teenagers are narcissistic. Their lives are defined by the area around themselves. As a parent — my daughter is only 10 years old, but I don’t think it’s different with kids of any age — my job is to facilitate my daughter’s experience of the world. It’s not a relationship of equals, where my life and my interests are as important as hers. In our relationship, they’re not and I don’t mind that at all. I always think the best parents are slightly invisible. They let kids get on with it, and they don’t get in the way.”

Being invisible has always been one of my goals. Although, I don't think she means the kind I've been guilty of in the past when I initiate a game of Hide and Go Seek and then don't seek.



There are now lovely clean versions of the Coraline trailer which you can find in various formats over at Neil Gaiman's blog.

Apparently the UK edition of the audio-book of Coraline was read by Dawn French. I'm dying to hear that. You can listen to a sample of Gaiman's own recording of the book here where you can also buy the full three hour unabridged version for download.

Now, I'm humming "You are not my mother and I want to go home..." but at least it's nudged out "Never Go to Work" which I was humming all day yesterday. At work.


E is for what?

There's an interesting article at the online mag Fine Books and Collections about collecting Abecedariums. I can't figure out how to snag the image so you'll have to go look.

You can look at the sample issue for free - to find this article just click contents up at the top. This number also includes a profile of Robert Sabuda, who they dub "the Prince of Pop-ups" and a very interesting Paul Collins piece all about a reprint edition of David Copperfield which includes all the ads which appeared in the original serial printing. Fascinating stuff.

Whistle while you Never Go to Work

Found this over at Alison Morrris's Shelftalker blog on Publishers Weekly:

It's a video for kids called "Never Go to Work" by They Might Be Giants. It almost makes me want to haul my kid out of bed to watch it with me.

There are - as of this month - not one but two CDs for kids Here Come the 123s and Here Come the ABCs. They seem to excel at the Eric Carle school of teaching concepts and if I were still toddler-bound I would be all over these.

There's also a free Friday Night Family podcast over at iTunes.

TMBG did a book for kids a few years back with illos by Marcel Dzama. It's called Bed, Bed, Bed, Bed or was it Bed, Bed, Bed?

Here it is:

Very cool.


Calloo, callay!

Galumph seems to be the word of the week.
Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 mentioned how much she liked the galumph, galumph in the Muppet version of Jabberwocky and that was quickly followed by another galumph usage thanks to Patricia Storm over at Booklust.

Galumphing is been what we've been doing through the Montreal snow all week - galumph, galumph - and ever since my seven-year-old has developed a full-blown Jabberwocky fascination we've been talking about which words were Carrolloisms in that poem, and how we could work more of them into everyday use. We're already doing as much chortling in our joy as we can manage.

Here's some more of the invented vocabulary from the poem (with suggested definitions from the wikipedia). Consider this a challenge to make use of these words.

Brillig – Four o'clock in the afternoon: the time when you begin broiling things for dinner.
Frabjous - Probably a blend of fair, fabulous, and joyous.
Frumious – Combination of "fuming" and "furious."
Tulgey - Thick, dense, dark.
Uffish – A state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish.

Around our house brillig corresponds roughly with the time Mama needs her nerve medicine (also known as vermouth) to keep her from getting uffish to the point of being downright frumious.

By the pricking of my thumbs ...

Something graphic this way comes.

The Guardian has a story about the graphic novel version of Macbeth here. (Noted at Bookninja). The article notes some interesting ways in which the two forms are suited:

What we have come to call the soliloquy is put to memorable, disturbing use in Macbeth, where the villainous protagonist is given some of the greatest exploratory verse in the English language. Most of Macbeth's great speeches are said to no one but himself. Here, they appropriately inhabit those thought bubbles that fans of tormented superheroes such as Spider-Man are used to.

This edition comes to us from Classical Comics (an oxymoron if there ever was one), but there were already graphic versions of some of Shakespeare's plays - for example King Lear through the Graphic Shakespeare Library and Hamlet through the Manga Shakespeare Library.


Have just heard from Karen Wenborn at Classical Comics and she seems lovely. Now I feel all bad about my snotty attitude - I blame my mother for bringing me up on real books and even taking me to see Albert Finney do Macbeth on the London stage when I was an insufferable teenager.
But as the mother of two boys I have to say, these Classical Comics look like a good bet. I see they've even got an edition of Frankenstein in the works. Wicked.


Loving a Book By Its Cover

Looking around for something the other day, I chanced upon the wonderful Book By Its Cover. I've visited the site before and while it doesn't just talk about children's books, it does talk a lot about children's picture books. Even mine. There's also a post about Annette Simon's very pretty Mocking Birdies which was also published by Simply Read Books.

The site is run by a NY-based designer named Julia Rothman who also makes all sorts of very pretty things which you can see and buy here.

I dropped in on BBIC this time because I was looking for Moomins. And I was looking for Moomins because I was reminded of their existence by something I read on Bookwitch about Philip Pullman looking at Philip Ardagh's Moomin tie with envy, (and Bookwitch's musing that it would be difficult to see what kind of tie Philip Ardagh might be wearing given the size of the beard he sports). All of which lead me to thinking of Moomins.

There's a funny sort of rule of three - I think it's some sort of advertising or marketing wisdom - that counsels that the third time you hear something it stays with you. My student, Cait, had brought a Moomin book from childhood into class. My friend, Marina, had mentioned ordering the book for a gift and loving it so much she had to keep it. And now Philip Ardagh was going all Moomin-sartorial.

So if, like me, you are now sufficiently curious, have a look here at Rothman's excellent post about Tove Jannson's Who Will Comfort Toffle.

Still wild after all these years

I've been reading about the brouhaha over Where the Wild Things Are. Both Steph Aulenback at Crooked House and Monica Edinger at Educating Alice have already weighed in, but here's my tuppence worth.

Apparently the folks at Warner's Brothers are upset over the new Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. Too scary. I don't see why this is a problem. So much better than too icky, too sickly sweet, or too much like everything else we've seen lately.

It's worth recalling that when Sendak's original story was published in 1963 it was also deemed too scary.

I love this remark about the early response to Sendak's book (quoted from an artcle in the Australian paper The Age:)

Where the Wild Things Are was published in 1963 and met a mixed response. Despite critical acclaim, some parents were concerned the creatures might be disturbing and Max a poor role model. "It is not a book to be left where a sensitive child may come upon it at twilight," a librarian reviewer wrote.

If I may be allowed a wiki-moment, I would like to quote the following little bit of loveliness:

In the book The Art of Maurice Sendak the following is noted in a conversation between a mother and Sendak:

Mother: "Every time I read the book to my daughter, she screams."
Sendak: "Then why did you continue reading it to her when she does not like it?"
Mother: "She ought to, it's a Caldecott book."
Sendak mentioned that he thought that was ridiculous and "if a child does not like a book, throw it in the trash."

(note to self: must find copy of The Art of Maurice Sendak.)

And isn't this lovely. It's the original dummy version of the book and you can read more about it here. You can also see the dummy for an earlier version of the story, Where The Wild Horses Are, apparently abandoned when Sendak decided that drawing horses was not his forte.

A final note (also from the article in The Age):
Sendak has said his work is about the "heroism of children in the face of having to live in a mostly indifferent adult world". Too scary? I'll say.


Looky here

If you haven't yet stumbled across Lookybook you should really have a look. (Just click to turn the pages below).

We first found it when we were looking for The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming last December (and you might want to order a copy of that one now to be ahead of the curve for the holidays).

The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming was by Daniel Handler, writing as Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by his wife, Lisa Brown. It was thanks to them that I spent weeks listening to my son pretend to be a screaming latke.

How to Be is one of Brown's solo efforts.

She is also known (and loved around these parts) for her series Baby Be of Use, published by those clever folk at McSweeney's and available through their online store.

Four saucepans and a sewing machine

I've long suspected that children's publishers are a breed apart. My own publisher is a fascinating man - who would have thought that a Bulgarian architect would become one of Canada's best producers of children's books?

And now I've been reading about Egmont Publishers and I have to say I'm intrigued.

This is from their website:

It was on 15 May 1878 that a 17-year-old Dane, Egmont Harald Petersen, opened a print shop in Copenhagen, financed by the sale of all his mother's worldly goods - a rocking chair, an oil lamp, four saucepans, and a sewing machine. Through the early years, Egmont remained a printing business, but its activities soon came to revolve around creating and telling stories.

Petersen's philosophy was that a company should make a positive contribution to the society to which it belongs, and in his will he expressed a wish that Egmont companies should support charitable causes. For 83 years, the activities of the Egmont Foundation have focused on supporting social, cultural, and scientific charities, as well as initiating projects to develop activities and programmes for children and young people. To date the Egmont Foundation has awarded grants of approximately EUR 200 million.

Very cool.

Current books on their list include the Mr. Gum series and The Charlie Bone series. They also have a series of Shaun the Sheep books. Didn't know there was such a thing but I suspect I need them.

A real Buster

The wonderful Elizabeth Bird over at Fuse #8 has a review up of a picture book biography of Buster Keaton. That phrase "a picture book biography of Buster Keaton" makes my mind race off in two directions at once:
"What a strange thing to do."
"Why didn't I think of that."

Here's a little taste of the review (available here):

"If I were to condemn an author I knew to a life of unending woe and sorrow, I would probably tell them that they could only write faithful picture book biographies of complex people for the rest of their days. Not everyone can do it, you know. It’s an art. Somehow, you have to synthesize a person’s entire LIFE into 32 pages. On top of that, you have to be honest and not fudge the facts, while at the same time keeping your book kid-friendly and appropriate. And what if, like Buster Keaton, your hero had a lousy childhood? What then? Well take a couple tips from Catherine Brighton here. First of all, she was smart enough to limit her scope to “The Early Years of Buster Keaton”. Now Keaton didn’t have the happiest of childhoods, but Brighton doesn’t skirt the issue. She tells this story in the first person, Keaton’s point of view, with simple sentences. The book doesn’t say that his father was a bad person, but at the same time adult readers will note that this was a dad who threw his son across a stage regularly and kept the family moving so that they could avoid child-labor laws. Some might accuse the novel of approaching this history without enough emotion, but like Keaton’s deadpan stage face, it doesn’t take much to delve beneath the surface and get a true feeling for Keaton’s wants and needs."


What I'd Like to Read Next

In the category of new to us:

The London Eye Mystery was published last year in the UK. This month will see Dowd's third novel, Bog Child, published on that side of the pond. Siobhan Dowd died last August.

According to her website:

A trust has been set up to manage all the proceeds from her literary work. The aim of the trust will be to help disadvantaged children impove their reading skills and experience the joy of reading. It will offer financial support to: public libraries; state school libraries (especially in economically challenged areas); children in care; asylum seekers; young offenders and children with special needs.

Cheques to be made payable to The Siobhan Dowd Trust and addressed to The Siobhan Dowd Trust c/o Polly Nolan, Flat 10 Hendred House, Hendred Street, Oxford OX4 2ED.


Found (One More Book)

Just listening to an interview with one of our fave picture book writer/illustrators, Oliver Jeffers. Is it just me or does everything sound better with a Belfast accent? You can listen here at Just One More Book.

Jeffers is telling a story about a boy who disappeared from a school trip to the Belfast Zoo and then turned up sopping wet. The upshot is that he'd kidnapped a penguin. This story is at the heart of Lost and Found - which has to be one of my favourite boy meets penguin stories ever. (I've been working on a story about a penguin and a polar bear who meet in Stanley Park, Vancouver, but I fear I may have missed the penguin boat.)

Now he's talking about the varying attitudes toward children's illustration and fine art. His attitude seems to be that, in his life at least, one works to support the other. Personally, I think his children's illustration very fine indeed.

More on Jeffers soon.



I've just received an advance copy of a new graphic novel called Skim from Groundwood Books. You can read more about it on the Groundwood site.

The book features (as the cover states) words by Mariko Tamaki and drawings by Jillian Tamaki and a fantastic main character in Kimberly Keiko Cameron - known as Skim - a private school girl and would-be Wiccan goth. I've only got as far as the meeting of Lisa's big sister's Coven (which also turns out to be her AA group), but I'm already hooked. I think it's lines like this one: "You can tell when Lisa's nervous because she acts like I'm an idiot."

More when I get time to read more. Release date is March 25, 2008.

Placing the reader

Just last week I read Bed-Knob and Broomstick for the first time. If I'd realised it was a Mary Norton book I might have read it sooner because I am such a fan of The Borrowers.

Bed-Knob and Broomstick has a fantastic opening:

"Once upon a time there were three children, and their names were Carey, Charles, and Paul. Carey was about your age, Charles a little younger, and Paul was only six."

Lovely! I've just gone looking to see what else there is I can read and find that there are 472 Borrowers books. Or thereabouts.

You can read more about Mary Norton at Fantastic Fiction which is where I learned that she only began writing when she was roughly my age. Which is, of course, the same as Carey's.


H is for House

Atelier Gallery in Vancouver is currently having a showing of Julie Morstad's Alphabet Cards (to be published by Simply Read Books).

The Atelier Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition featuring new pen and ink drawings by Vancouver artist Julie Morstad.
‘A is for... Alphabet Cards’ is a series of 26 works based upon the traditional educational flashcard. Each one is a treasure and a testament to Morstad’s reputation as one of Canada’s most interesting young artists.
The exhibition will also feature a small selection of other recent works by Morstad.


'A is for…Alphabet Cards' may be previewed at the gallery or on our website (link above). We hope you will be able to attend the artist reception on Saturday, February 16, from 2-4 p.m

You can see the work here

A Lemony Review

Over at the prestigious Publishers Weekly, we find that none other than Lemony Snicket has turned his hand to book reviewing.

The Willoughbys
Lois Lowry. Houghton/Lorraine, $16 (176p) ISBN 978-0-618-97974-5

Lois Lowry, who casts her noble and enviable shadow wide across the landscape of children's literature, from fantasy to realism, here turns her quick, sly gaze to parody, a word which in this case means “a short novel mocking the conventions of old-fashioned children's books stuffed with orphans, nannies and long-lost heirs.” These clichés are ripe if familiar targets, but Ms. Lowry knocks off these barrel-dwelling fish with admirable aplomb in The Willoughbys, in which two wicked parents cannot wait to rid themselves of their four precocious children, and vice versa, and vice versa versa, and so on. The nanny adds a spoonful of sugar and a neighboring candy magnate a side order of Dahl, if you follow me, as the book's lightning pace traipses through the hallmarks of classic orphan literature helpfully listed in the bibliography, from the baby on the doorstep to the tardy yet timely arrival of a crucial piece of correspondence.

The characters, too, find these tropes familiar—“What would good old-fashioned people do in this situation?” one asks—as does the omniscient, woolgathery narrator, who begins with “Once upon a time” and announces an epilogue with “Oh, what is there to say at the happy conclusion of an old-fashioned story?” This critic even vaguely recognizes the stratagem of a glossary, in which the more toothsome words are defined unreliably and digressively. (He cannot put his finger on it, at least not in public.) Never you mind. The novel does make a few gambits for anachronistic musings (“Oh goodness, do we have to walk them into a dark forest? I don't have the right shoes for that”) and even wry commentary (“That is how we billionaires exist,” says the man who is not Willy Wonka. “We profit on the misfortune of others”) but mostly the book plays us for laughs, closer to the Brothers Zucker than the Brothers Grimm, and by my count the hits (mock German dialogue, e.g., “It makesch me vant to womit”) far outnumber the misses (an infant named Baby Ruth, oy).

There are those who will find that this novel pales in comparison to Ms. Lowry's more straight-faced efforts, such as The Giver. Such people are invited to take tea with the Bobbsey Twins. Ms. Lowry and I will be across town downing something stronger mixed by Anastasia Krupnik, whom one suspects of sneaking sips of Ms. Lowry's bewitching brew. Tchin-tchin!

Lemony Snicket is the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. (thanks to Educating Alice for the link)

Over at chez O'Leary, we love Mr. Snicket. Whether he's turning his hand to reviews, orphans or latkes, we are happy to follow along. Currently, I'm looking forward to The Composer is Dead.

Here's the bit of information I've been able to glean on the subject (with thanks to thequietworld.com):
The Composer is Dead was a musical performance performed by an orchestra with narration by Lemony Snicket. It premiered on July 8, 2006 with music by the San Francisco Symphony.
The Composer is Dead is now being turned into a book with illustrations by Carson Ellis (which will come with a CD recording of the orchestral performance). Its plot concerns a whodunit murder mystery concerning the composer mentioned in the title. In the words of Daniel Handler, the book begins with "a dead composer, and all the sections of the orchestra are questioned as to who did it." It was produced with the goal of introducing children to the instruments found in an orchestra.

"Ever since I was a boy, classical music has made me weep uncontrollably. I hope The Composer Is Dead does the same for a new generation. It’s certainly either alarmingly original or originally alarming." - Lemony Snicket

Borges as a boy

"My father showed me his library, which seemed to me infinite, and he told me to read whatever I wanted, but that if something bored me I should put it down immediately, that is, the opposite of obligatory reading. Reading has to be a happiness, and philosophy gives us happiness, and that is the contemplation of a problem. Quincy said that discovering the problem is no less important than discovering a solution, and I don’t know if any solutions have been discovered, but many problems have been discovered. The world continues to be more enigmatic, more interesting, more enchanting."

"I said a moment ago that I’ve dedicated my life to reading and writing. For me they are two equally pleasurable activities. When writers talk about the torture of writing, I don’t understand it; for me writing is a necessity. If I were Robinson Crusoe I would write on my desert island. When I was young I thought about what I considered the heroic life of my military elders, a life that had been rich, and mine… The life of a reader, sometimes rashly, seemed to me a poor life. Now I don’t believe that; the life of a reader can be as rich as any other life. Suppose Alonso Quijano had never left his library, or bookstore, as Cervantes called it, I believe that his life reading would have been as rich as when he conceived the project of turning himself into Quixote. For him the latter life was more real, for me reading about him has been one of the most vivid experiences of my life.

And now that I have committed the indecency of turning eighty-five, I confirm without melancholy that my memory is full of verses and full of books, and I can’t see past the year 1955—I lost my reader’s vision—but if I think about my past life, I think of course about friends, loves also, but I think most of all about books."

This interview with the great Jorges Luis Borges has recently been translated into English for the first time. It appears in Habitus: A Diaspora Journal (Thanks to Maud Newton for the link)


Visions in Poetry: JABBERWOCKY

Euan's review of Lewis Carroll's JABBERWOCKY, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch (Kids Can Press)

Lewis Carroll had a good idea to write Jabberwocky because it's a great poem. I even tried to write it myself, but unhopefully I forgot how to write out grabe. It's good to have another version of the poem. The drawings, well, look a lot like him, and the part where it says snicker-snack? Ooh-la-la. But it 's kind of funny how he's holding a bouquet of roses except they're all dead. He uses it like a vorpal sword. My favourite made up word is Callooh! Callay! I have no idea what it means but it's fun to say.


I am a big fan of the Kids Can Press Visions in Poetry series and of Jorisch's work. Most recently, he has illustrated Edward Lear's The Owl & The Pussycat which is on of my all-time faves.
The production values on these books are so high, and I love all the attention to detail (the colours, the paper, the ribbon binding!)

And look at how beautiful the illustrations are:

So far, in addition to Jabberwocky and The Owl & The Pussycat, they have brought out the following in beautiful editions:

Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer and iIllustrated by Joe Morse
The Highway Man by Alred Noyes and illustrated by Murray Kimber
The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and ilustrated by Geneviève Côté
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, illustrated by Ryan Price

Euan suggests we need to buy all of them

I would love to see Kids Can do W.B. Yeats's The Stolen Child (imagine if they got Julie Morstad to illustrate this one!) Any other suggestions?



I am trying to work out how to embed the youtube video of the trailer for the new Neil Gaiman film, Coraline. (It's 3D! It's Neil Gaiman!)

There is a link for it at Neil Gaiman's blog

Meantime, I have found a review I wrote of the novel when it came out. Thanks very much to holycow whoever you are.

Sara O’Leary; “Here comes a new children’s classic”;
Vancouver Sun; July 27, 2002.

I’ve just read a new book for young readers. Twice. What does that tell you? Either that I’m younger than I look or one of those weird crossover children’s books that adults love has just been unleashed on the world. The novel in question is Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (HarperCollins, $23.99).
Gaiman is a writer with a huge following. The English-born, U.S.-based fantasist, screen- and comicbook-writer is the author of the bestselling novel American Gods and the illustrated serial The Sandman. Now, I have to admit that I have never been among his huge following, but the premise of this novel intrigued me. A little girl passes through a secret door in her house and finds a set of parents who are just like her parents but have buttons for eyes.

Coraline (Gaiman says the name arose from a typing error, and then stuck) and her parents move into a flat in a house that has been subdivided. Downstairs live two old women, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, who claim they were famous actresses in their time. They often argue about whether they might have retired too soon.

In the flat above Coraline’s lives a crazy old man named Mr. Bobo, who is busily training mice for a mouse circus. And on the same floor as Coraline’s flat is an empty flat.

Coraline’s parents both work at home, typing away on computers in their separate offices. When she goes to them and complains of being bored, they helpfully suggest that she pester somebody else.

Coraline’s mother can only cook things like frozen fish fingers, while her father can’t cook a chicken without turning it into a recipe involving things like pastry, wine and prunes.

So when Coraline passes through the bricked-over doorway and into the flat that is like a mirror image of her own, it seems wonderful to find there an “other mother” who has made the most delicious roast chicken Coraline has ever tasted. All the adults from her world are there, although slightly different. Even the cat from the garden is there, but in this world he can talk. When Coraline remarks that they could be friends, he replies (cattily, of course), “We could be rare specimens of an exotic breed of African dancing elephants. But we’re not.”

All of this seems wonderful to Coraline, as does the room filled with toys, the likes of which she has never seen before. But the other mother has those creepy button eyes, and her teeth are just a little too long and her nails a little too sharp and pointy. So, much as she wants Coraline to stay “for ever and always,” and even though she says having buttons sewn over her eyes really won’t hurt, Coraline just wants to go home.

But when she does make it safely back to her own world, her parents have vanished and none of the adults seem prepared to do anything about it. And so, of course, it falls to Coraline to rescue her parents. In the course of doing so, she is also called upon to save the souls of two long-dead children and one centuries-old fairy — a large task for a girl of probably six or seven years. But since this is a fairy tale, I think we all know how things work out. Gaiman uses as an epigraph a quotation from G.K. Chesterton, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

I’ve spent so long telling you what Coraline is about that I hardly have space to describe the plans for a movie or the marathon readings Gaiman has been giving, where he actually reads the whole book. This is the sort of thing that people who attend readings generally fear, but in this case it sounds like it could be a treat. You can read excerpts or let Gaiman read the book to you at www.mousecircus.com.

It doesn’t take long, when discussing novels about young girls accidentally passing into strange new worlds, for three words to come up: “Alice in Wonderland.” This is not Alice in Wonderland, nor is it a new, darker Alice in Wonderland. But it is very good.

I’ve been trying to work out what it is that makes a book ostensibly written for children (Gaiman started this book for his elder daughter, who is now 17, and finished it for his second daughter, who is six) appealing to adults.

It seems to me that a lot of the books written for young adults talk down to them. They also quite often seem to be peculiarly humourless.
Gaiman falls into neither of these traps. Instead, this is a story you can almost imagine him telling for the sheer joy of it. The appeal of this book — to readers, whatever their age — seems to be that it is, in Chesterton’s words, “more than true.”

Beckett for Babies

The very talented Stephany Aulenback* has posted mockups for a book called Beckett for Babies on her blog Crooked House. Can I just say that I refuse to attend another baby shower until I can arrive with this book in hand?

*Ms. Aulenback, whom I have never met, has been very kind to me & my small book on her blog. This may lead readers to suspect that I am logrolling here. In fact, if you know me at all, you will understand that I am praising her IN SPITE of the fact that she has been good to me. I will refrain from logrolling unless actual logs are involved.


One Eudora's Beginnings

Miss Welty on how her parents instilled an early love of reading in her:

"I learned from the age of two or three that any room in our house, at any time of the day was there to read in, or to be read to. My mother read to me. She'd read to me in the big bedroom in the mornings, when we were in her rocker together, which ticked in rhythm as we rocked, as though we had a cricket accompanying the story. She'd read to me in the diningroom on winter afternoons in front of the coal fire, with our cuckoo clock ending the story with "Cuckoo," and at night when I'd got into my own bed. I must have given her no peace."

Love this:

"My mother read secondarily for information; she sank as a hedonist into novels. She read Dickens in the spirit in which she would have eloped with him."