Even though I've made it clear on this blog that I pretty much stopped reading books when The Children came, we still encourage lots and lots of reading around our house. The Dormouse took to reading with the same enthusiasm a carp takes to food being dropped near it in the water. She has read twenty of the Junie B. Jones books and truly laments the fact that there might be one out there she hasn't tackled yet. I'm currently taking suggestions for a new series for her to begin obsessing over this summer. I was leaning toward the Ramona Quimby or The Great Brain series I loved so much as a kid, but I'm wondering if there's something out there that's better or more interesting. Suggestions would be appreciated. I've got to come up with things to keep her busy in this year's edition of Camp Sweatshop.

For the better part of the last two years, The KingofHearts has been reading to The Dormouse most nights before she goes to bed. It was something we started after The Caterpillar came along in a desperate attempt to be able to tell The Dormouse later that we didn't completely ignore her once her sister was born. I'd stay upstairs to nurse the baby and put her to bed and they'd go downstairs together and read. Since it's The KoH, however, we couldn't have a normal, six year old, age appropriate book, could we? The answer is no, we could not. I suggested Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web. Those suggestions were given less attention than the leaf stuck to the underside of my shoe. No, The KoH is reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy to her. Not just The Hobbit, (which actually creeped me out quite a bit as a ten or eleven-ish kid who saw just the animated cartoon on television) but the whole damn series. So right before she drifts off to slumberland, he fills her head with tales of Orcs, Trolls, Ents, wars and battles between good and evil. Good night, sweet dreams, I'll see you in the morning... that is, if the eye of Sauron doesn't see you first.

She's actually enjoying the books quite a bit, though I would have bet cash money that they'd be way over her head. While I imagine some of it probably still is over her head, she's comprehending much more of it than I would have guessed and loves all the puzzles and riddles contained therein. The KoH maintains that he's raising a nerdy girl so she won't have a problem with boys when she's older. My counter is that nerdy girls are available to all the nerdy boys IN ADDITION TO the popular boys and this just makes for more boys to worry about. Time will tell who wins that argument. Either way, I'm gonna let the age appropriateness issue slide because they are halfway through the series and not only is she loving this time with Daddy each day, but we haven't had even a single nightmare issue to deal with yet. So I like to think it toughens her up a bit so that one day she will be able to look at network news programs and not weep for humanity and want to run screaming off the planet the way I do every time I happen upon the evening headlines.

Aside: The Dormouse came home the other day while I was listening to the radio and some story came on about the oil spill. She announced, "I am SO SICK of hearing about this oil spill! Why do they have to talk about it so much? I don't care about it anymore!" I explained that it was a big deal because the oil was getting into the water and many plants and animals might die because of it. Then a few hours later, a television broadcast showed footage of the coastal areas where the oil is reaching and some animals caught in the oil slicks and she was Moved. To. Tears. I think we're striking a fine balance between right-wing-as-long-it's-not-in-my-backyard and bleeding-heart-liberal. Hopefully this means she'll be equally comfortable moving to Berkley, California or Houston, Texas one day when she's older.


The Caterpillar has been really into reading lately too and can't stand to be left out of what the "in" crowd is doing. So when The Dormouse and The KoH head to her room for their Long Day's Journey Into Mordor, she goes to her room and collects a stack of books to read with Momma. We like to kick it old school, though. None of this Tolkein crap for us; we're more the Boynton speed.

She started off trying to read this to me, but I had to hurry it along for the sake of the video. Transcript below - it's not exactly the Boynton text, but it's funny how she gets the gist of the words even when she doesn't remember them exactly.

The hog and the pig are dancing...
but not the hippopotamus.

The cats are trying on hats...
but not the hippopotamus.

The moose and the goose are drinking juice...
but not the hippopotamus.

The bear and the rabbit have been to a fair...
but not the hippopotamus.

Now the hog and the frog hurry out for a jog,
While the cat and the rats in their new running hats,
And the moose and the bear and the goose and the rabbit,
are doing their best to keep up with the rest,
but not the hippopotamus.

The the animal back comes screaming...
"Hey, come back!"

And she just doesn't know,
should she go, should she stay? Should she go, should she stay?
"Yes, the hippopotamus!"

Not the armadillo.