Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

Rating: 4.5 stars

I apologize for my loquaciousness in advance.  This is, officially, too long a blog post.

We're at the beach--in the Outer Banks.  We come here at least once a year, rent the same house a lucky smattering of yards from the beach, and do the same things every year.  We gobble down pizza at Duck Pizza, we buy a few Life is Good items for Christmas gifts, we take turns running for a few hours in the humid mornings, we say good morning and good night to the beach.  We also go to the Island Bookstore to choose a new book or two.  I love, love, love this place!

Part of the children's section...can you spot Rocket up top?
Any true booklover has a favorite bookstore.  And while Barnes and Noble has served us well over the years, there's no way that it could ever be as cool and unique and quirky as a good independent bookstore.  My favorite is, by far, Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.  My Dad introduced me to the place when he and I looked at Seattle University, where I ended up.  I spent many hours in the cafe in the basement drinking coffee and studying, taking study breaks along the familiar and barely organized aisles upstairs.  If I close my eyes and think really hard, I am confident I would be able to recall where the creaky floor boards are located.  Without any trouble at all, I can remember the smell of it--a mix of new books and coffee and old-musty-place.  I could easily spend an entire day in that bookstore.  Easily.

Anyway, Island Bookstore is a neat place.  There are shelves everywhere, and books are shoved in every which way.  I would love to see someone attempt to navigate a stroller through the nonexistent aisles.  There's a neat old staircase leading to the upstairs mecca, but we never make it past the children's section.  I have never even bought a book for myself here, but I dream of one year when my kids are able to sit and read for a while by themselves and I can get lost in the stacks.  I'd have to leave a trail of bookmarks so they can find me.

I should stop talking about bookstores right now.  Okay, okay...

"Magnificent!" chirped the little yellow bird.
In this bookstore on this warm afternoon, Lorelei and Ben and I ventured out to walk around the shops and choose a new book, and get some ice cream.  Lorelei was super excited to see the new Magic Treehouse book, and grabbed it on the display outside, before we even walked in.  She was sure of her purchase in half a second.  And then she sat and started it, completely unaware of anyone else around her.  That's my girl!

Ben, on the other hand, couldn't decide.  While he hemmed and hawed, I found the sequel to How Rocket Learned to Read, a book I really loved and gifted many times a few years ago.  I was excited to read this one, where he wonderfully builds on his reading ability and starts to write his own story.  I distracted Lorelei from her book and Ben from his search for a few minutes to read this to them.  Their parent's genuine excitement over a book always makes them curious.

(This was my favorite illustration in the book.
Rocket looking for inspiration)
Sweet Rocket trots around his woods gathering words, which he and his yellow bird teacher spell out and then pin onto a "word tree."  Once he has a bunch of words on it, he's to write a story.  As soon as the blank piece of paper is in front of him, he's stumped.  His wise little teacher tells him: "Write what you know.  Look for inspiration."  Since Rocket has a good sniffer, he walks around sniffing for inspiration.  He eventually finds it in a tree, where he finds and slowly befriends a little owl.

As he writes and rewrites and rewrites once more his story, the owl is more and more interested, and Rocket is more and more encouraged by this interest.  He finishes the story about finding a new friend, and both are happy.  And each has a new friend.

A great book, read in a great place (with great kids!).

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