Today was my favorite day of the year in Chicago: the first day of the year when it is truly warm and sunny outside. Everyone is in a good mood and spreads themselves out outside. I live on a wide boulevard with stretches of lawn running the length of the road and it was crawling with sunbathers and bacci ballers and dogs. This day did not exist when I lived in New York. People did get excited when the weather started to turn, but the city didn’t explode the way Chicago does when we finally feel like we’re free of winter. It’s the best.
I spent much of the day on my porch in our new chairs reading the NYTimes articles about Ramona and Hunger Games and trying to keep the rest of the Sunday paper from blowing into the alley. (It was beautiful and sunny and warm but egads was it windy.)
I also reread Sarah, Plain and Tall for a project I’m working on right now. I hadn’t read this since I was in elementary school, and all I remembered about it was that I didn’t like it. I thought it was boring. Upon rereading, I decided elementary-school-me was totally right. Sarah comes to their house (WHY?! Why does she come to their house?) and then she stays. The end. I know the Newbery voters in 1985 must have been charmed by this elegant simplicity in the story and prose, but I was thankful that the book was only 58 pages long. (Also: 58 pages?! You can get away with that? I guess I feel like the old ladies in the joke at the beginning of Annie Hall who complain about the restaurant’s terrible food that comes in such small portions, but it’s my party and I’ll complain about what I want to.) I am curious about the children who love this book. There must be many, and I do not write that in a tone that means “who the heck likes this book?!” I mean I really would love to learn more about the child reader who embraces this story.
I see the appeal it might have to adults. The writing is beautifully crafted and certain turns of phrase are remarkably elegant. The story is neat and tidy and gives us a window into a time where family relationships were very different. Maybe I’m not giving 8-year-olds enough credit. Maybe this is quite enough for most of them. It was not enough for me, though. Not even now.
Luckily I also read a galley of the new Clementine book this weekend and it was absolutely delightful. I will write all about it when the publication date gets closer but suffice it to say that I have never been so consistently charmed by a series of books as I continue to be by Clementine. Squee!