READING, JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT! (for the younger generation)

by Wilma Mazo

Now that winter weather appears to be here to stay for a while, and you can’t play baseball or soccer or any of those other great outdoor sports, why not try reading?? Oh, you never considered reading to be a “sport!” O.K., so technically speaking it might not be, but it definitely is a wonderful way to have fun in your cozy, warm home while those winter winds howl outside.

And, as a matter of fact, I just happen to have read a book that I would love to recommend to people in grades four, five, and six. Hey, the truth of the matter is I loved it, and I’m definitely older than a sixth grader (much older), so I’d say this book can be enjoyed by anyone. Which book, you ask? Oh yes: It’s Mush, a Dog from Space, and it was written by Daniel Pinkwater, referred to in the New York Times as “the fantastic Mr. Pinkwater.” He writes and illustrates children’s books about space, relatives, and the supernatural. You can also hear him on the radio, telling all about the books that other people wrote. He’s a very funny man, and as you’d expect, his humor is reflected in the things he writes.

Mush, a Dog from Space, is one of Daniel Pinkwater’s books about space, but that’s not all. It has a number of surprises that will have you barking with laughter.

In addition, my young friends, if you are “into” reading to some even younger kids, and while you’re borrowing Daniel Pinkwater’s book, sign out Boot Weather by Judith Vigna. I think it’s perfect, and I’ll bet you’d agree that it’s a terrific book for your little brother, sister, cousin, or next door neighbor. This book is all about a little girl with a great big imagination, who puts on her boots; goes out into the snow; and imagines herself in so many wonderful places.

Boot Weather written and illustrated by Judith Vigna is a book that will keep those little people asking questions and using their own vivid imaginations.

Oh yes, and before I go on to tell the teenagers about a book that would be just right for them, maybe even your older sister, brother, cousin, or next door neighbor, I’d like to mention three other books I also loved: Sambalena Show-Off, The Blueberry Train, and, best of all The Table Where Rich People Sit. When you come into your Andes Public Library, look for all these wonderful titles. I will display them, so you will have no trouble at all finding them. And, while you’re at it, ask your librarian for other suggestions. She would be happy to help you.


Hope is the self-proclaimed “toughest female you ever saw.” She really is! At sixteen, she has crossed the country several times. In fact, by the time she was fourteen, Hope had already gone to school in six different states and worked as a waitress after school and during summer vacations in all of them. Now, she and her Aunt Addie are dragging a U-haul with their groaning, old Buick packed with the cardboard cartons of their lives from New York City to Mulhoney, Wisconsin for jobs as a cook and a waitress and the promise of a free apartment, from a man dying of leukemia. Hope doesn’t see it as much of a career move.

Hope Yancey is not the kind of girl who buys into traditional roles. She knows first hand about change and adaptability, and now, at sixteen, Hope has developed a philosophy: “I don’t expect life to be easy. It hasn’t been yet and I’m not holding out for smooth sailing in the future.” But, here’s an important clue to understanding Hope: This young lady changed her name legally from Tulip to Hope when she was just fourteen. She is a “you-get-what-you-see” kind of person, and she is the first-person narrator in the book Hope was Here by Joan Bauer, a new and really significant book for teenage readers, which explores themes such as holding fast to one’s convictions, honesty and integrity.

Now suppose you saw a want ad in a newspaper which read “Insightful, hardworking sixteen-year-old girl, emotionally generous and witty, seeks friend/pal/chum to while away meaningful hours. Picky eaters need not reply.” Would you apply?? Well, if you would, you definitely should read Hope was Here by Joan Baur, just for the fun of it! ~


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