Craicmonkey’s Storytime Delights #8

It’s time for Craicmonkey’s Storytime Selections, the Read-In Week edition!

This edition includes books that are suited for a slightly older audience as we head into Read-In Week. Keep these titles in mind if you are planning to visit an elementary school to do some reading to the students.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema (illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon)

What’s one of the worst things about summer? All together now: Mosquitoes! Don’t you hate it when they buzz in your ear? I wonder why they do that. Well, the answer is in this retelling of a West African tale about an annoying mosquito and the chain of events that he sets off which culminates in the sun not being able to rise! Pesky mosquito!

This book is filled with lavish illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon that are sure to catch the children’s attention. I especially like the way the characters become exaggerated when each animal is recounting their portion of the story. This lends itself well to how the story shows that assumptions can get out of hand and how personal testimony can sometimes be unreliable. This story also shows that through investigation we can trace outcomes back to their origins, and get to the truth.

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizaz (illustrated by Helen Oxenbury)

Once upon a time there were three little pigs… no, wait! That’s that other story. No, this story is about three little wolves and one big bad pig. How big? How bad? Well, the first house built by the wolves is brick! That’s right, no flimsy straw or sticks here. However, it doesn’t seem to matter how fortified the wolves make their homes, the big bad pig breaks through. Is there nothing strong enough to stop this sinister swine?

This book has beautiful artwork by Helen Oxenbury, who does a magnificent job of conveying emotions through facial expressions, not to mention the intricate details that come through her watercolours.

Nothing by Jon Agee

Otis has just sold his last antique and is about to close up shop when a wealthy customer comes in asking what’s for sale. Having a now empty shop Otis replies, “Uh, nothing.” Little does Otis know that nothing is just the something this customer has been searching for. Soon nothing is quite something as the whole town joins the buying frenzy.

Using his trademark dry humour, Jon Agee shows how easy it is for people to buy into the latest trends, even when they make little or no sense. The story can also serve as a reminder that while one can be perfectly happy with less, just make sure you’re not paying too much for it.

Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown

There’s nothing worse than when a bird flies over and poops on you. However, if you happen to be a penguin, then it serves as insult to injury as you are once again reminded of the fact that you cannot fly. Well Penguin has had enough and soon rallies the other flightless birds into creating their very own flying machine, ironically (or perhaps defiantly) named, the Dodo. The Waddlers have finally entered the domain of the Flappers and are loving it! That is until they come to realize that flying can be tricky, and even dangerous. Soon the Waddlers are wishing for solid ground. Can it be that the Flappers are the ones to bring them back down to earth?

Delightfully illustrated by Brown, this is a triumphant yet humbling story about dreams realized, boastfulness backfiring, and the thrill of target pooping.


Confessions of a recovering runner. Part 2, A different time, a different place

I’m starting to get used to my new routine; and when I say, routine, I’m using the term loosely.

I used to be a lunch-hour runner; almost exclusively, except for when I was training for a race. I used to have two or three different routes that I would choose from, with varying distances, depending on how much energy I felt I had. I would grab my kit, rush to the washroom, change, put my street clothes away, go out and determine which route I was going to do, run, come back in, grab my street clothes, run up to the showers on the fourth floor, shower, change, and then rush to eat my lunch. I usually made it a point to pack a minimal lunch on my run days just so I would have enough time to eat something. My runs would average 35 minutes, almost every time, except for my blah days, then I would pick the 25 minute route.

Anyway, it was a routine, and pretty solid one at that, with me running at least twice a week, sometimes three times if I had my act together that particular week. Here’s the thing, though; it was getting tiresome always having to rush in and out of my run. Even though it was a great break in my work day, it also meant that I had one more thing to rush to do. Even though I loved running through the River Valley, it also meant that I couldn’t take my time, or even extend my run if I wanted to. Even though I enjoyed the challenge of pushing myself within the time constraints, it also meant that I had no time to wind down afterwards.

Now that I’m back running, I’ve decided to change things up. I’m now running at night, usually around nine or ten o’clock, and instead of the River Valley, I’m running around a nearby lake; well, not so much a lake, even though it’s called a lake, but more a man-made water feature; still it’s a good 3km around. In any case, I’m finding it much easier to focus on the run itself. With this change, I am able to extend my run if I so desire; I am able to still enjoy the scenery, including many migratory birds who use the lake as a way station of sorts; I am able to push myself, yet have the opportunity to recover in the comfort of my home when I’m done. In addition, this new routine gives me the chance to ice my feet afterwards, which I have found crucial to recovering and being able to step out of bed the next day.

As I was saying at the start, I’m getting used to this new routine; sort of. The truth is I haven’t quite got a routine figured out, but I am on my way to developing a regular run; I just find it a little more difficult than before. See, when I ran at lunch I had to make a conscious effort to pack my kit in the morning, and then when I was at work I found myself to be of the mind that, I went through the bother to bring this stuff with me, I had better do something with it! It’s different at home, of course. When you’re sitting at home in the evening, after work, after supper, after the kids have been put to bed, after you’ve already been sitting on the couch with your feet up, it’s kind of tricky to then rouse yourself and head out the door. If I can work on the self-motivation part, I think I will enjoy my new routine. Not that I don’t enjoy it once I’m out the door, but rather those times when I certainly could have gone for a run, but then didn’t, and then end up facing the guilt of not going; that aspect is going to need a bit more work.

Hopefully, I will achieve what I had before, which was the ability to head out for a run regardless of the weather or my temperament. With some work, I will get there yet. With the continued support of my wife, as I abandon her on my nighttime excursions, I will have the chance to succeed.