Tag Archive | books

Ape House

I finished a book recently that I haven’t been able to put out of my head.  It’s called Ape House and it’s written by author Sara Gruen.  You may know Sara from her extremely popular novel,  Water for Elephants.  I put off reading this book for as long as I could because I absolutely loved Water for Elephants, and I didn’t want to fall into the trap of comparing this new book to her old one.  Well, I didn’t have to worry.  Ape House turned out to be a wonderful story all on its own.


Here is a synopsis of Sara Gruen’s Ape House.
“Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena are no ordinary apes.  These bonobos, like others of their species, are capable of reason and carrying on deep relationships–but unlike most bonobos, they also know American Sign Language.
Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn’t understand people, but animals she gets–especially the bonobos.  Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she’s ever felt among humans…until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter who braves the ever-present animals rights protesters outside the lab to see what’s really going on inside.
When an explosion rocks the lab, severely injuring Isabel and “liberating” the apes, John’s human interest piece turns into the story of a lifetime, one he’ll risk his career and his marriage to follow.  Then a reality TV show featuring the missing apes debuts under mysterious circumstances, and it immediately becomes the biggest–and unlikeliest–phenomenon in the history of modern media.  Millions of fans are glued to their screens watching the apes order greasy take-out, have generous amounts of sex, and sign for Isabel to come get them.
Now, to save her family of apes from this parody of human life, Isabel must connect with her own kind, including John; Nathan, a green-haired vegan; and a retired porn star with her own agenda.”


I found it interesting that in order to write this novel, Sara studied linguistics and a system of lexigrams so that she could communicate directly with the bonobos living at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa.  She was actually able to communicate with the apes!  Very cool…very cool.


Reading Memories

So I was thinking…about my reading memories.  My niece, Ashley, asked me to answer a few questions about reading for a project she has to do before the start of school.  I have to say that the questions really got me thinking.  So please indulge me for a little bit as I think “out loud” about my reading memories.

What are your reading memories?  My first concrete reading memory happened in first grade.  My teacher, Sr. Eileen, read the book The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone to the class.  I am not kidding you when I say I was hooked! (You might say she had me with “trip-trap.”)  I came home from school that night and talked non-stop about that book.  My Dad told me he’d take me to the library and we would see if we could check it out and bring it home so he could read it to me.  I remember it as if it were yesterday…the stone steps leading into the big, musty smelling building, and the tall, wooden card catalog filled with endless book titles and possibility.  He showed me how to look up the title and how to find the book among the shelves…and lucky for me it was on the shelf.  We took it home and I got to keep it and read it for two whole weeks!  Heaven I tell you, Heaven!

What are some of your memories about learning how to read?  I’m sure I learned to read in school, but one of my most vivid memories of learning to read is by watching a television show called The Electric Company.  They used to do this bit about putting word sounds together like b-at…bat, sh-ip…ship, b-ook…book, you get the idea.  I swear that is one of the ways that I was able to catch on to sounding out words.  Then, like the dutiful sister I was, I would drag my sister and brother into my room and teach them how to sound out words…yes, I would play school.  Are you surprised at all?

What questions do you ask yourself to help you remember while reading?  Hmmm…this is a hard one.  I can’t say I ask myself any specific questions.  I do try to make “mental bookmarks” if you will about specific characters, places, sequence of events, etc.  I will admit though, I am always going back to reread certain passages and such.  I do keep a notebook of all the my favorite quotes from books I read.  And I do keep a running list of the books I read each year both in a notebook and online at shelfari.com .

What kind of reader are you now?  Well, I am what I would call a voracious, all-around reader.  I read picture books aloud all the time at work, I read children’s novels for programs at work, I read adult novels of all genres at home for pleasure, I read magazines every month, I read news articles online, I even read cereal boxes just to read!  Usually I have three books going at a time…one in paper form, one in CD form for my rides to work, and one online at dailylit.com .

Truth be known I would die if I couldn’t read.  Reading has saved me so many times.  I love being able to be transported to another place or time, and literally getting lost in the pages of a book.  I feel a deep sadness for those who find no joy in reading.  I love reading so much that my mission in life is to put children on the road to a life-long love of books and reading.  I am lucky enough be a Children’s Librarian which enables me to do just that every day…Reading Rocks!

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

I just finished a wonderful book called Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.  It’s the story of twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt.   “For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille–the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town–a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen.  But when tragedy strikes, CeeCee is left to fend for herself…until, out of nowhere,  comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women.  From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who skinny-dips in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapon, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.”

These women will keep you entertained and enthralled too.  At times this book will have you laughing out loud, and at other times you’ll catch yourself wiping away tears.    It’s a perfect book to pick up for a light summer read, and yet you may find yourself remembering its characters and their feminine wisdom for many summers to come.

Pg. 41
Life is full of change, honey.  That’s how we learn and grow.  When we’re born, the Good Lord gives each of us a Life Book.  Chapter by chapter, we live and learn…When a chapter of your Life Book is complete, your spirit knows it’s time to turn the page so a new chapter can begin.  Even when you’re scared or think you’re not ready, your spirit knows you are.“—Mrs. O’Dell

Pg. 101
As we headed to the car, I looked up at her.  “You sure do love saving old houses.”
“Oh, yes, I do.  It’s my fire.”
“Your fire?”
She glanced over her shoulder at the house, which was now bathed in a warm tint of yellow from the sun.  “Yes.  Everyone needs to find the one thing that brings our her passion.  It’s what we do and share with the world that matters.”—Aunt Tootie.

Pg. 242
Before leaving the room, Oletta told me she loved me.  Well, not the exact words I love you, but what she said was, “Ain’t no sun in the kitchen without your face lookin’ up at me.”–CeeCee

Pg. 249
Aunt Tootie sat down next to me.  “Cecelia Rose.  People are, by nature, curious.  And as you go through life, many people will ask questions about your past.  And when they do, you just say the truth, plain and simple–your mother passed away and your father travels for his work, so you came to live with me.  That’s all you ever have to say, honey.  Everything will be just fine, as long as you make it fine.  Now, there’s something I want you to think about.  Something important.  And I promise you, it will serve you well throughout your life.  I’m going to tell you something that my mother said to me a long time ago.”
My aunt’s face was so serious I couldn’t imagine what she was going to say.  She took hold of my hand and looked into my eyes.  “It’s what we believe about ourselves that determines how others see us.”—Aunt Tootie

Pg. 290
Oletta patted the bed, and when I sat down beside her, she took hold of my hand.  “Take the gift Miz Tootie is givin’ you and hold it tight.  Don’t go wastin’ all them bright tomorrows you ain’t even seen by hangin’ on to what happened yesterday.  Let go, child.  Just breathe out and let go.”—Oletta

Top 10 of 2010!

So I was thinking…about the books I read or listened to this past year.  And I thought it was about time that I posted my Top Ten list for 2010.  I hope you all had a wonderful reading year, and that you find great joy in books this upcoming year!  Here’s the list…feel free to comment on any of the titles if you’ve  read them (or even if you haven’t)!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.
South of Broad by Pat Conroy.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.
Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner.
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay.
The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg.

Also, I thought you’d enjoy this quick poem to close out this post…it pretty much sums up my life…minus the beard (I hope!)
Books to the ceiling, books to the sky.
My piles of books are a mile high.
How I love them!
How I need them!
I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.

≈ Arnold Lobel