Posts Tagged ‘books’


June 21, 2014

Today’s weather was just about perfect. It was sunny with a light breeze, not too humid, and about 28ºC. It was wonderful to be out and about and able to enjoy it!

Yesterday we had visited a bookstore, and seen that they have a summer reading reward programme (or program, I guess). Schoolchildren take a “reading journal” form from the store, fill in the details of 8 books they have read with a recommendation – whom they would recommend the book to as well as why – and then they can claim a free book when they return the form to the store.

So we took three forms, read them carefully and found there was no residency requirement, and gave them to the kids.

This morning blissful peace descended after breakfast as they all worked on listing and recommending books.  They’re such bookworms we had no trouble at all remembering 8 books they had each read recently – a mix of library books, e-books, their own books and borrowed books while travelling. By late morning they were done, so we took them to get their free books.  There was a short list of available books for each age group, but everyone found one they liked. I found it noteworthy that one book in each list was in Spanish – it is very commonly spoken here and elsewhere in the US of course.

Then we took advantage of the lovely weather and spent some time at a local playground. The Dad’s phone pinged a reminder and he laughingly told Fainjin it was time for his Saturday morning music lesson. This sparked a quick discussion of the concept of time zones, which the kids are already fairly familiar with, and suddenly Babess gasped, “It’s already my birthday in New Zealand!”

In recognition of this auspicious occasion (and because it was 28º) we all went and had icecreams before returning home.  And because it was a lovely evening and a Friday, everyone was allowed to stay up a little bit late to watch the fireflies.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

For the love of words

March 22, 2014

Babess has been cruising the “grown-up” bookcases in the hallway recently, looking for books.  She does have a bookcase full of books at the end of her bed, but I suppose she was looking for variety.

She picked up a lovely little volume called “Bloom’s Bouquet of Imaginary Words” and took it to bed with her the other night.  Soon enough giggles could be heard, and she would read out the occasional gem to Fainjin, who would crack up.  The book is a collection of English words which have had one letter changed and been given a definition – such as “Chipmonk: a small, deeply religious squirrel”.

Today she curled up on the couch with a couple of my foreign language dictionaries (including one with Cyrillic alphabet!) and browsed for a while before putting them back.  I asked whether she liked them, and she happily replied “Oh, yes!”.

Perhaps I’ll slip “An Exaltation of Larks” her way one day soon.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Busy Fainjin

July 27, 2012

Recently Fainjin’s class read a story about Lazy Duck.  Lazy Duck was in danger of being eaten, so he quickly changed into Busy Duck!  Then they drew pictures of themselves being lazy and busy.  Fainjin’s “Lazy Fainjin” picture had him sitting watching TV, while in his “Busy Fainjin” picture he was drying the dishes.  The pictures are very cute, and I was interested to note that the TV and dish rack are quite detailed but he still draws himself as a stick figure.  With spiky hair and a big smile.

On Monday when he came home from school he wanted to turn on the TV.  “No,” I said, “find something else to do.”  He pondered for a bit, then said, “I could be Busy Fainjin and do the dishes.”

“Excellent idea!” I was impressed.  He dried the dishes and put them away, then wanted to turn on the TV.  “No, find something else to do until 4 o’clock” – 4pm is usually the earliest time we’ll consider turning on the TV in our house.

He wasn’t very happy.  “I could be Watching Fainjin, and watch the clock until then…” But I had a better idea.  “You could be Busy Fainjin again and vacuum the kitchen for me.”

Yeah!” He thought that sounded great, and really enjoyed getting the cleaner out and pushing it around.  It took up a handy amount of time, too, because he wasn’t all that methodical and kept missing patches.  He hasn’t improved all that much since I took these photos.

This afternoon he wanted to vacuum again.  I felt bad, because I had already vacuumed and washed the floor without him while he was at school.  But it’s ok – it will need vacuuming again at least once tomorrow!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.



May 15, 2012

Babess has been watching her big brother learn to read, and has been picking up some tricks.  I am going to try to film her “reading” a book, because it is delightful to see and hear.

She points to each word on the page as she speaks, and the cadence is the same as if she were slowly reading the words.  But the story she tells is usually one of her own devising, based on the illustrations.

Yesterday she was reading Lynley Dodd’s “Slinky Malinki: Catflaps” in the car, and she had a marvellous conversation going between Scarface Claw and the other cats.  At the end “all the cats went inside to watch Slinky Malinki’s TV, except Scarface Claw because he was too… loud.”

The only problem with trying to film things like this is that if she knows we’re doing it, she will perform for the camera instead of just reading to herself.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


Happy Birthday Daddy

May 1, 2012

There was great excitement this morning, as the children presented The Dad with his birthday presents, which we had shopped for at the weekend.  He was duly appreciative, and we went on with the day.

When Babess got to daycare, she announced to one of her teachers, “It’s my Daddy’s birthday!”  The teacher said, “Really?! Perhaps you can make him a card today.”

When The Dad went to pick her up at the end of the day, he was told Babess had spent all day making him things.  I can believe it.

First there was the card:

Front of the birthday card

To Dad, Happy Birthday, love from Babess

Is it just me, or is that amazing handwriting from a not-yet-four-year-old?  (Not the “love from”, that’s clearly a teacher’s hand, but the rest of it would have been copied by Babess).

Then there was a beautifully-wrapped parcel:

Bespoke wrapping paper

and inside was a book!

The book cover. I love the pictures of "Dad" and "me".

with more lovely writing:

I love you

and more pictures:


What a lucky Dad!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Reading, one letter at a time

March 30, 2012

Most nights, Babess takes a pile of books to bed with her.   I go in after she has fallen asleep and gently remove them from under her head, arms, legs, or wherever.  She usually looks at the pictures and tells herself stories about them as she is settling in for the night.

Tonight she decided to “read”.  I was sitting on the couch when I heard her call out, “Mum, what’s the letter after the C? Is it H or U?”

Since I couldn’t see the book, and had no idea what word she was looking at, I was at a loss.  I went to her bedroom door and took a peek at the book.   Then I went back to the couch and tried to watch TV.

“It’s an H.”

“Oh, thanks.  H.  E… E… what’s this one after the Es?”

“It’s a K.”

“K.  Ok.  What’s after the K?”


“Because I’m reading!  What’s this letter after the K?”

“It’s a Y.”

“Oooooh.  Y.  K… are these zeroes or Os?”

I had given up on TV now, this was much more entertaining.  “They’re Os.”

“Thanks!  And what’s after that?”

“It’s another K.”

“And is this one a A or a 6?”

“It’s A.”

“A, B, U… what’s after the U?”


“R, R, A, S!” such triumph.

I expected her to demand to know what she had just spelt out, but I think the effort of identifying all the letters had worn her out.  We’ll have to read about the cheeky kookaburras another night.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


The point of a library

March 10, 2012

Babess and I went to the library this morning.  We returned the DVD we watched last night for movie night, and chose a new one.

“Can I look for a book?” asked Babess.  “Of course you can!” I said.

You might recall, we have a lot of books at home too.  Lots and lots in fact.  But the library does have quite a few more.  So I had to laugh when Babess started browsing through the picture books and pulling them out.

“Hey Mum, we don’t have this one!”

Umm, that’s kind of the point of a public library, sweetie.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Reading to big sister

March 6, 2012

Fainjin relishes his “job” of reading to us each evening.  He brings home a different book each day, and can’t wait to tell me about it.  Tonight he brought it out while I was cooking dinner, and read it to me across the kitchen.

Then he read it to me after his shower, twice – sort of.  He insisted on reading each page twice before moving to the next one.  After that, I had to read him a story (turnabout is fair play), then I sent him off to bed.

A very short while later, I realised Pearl was in his bedroom.  I went to shoo her out, then realised Fainjin was reading his book to her.  “Helicopters go up and down,” he said, pointing to each word.

“Wow, good work!  Look, there’s a red helicopter and a yellow helicopter!  This one is going up, and the red one is going down.  What’s on the next page?”

She is as proud of his reading as he is!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Book month

March 5, 2012

Fainjin came bounding out of his classroom waving a green slip of paper.  “Mama!  I got five dollars for a book!”

March is NZ Book Month, and every child at school was given a $5-off voucher for a book over $10 at certain booksellers.

Pearl soon arrived, with her own voucher, and a gleam in her eyes.  Her pocket-money goal is a new book, and this voucher will knock more than a week off the time required to earn one.

I foresee happy hours spent at the bookshop selecting their treasures…

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

A reading reputation

January 30, 2012

We went to the library today.  No surprises there, it’s a common place to find us at any time but particularly during the school holidays.  We’ll probably go tomorrow as well.

Pearl took out five books.  As she took them out, the librarian smiled and said, “That should keep you going for the afternoon.”

Then her friend’s mum saw the small pile of books and said, “How long will it take you to read those – until tomorrow?”

Then we bumped into one of the school teachers at the supermarket on the way home, and she grinned and said, “Don’t finish them all before you get home!”

…And that is why we’ll probably be back at the library tomorrow!

(For the record, I think she has finished one and is half-way through a second, but I could be wrong – it might be her third).

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

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