Thursday, March 10, 2011


Do you guys remember that Nook commercial where it shows the girl growing up and how books have been involved throughout her life? I love that commercial. I kind of consider it modeled after me.
And I wanted to write a post about the different books that have been in my life. The VERY first book I can remember is "The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear." Anybody remember it? That is the very first book I can remember being read to me.
I also remember my mom reading "Love You Forever" and crying every time she read it. But I didn't really get why it made her cry. If I read it now I would probably bawl.
Oh! Do you know what else I remember? "Corduroy" about the bear, Corduroy, that lived in the mall! Oh, that was a good one. The little girl wants him but her mom says he's missing a button from his overalls and they probably shouldn't get him. But then she comes back and buys him with her allowance and sews a button on for him! I loved that story when I was little. It made me so happy for Corduroy. It kind of made me believe that my toys had feelings. I just didn't want to admit it to anyone because I thought it would sound crazy.

Now, there are other books I remember reading in school. In the first grade, I remember "The Owl and the Pussycat" but I didn't like it very much because I felt an owl and a pussycat should not get married. But I liked the illustrations to that book and they were by Jan Brett so then I got into Jan Brett's books. There was "The Mitten," "Town Mouse Country Mouse," "The First Dog," "Christmas Trolls" and a bunch of others. I fell in love with all of her books. My mom ended up buying all of them. I loved her illustrations; there was always hidden things along the borders that I liked finding.
Also, in the first grade, I remember finding a book in the library titled "Molly's Pilgrim" that I would check out over and over again. My mom would always ask me why I kept checking it out when I had already read it, but I really liked it. It was about a little girl named Molly whose family immigrated from Russia, and Molly wanted to go back home because she was different from everyone in America. When Thanksgiving came around, the teacher gave them an assignment to make a pilgrim doll out of a clothes pin. Molly took her clothes pin home and her mom made an outfit that looked like their Russian clothes instead of "Pilgrim" clothes. Molly didn't want to tell her mom that it was wrong because she had worked on it so hard, but she was embarrassed to go to school with it because she knew it would be different from the other Pilgrim dolls. But then her mom explains how they are immigrants to America like the Pilgrims were, and they are just modern Pilgrims. And Molly tells her class this and everyone is stoked on her doll. Isn't that a good story?

But then I began reading chapter books in the second grade; I especially loved series. Do you guys remember "The Boxcar Children?" I freakin' LOVED that series. I wanted to BE one of the Boxcar Children. (I totally would have been Violet. She was the shy one who liked animals.) And I had a crush on the eldest brother, Henry.

Then I got into "The Indian in the Cupboard" series, which lead me to read Lynne Reid Banks' other books, and she wrote one called "The Fairy Rebel" that I absolutely adored which inspired me to write to Lynne Reid Banks and tell her how much I loved it. And she actually wrote me a handwritten letter back. (Mind you, this was in the midst of the HUGE success of "The Indian in the Cupboard" and she even said in her letter that she usually didn't write fans back, but she really liked my letter.) I was so stoked. I still have that letter.
Then I started reading "The Little House on the Prairie" series, which is A LOT of books. I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder and I fell in love with her husband, Almanzo. (Remember Almanzo? She wrote a book in the series that was centered around his childhood, and then in later books, when she was older, she wrote about their courtship. I decided I loved him.) But I didn't really like Laura's daughter's (Rose) books because it made Laura Ingalls Wilder sound like a mean mom. And that kind of shattered my whole fantasy around her.
But do you know what series I REALLY loved? The young sleuth Nancy Drew, man! Nancy Drew was so awesome! I wanted to be just like her. I got a bunch of Nancy Drew books in the third grade, and then I was always on the hunt for more (very Nancy Drew of me, right?) wherever I went. I ended up finding a whole bunch at a yard sale with my grandma and I was stoked!
So all of these series kept my occupied for a while. I tried reading the Goosebumps series but I think I read one and I didn't really care for it too much. My family actually used to read books together. It's some of my favorite memories. We would gather together around the kitchen table and my dad would read a book aloud to the rest of us as my mom did the dishes and Teddy and I would sit and listen. If it was a book we all really liked, we would go into the living room after my mom was done doing the dishes and we would sit on the couch and listen. Some of the books we read then were "The Bronze Bow," "A Voice in the Wind" (and the rest of the Mark of the Lion series), "Big Red," "Across Five Aprils," and some classics like "Swiss Family Robinson," and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Some of them were more difficult for my brother and I to pay attention to (the classics) but I really enjoyed our book time.

I still remember the very first book I bought with my own money. I was in the third grade, and I had saved up some money to buy something at the annual book fair we had at my school. I was really into dogs back then (What can I say? I'm a dog person!) and I saw a cover that had a boy with two dogs and I picked it up and read the back and I decided I wanted to get it. It was "Where the Red Fern Grows." Seriously still one of my favorite books to this day. Makes me bawl every time I read it. (And I've read it a lot. I still have that copy and it's all worn out.) I decided I would ask my dad if he would read it as one of our family books, and we all ended up loving that book more than anything! Seriously, it's so good.

I know I read a ton between 4th grade and 6th grade, but for some reason, I can't remember very many specific books. The only ones I can remember clearly are James Harriet's books. He's a famous veternarian in England and he writes books about the animals he treats. I enjoyed those, but I found some of the language difficult when I was 12.

BUT THEN, in the 7th grade, I started reading Harry Potter. Don't hate, people. Harry Potter is wonderful! It's one of those things that I'm excited to share with my own kids some day. (If I have kids, that is.) I pretty much loved Harry Potter. (I still do!)
Then, when the 8th grade rolled around, I got into the teen scene books. I started reading a series called "Fearless" about a girl, named Gaia, who was born without the fear gene and she'd prowl New York City at night and kick ass. There was also a love square (is that even a term?) with her best friend, Ed, who was in love with her, (but she doesn't know, of course) and Gaia is in love with Sam, who is dating Heather, who is Ed's ex. Got it? Anyway, I thought Gaia was a badass and I really liked the series. It was crazy long, though. I never ended up finishing it. I think I stopped after book 24 or something because it was just too much.  
I remember I also read a book called "Violet Eyes" in the 8th grade that I was pretty jazzed about. It was set in the future with these genetically enhanced teenagers, but here's the kicker, they lived in a "live" museum which was supposed to be set in the 1980s where people could watch these teenagers without them knowing. But the teenagers didn't know that it wasn't really the 1980s. Weird, right? Then they find out and they end up busting out. (They were only kept there because people were scared of what they were capable of and it was society's way of controlling them.) There was a sequel called "Silver Eyes" but I didn't really like that one too much.
Alright, so then high school came around. I remember reading some books in high school, but I think there were a couple years when I didn't read very much. I remember reading "The Lovely Bones" and liking it only because I liked the author's portrayal of heaven, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and "Snakes and Earrings." All of them I liked okay, but I didn't LOVE them. I remember reading "The Old Man and the Sea" and "Huck Finn" for school, but I wasn't impressed with them at the time. Strangely enough, I think the book that had the biggest impact on me in high school was a short little book with photographs entitled "The Blue Day Book." I was depressed a lot in high school, and this book would honestly make me feel better. Actually, I still read it every now and then. Check it out.

Once I graduated and moved out on my own, I began reading a TON again. As I've mentioned before in this blog, I like Joshilyn Jackson's books, "White Oleander" is one of my favorites, also: "I Am Charlotte Simmons," "The Bell Jar," "Sight Hound," "She's Come Undone," and a whole bunch of others. One of my favorite books ever is "The Dogs of Babel." It has it's strange parts, but I still love it.

Recently I have been reading a lot of classic literature for school, which I enjoy, but some of it is kind of rough, you know what it mean? But I love reading and I love books. I love being transported somewhere else and being able to forget all the troubles going on in my own life. I guess what I'm saying is: I totally should have been in that Nook commercial.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Doggie Tales: Penny

Full Name: Penelope Layne Harris

Breed: Yellow Labrador (but she is a copper color)

Birth date: April 12th, 2002

Likes: her momma (Maggie), reflections, swimming, fetching, walks, car rides

Dislikes: being left alone

All about Penny: Penny was one of Maggie's puppies that we kept. We didn't know what to name her, and our neighbor suggested Penny because she was copper like a penny. To be a little more sophisticated, her first name was Penelope, but keeping with the Beatles theme, her middle name was Layne, like Penny Lane.

Penny is the copper colored one in the middle. These are the rest of her siblings. Aren't they cute?
Penny was inseperable from Maggie. She loved her momma more than anything. Anywhere Maggie went, Penny was there, too. Since Maggie has passed away, Penny has been very depressed, and my parents have told me that she seems to have gotten very old very fast.

Penny and her mom Maggie. Penny is on the left, Maggie on the right.
I always feel a little bit guilty, because I didn't spend as much time with Penny as I did with Maggie. Penny was born when I was in high school, and I was more interested in teenager things that spending time with her.

One thing that Penny absolutely loves is chasing reflections or lights. If there is a reflection from your watch, she will chase after it for hours. No joke. If you get a flash light and shine it on the ground near her, she goes bonkers. She will completely fixate on it and even after it's gone, she will look for it for at least 10 more minutes.

Before she aged, Penny loved to play, just like Maggie. She was always wanting you to throw a toy and when we took her to to the lake she would go crazy. She is actually a very crazy, hyper-active dog. She gets so excited about things sometimes, that she starts yelping and crying at ear-piercing pitch. Whenever she sees that she is about to go for a car ride or a walk, she completely loses it and begins yelping, and she won't stop until she gets to wherever she's going. At times, it can be a little embarrassing, because everyone looks at the commotion she's causing and there is absolutely no stopping her.

Penny is a very sweet dog. She doesn't want to harm anyone or anything. Once, when my parents were walking her, a neighbor's dog attacked her while Penny stood and did nothing to fight back. The dog ended up biting Penny right on her nose, and Penny had two puncture wounds on her snout. She has a scar from it.

She is also the most cowardly dog you will probably ever meet. Once, my mom was walking her in the woods near their house, when she came across a bear. Penny was off her leash, and my mom and Penny both froze when they saw it, and then Penny turned around and booked it out of there, totally abandoning my mom. My mom backed away from the bear and then caught up with Penny down the road. My mom kept on telling her, "I can't believe you just left me up there!" It's one of her favorite stories.

Penny loves people and she loves any attention she receives from people. I think her ideal day would involve someone petting her all day long. Unlike her mother, Penny loves to be pet. Penny has really big, floppy ears, and she loves it when you pet them. She is one of those dogs where if you stop petting her, she inches in closer and keeps nudging you until you pick up where you left off.
This is my brother's puppy, Bonnie, and Penny together.
Since Maggie passed away, Penny has become more depressed, and my parents have made her an indoor dog because they think she is too lonely all by herself outside. (My parents have slowly but surely become indoor dog people.) My mom says Penny has grown an unusual attachment to my dad (I think it's replacing the attachment she had with Maggie) and whenever he leaves the house she will cry. It makes me sad to think of Penny being so sad. Even though she is one crazy dog, I miss seeing her since I've moved out here to Colorado.

Bonnie and Penny again.