A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Joseph Bruchac (Code Talker, Keepers of the Earth) and Peter McCarty (Little Bunny on the Move).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Edward Ardizzone (1900-1979), Diana and Her Rhinoceros, and storyteller Cecile de Brunhoff (1903-2003), co-creator of The Story of Babar, and subsequent books in the series.
- Itâ€™s also the birth date of American lexicographer Noah Webster (1758 â€“ 1843), considered the Father of the American Dictionary. Hence, it is Dictionary Day. Read Andrew Clements Frindle.
- The Library of ancient Alexandria was the largest and best library in the ancient Roman world. In 2002 Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the commemoration of the lost library of Alexandria is inaugurated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt. Read The Library by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small.
- Donating to your local food pantry or volunteering to serve community meals are ways to help alleviate hunger on World Food Day today. Read Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin.
- Itâ€™s also Sweetest Day. Read The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg.
Some books just begged to be discussed with others, and our book of the day for Reading Group Month is perfect for mother/daughter groups: Dana Reinhardtâ€™s The Summer I Learned to Fly.
When we first meet the protagonist of the book, she tells us that some smells draw us back to childhoodâ€”like her grandfatherâ€™s aftershave lotion. But the scent that reminds her of the most important summer of her life, between age thirteen and fourteen, is the smell of Limburger, Camembert, or Stilton cheese. Narrated by Birdie when she is eighteen, she explains a lot about cheeseâ€”her mother has opened up a gourmet cheese shopâ€”and what it feels like to be an outsider, without friends.
Birdie makes up for her lack of a social life by helping her mother in the shop. She likes working at the counter or making pasta with her motherâ€™s assistant, the dreamboat Nick. Her other companions, not really friends, are away for the summer. In fact, her own true friend appears to be a pet rat that she carries around in her backpack. Although some might find a pet rat farfetched, I myself had one as a teenager â€”a lab rat that I didnâ€™t want killed. The details of rat ownership seemed spot on to me!
Then one day, out behind the shop, Birdie meets Emmett. He knows a lot about rats and a good deal about human misery. Slowly she begins to understand that he has no real home; piece by piece she puts his story together. When he finally confides all the details to her, he asks her to go with him on a journeyâ€”a quest to find healing and a miracle. Although they quickly return home, the book opens up questions about honesty. For neither Birdie nor her mother have been completely candid with each other.
Although the premise of the novel, that transitional summer between being a girl and growing up, is as old as Maureen Dalyâ€™s Seventeenth Summer, the voice, approach, and quirkiness of The Summer I Learned to Fly is completely original. I fell for Birdie from the first page, as have many other readers. Sheâ€™s honest and compassionate and struggling to find her own place in the world. For those who love books of gentle romance like Flipped, for those who love a great first-person voice, for those who enjoy an intriguing protagonist, The Summer I Learned to Fly will be totally satisfying. But a word of warning: It will make you hungry for cheese!
Hereâ€™s a passage from The Summer I Learned to Fly:
How could it be? Iâ€™d loved Nick for most of a year. I wasnâ€™t a dreamer, so I had never really believed that Nick would or could love me back, that weâ€™d live happily ever after in a kingdom of fresh pastas and cheese, but how he made me feel when I was near him was something new to me. Iâ€™d thought it was something singular. Something specific to Nick, who smelled of the sea. And yet, that same rush had overtaken me as Iâ€™d reached the top of that climb and seen Emmett sprawled out on that grass.
Was I really that fickle? Was it really that easy for me to fall under the spell of another boy?
Originally posted October 16, 2011. Updated for .