Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

May 2012 Reads

April came and went without a post of our reads so I’m catching up now! I always end up reading more than one book at a time. Does anybody else do that? Or do you dutifully finish one before you start the next?

I started and finished The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins and I stayed up way too late in the process. I’m honestly not sure what I think about them yet. They were exciting and engaging; however, I felt like Collins was making me, as the reader, complicit in the crimes of “The Capitol” which viewed the Games as entertainment since I was being entertained by the violence as well. What did you think about the books or movie (haven’t seen it yet)? Any good articles that might help me think about them more?

I’m about halfway through Men at Arms, the first novel of the Sword of Honour Trilogy by my all-time favorite author: Evelyn Waugh

I finally finished the last book of the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead. My love for all things Arthurian is a tad embarrassing, but I can’t help it. I was mildly obsessed with Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott as a young child because Anne loved it and because I loved all things Anne. I also adored the musical Camelot with Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Harris. I watched it every time I got strep throat, which was often, between the ages of 5 and 7. Seriously. They knew me well at the walk-in clinic (because I always fell ill on the weekend of course) and nicknamed me “the strep magnet.” I became buddies with the cool nurse named Val. Oh the good times we had…

Anyhow, that’s my story for why I’m willing to read books with humiliatingly bad cover art like so:

Let’s move on shall we?

I plan on finishing The Blessed Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Familiaris Consortio tomorrow morning. So so good.

I’ve been trying to find something in the chapter book category that would catch 3-year-old Benjamin’s fancy as a read aloud. He’s not ready for Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book, or anything else without pictures on every page that I’ve tried reading to him. BUT, yesterday I discovered with glee that he LOVES Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. We read a chapter last night and a chapter this morning of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s Magic by Betty MacDonald and he was giggling and completely captivated. Hooray!

What are you reading? What are you reading to your littles? And do let me know what you thought of The Hunger Games. I’m dying to know.

19 Comments so far
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Have you guys tried out the ‘Little Bear’ series by Maurice Sendak? They’re good beginning chapter books! Lots of pictures! 🙂 AAAAnd– Mo Willems has a series of beginner chapter books too.

Comment by claire

I bought him Little Bear before he was even born but between the bajillion moves we’ve made since then, it’s disappeared. I’ll just have to get another one because I LOVE Little Bear and remember adoring it as a child. Good call, Claire.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

At this stage of motherhood I couldn’t make it thru the first Hunger Games – it was a little too much to deal with the subject matter, but I also had the same idea you did – how are we any better than anyone fictionalized in the book for glamorizing these types of books? When you get down to it – is a movie visualizing all these atrocities done by and to children any better than the real thing?

My shameless reading right now is book 2 of the Infernal Devices – sometimes you just need some silly YA reading and next on the list is Radical Homemaking and Unconditional Parenting.

What about the James and the Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web, The Little (or the Borrowers, but I think the Little is an easier read) or Stuart Little?

Comment by Molly Makes D o

I love Radical Homemaking! Can’t wait to hear what you think about it. We haven’t tried any of those recommendations, yet. I’ll give them a shot!

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

Have you thought about the Pooh books by A.A. Milne? I know, I know. It’s Whinnie-the-Pooh and it’s so over commercialized its crazy (I’m totally guilty of giving in to it), but the original tales are charming and the stories are great for reading one a night. I can’t wait until Punkin gets old enough to sit through chapter books.Right now we’re going through about a dozen board books a night!

Also, I saw in your last post you mentioned Once Upon a Time. Love. Seriously. Dreamy the Dwarf was hard to watch but oh my, I love that show. And yes it’s a little embarassing. But not as much as my love for other shows that shall remain nameless. 🙂

Comment by Jeni

I love the original stories and my mother-in-law gave Benjamin a beautiful copy for Christmas. We’ve read to him from it a couple of times but he lost interest and I don’t want to push it because I want him to LOVE it, ya know?

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

I love The Hunger Games trilogy. I can see your point, but I also think that portraying the ugliness of life in books and movies has a place when it serves a purpose. The overall message of the stories is of the horror of this violence, and I don’t think anyone taking the books or movie seriously is coming away with an idea that anything the Capital does is good. There is an awful lot of violence in the Bible, too, but it’s there for a reason.

Comment by Jen Lehmann

Oh, I agree, Jen, I don’t think that anyone finishes the book thinking the Capitol isn’t horrible. And I certainly don’t think that violence in literature is always bad. As you said, the Bible is FULL of violence. My issue is the idea of violence as entertainment. Collins is clearly saying in the book that’s a bad thing; yet, I think the books themselves become violent entertainment. I don’t know, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

I loved the Hunger Games trilogy and had to read them twice to squeeze more meaning out of them. I DEFINITELY see how our culture is like the Capitol… America is the Capitol and 3rd world countries are the districts. It can also be seen as “the media” is the Capitol and we (the viewers / those receptive of the media) are the districts… very little say-so in the content of the media, BUT at least we can turn off the TVs, ignore the magazines and newspapers, etc. The mandated viewing can be equated with the offensive magazine covers at every grocery store check-out. I find myself turning more and more magazines around (or covering Cosmo & Glamour up with a cooking mag). I’m no Katniss, but I do my part. ;D

Comment by Kim

As for kids’ chapter books, maybe in a year or two, you might introduce The Magic Tree House. Both my kids (6 & 9 yo) love them. They are illustrated chapter books that feature a mix of non-fiction and imagination. There are over 40 books in the series, and many are available on CD. My kids liked to listen to them over and over when they were learning to read… they could follow along with the text, but not quite read it independently, so the CDs were a good balance (and I wasn’t reading Jack & Annie all day every day).

Comment by Kim

Kim, I love the idea of having audiobooks and actual copies so that the children can follow along!

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

I keep wanting someone to tell me that I NEED to read the Hunger Games…I feel so tragically out of the literary loop…Its good to hear you read them and they are making you think. I believe I saw an article recently about the books on the First Things blog, and Fr. Barron has some great commentary on them too-even though I haven’t watched them because I somehow don’t want to ruin the books in case I read them-but everything Fr. Barron does is great right?

Haha, I’m reading a Tom Grace novel about special forces working for the Vatican trying to extricate a Chinese Cardinal from prison. I know right?! But so far its surprisingly decent. And a biography of Catherine the Great, yes I’m a nerd. And some child development books…Your Three-Year-Old; Friend or Enemy?

And I’d recommend some fairy tales for the little mister. I’ve got a couple of fairly good young children editions that are longer than picture books, but not as long as chapter books. I find that short stories hold their interest fairly well.

Comment by Christy from fountains of home

I will definitely look up the article from First Things (love that publication!) and find Fr. Barron’s commentary. Thanks for the tip!

That child development book sounds like it was written for me, haha.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

Second vote for Fr. Barron’s commentary. Here, I’ll make it easy for you:

He traces the history of the “Hunger Games” genre – both in fact and in fiction – from Roman gladiators, through Jackson’s “The Lottery,” through today. He rocks.

Comment by LMM

Thank you! I loved his commentary.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

No problem – I think his explanation of why we find these stories compelling is excellent, and it makes me feel a bit less guilty about this guilty pleasure. The movie, though, shied away from the horror of the killing (probably to preserve its PG-13 rating) and, while I get it, it definitely felt like it should have been more horrible and less “entertaining.” Also, I don’t think the costumes in the movie were nearly as impressive as they sounded in the book!

Comment by LMM

Oh my goodness, I haven’t thought about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle in years! Thanks for reminding me! Those were some of my favorites!

Comment by ohblessyourheart

Mine. too!

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

Hey, Haley, here are my posts on The Hunger Games:

And, oh, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! Love her. Ramona still loves her.

I second the Little Bear recommendation. Such sweet and gentle stories.

Comment by Karen Edmisten

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