was. My brother thinks she would be so proud of me owning a bookstore and I know
I meant to write this on Dec. 2, the anniversary of the day she died, but I
was in a bit of a funk. In the 14 years since her death there have been times
when the day passed without me remembering. She’d be fine with that. Who knows
why I was blue in the 14th year but sharing some of her book picks will
But first I must make a plug for a movie. Actually I highly recommend you
read the book, and then see it. I could not put The Descendants down last
night and finished it at 5 a.m. I’m interrupting my tribute to my mom because
The Descendants deals with a death bed vigil not totally unlike ours. I’m
not saying much more because I haven’t seen the movie but I know it will be
great. Kaui Hart Hemmings captured such realistic details about the kind nurses
and doctors that are on hand to gently clue you in to the process of death.
You’ll have to trust me that the book (and probably the movie) are about way
more than death. There are hilarious moments when the once absentee father has
to deal with his daughters. Set in Hawaii, you can’t lose.
I feel like I’ve got a book hangover. It was so good I can’t get it out of my
head. I wonder if I’ll ever like a book as much as that again. I’ll probably
re-read at least part of it.
Matt King was no more ready for his wife’s death than I was for my mom’s. I
was 33, married with two young children when she died. I have to tell you that
because I feel guilty about not really knowing what she was reading in 1997. She
had books stacked up and I know she was reading as much as ever but I wasn’t
really asking her much about her life at that time.
I do know she loved Tony Hillerman. I read Coyote Waits a few years
ago because I knew she’d read all his mysteries. They truly are a wonderful way
to take you to the American Southwest. It was a good mystery that had me
guessing but I also enjoyed his depiction of the desert and the Navajo
She read across all genres: mysteries, biographies, all types of fiction,
politics. I give her 100 percent credit for instilling a love of reading in us.
I missed her deeply one day when we first opened the store. You can search for
books on our wholesaler site in many ways. This particular day I was going over
their list of Caldecott and Newbury Award winners. I’ve always known she read
quality books to us but was amazed at the list proving it.
I’ve found Burt Dow Deep Water Man to be not as well known as I’d
thought. I highly recommend Burt Dow. Burt gets himself out of a whale of a
predicament in the most amusing way. It’s a great picture book with wonderful
I still have a picture of mom and me taking our obligatory ride on the duck
boats in Boston’s Common Gardens. McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings is
memorialized very well.
If you’ve never read Blueberries for Sal you should before next spring
when it’s time again for berry picking. Raspberries and strawberries won’t make
the same “plink, plank, plunk” as Sal’s blueberries but everyone will relate to
eating as many as you collect!
I don’t remember my mom reading Play With Me to me but I still have
the same copy. I loved reading it to Matt and Meghan. Written by French author
Marie Hall Ets, it is a lovely, simple story about a little girl who tries to
catch the animals she wants to play with in the meadow. Much to her frustration
she can’t but when sitting quietly, one by one they all come to her.
I love picture books that have a bit of repetition and fun words and phrases
like “plink,plank,plunk” or “Play with me!” I, like most people, like all
picture books. I love that we have the same copies mom bought. I love that she
inscribed a message on the inside covers. I hope everyone has a beloved family
member who inscribes messages on inside covers.
I hope everyone receives a book for a gift this holiday season. I hope you
take a glance around at Grandma’s house and are comforted by some of her beloved
titles that are still on her shelf. I moved my mom’s copy of Gifts From The
Sea, Out Of Africa, and Leaves Of Grass to my bookshelf. They remind
me of her. They make me feel good.