December 12 06

Part of my job involves reading books. yes, folks, i DO get paid to read books. lots and lots of books. You see, i’m searching for 8 books to be used as read-alouds for 4th grade. (grade 4 if you live north of the border) But not just any books. no. because that would be easy. Because they are for the educational market, no sex, no drugs, no abuse, no alcohol, no smoking, no kissing, no romance. i’m looking for hidden gems. books that are well-written, read aloud nicely, but are not too well known yet.

here’s the problem with that. the books that are great? they are well-known. I reviewed this book called The City of Ember a few weeks ago. and i fell in love. what a fantastic book! I passed my copy around to everyone in the office and it was agreed. fabulous. first time author? check! not too well-known? check! no red flags? check! We were set. but, then, it seems there were other people who had found the same book. And now they are making a movie. a freakin’ movie. there goes the hidden gem factor.

So, i’ve been reading through piles and piles. probably about 10-15 books a day, at least. i stop at the library every single day on my way home to return the rejects and pick up the new hopefuls that i’ve put on hold. they know me at the library. we are bffs. they know me at Chapters. we are bffs.

yesterday i came across this book called Hiding Edith. It’s a Holocaust memoir, but it’s a little bit different. It’s about this house in Moissac, France, where a couple, Shatta and Bouli Simon, secretly opened up a school for fugitive Jewish children. They saved hundreds and hundreds of lives of children during the Holocaust. One of these children was Edith.

As i sat and plowed through this book – i highly recommend it, by the way – I was suddenly brought to tears. They came out of nowhere, and i couldn’t control them. keep in mind that i was sitting at my desk. at work. where i have a cubicle and no privacy.

You see, in this story a desperate mother sends away her two youngest children to go and live at this house, and she takes her oldest daughter with her into hiding somewhere else. the middle child begins screaming. She scared. she’s feeling betrayed. why does her sister get to go with her mother? why does she have to go and live in some strange place all alone? This was where I began to cry. But not for Edith.

I cried for the mother. she had to decide who to take and who to leave. Can you imagine? She didn’t know. how do you choose? How do you send your bunnies off to an unknown fate? I mean, my biggest decision about taking and leaving my kids involves which ones get to come food shopping with me and which stay behind to watch the family channel. perspective, my friends.

Both of my mother’s parents were holocaust survivors. They spent time in ghettos. in labor camps. in death camps. they lost parents and uncles and aunts and cousins. they lost siblings. so, i grew up with stories of the Holocaust in my house.

It wasn’t until i had kids, though, that the stories began hitting me. hitting me so hard in the heart that sometimes i couldn’t even breathe. Suddenly these women you see in pictures and read about in books become mothers. Mothers with their own little bunnies. just like me. mothers who have to face the reality that their children could be killed. i can’t even imagine.

so…friends, today it’s all about perspective. It’s all about sitting back and thanking your lucky stars for what you DO have. for what you take for granted. for simple pleasures that you don’t even realize. for the moments when i lie in bed on sunday mornings cuddling all three of my kids. for the moment when i’m getting read to leave for work, and i get a “mwah” from all three of my kids, and Isabella gives me a giant wave and says, “bye, mama! see soon!” for a moment – like i had last night – where Emily and Joshie, who are usually at each others’ throats, slept in the same room, and at 10:15 at night were still awake, chatting away. my first instinct was to get angry. why weren’t they sleeping? but then i could hear their little whispers and the laughter. i knew they were smiling. siblings. i take for granted this fact. that they have each other. It’s really a gift.

what little things are you most thankful for?

and speaking of gifts – like that little segueway there?Her Bad Auction

please visit her bad auction. and give the gift of hope to Tanner, and to other children who are suffering like he is.

 

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  1. What a great post. I wish I had some book suggestions, but really all I know for that age range are the big names like Blume and Cleary.

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    Comment by Jeff on December 12, 2006
  2. I had chills reading this post b/c there are stupid pple out there who are debating, as we speak, if the Holocaust actually happened or not!

    It brings bk this one scene of “Sophie’s Choice” where she had to choose which child would go with her and which would go to with the Germans, ultimately to the chamber. That would be ripping my heart out of my chest.

    I’m thankful for my 3 children, even with all the meltdowns, and a baby on the way!!

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    Comment by Waya on December 12, 2006
  3. Awesome post. I would be crying, too. In fact, I have tears in my eyes right now.

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    Comment by Jodi on December 12, 2006
  4. Well, I’m crying too, and I agree, we have to appreciate all the good we have! I’m no help on the book front yet so will give it a think, grab a kleenex and BBL.

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    Comment by Sarah on December 12, 2006
  5. That’s really haunting. It’s so unbearable to think about anything happening to my kids – or anyone else’s – and you’re so right. We should be concious and grateful for our good fortune.

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    Comment by Rebecca on December 12, 2006
  6. Oh, and Ali – as for your books, could you maybe do some semi-forgotten older books, like “The Four Storey Mistake”? Pre60s books are almost always “clean” and a lot of them would still be really readable by modern kids.

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    Comment by Rebecca on December 12, 2006
  7. I am very thankful for what I have.

    Great post.

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    Comment by metro mama on December 12, 2006
  8. I am grateful everyday that I get the opportunity to parent a typically developing child (an advanced one at that (he’s in SK doing grade 1 math and reading a grade 2 level). I know too many families who do not know, nor will ever know what that’s like – to have a “normal” relationship with their child/ren.
    I am grateful everyday that 4yrs ago we brought a baby boy home with us. We very nearly didn’t.
    That puts the issues we deal with on a daily basis in perspective. It sucks sometimes – but I have a little boy who everyday runs around, asks for juice, cuddles up for stories and tells me everynight as I shut his door “I lubs ya!”
    Makes the crappy days worth it.

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    Comment by Christine on December 12, 2006
  9. I cannot even imagine having to make those choices. I think I’d be crying at work too.

    As for the auction if I don’t win one of your blankets you have to sell me another one.

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    Comment by lisa b on December 12, 2006
  10. What a beautiful post. Truly wonderful. I am interested to read this book now!

    What am I grateful for? Very simple things… I blogged about them in my thursday thirteen a couple weeks ago.

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    Comment by s@m on December 12, 2006
  11. nothing like an amazing find that someone else finds simultaneously. haroun and the sea of stories is fun. the teacher that i student taught for read it to her fifth grade class. i found it clever. if i recall correctly, the author had some political troubles.

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    Comment by Adrienne on December 12, 2006
  12. Ali, your post brought me to tears. You are so right – we take so much for granted. My parents went through WW2 in Germany and Austria and the stories they have told make me shiver (they were very young children at the time) – my maternal grandfather was given a choice by the Nazis: either go to Dachau or to the Eastern front in the army just because he was a Communist and my father’s family had to escape Croatia and flee to a refugee camp where my father lived from age 3 to 16. My grandmother was a widow at 29 with 2 little kids, no passport, no money, nothing – how horrible would that be?

    I am so thankful for my childhood where we grew up with such love and devotion and togetherness (with, of course, a little dysfunction thrown in LOL). I always thought no family could love each other as much as mine did – not such a bad way to grow up really.

    I could never choose between my kids and I hope I never have to face that situation.

    Re the Holocaust denounceers – it makes me sick to my stomach. My grandmother (widow above), before she was kicked out of her home, gave money and food to several local Jewish families trying to flee the Nazis – I like to think she may have saved their lives.

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    Comment by Heidi on December 12, 2006
  13. Nothing like reading about the Holocaust to make you grateful. I’ll have to recommend the book to my little bookworms. We’re working our way through Beverly Cleary’s classics right now.

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    Comment by Michelle on December 12, 2006
  14. Ah, yes.. this reminded me of Sophie’s Choice too. Did you see that movie? It’s really sad.
    You are so lucky to have had your kids so close (and healthy of course!) That’s one thing Angie doesn’t have is a sibling.. and sometimes I’m sorry I didn’t try for a second soon after her. But this is about blessings, right? She’s my biggest.

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    Comment by bella ~ Liz on December 13, 2006
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