Not exactly Anne of Green Gables (updated!)

By Mir
March 9, 2006

My Chickadee is something of a perfectionist. I, of course, have NO IDEA where THAT comes from. Ahem. She walked late, which may have been partially due to her poor vision, but I think was more symptomatic of what would turn into her typical pattern: She doesn’t like to do things until she can do them flawlessly. She had a very short period of time as a wobbly, lurching Frankenbaby. She waited and waited until I was convinced that she had cerebral palsy and I’d just never noticed, somehow, and then she got up and just… walked.

Same thing with reading. She was clearly smart, and capable, and yet, she resisted until she could sit down and devour chapter books. And that’s just what she did. The child is usually reading no less than four books at a time, and she leaves them strewn throughout the house and piled around her backpack like a trail of breadcrumbs.

I have long since given up on convincing her to read just one book at a time. This is her way. She starts a book from off the shelf here at home; then she gets a book at the school library and abandons the first to work on that one; then she goes to the public library with her dad, and starts a third book. When she comes back home, she remembers the first book, and goes back to that one. Then the next day at school, she borrows a book from the classroom.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Sometimes the process is interrupted by her misplacing a book into the void of the great beyond, although this never happens with books we OWN. No. Only borrowed books are sucked into the alternate dimension. Does this bother my child? No, it does not. She simply moves on to a different book. Which isn’t hard, since she’s probably reading several others already.

What does she read? Anything. Everything. She’ll be reading a Narnia book one day and then some insipid Mary-Kate and Ashley and the Big Hairbow Mystery or somesuch the next. Weird Animal Facts here at home, then Know Your Fifty States at school. I pretty much give her free reign on material. If she’s capable of reading it, pretty much, I let her. I mean, I hate those Olsen Twins books for a million reasons, but I don’t stop her from reading them.

Well, it was little surprise to me that on the heels of having misplaced a public library book, Chickadee announced that she’d borrowed a book from the classroom. “It’s a HARD ONE, Mama,” she told me. “I keep reading the same first couple of pages, because I’m having trouble following it.”

This was surprising to me. I inquired about the book, and she told me it was about a girl who gets an invitation to go somewhere and goes on an adventure. Sounded good to me. Chickadee offered to read it out loud for a bit. I said sure.

She began:

Kristi Farley sat down on the living-room couch and pushed back a strand of her dark brown hair as she, for the tenth time, reread the letter from Celia Gordon. Her light blue eyes scanned the delicate handwriting as she wondered whether or not this was a dream come true.

Chickadee paused to gulp air. Those are some long sentences, I thought to myself. It sounds like this book is really pushing the limits of her reading level. I bet it’s aimed at tweens.

She continued:

“Haven’t you memorized that thing yet?” Betty Collins, Kristi’s petite [Chickadee stumbled, pronounced it pet-it, and I corrected her] blonde roommate, said as she applied a light gloss to her lips.

Wait. Roommate? Lip gloss??

She continued reading, but I wasn’t listening very closely. Something about an invitation to Greenbrier, in the mountains, she was so excited….

“And you’ve been given a leave of absence by that handsome boss of yours. You’ll whip up those canvases in no time.”


“Um, Mama? I don’t understand what that means about the canvases.”

I explained about painters using canvas. She nodded and turned back to the book. I took it out of her hands. “Honey, let me look at this for a minute, please.”

Would you like to know what it says inside the jacket of the book my daughter brought home from her SECOND GRADE CLASSROOM? Of course you would.

Kristi Farley, a talented young painter, is pleasantly surprised when she’s invited to spend a month at Greenbrier, a luxurious estate in Vermont. Celia Gordon, the owner of Greenbrier and a patron of the arts, has issued her invitation so that Kristi can enjoy an atmosphere of beauty and peace as she finishes some canvases for her upcoming art show.

Greenbrier is even more beautiful than Kristi had hoped. Her artwork goes well and her hostess is a good, motherly friend. But all is not peace and quiet. For Kristi finds herself drawn to handsome Grant Hayden, a man she has no right to love. Then she finds a secret enemy at Greenbrier who’ll stop at nothing to drive her away. But she simply can’t understand why.

That’s right. My daughter came home with housewife porn.

I may have had a little bit too much fun with the email I sent her teacher. He’s going to be mortified, I think. Where do you suppose it came from? Did it fall into a box when he was at the store, stocking up on supplies for the class? Is it his wife’s? Is it HIS? I may never know.

But I do know that Kristi and Grant finally kiss in Chapter 12.

“We shouldn’t have done that,” Kristi said.
“I know,” Grant said. “But it happened and I have no regrets.”


I don’t want my daughter reading that crap. So I gave her a Harold Robbins novel instead.

**Update, Friday morning**

I pink puffy heart Mr. Wonderful. Here’s the email I got back from him:

Part of our second grade studies is to cover some of the classic romances… JUST KIDDING!!! I do apologize, as I have no idea how that book got into my classroom library. Thank you so much for having the wonderful sense of humor that you do.
PS. I’ll help Chickadee choose a book that is more to her age. I believe I have a copy of War and Peace around here somewhere :)


  1. Cele

    1) I would love to watch her teacher when he reads your email.

    2) Have you finished the book yet? And was the kiss worth it?

    When I was Chickadee’s age I devoured books, and loved the Scholatic Book fair. My daugher was the same, and my grandson is seeingly into books – when he’s not watching Power Rangers, but then again he’s only 4.

    oh, and 3) You handled that very well.

  2. buffi

    Well, if she’s going to read that stuff, it might as well be the good stuff. I’m still traumitized by what I read in Harold Robbins books.

    SugarPlum does the same thing, reading 5 books at once. Drives me crazy. I tried to ignore it but then there were the books in the bathroom & it took 45 minutes to brush her teeth.


  3. Lynn

    My neice being only 6 or 7 at the time, loved to read all kinds of books, and one day asked if she could read a book on dolls that she had found. Sure, go read your cute little book. Days later I noticed the name of that book was actually, “Valley of the Dolls”. It too was in the school library.
    Weird, huh?

  4. Meg

    LOL, that’s hilarious! Can we see the email you sent her teacher? Puhleeeeeese? I ate all my dinner.

  5. Chookooloonks

    Oooh — get to the part about the heaving breasts! There’s always a part about heaving breasts!

    And please tell me you told her teacher “MAZEL TOV, SUCKER!!!”

  6. Contrary

    What are our schools coming to? I didn’t start reading trashy novels until I was at least 10!

    (But I started looking at my brother’s Playboys way before then, so really, the trashy novels were kind of a let down after that)

  7. Jon

    Interesting. Our school has NO novels like that…but then again, we won’t let Harry Potter or Narnia in the school either…yea, they are that crazy!

    – Jon
    – Daddy Detective

  8. Latte Man

    Well, this post started out giving me some hope, because my daughter seems to have Chickadee’s desire to only do things that she can do well (and has been avoiding reading, but devouring math books).

    Now I am a bit worried because her mother has quite an eclectic collection of books that I had better start keeping somewhere out of the reach of her little hands.

  9. Karen

    Oh, Mr. Wonderful is INDEED wonderful!

    I’m having a terrible time finding appropriate books for Steph. There aren’t that many books written for her reading level (middle school) AND her actual age/maturity (9).

  10. Brian

    Of course, you had to preview the ENTIRE volume of houswife porn, right?

    My guess on the source of the book: someone was absentmindedly cleaning out books, threw them all in the box, took them to the school and they ended up on the classroom shelf without anyone looking at them.

  11. Aimee

    Harold Robbins — BWAH! Oh my god. Too freaking funny. You, my dear, slay me.

  12. Momsy

    My son was the same and would read ANYTHING lying around. He was in kindergarten when I was expecting my younger son. One day he asked me, “Mommy, do you have SY-FUL-US?” After a moment, I realized what he meant and told him, um, no, I didn’t have syphilis. He replyed, “good, that can cause death the the fetus.”
    Aparently, I had left my copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting lying around. I could only imagine him going to kindergarten the next day and telling everyone that “my mommy doesn’t have syphilis!”

  13. Cele

    Oh mi gosh, Mr. Wonderful is too funny.

  14. Melissa

    I do the same thing. I have 4-5 books right now around the house. Trashy Novel, that cracked me up. Way to keep your sense of humor about it.

  15. poopie

    I’m a multi-book reader too. Keeps me from gettin’ bored ;)

  16. Fraulein N

    I never say this, but OMGROTFLMAO! Hee! The way both you and Mr. Wonderful handled it is great. I’m just curious about the reason you gave Chickadee for taking the book away.

    Also [small voice]I am a little bit curious as to how the book turned out.[/sv] Will Kristi and Grant ever work things out? The suspense is killing me!

  17. Jessie

    My sister was reading a book she brought back from our Christian school library in gradeschool one day, and suddenly she looked up when my dad walked into the room, saying “Dad, there’s a word in here I don’t understand. What’s a foreskin?” She didn’t get to finish that book. I have no idea what it was either – my dad wouldn’t let any of us read it after that incident (although I do think he had my mom explain it to her).

  18. Jenn2

    hmmm. Had a similar experience with the older version of the MK & A books, “sixteen something or other” and boy howdy, the dust up we had about that. Around about third/fourth grade you’ll want to watch those books carefully. I’ll admit, I giggle a bit when I think about what lies ahead for you. Cause I’m mean like that.

  19. nancy

    I am a reader like Chickadee. I usually am reading about 7 books at a time from absolute pulp to non-fiction about ethics etc. I’ve always been this way. When I was in 4th grade I read “The Color Purple” because I liked the cover and my mom told me I wasn’t allowed. (I read it by flashlight, after bedtime in my bedroom closet) The good thing is, I didn’t understand the parts she was worried about until I reread it in highschool.

  20. nancy

    Also, gotta love a teacher with a sense of humor. (AND PARENTS) They don’t seem to be able to communicate that way often in my experience. Everyone is worried of how they will be seen.

  21. carson

    Our strategy is books that were written over 80 years ago.

    When I was in the 3rd grade my mother found me reading Rosemary’s Baby. When she started to freak, I told her that it was my second time reading it, so not to worry.

  22. ozma

    I remember reading all these trashy historical romances–the girl across the street’s big sister had them. I was such an obsessive reader that my friend’s used to hide my books so I would play with them. But then I would go find their parents’ Time Life books and read those.

    God, I read so much crap as a child. I don’t believe any of it corrupted me. However, “Helter Skelter” did sort of traumatize us all in the 5th Grade.

    It’s so great your daughter is reading so much, asking questions. Girls and their books! It’s how we get through adolescence.

  23. Jessica

    I, too, am a multi-book reader, and have been since her age, which was the first time I read The Hobbit. It used to take me eons to clean my room, because I could never just put my books away without reading them first.

  24. Shelley

    I want that teacher, he sounds like one of the good ones!

  25. Shari

    Chickadee is such an awesome little girl. And I’m not even saying that because she reminds me of me at that age! No, no!

    When I was in third grade I was sick of all the See Spot Run books they had and chose one very interesting looking one with chain mail-clad riders on the cover. I struggled and struggled through the first couple of chapters. Finally, after answering the fifteenth of such questions such as “What does “corpulent” mean?” and “What’s a “florid” face?” My mom took the book from me and suggested I perhaps wasn’t ready for Ivanhoe. I’d wanted to read it because Max Aiken’s (a.k.a Lord Beaverbrook) biography said he’d read it by seven, and I was not to be outdone.

    I did read Clan of The Cave Bear when I was 10, though. Like Nancy, I didn’t understand some of it until the re-reading in high school. Thankfully. ;)

  26. tanyetta

    Oh! whew! that was a close one! I thought it was going to be a wild lesbian affair or something! LOL

  27. Cyndi

    This is the most unfortunate thing I have ever had to comment.

    I have read that book. I recognized it from the jacket blurb. Every so often, when I am feeling lazy and escapist, I grab one from the grocery sack full my mother-in-law has going to or coming from the used bookstore at any given moment.

    It turns out like all the rest. True love after much angst. I don’t remember if there were heaving breasts, but there were kisses, and wildly beating hearts, I am sure. Thank goodness she didn’t get ahold of one of the unmarried and pregnant series they have now. Geez!

    I read anything I could get my hands on when I was a kid, too. Not always appropriate…LOL Thankfully, my Mom kept me well stocked in Nancy Drew and oh, I loved the book drive!!

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