But first things first. The winner of the guerilla marketing campaign (and the pack of awesome ultra-fine-tipped gel pens, along with a signed copy of my book) is Julia Blue, who's ingenious book cross-promotion on Facebook impressed both me and my editor. Julia, e-mail me your address, and I'll send those out.
(Speaking of mailing things out, if you have not received your pre-order bookmark yet, don't worry, you're going to receive your bookmarks, and many of you have already. It's just that I actually got, like, ten times the number of e-mails than I had initially anticipated, so I'm just very, very slowly hand-writing the notes and addressing the envelopes and mailing them all out in between other pressing tasks I have to do, like going to work and raising my kids. International pre-orders will probably ship out last, just because those are the only ones I actually have to take into the post office for air mail. Everyone else, be patient, they'll all get shipped eventually, even if it kills me. THANK YOU. Unless it really does kill me, in which case: avenge my death.)
Uh, where was I?
Oh yes, it's been a long week.
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OK, so tell me what you think about this. Cal's starting a new school this year for first grade. We just found a copy of the summer reading list for rising first graders. I'll just put part of it up here, see what you think.
1. Arthur Series
2. Biscuit Finds A Friend, Alyssa Capucilli
3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?, Eric Carle
4. Dr. Seuss Beginning Reader Books
5. Franklin Series
6. Frog and Toad All Year, Arnold Label
7. Frog and Toad Are Friends, Arnold Label
8. Sheep in a Ship or Sheep in a Jeep, Nancy Shaw
A little more challenging:
1. Alex and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorist
2. Berenstain Bears Series, Stan and Jan Berenstain
3. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Doreen
4. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, Laura Joffe Numeroff
5. Little Bear’s Visit, Else Holmelund Minarik
6. Sheila Race the Brave, Kevin Henkes
7. Strega Nona Series
8. The Best Nest, P.D. Eastman
9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
OK, so look. I like these books too. I'm not saying my kid is some kind of super-brain, because he's not. But really, these are the books that he's supposed to be reading for first grade? "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" is a nice story, don't get me wrong, but is it really considered "a little more challenging" for a class of six and seven year-old kids?
Am I nuts? Am I going Tiger Mom on this list? Or do you think these books are too easy too? Seriously, be honest, because I can't even tell. I'm trying to figure out how much of it is just the fact that there's a range of books for all kids in the class, and how much of it is the fact that it seems like the expectations for our first graders is--look, I'm going to get flak for this, but I'm just going to say it--sadly low.
I'm not saying that I expect school to take the place of parents pushing (that word is so loaded, let's say "encouraging," because it sounds nicer although my meaning is the same) their kids to reach their full potential. But I guess my fear is that if this reading list is a preview of the expectations for our first graders, school's going to be combination of mind-numbing boredom and then hours of meaningless busy work in the form of infinite homework assignments designed not to reinforce any actual learning, rather to fulfill some kind of meaningless quota.
I mean...OK. Frog and Toad are very cute, and I love the fact that they are friends. But people, really. I mean, "THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR," for chrissake?
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Mack's enjoying school so far, even though the transition of actually being dropped off at school all day, coupled with a week of Extreme Togetherness (my new reality show) while we were on vacation for a week has turned him into some kind of Momma's Boy monster. (MOMMA'S BOY MONSTER is the working title of my horror film screenplay. Alternate title: THE CLINGER.) The biggest problem with him right now is quite simply that he's two years old, and while Cal waited until he turned three for the worst of his behavioral tics, Mack has apparently been reading all the child development books and has seized upon the terrible twos with gusto.
I know it's a developmental phase, and that he's right on schedule, but seriously, watching him and his 720 degree changes of heart in under 30 seconds is vertiginous to say the least. And it's just hard to keep up with exactly what phase of the I love you / I'm angry at you / I need you Mom, every second of every day, I must only breathe your exhaled air / NO MOM GO AWAY I DO IT MYSELF cycle he's on at any particular moment.
Kid's lucky he's cute is all I'm saying.
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Oh, and I'm not going to plug every last public thing I do excessively, because it's all on this page and you can just look at it at your leisure (or not), but I just wanted to share this one interview I did with Greg Berg on WGTD-FM, because Greg is a great interviewer who listens as much as he talks, and whose reading voice made the excerpts of the book sound much, much better than if I had read them myself. Is there some NPR master class that teaches people how to talk good? Because I'd sign up for that in a second. And then I would narrate Ken Burns documentaries all freaking day.
Hope everyone's having a good week.