Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Very Brief and "MISC" Sunday Brunch

Everything went wrong this week.

I bought a digital camera, then discovered I couldn’t install the camera’s software onto my computer because my computer’s operating system is too old.

AOL has been giving me problems all week (nearly every search ends with a blank screen and a message saying something about an “unresolved host.”)

My printer died on Friday night, so now I can’t print off the daily Sudoku.

Oh, and I’m moving in ten days and still have a few hundred books to pack!

I remember those early, naive days, when I first began packing books for this move. I’d carefully dust each volume, before gently placing it in a box according to size, taping the box shut, and then painstakingly labeling it (“Newbery Books, 1948-1949” or “Fiction, authors beginning with Letter A.”)

To quote S.E. Hinton: THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW.

At this point, “packing” means shoveling a bunch of dusty books helter-skelter into a box, folding the flaps closed, scrawling “MISC.” on top and then trying to slide the box down the stairs because I’m too exhausted to pick up one more !#$@# box of books!

However one good thing happened this week.


I’ve been asked to be a judge for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards! I will be one of three judges picking the five finalists and, ultimately, the winning title in the category of Young Adult Books in 2011 and 2012.

The most recent winner of the LA Times Book Award for Young Adults was MARCHING FOR FREEDOM by Elizabeth Partridge.

I’m very excited to be on the jury for such a prestigious prize.

(Though, come to think of it, the only time I was on a criminal trial jury we came to a deadlock and the judge ended up dismissing the case!)


Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who’s ever had a kid...and every kid who’s ever had a mother.

A couple years ago a friend gave me a bookmark that contained the words to a poem called “The Reading Mother.”

When Mother’s Day rolled around this year, I thought I’d include that poem in this blog. But then I worried that I’d be violating all kinds of copyright laws by publishing someone else’s work on my blog. Then I did some research and discovered that the author of this poem, Strickland Gilliland, died nearly sixty years ago. He’s not going to care if I use his poem on today’s blog. He wouldn’t even know what a blog is. Besides, I’m going to assume this verse is now in public domain since, according to the Wikipedia, it’s used a lot on greeting cards these days.

So here it is:

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.


If Mr. Gillilan’s poem is a little too treacle for your taste, here’s a dissenting verse about a mother who doesn’t read at all:

I had a mother who watched TV
I knew the letters C-S-I before I heard of A-B-C.
So I saw ten thousand murders -- maybe more
...All before I’d even turned four.

I had a mother who loved daytime chat
Maury and know, shows like that.
“My wife had ten affairs! My son can’t be controlled!”
...Yep, that’s what I watched when I was six years old.

I had a mother who loved reality shows
The kind where people vote, then the weakest player goes.
At nine I was scared I’d get voted from my family
(Where’d I get that idea? I learned it from TV.)

If only my mother had read to me
If only my mom had turned off the TV.
If only she’d taken a book from the shelf...
...I wouldn’t be a ten-year-old who can’t read himself.

Thanks for reading Collecting Children’s Books. So for being so brief today. I have to go pack more books!


Melissa said...

Love the modern day version of "The Reading Mother" poem (which I also used on my blog today, too).

Good luck with the move!

Linda said...

One of my favorite poems! Yes--"richer than I you can never be; I had a mother who read to me."

grrlpup said...

Aww, I like how Gelert gets four full lines of that poem! Obviously made a big impression.

CLM said...

I sympathize with the book packing (I tried to catalogue all of mine while moving once, which did not turn out well towards the end). Just make sure you count how many boxes you leave with and how many you arrive with. I failed to do that two moves ago and lost a box of very valuable books (Antonia Forest and Noel Streatfeild hardcovers and some first edition Angela Thirkells, inter alia) and all the skirts that went with my suit jackets. I am still bitter 11 years later.

Good luck!

Bybee said...

I love my books till it's time to move them then my love turns to hate.

The Goofus Mom in the second poem should just turn on the closed-captioning!

Anonymous said...

So will you accept lobbying for your vote? ;)

Ms. Yingling said...

Love the poem, but, alas, it is all too true. And good luck with the moving. If it makes it any better, next week I get to start packing up my school library-- 11,000 books! Eeek.

Sarah A. said...

May I use your parody of "I Had a Mother Who Read to Me"? I am teaching a poetry class and would like to use the original and your version. I am happy to give full credit when I teach it. Thank you for your consideration.