Friday, February 14, 2014

Family Dinner Book Club - Our Thoughts

I wanted to do a follow-up post on how Family Dinner Book Club went at our house in January .  If you read the post linked above, you'll already know that Frances was far more interested in listening to Winnie-the-Pooh than Gloria was.  This continued all month.  Gloria mostly read to herself in bed while Frances and I enjoyed the story together.

Before I get to our book club meeting, I want to talk about my impressions of the book.  I'm not sure I had ever read Winnie-the-Pooh all the way through previously.  I've certainly read excerpts, probably also chapters.  I have a very strong memory of listening to some of the story on audiocassette as a child, narrated by Sterling Holloway.  It is a little embarassing to admit that my experience of the book had been so heavily influenced by my knowledge of the Disney movie, but it was.  I was surprised at how some of the little songs Pooh sings (especially "I'm Just a Little Black Rain Cloud") weren't in the chapter book.  I know, I know - I shouldn't admit how much I am influenced by Disney, but I am.  I can't help it.

One of the other things that surprised me was Milne's writing style.  I was especially struck by his use of the word "carelessly".  One or another of the characters is always saying something "carelessly", most often Christopher Robin.  For instance, in the chapter "In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump", Pooh wonders what a Heffalump looks like. "'You don't often see them,' said Christopher Robin carelessly." (p. 56)  The first few times I read the word, I was taken aback.  It isn't a word that I use in that context at all - it seems that Christopher Robin says things carelessly when he doesn't want to be questioned about his authority on the topic. Here, it is what a Heffalump looks like - Christopher Robin doesn't know, of course, but he still wants to seem like he does.  His lack of a description causes problems for the rest of the group later on.  Once I noticed the word "carelessly", it seemed like all of them were saying things carelessly.  I hate to say A.A. Milne overused a word, but it came up frequently.  It may have been used so often as a combination of the British sense of language and the time period, but it makes me want to start saying things carelessly.  I'll let you know what happens!

One of my favorite things about this experience was how much Winnie the Pooh became a part of our daily lives.  Since we finished reading it, I have heard Frances say to herself several times "Think...think...think.", just like Winnie the Pooh often does.  And both girls watched children on TV throwing sticks over a bridge into a river and called out "Pooh sticks!" in unison.  So they were both really listening and internalizing this book.  It is a fun ongoing connection for us.

Even more fun was the night we celebrated our book club meeting.  Gloria was sick and pretty lethargic, and didn't have any interest in celebrating by the time we got started.  In fact, she fell asleep on the floor while Frances and I were eating.  That was fine because Frances and I got to really talk about the book.  We used the questions from Growing Book by Book, and they were great conversation starters for us.  We took turns answering them and really thinking about things.  I used the placemats and name cards from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom  , as well as decorating with some of our Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals (down at the end of the table).    For the dinner part of the meeting, I made the Baked Honey Chicken from Daisy at Home (which was delicious!), and added roasted carrots in honor of Rabbit.  I also made Tigger Tails (recipe in this post).  Here they are:

 Finally (and this was probably unnecessary), I made Peanutty Shortbread.  In the magazine article where I  got the recipe (also cited in that post), they cut the cookies into hives and decorated them with little bees.  Obviously way too much effort for me, especially considering Gloria was sick.  So instead I used a heart cookie cutter and tinted the frosting pink.  They turned out really cute, and lasted a week in our house, bridging the time between book club and Valentine's Day. 

It was a very fun night, and we can't wait for our next meeting.  The book has already been announced, and it is The Day the Crayons Quit.  We've already read it once, and are looking forward to our next meeting.  All of the questions, decorations and food will be posted tomorrow, but I already have a food idea.  Stay tuned for our next report!!

The World of Pooh: The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.  By A.A. Milne with illustrations by E.H. Shephard.  E.P. Dutton, 1957.

book from our own collection

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