I live in the Pacific Northwest at the top of a hill that slopes down to a tiny, picturesque Norwegian town. If I were very, very brave and considerably more stupid, I could step outside my house, lace up roller skates and let myself go–flying at death-defying speed among cars and busses, past the library and the historical church and graveyard, straight to the edge of Puget Sound. By that time, I would have built up considerable speed so when I hit the railing that borders the waterside park, I’d shoot through the air, headed for the mountains–seals would look up in wonder as I arc over sailboats and fishing boats, then PLOP, I’d land in the freezing water among the sea jellies.
But today is not a good day for this reckless expedition or for skates in general, since when we woke this morning, everything was dusted in snow. Snow! Those of you who muck through long winters in the east and midwest don’t think snow in February is such a much, but here in the PNW, it’s something to chat about while you wait to get your coffee cup refilled at your favorite cafe. Today (like every day) is a perfect day for books.
One bright spot about cold, dreary February is that we love to be indoors, cozy by the wood stove, immersed in Legos or puzzles or books.
From picture books to classics, here is what we’re reading (or listening to) this month:
Merry, 15, is listening to Northanger Abbey, the first novel Jane Austen ever wrote. Takeaway: If you insist on reading piles of sensational novels, don’t spend the night in old, mysterious manor houses and plan on getting your eight hours of slumber!
Elspeth, 11, is reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Takeaway (for Elspeth): If you are trying to speed-read so you can get to the sad part where Beth dies, you will miss most of the book.
Beatrix, 8, has just started The BFG by Roald Dahl. Takeaway: If you’re going to whizpop, do it loudly as a sign of happiness. Giants are whizpopping all the time, and it is music in their ears.
Kim, almost 40, is reading Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers. Takeaway: I say, what? If you are so lucky to be proposed to by Lord Peter Wimsey–fellow sleuth, wears a monocle, has a butler–stop wasting time. Say yes!
And we are also listening to. . .
Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis ( If you’re horrid to everyone, you just might find yourself with scales.)
Weezy and the Moon Pies, by renowned storyteller, Bill Harley (Laugh until milk comes out your nose–it’s truly that funny).
P.S. And February would not be (squeek!) complete without these sweet books:
There are few things cozier than wrapping yourself in blankets and immersing yourself in the whimsical miniature world of Mouse Mansion.
The text is secondary; the pictures are all. I write “pictures,” not illustrations, because what you’re looking at are photographs of a real, 10-ft. tall mansion, handcrafted over three years by Karina Schaapman in Netherlands. Now her whole family is involved and shares their latest clever wee creations here on their website. My girls love to build their own mouse houses–a wonderful past time on a dreary day.
I believe the splendor of Tumtum and Nutmeg’s gracious mansion (complete with ballroom) remains unparalleled. Of course, this home is of the fictional kind and exists in an unused broom cupboard in the Mildew’s dilapidated house. But you’ll love these two very British mice and your anglophile tastebuds will start salivating for Nutmeg’s delectable teacakes (though not for the earwig tarts–those are for mice only). Beatrix and I love these gentle stories–and there are quite a few to chose from, as well as an excellent audible version narrated charmingly by Bill Wallis.
So I’m putting my roller skates on ice for now; I’m even content not to be in the garden quite yet, though I’ve seen a few robins hopping about this week. Build up the fire, grab a cup of tea and an earwig tart. There’s plenty to read yet this February!