Thursday, July 24, 2014


Hello everybody! It is only Kate this time but I am writing for my sister as well as for myself because I know that she has similar thoughts about this certain topic.She is in the bathroom right now having a very important business meeting with the shower head. We both just wrote about CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and Mommy had to type it up for us because we are so slow. She called us over this beautiful morning to look at them and when we were done we said, "Gee, Mom, it would be really nice if we could see another person's post." And so we did. We really liked all of them (especially the one about what you would do if you got a golden ticket!). Is CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY on our "Books That Make Us Cuckoo" list? Mary is here!


Hi! I am Mary. I am very interested with reading and writing, so I am doing a blog with my twin sister, Kate. I am 9 years old and going into fifth grade in the fall. Reading books is pretty much a half of my summer, because I wake up in the morning and read, eat and read, and then play for the rest of the day. I hope you enjoy reading my reviews! 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, From Left to Write

In the summer of reading, I have now enlisted my children to not only help with laundry, gardening and cooking but also writing. We all read the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and over dinner, overwhelmed with their responses to my questioning in putting together thoughts on the book, I decided that they would write the essays for From Left to Write. Nine year old writing skills now far exceed nine year old cooking skills, but we're working on that.


As a five year old I always thought that getting everything would be nice, and that of course my mom and dad could, so then why wouldn't they? I saw kids my age at Target begging and screaming for a doll and they would get it. And when I tried this I got a time-out at home (and no doll). Now I am nine and by understanding the world a little better, I know that wanting (not to mention having) everything, would be a mistake of mine, for I would be bored, but most importantly I would not be a very good friend or person. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Veruca Salt is like this. In one part of the story she tells her parents that she wants an Oompa-Loompa and that she needs one, yet these Oompa-Loompas belong to Mr. Wonka (mother editor note, discuss owning versus working for with daughter writer). And after she screams and yells and whines they tell her maybe. So in conclusion I think that kids should get things only when they are nice about it and if it is something they need. Kids should never want everything.

After reading Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I found myself pondering a fact that I had not even thought about for a very long time: the fact that there is a gargantuan amount of children in the world that have living conditions much worse than mine. Many of these children would call something as simple as  flat screen TV a luxury and complain (actually they might not complain because they were used to it) of heat in the summer and being cold in the winter because they don't have air conditioning and heat. In my free time you'll probably find me relaxing on our back deck or deciding what to play with while rummaging through our big container of outdoor toys and sports equipment. I dont' realize how great it is that I have so many privileges very often, that is until Charlie Bucket pops into my mind again.

The other four lucky winners at Mr. Wonka's factory are described as greedy and spoiled children.  What do you think would happen if they switched places with Charlie Bucket? They probably never thought of kids like him. All four were too busy eating, chewing gum, watching television and and spoiling themselves to ever think of this. From now on I am going to try to think about this everyday.

My thoughts, beyond what a delightful and imaginative story this is, as enchanting now as it was when I read it so many years ago, lean to appreciation for fine lessons learned. I distinctly remember being horrified at the behavior of four of the five Golden Ticket winners when I was young; I'm happy to learn that my girls share my horror.

This post was inspired by the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. To celebrate, Penguin Young Readers Group, in partnership with Dylan's Candy Bar, the world famous candy emporium, and First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides books for children from low-income families, is launching a year long international celebration.

Head over to From Left to Write to learn how you and your child can have a chance to win the Golden Ticket Sweepstakes where the grand prize is a magical trip to New York City, plus much more! For every entry submitted Penguin Young Readers Group will make a donation to First Book. Then join From Left to Write on July 24th as we discuss Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As a book club member I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kate and Mary Read

It will be the summer of reading. Last summer it was bicycles, riding for hours on end for the first time without the aid of additional wheels (quiet, they are city children, it took a bit longer), and the summer before that, the summer of France, on their first trip to one of my favorite countries. But this year, in what could have been the summer of soccer (although, now wrapped, their enchantment with the World Cup was too fleeting to define an entire summer), it is the summer of reading. It's nothing new, they have always been fond of books and stories but this year their lazy selves are lolling in bed some days until 11:00, waking and reading for hours before dragging themselves downstairs in search of food. They are building forts and finding nooks to house their afternoon habit; dirt and sand covered children crawling into the corners of our home, books in hand, to pick up where they left off that morning.

We have no complaints.

When they were born my cousin gave me a book, a big thick book, called "How to Raise Readers" or something like that. I thought this was genius and planned on reading it cover to cover as soon as I found time. I suspect it is still in the exact place on the shelf where I put it almost ten years ago, having never found the time to read about reading, choosing rather to actually just read. This lackadaisical approach seems to have worked.
We read together every night, the three of us. Last night we finished the first in The Penderwicks series, a book we all loved so much so that the next two books have just been ordered from my favorite used book seller. The girls, on their own, just finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as did I, and we will all write reviews next week for From Left to Write, celebrating the 50th anniversary of this really terrific book. And now they will have their own space, NorthSideFour: Kate and Mary Read, because all this reading begets writing, and I'm most curious as to what they have to say. Nose buried in books, I haven't talked to them in days.