September 2005

Banned books meme

by DaniGirl on September 30, 2005 · 8 comments

in Uncategorized

Saw this meme at Phantom Scribbler and had to join in. This is the list of the 100 most banned and challenged books for the period 1990 through 2000. Copy and paste into your own blog, and bold the ones you have read.

How sad it is that these books are among the ones that have had the most powerful influence on me? Sad for the people who want to restrict or ban these books, and sad for the kids who might never get the chance to read them. Not only have I read 25 out of the 100 on this list, but more than half the ones I’ve read I’ve reread more than once.

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (This was one of my first favourite books. I wanted to be a writer after reading this book.)
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) (Actually, I only read half of one book.)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier



Incoherent Friday rambles

by DaniGirl on September 30, 2005 · 7 comments

in Uncategorized

Friday generally seems to be my catching up and cleaning up day, both at home and with blog. I’ve been poking around my mental archives for something that I might stretch into a cohesive post, but all I’ve got are odds and sods. Get some fresh coffee, we’re in rambling mode…

For example, I managed to get the apple-picking photos from last week posted, but it took me until this week to force Blogger to cough up my pictures from our walk at Hog’s Back Falls the weekend before.

Hog’s Back is a lovely waterfall where the Rideau Canal splits from the Rideau River at Mooney’s Bay. The walking paths are wide and flat and easy enough to negotiate with a stroller, but on this particular Sunday I let Simon walk for the first time.

We brought a large bag of birdseed with us, and I tried to show the boys that if you put a little seed in your hand, the chickadees will land on your fingers and eat the seed from the palm of your hand.

Tristan loved the idea of the birds landing on his hand – until one actually did. Even though I’d tried to explain that the bird’s feet were picky, he jumped about a mile when one actually landed on him – scaring the bird, himself, his brother and me in the process. Enticing the birds to land on Simon’s head turned out to be a lot more fun. Ultimately unsucessful, but fun.

Next time, we’ll bring peanuts for the chipmunks as well. If you live in Ottawa, this is the best time of the year to visit Hog’s Back, just as the trees are turning. We invested in a big bag of bird seed at the Bulk Barn for 56 cents. You just can’t go wrong at those prices!

As if that isn’t enough fun to jumpstart your weekend, I thought I’d weigh in with my results from the ubiquitous 23:5 meme, where you find your 23rd post and the fifth sentence in it. I was reluctant to play at first, because while I certainly have a lot of sentences I figured the chances of hitting one worth repeating were remote.

The winner is from this post on February 24, and the sentence is Yes, I know he will probably have his bladder well under control by the time he heads off to college. Hey look, we made it with 14 years to spare! Hooray for Tristan’s bladder!

And last but not least, today is my brother’s birthday. I don’t think he reads blog (but look, my mom and Beloved have finally succumed this month!) but just in case I will take a moment to wish him a happy birthday here. This has been an exciting year for you, little brother. My best compliment is that you turned out to be an even better father than you are a brother. Hope your day is wonderful! And, your present is in the mail…



Raise a reader day

by DaniGirl on September 29, 2005 · 11 comments

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Here in Ottawa, it’s Raise a Reader Day, sponsored by the Ottawa Citizen and other local literacy groups. In our family, I am thrilled that we are having as much success as we are in raising readers. Maybe it’s because I’m a literary kind of girl, but I think a love of reading is one of the most important values I can instil in my kids. If it were up to me, Read Anything and Everything would be the 11th commandment. (Or maybe we can replace one of those lesser commandments about not coveting thy neighbour’s goodies.)

I love the fact that no matter what other mischief he is up to, I can sit cross-legged on the floor and ask Simon, “Want to read a book?” and he will toddle over and plunk himself uncerimoniously but receptively into my lap. I love that we were in the drug store the other day and as I was listening to the steady stream of babble Simon was spewing, it dawned on me that he was repeating “Mooo – la la la – no no no – oink”, which if you have any familiarity with the work of Sandra Boynton you will recognize as a pretty reputable stab at a recitation of Moo Baa La La La, his favourite book. I love the fact that Tristan occassionally attributes dialogue as he plays with his trains. The other day I heard him saying, “‘Good day, Thomas’ said James. ‘Look at my splendid red coat.’ ‘Good day, James, it’s lovely,’ said Thomas.” He’s talking in literary narrative. Be still my heart.

Speaking of books, this week Chapters/Indigo released the results of their summer-long poll readers’ choice poll. It doesn’t exactly look like the Governor General’s short list of fiction. Number one is The Davinci Code, followed by Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With the Wind and LOTR Return of the King.


The second half of the top 40 list is a little bit more interesting, and includes the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a “trilogy in four parts”, one of my most favourite tag lines of all times) and CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I liked this list, because the question was not “what is the best book of all time” but “what is your favourite book of all time.” Hard to imagine that so many people would list The Lovely Bones and Angels and Demons among their all-time faves, though. They were good, but not that good!

What’s missing? I’m out of time, but tell me what you would add to – or vehemently scribble off of – your list?


Echoes from another life

by DaniGirl on September 28, 2005 · 8 comments

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I got an e-mail from an old friend today, and it made me smile in a wistful “been a long time” kind of way. Many moons ago, before we got married and got to work populating suburbia, Beloved and I used to hang out with Ralph and a bunch of others every Friday and most Saturday nights. Back in the day, we lived in a downtown neighbourhood in a gorgeous little apartment at the top of a steep flight of stairs. We hung out with Ralph and the gang at the Clocktower Pub or Wall Street or other disreputable establishments, drinking microbeers and screwdrivers and talking about indie animation and 1960s TV sit-coms and whatever movie we had just been to see.

I miss those days, and I miss those guys (and girls, but they were mostly guys and even the girls – me included – would be more than happy to be considered “one of the guys” anyway). Even though we still see each other every couple of months, and even though each reunion is filled with genuine affection, our lives are so different that sometimes it’s hard to find common ground. Most of them are still single, childless, and following a different kind of dream.

Ralph just wrapped up shooting on his first-ever indie film, a horror short called Hidden Darkness. I’m so happy for him, because even back in the day this was something he was working toward. The credits read like a who’s-who of the old days, and as I read it I have pangs of regret that I couldn’t have been a part of the fun. Then reality thunders in with a reminder that I go to bed most days probably around the same time that filming got underway, and that a film set is probably not the safest place for a pair of boys who manage to find trouble regularly in my meticulously babyproofed kitchen, let alone on a gore-splattered indie movie set.

I was going to say I’m not the girl I used to be, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Even back then, I was biding my time until we were in the right place to have a family. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted out of life and it would be trite to say I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m the same girl, just a little bit more tired than I used to be. I guess that happens as you slide through your thirties, kids or not.

It’s curious to hear from old friends still stomping the same grounds you left behind. Getting together with these guys is like an echo from another life. The sweet irony is that although our lives are so very different, both Ralph and I have fulfilled our heart’s desire. We both have the thing we most wanted back in those beer soaked conversations at the pub. I have my babies, and he has his movies. It’s a good life.


Next year, Tristan will start junior kindergarten. Registration for Fall 2006 starts in February, which gives me four months to get off the fence and decide whether to enrol the boys in Catholic school or not. Four months to decide whether to baptize them or not.

I have no idea what to do.

There are practical considerations that make me favour the Catholic school system. The Catholic school is *right* across the street from us; I can see the schoolyard from my bedroom window. They are building a new public school two and a half blocks away, which is certainly convenient as well, and it looks like a lovely school, at least from an architectural perspective. So there’s no compelling geographical reason to choose one over the other, except the Catholic school is so close that the boys will be able to walk over by themselves sooner – assuming we’re still living in the house we’re in. Bobbie’s kids (my daycare provider) go to the Catholic school, which makes before and after school care a lot more convenient.

I went to Catholic school, and I truly believe that the quality of education is, on average, of a slightly higher quality in the separate school system. I can’t articulate exactly what it is that is better, and haven’t done a lot of research on it, but for whatever reason, it seems to be the case. (In Ontario, the public and separate/Catholic school systems are both publicly funded, so the Catholic schools are not private. There is no cost consideration for one school board versus the other.) The Catholic school across from us has a good reputation – not stellar, but above average, and the parents I talk to are generally happy with it.

So why am I waffling? Because I’m not a Catholic anymore – I call myself a recovering Catholic, in fact – and having the boys baptized smacks of hypocrisy to me. I’m divorced. I conceived my firstborn son in a petri dish. I believe in marriage rites for gays, birth control, abortion on demand and women in the clergy. I’m not even sure I believe Jesus Christ was god. I’m not exactly the poster girl for dogma.

Yes, I could put the boys in a Catholic school without having them christened. But among other things, they’d have to sit on the sidelines in Grade Two when all their friends are lining up to take their first communion, and I think it would really make matters more confusing than they have to be. If I put them in Catholic school, they should be brought up Catholic – at least in form if not fundamentally.

But what does that mean?

My folks let me make my own decisions. They baptized us, brought us to church when we were babies, and stopped sometime around the time we were old enough to squirm off the pew. We participated in all the religious rites, and my folks were always open about what they believed and what they didn’t. They taught me to be sceptical, and to think critically about matters of faith.

In grade school, there was a “all the cool kids are doing it” element to going to church, so I asked my mother to start taking me to mass on a Sunday morning, which she did without complaint. I grew out of that like most other phases. When I was old enough to drive myself, we used to congregate (nice pun, eh?) at the church on Saturday nights because one of my friends was an altar boy, so Saturday evening mass was the launch of the evening’s festivities. To be brutally honest, I had a crush on the altar boy. Church meant an hour being able to watch him without being weird about it.

And yet there are things about church that I miss. I miss the singing, the ceremony, the comfort of ritual, and the sense of community. I toy with the idea of bringing the boys to church because I genuinely think these are lovely things to expose them to.

But I so fundamentally object to some of the Church’s teachings that I can’t reconcile my objections with the desire to be part of a church community. Calling myself Catholic would be hypocritical, and standing up at my boys’ baptism and promising to raise them as Catholics would be an outright lie because I know that what the Church expects and what I intend are not even on the same ideological page.

I’ve been hedging on this for three and a half years… time is running out.


Falling through September

by DaniGirl on September 26, 2005 · 13 comments

in Uncategorized

It’s officially fall now. (Am I supposed to capitalize Fall? As a rule I think I overcapitalize, but it looks so insignificant with its lowercase “f”.) You wouldn’t really notice summer is done, since it’s been warm and lovely and mostly nice, if it weren’t for the darkness creeping in earlier each night and staying longer each morning. Andrea wrote a nice bit the other day about how she is like a tree and takes her cues on the changing seasons from the changing light levels. (Sorry, I didn’t link directly to that post, but there are worse things you could do on a rainy Monday morning than ramble through Andrea’s archives.)

Every season, including F(f)all, is my favourite season — for the first two weeks. I love the change. Yes, me who suffers heart palpitations at the mere thought of change. Even though I adore summer above all else, after weeks of sunshine and disruption and indulgence fall comes as a bit of a relief. Fall means back to school, back to work, back to routines and schedules – and I love routines and schedules even more than I hate change.

Plus, I love the change in wardrobe. I’m not much of a clothes horse, but I could go crazy in the stores when they start pulling out those plaid kilts and rich tweeds and jewel-toned sweaters for fall. After trying all summer to find the right ensemble that will look professional, not wilt in the heat and not give me heat stroke during the 30+C stifling bus ride home, being able to pull out the layers of fall is a treat.

I also welcome the return of seasonal foods. I find that outside our ubiqutous take-out fillers, we eat certain foods only in certain seasons. I made a pot of chili last week, something I haven’t done since April even though it’s one of the few things I can cook reliably. Same with roast beef (although the reliability on that one is a little sketchy.)

In this month’s Chatelaine magazine I found a good half-dozen or so recipes that seem to meet our family dining requirements: so quick and simple a ten-year-old could cook them, with few ingredients found in all major grocery stores, and containing foods that Simon if not Tristan might actually consider eating. Tonight I’m test-driving rotini with roasted squash, tomatoes, olives and creamy chevre. I am so full of enthusiasm in the first two weeks of the season that I will even try a new recipe on a weeknight. It’s nearly miraculous.

What’s your cue that it’s officially (F)fall? Back to school? Darkened mornings? New TV season? (I could go on for paragraphs more on that one. Anybody catch the new Survivor? Looks like a great season. And Amazing Race starts tonight. And Desperate Housewives and LOST are back, too. Oh glorious box, how I love your comforting glow as the evenings linger!)


Bliss in the apple orchard

25 September 2005 Uncategorized

Maybe there’s some sort of cosmic rule, that if you have a particularly sucky week, you get rewarded with a terrific weekend? I don’t know if that’s the case, but I’m not complaining after the wonderful family weekend we just had. On Saturday morning, my menfolk and I went apple picking. I’ve never been apple […]

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There goes his inheritance

24 September 2005 Uncategorized

Overheard as Granny and Papa Lou were leaving our house after dinner tonight: Granny: See you later, Alligator.Tristan: Goodbye, Hippo. .

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Breathe deeply, Friday is here

23 September 2005 Uncategorized

This post was supposed to be a photo-illustrated re-cap of a wonderful walk the boys and I took last weekend to feed the birds and chipmunks at Hog’s Back Falls. But, I have been trying to get Blogger to cough up my images for 36 minutes now, and that’s about the end of my patience. […]

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Stars in my eyes

22 September 2005 Uncategorized

So I didn’t even get to tell you some of the really cool stuff that’s happened to me in the last couple of weeks. First, I got to have lunch with the lovely and almost unbearably kind Ann a couple of Saturdays ago when she was in town for the Baby Boom show. As if […]

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