lessons

Book Review: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

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Where the Wild Things Are written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak in 1963 was a Caldecott Medal winner the year after it was published. I treasured this book in elementary school when I played the lead in our school play (okay, co-lead with another kid so we didn’t have to work too hard). I wrote a review a few years ago from memory, then explored it during my college years when I studied children’s literature and language. Now, in August 2018, I’m hosting a Children’s Book Readathon on my blog. Come check it out!

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I read the book twice this week. Once to absorb it as a fresh set of eyes, then again to see what I liked and didn’t like. On the whole, I still love it. I also see how it could encourage a few bad behaviors, but then again, so can movies, overhearing conversations, and music. Books are about learning. It’s important to read them with a child at the appropriate age and use it was a way to teach what’s wrong and right. For those reasons, I highly recommend sharing this with kids from 6 to 8. Younger might understand it. Older might find it amusing. But that’s the sweet spot in my opinion.

Max doesn’t like being told what to do. He just runs around a lot. I have a 5-month-old puppy named Baxter who’s just like Max. I get frustrated, but I love him. I’ve put him in time-out. Max was sent to bed without supper. I can only imagine where Baxter goes in his imagination… if it’s anything like where Max goes, we’re in for trouble!

So glad to re-read this one!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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365 Challenge: Day 123 – Learned

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Learned: connected or involved with the pursuit of knowledge; erudite, scholarly

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I’ve spent my last twenty-four hours pondering the various ways in which people learn new things, subjects or topics. As a child, it’s relatively easy to find methods for learning, particularly because in most cultures you are either being schooled at home or attending public or private school. Though it certainly varies from country to country, children and young adults generally attend grammar and secondary schools until they are 18; often, it’s followed by anywhere from 2 to 8 years of undergraduate colleges and graduate universities. Sometimes you take a break, re-enroll or return for additional degrees and certifications throughout your life. Ultimately, your education is generally formulated during those first 25 years of your life before you are more than likely forced to focus on a career and/or earning money to support yourself and/or a family.

In those first 25 years, a majority of the learning process or time is directed by a teacher or professor who has done the research, or been told by the school district, department chair or board of directors what methods to use and which books to read. My point, though it can be interpreted in many different ways, is that someone else “above/before” you is driving the education you are receiving. You might have selected the school, teacher, course, or some independent study components within the overall program, but you aren’t doing a majority of the planning and decision-making on how the entire learning experience will play out. Yes, you certainly pick a lot of the things you focus on within that course or degree, but you rarely can make up a majority of the requirements for your own education. While that seems like an obvious statement, I felt the need to establish it as a baseline understanding before I chat a little bit about what’s going on in my head these days…

It’s easy to rely on someone else to set the boundaries or parameters of your learning experience. And when you let them, you are able to focus on the actual reading, research and experimenting to gain the knowledge in preparation for your future. But what happens when you’re done with your formal education and you still want to learn. What are your options? A few ideas:

  • Read books, journals and magazines
  • Find a seminar or course
  • Research via the Internet
  • Talk to people in that field

All are good options, but they require you as the individual to drive that piece of your education. If you want to learn pottery, you have to find and take a course, choose what books you want to read, travel the world to look at different artistry elements… you are left with an endless supply of information, but not always certain on how to proceed with so much at your fingertips and so little in a comprehensive overview. No longer do you have a documented itinerary or list of requirements that directs you towards gaining the knowledge you need. And for many people, that can be overwhelming. As I look at the things I’d like to accomplish in my future, I find myself thinking about who will help guide me through all the vast and open paths. While I’m confident I can navigate a big piece of the puzzle, am I really qualified or prepared to figure this out on my own?

The answer, at least for me or in my opinion, is NO. Or at least it isn’t specifically right now. Let’s take the option I’m considering for self-publishing my novel. While I continue to draft and send queries to literary agents, we all know it’s a big piece of luck and chance that will bolster my success, no matter how talented I am. And so I am excited about looking at all the options out there for self-publishing as an alternative. As I began writing my project plan over the last week, I found myself having to research topics on the Internet, talk to other writers and bloggers, look for already written summaries, etc. And it dawned on me, while there may be a class or video blog out there to help, it’s still 100% up to me to figure this out. There’s no advisor, professor, parent, boss, chairperson… whatever the appropriate person is for the field I’m looking at… and in reality, I actually first need to figure out what my educational plan is going to be before I just randomly go research it.

So… to bring some perspective back here… this post isn’t me saying “anyone have thought on self-publishing?” as I have already begun to prepare my own comprehensive plan on how to go about doing this, given all the materials at my disposal. But this post is saying… how does the rest of the world handle this? And doesn’t it seem silly that we spend so much of our early years “planning and learning,” only to find ourselves truly needing to be in a place of constant learning and growing without the right tools? Isn’t that one of the major points of life in any religion, culture or calling? To educate one’s self so that you can be a productive member of society and enhance the world for our future. But how do we do that if we end our formal learning process by 20 to 25 and leave it up to everyone to individually find time in our busy schedules to keep the momentum growing without these processes and tools.

In a way, it’s almost like suggesting we should have a “Life Skills” course that is taught by people who focus on these things day in and day out. Now that’s a job I think I would be tremendously strong at! I spend so much of my time thinking about all aspects of life, how to be a better person, how to be open-minded and fair… it seems like that we all would benefit from a regular educational experience about how to grow as people, move the world forward and become more highly intelligent beings. Many of us do this already… often inconsistently… usually on our own. But what if there were learning facilities with people (almost like the concept of a life coach) focused on helping make this a prominent component of everyone’s life. Forget about whether it’s required or optional. Start with just having something that actually offers the ability to connect and talk with other people about these things in a regular forum.

It’s along the same path as teaching life skills courses during the early years to help people have a 360 view of what the world has to offer and what we should be doing as human beings. It’s something I try to push myself to think about every day when I write the 365 Daily Challenge post. It was suggested I turn these into a book at one point, and I’m seriously wondering whether this is something that needs to be more of a focus in my life. It shouldn’t be 3 minutes of someone’s thoughts whenever they have time. I feel like maybe this should be part of a Life Skills & Learning Platform that becomes part of our post-degree or post-school educational experiences. Inclusive across the board on gardening, cooking, problem solving, genealogy, overview of sports, religion, cultures, blogging, buying a house, having a child, volunteering, car maintenance, travel planning, meditating, accepting failure, etc.

All these things have books, seminars, blogs, videos… but it’s so decentralized. No one-stop shop or place to truly have a place to turn in life to keep on that continuous educational wheel. Am I crazy? Am I just ignorant of something existing already out there? Or are there other people like me who realize we’re not placing enough importance on these things in our own life at the right frequency, and we really need to make this change? I’d love to hear what others think of this topic and how you handle it in your own life. Let’s make this one a big share everyone…

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Valerie @ Valerie’s Musings. Valerie and I have been chatting for about 3 months. We first bonded over our love of cozy mystery fiction, sharing different authors and book series with one another. And when we read the same ones, we have so much fun chatting about the characters, settings and plots. We moved on to other genres and will be doing a buddy read later this month of “The Bear and the Nightingale.” But once we started chatting about general life musings between my 365 Daily Challenge posts and her focus on making positive changes in her life, we bonded over lots of great ideas and thoughts for the future. She is a very smart, friendly and open-minded woman who deserves great things in life. I look forward to her feedback and comments each week. And for those reasons, Valerie should be on your watch list, too. Go check out her site from the link above and poke around the site. Make the most out of her musings!

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 87 – Dancer

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Dancer: a person who dances or whose profession is dancing [to move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps]

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In yesterday’s post, I hinted that I’d blog about being a dancer at some point in the future. Well that day is today, for a few reasons: (1) I spent 8 hours cleaning the apartment, grocery shopping, running errands and doing the laundry — my brain cannot think anymore, so this was the first word to come to mind, (2) If I don’t do it now, I’ll forget and (3) I still have Dirty Dancing on my mind from over the weekend….

And you correctly guessed, that picture above is… not me. Nor is my professional, hobby or exercise routine that of a dancer. So why you ask, am I blogging about a dancer? It’s simple. I sorta-kinda-wanna be a dancer — in a totally re-invented-different-universe-way. I don’t want to do it now in this life… it’s too late, but I think I would have been a really good if I had started as a child.

I have no idea what kind of a dancer I’d be. I’ve never once — not a single day — taken a class or lessons in dancing, nor have I been to many ballet or other dance performances. My interest in dancing is really just this kinda fun thing I would like to do. A little bit of history… and probably way more than I should reveal at this point, as you will see a very different and shameful proud side of me.

Prior to going away to college, I thought fraternities and sororities were awful things. I said I would never be friends with anyone who was in one either. Fast-forward a little bit. Fresh year, fall semester… away in school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I am feeling a little out-of-my-element being far away from home, not quite making a lot of friends at that point. For some lucky reason, I won the room lottery and got a single dorm room, so I didn’t even have a roommate to latch on to. I had a few friends that were girls, and they took me to a party at a sorority house, where they thought they might pledge in the spring semester. While there, I met some fraternity brothers who actually seemed kinda cool and they convinced me to come check them out in the spring semester when I returned to campus after the holidays. So… I did. But first, I went to a sorority formal early that spring with one of the girls I mentioned earlier.

So… another thing I should have mentioned. I rarely drank before I went away to college. Not only was I under 21, but I just wasn’t friends with any frequently drinking chums. When I started going to these parties, I would taste a little bit of someone’s drink each time. I still wouldn’t have a whole drink. I wasn’t a goody-two-shoes, but I wasn’t keen on doing something when I still didn’t feel like I had close enough friends I could trust to watch out for me. Fast-forward to the sorority formal… I had several drinks and got extremely wasted for the first time in my life. It just happened that at least 20 of my soon-to-be fraternity brothers were there too, as they dated a lot of the girls in the sorority. My big brother in the fraternity was struggling with choosing a Pledge Name for me, as part of the period before you become an official member. Well… I got my name that night.

You see… I’ve had a good reason for not drinking in the past. Apparently, another personality comes out. Someone I had never met in my first 18 years. His name was Wild Boy. I have no memory or recollection of this particular event, except for a few pictures which make me remember getting very very sick that night. It seems… whenever a song that I liked came on, I danced in the middle of the floor in front of everyone — Mr. Quiet & Shy — and whatever the words in the song were, I sang them loudly and also tried to mimic the actions on the dance floor. The song that put everyone over the edge and gave me my fraternity Pledge Name was KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight.” And when that 3-line chorus repeated itself, so did I:  “Do a Little Dance, Make a Little Love, Get Down Tonight.”

And I did a little dance… I made out like a little — no better word — slut, and when the third line came on, I dropped to the floor and tried to break-dance, but I was so drunk, I kept falling over. Hence…  my fraternity name became “Saturday Night Fever.”

*** Pause for laughter… go ahead… I have no shame and I told you of my own free will and volition. ***

Years later, brothers still text and call me, asking for Saturday Night Fever. It’s probably the single most embarrassing moment of my life, and I’m so glad I truly don’t remember it happening. I just suffer through everyone else’s memories. But my friends… the story doesn’t end there. As I said earlier, when I drink a lot… I want to dance a lot. Another time, which I have a very vivid memory of… was going to my first NYC club after I officially “came out.” I was 25 years old. I was single. And I went out with a group of new friends who just liked to party every weekend. Within an hour, I had 3 or 4 drinks and I was quite relaxed. No inhibitions. Lindsay Lohan was a popular singer back then, you see… before all the crazy jail stuff. The song “Rumors” came on… and somehow, I made my way up to the stage. Front and Center. Standing on a box. I just started dancing in front of a huge crowd. And after a little while… the shirt came off… and I completely let loose, dancing and grinding and whatever else felt like the thing to do at that moment. There’s a dancer in me trying to make his way out… bursting with awesome moves and a sync’d rhythm with the music.

And the last little bit of evidence… taking my shirt off in public is not a one-time occurrence. I have several incidents / occasions / memories / WTF-moments where when the music is right, I somehow get myself into situations where I take some of my clothes off and start dancing… and on two occasions, there were bills stuffed in my pants. Hence why I kinda love the Magic Mike movies. Part of me wanted to be a stripper, I think. I find it very intriguing… not that I’d ever be able to do it while sober or around people I know well. These things have all happened at times or in places where I was either drunk or mostly a stranger to those around me. And I did my best to keep this post clean, as I have friends reading it, who don’t need to look at me funny the next time we see one another.

I also think it would be cool to know how to dance normal everyday routines at weddings, cocktail parties, New Year’s Eve, etc. It’s not all about the “dirty dancing” with me… I am still that nice, good and quiet guy. It’s just every so often, the devil comes out and you either want to run far away, or if you like that kinda stuff and want to see the crazy side of me, then let’s go out to a NYC club. It’s been a few years for me. But give me at least 4 weeks of notice, so I can put in a little more time at the gym and a little less sugar in my diet!

And seriously… for someone who constantly says he is shy, I have no idea where this part of me comes from… where it hides… or why I am always both extremes of a personality trait! What about you? Any professional dancers out there? Strip-Teasers? Ball-Room aficionados? Great bar dancers? Only when you drink? Any time there’s music? Please don’t leave me hanging out here alone… although a secret part of me sorta likes knowing the bad boy is still hiding in there somewhere.

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: James and the Giant Peach

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James and the Giant Peach Book Review
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl is a very creative story built for everyone of all ages to enjoy. I think of it as a cross between 3 things: (1) Dr. Seuss, (2) Jack and the Beanstalk and (3) Harry Potter. 4 of 5 stars to this lovely keepsake.

I had to read this book, when it’s my namesake, James. But the similarities end there. James’ parents have passed away and he lives with his awful aunt and uncle. A mysterious man gives him a package which helps him grow this giant peach. And then the peach turns into a house, rolls away into fantasy-land and brings tons of new cartoon characters for James to have his own family.

It’s a great children’s story / younger young adult story to help show the different types of family, love and support one can get. So many fun things come from here, it’s a must read for all kids. My favorite character would probably be the ladybug… such a treasure in words and pictures.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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The Very Hungry CaterpillarBook Review
3+ of 5 stars to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a children’s picture book published in 1969 and written by Eric Carle. I am sure someone read this book to me as a very small child, but I know for certain that I had it on my shelf and looked through it around 10-years old. It’s a delight for all ages with the cute illustrations, the physical design of the book and the quirky personality of the caterpillar.

It’s a useful tool to teach young children how a caterpillar grows up, eats all the food around to get his/her nutrients, builds a cocoon and emerges as a butterfly. As a wonderful science exhibit and activity to grow your own butterflies, it can be a hands-on teaching experience too. Lovely memories and great things come from it.

It gained in popularity again when George Bush mentioned it in a speech or interview. It’s also got a few readers torn up in knots. You see, the caterpillar eats too much and gets ill and overweight, but emerges as a beautiful butterfly. People read into it, thinking kids will eat so much and become obese and sickly.

I’ll probably be hated for my next comment, but seriously? Relax. I don’t think reading this book as a child will lead to such dire consequences. Wanna know why? Because if you’re a parent or guardian, read it to your kid and explain the whole story… talk about the process of nature and metamorphosis. Discuss eating habits. Explain what real beauty is. Talk about what foods are good and what foods are bad. Show how when you eat too much, you can get sick. Teach balance. But don’t hate on a book because it seems to say “eat what you want and you’ll be beautiful even when you’re sick.” Oh, and read it with a child. Don’t just put it in his/her hands and shove them out of the way. Make it an interactive experience so the right goals of the book are understood and accomplished.

Yikes, my reviews are getting more “animated” without even using GIFs. Off to get some lunch. Perhaps a box of cookies… I think I just learned that lesson reading some reviews on Goodreads about this book. Yum!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: A Christmas Carol

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A Christmas CarolMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Charles DickensA Christmas Carol, a story almost everyone is likely familiar with as early on as childhood. And we’ve all seen some form of this in a TV show, movie or another book, given how familiar the three ghosts of Christmas have become.



Why This Book


I honestly don’t recall how I stumbled upon this book, perhaps by watching one of the movie versions as the first foray. Sacrilegious, I know. But once you see it on a TV screen, the story compels you to want to read it. And when it’s the great Charles Dickens, how can you say no, right? I was 17 when I read the book… the summer before college started. And I often wonder if I missed out by not reading it when I was younger… but then again, the movie had already formed images in my mind and set the expectations, so probably turned out OK.



Overview of Story


A quick summary, as I’m sure we’re all familiar. Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge run a business. Bob Cratchit works for them and several young kids. Marley dies. Scrooge is a penny pincher. He forces Cratchit to work too hard and the man is already so poor and loving to his family. One night, Scrooge is visited by Marley’s ghost, forewarning him to be a nicer person and to listen when “they” come. Scrooge laughs. “Who’s they?” He mocks him. And then it happens… three ghosts visit Scrooge and show him a Christmas from the past, a current Christmas and a future Christmas, all resulting from the way Scrooge and Marley ran their business — essentially, a way to show the old man what his behavior has caused all around him. A reflection pool of the inner workings deep in your mind you’ve refused to hear or see for far too long. And when Scrooge sees poor Timmy, Bob Cratchit’s son, and the maladies surrounding him, Scrooge realizes he, too, must re-learn his lessons.



Strength


In true Dickens style, the words are beautiful. The story reads itself, not the reader. And you find such broad strokes of characters and morals within these 100 pages. You learn from it. You open your mind and accept what’s already somewhere in your heart.



Open Items


None really… mostly when’s the best time to introduce this to children? Too young and you scare them. Too old and you miss out on helping them. It’s one of those books you should read together with your kids.



Final Thoughts


Read the book before you watch any movies. Then figure out how to help people in your life, just like Scrooge learns to. This book is all about lessons… and every reader can take away something different with their imagination and application to their own thoughts and actions.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: Charlotte’s Web

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Charlotte's WebMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’ve never read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, you are utterly missing out on a classic Newbery Honor award winner. Go to the library now and borrow this book first published in 1952. You shouldn’t buy it (unless you have children or are giving it as a present), but choose to embrace the entire experience of being a small child walking through your public library’s doors, searching for an amazing book and finding yourself bringing home a tale that will make you cry and fall in love all at the same time. And don’t spoil it by watching the cartoon or regular movies made based on the book until you’ve read it yourself! It’s important….

At a quick glance, a little pig arrives on a new farm and is basically going to be entered into a contest to win a prize for the farm owner. But the pig is scared and confused, turning to all sorts of other farm animals for love and guidance at his new home: chickens, mice, birds and of course, Charlotte, the friendly spider. To help save the pig, Charlotte spins webs overnight about the pig’s talents in the hopes that he’ll be saved from the… sniff sniff… chopping block even if he wins the contest for best pig. But there’s so much more going on in this book…

Charlotte is everyone’s mother. She’s everyone’s teacher. She’s everyone’s friend. As Pollyanna as it will sound, we should all have a Charlotte in our life to help us grow up and mature into terrific, radiant and humble human beings. (I’ll avoid calling us “some pig” as the other message she crafts). All the lessons children can learn from this book are important, even the ones about death. I won’t spoil it, but despite all the efforts across all the animals and the people in this treasure, someone doesn’t make it. It’s on the same level as “Bambi” in my opinion when it comes to a must-read for children, even if the harsh realities of life are exposed.

Please go read it. 🙂

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