Friday, October 31, 2014

On Pumpkins and the Classics

This was the autumnal scene on the high street yesterday. I have vowed to try to patronize this shop more -- they have a great variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, and I like supporting the mom & pop shop rather than the big chain groceries. We bought a gray-green winter squash there two days ago that I think is a Hubbard squash -- definitely Hubbard-colored, if not Hubbard-shaped. We'll see how it cooks up!

I asked about that huge pumpkin sitting in front of the shop. The shopkeeper said it weighs more than 125 kilos, and it is for sale. At that weight I'm not sure who would buy it, but hey, it's a conversation piece!

I'm sort of dressing up today -- wearing my bug shirt (a Liberty dress shirt I own with little shield bugs all over it) and my red pants. It's the same outfit I wore on Halloween last year. I've decided I hate those red pants. Today may be the last time I wear them.

Library update: I can report some modest success in getting kids to read classic young people's books. I am forever trying to recommend the likes of Madeleine L'Engle ("A Wrinkle in Time"), Ray Bradbury ("The Martian Chronicles"), Marguerite Henry ("King of the Wind"), Scott O'Dell ("Island of the Blue Dolphins") and Esther Forbes ("Johnny Tremain"). I read all of those books when I was young and loved them. Kids today are very into books in series, like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, and they seem much more into fantasy and magic and angsty teenage social dramas. Getting them to read one-off novels, especially older ones with historical themes, can be surprisingly difficult.

"Misty of Chincoteague," another Marguerite Henry book, has become library shorthand for my attempts.  We're always joking about poor unread Misty.

But I recently got a boy to check out "The Martian Chronicles," and with another librarian's added encouragement, a girl checked out Misty. She later said she liked it, having read it on the way to her tennis lessons. So who knows? Maybe these kids will all remember me as the crazy bald guy who encouraged them to read something they never forget. Or maybe they'll never listen to me again!


  1. I have to admit that even though I was a voracious reader of anything when I was young, I could not find much to love about Misty.
    To each our own, eh?
    Now, the Martian Chronicles? Oh yes.
    I was eavesdropping in a restaurant yesterday and a woman was bemoaning the fact that the store report more sales in Halloween decorations than in Christmas decorations. "It's just so sad, isn't it?" she kept saying. And then she went on to talk about how all the books young people love today are fantasy books about vampires and zombies and so forth. Again..."so sad."

  2. I must say that the only one of those books I have read is The Martian Chronicles. Sci-Fi was just about all I read for many years. I've always been a reader. Where we lived, the houses were acres apart and there were no girl kids my age so I spent plenty of time with books. I think that's a great image for the future for those kids...that bald guy that was always trying to get them to read weird books.

  3. For an English major in college I am woefully scanty on the classics!

  4. I read The Martian Chronicles when I was a teenager and it fostered a life long interest in science fiction. I have a collection of books that belonged to my grandfather, all published in the 20's and 30's. They have been in my bookcase for years but, I had never read any of them. Lately I've been taking them down one at a time and started reading them. I kind of thought I'd lose interest because they are so dated but, the opposite happened. I love reading them.

  5. I understand the love of series books - I like it when I don't have to give up a character just because the book is over :)

    I don't think I've read ANY of those books! I was all Nancy Drew & Heidi & such when I was a kid.