Variations on A Christmas Carol

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 12.17.51 PM‘Tis the season for… Christmas specials. This year, in addition to our usual favorites, Larrabee and I have started a new tradition. We’re reading aloud the original version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and watching some of its many adaptations.

So far, we’ve watched Mickey’s Christmas Carol, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol. What’s next? Bugs Bunny? The Flintstones? Sesame Street? Let us know if you have a recommendation.

As with all adaptations, it’s fun to see the differences between the book and the movies and between the different movie interpretations. And as with all Christmas specials, it’s nice to be reminded of the spirit of Christmas.

A Merry Christmas to us all, and God bless us every one!

Book Review: Wonder

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.47.53 PMR.J. Palacio‘s Wonder was the best book to read aloud and also the worst.

Larrabee and I borrowed it from from Blaine this fall because we knew the movie was coming out in November, and we always try to read the book first.

Auggie Pullman has a congenital facial deformity, and because of his health problems, he’s been home schooled until now. Wonder is the story of his 5th grade year, his first one in school, told through the points of view of Auggie, his sister, and several other kids.

It was the worst book for me to read aloud because it made me cry. And I don’t mean just a few sniffles over one sad scene. Sometimes Larrabee worried that we’d never get through the whole book.

But it was also the best book for me to read aloud. It sparked great conversations about empathy, about being different, about challenges and blessings, and about being kind. At the end, after all the tears, the book made me smile.

For those of you who want to read more about Auggie, R.J. Palacio has written three more stories from the points of view of Julian (his main tormentor), Christopher (his oldest friend), and Charlotte (a 5th grade classmate), collected in a book called Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories.

And we saw the movie adaptation last week. It’s very good too.

A Road Trip with Frog and Toad

Frog and Toad
We saw an excellent production of A Year with Frog and Toad at UCSC.

A summer car trip is the perfect time to break out the Frog and Toad soundtrack! The boys groan, but by the time we get to “Getta Loada Toad,” they’re singing along too.

A Year with Frog and Toad is a musical based on Arnold Lobel’s charming Frog and Toad books. It follows good friends, Frog and Toad, through each season’s adventures–planting seeds, swimming, raking leaves, and sledding. And it’s full of catchy songs.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.50.25 AMI’m also a big fan of the books. Blaine and Larrabee both loved them. Each of the four books in the series contains five stories that are just right for beginning readers. I admire an author who can draw memorable characters and tell a satisfying story with a few simple words.

Blowing out candles again
Larrabee had a Frog and Toad-themed 3rd birthday party with lots of cookies!

The musical does a good job of capturing the magic of the books. “Cookies” and “Shivers” are two of my favorite stories and songs. I only wish the musical included “A Lost Button.”

Our road trip tradition has one additional benefit. Now the songs bring back memories not only of the books and the musical but of many previous trips listening to A Year with Frog and Toad.