Carney Kid Lit October 2016: Wild

Our own version of “Bernice”reminiscent of Sophie’s Squash below.

About two months ago I launched a new blog series called Carney Kid Lit.  I promised to post weekly installments highlighting 3 children’s books we have read and loved.  Aren’t I so precious?  Weekly.  3 books.  Bless my heart.  Over-promise and under-deliver, that’s the key to success, ammiright?

But while I haven’t been logging, we HAVE been reading.  Wait, full stop.  Is this turning into a reading log??  Because I can barely handle my children’s required school reading logs; what am I thinking adding a voluntary nother?  Just last week I was expressing my reading log anguish to a friend with kids who are middle-school and high-school aged and she said, “Oh Laura.  You make it up.  That’s how you do it…you just make it up.”

The maddening thing is that we read a lot here in the Carney homestead, I just hate recording the kids’ efforts.  Instead of actually keeping a written log, I asked my friend Adrianne recently, “Can’t I just snap pictures of them reading and email the proof their teachers?!”

And yet I’m mildly addicted to my Goodreads app (ie: every time I finish a book, the very first thing I do is log it so it will count for my yearly Reading Challenge) and I VOLUNTARILY started a blog series keeping track of our favorite children’s books.

I am nothing if not a study in contradiction.

Anyways, the three books I’ve chosen for this Kid Lit installment center around nature.  We are currently experiencing some of the most beautiful October days I can remember here in Central Indiana. Just yesterday I asked the kids if they thought I could take some big empty Rubbermaid totes we have in the basement outside to trap huge gulps of the beautiful air. I thought it’d come in handy sometime in February when we could haul the totes back upstairs and release the 80 degree, sunny, Autumn air.  They bluntly told me no.  Graham, pitying my weak intellect, embellished further, “It would leak out, Mom.”  And now more slowly, “Air can leak through cracks.”

While we might not be able to capture the air, we will be working during our upcoming two week (!!) school fall break on capturing some local fauna to send to our newly acquired Nature Pals.  I heard about the Nature Pal Exchange through an old friend Sara Stockinger and was instantly smitten.  The premise is that you pay just $5 (which is then donated to this charity) to be matched with a pal who inhabits a different corner of the country than you.  The service provides you with their names, ages of children, and address.  Our match has children similar to ours in age and they live in California.  The task then is to gather and assemble a kit of nature treasures to exchange via the glorious US postal service.  Oh, and they will provide your Instagram handle to your new pal should you offer it as well.  Since our Pal resides in California, as previously stated, I can’t help but think when I view her glorious Insta feed that her family might be getting the south end of this deal: they live plop in the middle of the most beautiful surroundings I’ve ever seen.

But we’ll send them pretty leaves and acorns and hope for the best.

Today’s books encourage nature exploration and the ancient desire embedded deep in the cells of every child…to be wild.

There is a Tribe of Kids


By Lane Smith

“There was a Tribe of Kids,” the book begins.  And the pages that follow show a leaf-clad young boy interacting with various animal and natural formations.

“There was a Colony of Penguins.  There was a Smack of Jellyfish.”

The naming of each group is fascinating (did you know, for example, that a group of ravens is called an‘unkindness’?),  but it’s the illustrations, dear ones, that make the words sing.  As our jungle boy mimics the stature, activity and temperament of each encountered group, you and your children will have to spend minutes on each page just to drink in the art.

When I’ve volunteered at school to help listen to children read, I’ve noticed that what follows each turn of a picture book’s page is several seconds of silence.  In the beginning, I would try to prompt a child to begin reading, wondering perhaps if she was stuck, but after a while I learned something…they are just taking it in.  And then instead of wanting to correct the behavior, I wanted to mimic it in my own reading of illustrated material.

So turn the pages and let your kids (and yourself) take in each spread before you read in this one, Folks.  And the ending?  “There was a Tribe of Kids.  There IS a Tribe of Kids.” (emphasis mine).  Well, it made my heart sing.  I hope it touches you too.


Finding Wild


By Megan Wagner Lloyd

Pictures by Abigail Halpin

At the edge of the city, forest beckons two backpack-clad children, wild and enticing.

“What is wild?  And where can you find it?” the book begins.

“Wild is tiny and fragile and sweet-baby new.  It pushes through cracks and crannies and steals back forgotten places.”

Man, I’m tempted to just type the whole thing for you here; it’s so beautiful.  But I want you to experience it alongside the characters traveling through beautiful illustrations that capture natural beauty and excitement.

FINE.  One more excerpt.  You’re very persuasive.

“Wild is full of smells—fresh mint, ancient cave, sun-baked desert, sharp pine, salt sea.  Every scent begging you to drink it in.”

Finding Wild reminds me of hikes we’ve taken with our children and how we need to up the frequency of this practice by roughly 1000%.  Contrasting nature with a modern city, the book ends with the assurance that wild will always find a way, always draw us back to its adventures and beauty.

May it be so.


Sophie’s Squash


By Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf

Oh this book.  This is THE quintessential children’s book, the one I prayed, as my children requested it again and again, will magically transport them back to the safety and coziness of childhood upon rediscovery in their adult lives.

It’s just so sweet.

A little girl named Sophie picks out a butternut squash with her parents at their local farmer’s market.  Although her mother had dinner-aimed plans for it, Sophie wasted no time claiming it for her own. “Bernice,” as she dubs the veggie, was just the right size to be the plaything no other toy could match.

‘I’m glad we met,’ Sophie whispered.

‘Good friends are hard to find.’”

Despite many parental efforts, Sophie stubbornly refuses to give up her friend, even as it begins to age and form tell-tale brown spots Sophie insists to be mere “freckles”.  I’ll let you discover the story from there, but a beautiful lesson on the cycle of life ensues and now my children are eager to try it with a squash of their own.

Warm, endearing, and lovely.  Just absolutely lovely.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of these selections and I’d love to know what books you and yours have discovered lately as well.  As always, I’ll see you “next week”!

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