Musings and Amusings

Jack's Snowman


If there was any doubt (and we’re going to pretend my home is routinely clutter-free), a cluttered home makes for a cluttered mind. Or, as Louisa May Alcott once said, “Too many books hath turned her head.”

Or something like that.

I can’t find her quote right now in all the clutter.

I buy books as Christmas gifts. Then I feel compelled to READ each book AND make a bookmark for each book before I get to the wrapping stage. And, of course, madly jotting notes and quotes from each book, not to mention the ‘contemplating hours’ that come during or after reading a book (all the while not being able to discuss the book with its intended recipient).

Russian Doll

Occasionally slipping in a book for myself while purchasing gifts only adds to my December reading frenzy.

You do that, too, right?

Do you also continue your weekly library habit only to discover three ‘writing’ magazines you’ve never read and bring home four back issues of each ‘just because’?

On top of that, I got a yen to make books for Sparks and Raqi this year. I used to produce 8 1/2 x 11″ books. Their software is easy to use; the time-consuming part is the hours Hub and I spent culling, cropping, laughing and crying over all our photos as we tried to whittle our collection of family memories to a reasonable 50 pages for each of their books.

Lift off is … tomorrow! Spark’s birthday weekend. Two books and a snowman bookmark. Check, check, and check.

Which books? Both 5-star; both perfect for 5th or 6th grade boys (or clueless parents/grandparents)!

Wonder by R.J. Palacio – This is one of the most touching and funny books I’ve read. Even if you don’t have a 5th grader in your socio-circle, there are lessons here for all of us. The protagonist, Auggie,  is a plucky boy who has craniofacial deformities and is entering 5th grade at a prep school after being home-schooled through many surgeries and therapy. The family, students and teachers – their personalities and relationships unfolding through multiple voices  – are believable with realistic reactions to Auggie’s presence at the school. Auggie’s combination of bravery and vulnerability is staggering. I don’t remember having books like this when I was a preteen.

The Boys Body Book by Kelly Dunham – A respectful, reassuring approach to physical and emotional transitions for preteen boys. The title is somewhat misleading because the book also includes chapters about relationships with parents;  friendships and middle school;  nutrition and sleep habits. Just enough info to facilitate understanding and coping tips, but not so much that it turns into lectures or way too much information.

Kim's Bookmark

Comments on: "Dashing through the … No, just a Mad Dash" (48)

  1. I don’t think there is a better gift than a book. As a child, long after I had lost interest in my Christmas toys, I read and re-read my books. I don’t have any kids to buy for but the two books you reviewed sound like good ones.

    • Thanks for visiting! I, too, have always treasured a book more than other gifts. I suppose that’s why I enjoy giving them. i also enjoy walking the display shelves in the kids’ section at the library.

  2. Haha, I don’t believe I’ve done any of what you describe. I find December hectic enough. But one can never go wrong with reading. The books you chose sound wonderful. 🙂

  3. I love the bookmarks! What a thorough gift-giver you are, Sammy. My daughter (age 20) has the same philosophy about giving books that you do: she prefers to read them first. Which reminds me that I need to order a book for her. I hear you on the cluttered mind. 🙂

    • Thanks, sandi!

      Now I’m curious what your daughter likes to read. 20s is an age I don’t know too much about since my nieces and nephews are a decade older than that.

      • The book she requested was a bit strange: she wants a copy of The Hobbit in Latin — she loves languages and recently changed her Linguistics major to a classics major. She devoured fantasy and some science fiction when she was younger: Tolkien, Lewis, Brian Jacques (Redwall), Lemony Snicket, Artemis Fowl. I’m less sure about what science fiction she’s read, but I know she’s read Ender’s Game. She is definitely my reader! Since she’s still in college, she doesn’t have a lot of time for “fun” reading.

      • Wow -Latin and linguistics ! I would like her 😊 a career as a linguist was a dream I never followed and studying Latin is STILL on my bucket list. She does sound like a prolific reader – I DO remember college getting in the way and how nice it was to have evenings for books after graduation. But The Hobbit in Latin sounds very ambitious!

  4. That snowman looks like he’s from that movie just out – of course I cannot recall the name, “so what’s the point?” you might ask. And I could only agree. I saw the trailer for it a while back – it’s all very colourful, set in Mexico, or some Latin country – it’s about life and death and love. Two of those which are clearly evident in this post. Enjoy your time with the grandkids.

    OK! Google to the rescue – The Book of Life

    • Oh Lord you make me chuckle (and commiserate). Although you remembered far more details than I would. Now I’m clicking the link ‘cuz I haven’t heard of this movie. Thank you 😃

  5. Books are a great idea. Every Christmas finds books under our tree. Books with a beautiful hand made book mark is a lasting memory in one package – very nice.

  6. Making bookmarks to go with books as gifts is SUCH a lovely idea!! I’m forever running out bookmarks (and books), that I end up using bits of tissue, receipts, hair ties, and all sorts to mark my pages.
    By the way, not to throw the cat (or in this case the mouse) among the pigeons, but I recently heard about this gorgeously illustrated book which would make a perfect gift for someone 🙂

    • LOL well Lindbergh the steampunk mouse is now on my wish list. Eventually -due to my book acquiring addiction – I will be blogging from the poor house 😊

      Thanks for the recommendation, Celine. And I like your new Gravatar photo !!

  7. Wish I had younger grandkids to get them the books you recommend. The youngest is 16. And she’s a avid reader. Any suggestions? What beautiful book marks! What material do you use and what medium for designs?

    • Christine – I’m not too familiar with teen books; they seem to flock to dystopia, fantasy and vampires, none of which I’m interested in. If she likes relationship books about teens trying to find their niche, one of my recent favorites is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

      Thanks for your compliment on my bookmarks 🙂 I use the Swarthmore sketch books (white, tan or gray) and Sakura pens. The colored markings are gel pens. The designs come from everywhere – official Zentangle patterns as well as patterns I observe in my daily surroundings or other art work. Some I make up on the spot (especially to mask an error in an attempted pattern!)

  8. Beautiful bookmarks (lovely gifts also) and lovely post! Thanks Sammy D! I LOVE receiving books as a present – reading is one of life’s greatest blessings. Also giving a well chosen book for the recipient is a joy …

    • Thank you, Susan 🙂 I have loved these years as my grandkids are learning to read. I don’t know that they will have my passion for it since they have so many other choices, but they both understand how much I value it and go out of their way to share reading time and books with me. Sparks and I have had fun reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

      The look of book covers, the author’s short biog, the typeset and the feel of the pages all give me initial thrills before I even begin a book. It’s refreshing to hear shared enthusiasm from so many of my blogging friends!

  9. All I ever seem to ask for as gifts – are books. And I look forward to EVERY holiday!!

    • Me too! And I usually ask for books that aren’t ones I’d normally buy for myself which expands my mind and my library. One book my husband is receiving this year (shhh) is With the Old Breed at Peliliu & Okinawa. I can’t remember if we’ve read that one before, but it’s worth a reread, especially since I found out Uncle Pep fought at Peliliu.

      • I never read that either, I’ll need to look into it. If you know your Uncle Pep’s unit, please put his info in my comments. If he is no longer with us, I will add him to the Salutes, if you like.
        PS. I won’t tell your husband a thing – the secret is safe with me.

      • Thank you! I don’t know Uncle Pep’s unit; he passed away a few years ago. I still have much to ask Dad about his own and all my Uncles’ tours of duty, but it’s difficult over the phone and our cross country visits are short and filled with family members. It’s my lifelong lament (as with many others who once were kids) – never enough alone time with Dad!

      • I can understand that, but there isn’t always a next time. Take Dad aside.

  10. Books are the best gift one can give, especially if you have never quite mastered the complexities of wrapping paper. I can wrap books but that is about it.

  11. cardamone5 said:

    Wonder is wonderful. My boys read it for school, summer between sixth and seventh grades. They loved it. I might pick up The Boys Body Book as my boys are entering that stage, and I need some guidance (they’re doing fine!) I absolutely love your book marks. You should sell them. They are awesome. Wish you so much love, peace, grace, happiness and good health this holiday and always.


    • I’m so glad your sons enjoyed Wonder. I can’t wait till I can talk about it with Sparks. If their school library doesn’t already have copies, I’ll buy a couple for donation.

      There are a lot of “preteen body books” out there, and you are right – the kids might be fine but WE need some guidance !! I recommend this particular one because some of the other authors are WAY too explicit in sexual drawings and descriptions – kids need to learn all of it eventually, but not all at once!!

      This body book is structured just the way I envision our family physician responding to q’s from a preteen – matter of fact approach, short snippets of info, and “Tips” for coping with certain situations. The “Tips” are really valuable.

      Thanks for compliment on my bookmarks. I have fun making them and experimenting with different versions. Ditto on your wishes for grace, good health and all that other good stuff, Elizabeth!

  12. Since it is down to M and me, we get a basket and fill it with books for the holiday, and no one can dip into it before the 24th. They are not all surprises — but they can’t be red until then. At 2am this morning I came awfully close to getting into it . . .

  13. Your bookmarks are so cool!
    And I do the same thing: When buying books I always end up with quite a few for myself. (Because that way the giftee and I can exchange them in the near future, right? 😉 )
    I’ll have to check out, because I had fun making some books for my family through Apple, but it was expensive.

    • Thanks, Kirsten!!

      That’s a perfectly defensible plan; buying books so you have some to trade 😊

      I didn’t comparison shop the online publishers, but I assume they all have competitive deals. After Christmas they might offer bigger discounts. I like My Publisher’s BOGOR because I get a copy of each book for myself!

  14. Your bookmarks are beautiful, and what a lovely idea! Books are the best gifts ever. My kids love getting books for Christmas, birthdays, any time they can. My daughter said Barnes & Noble was her favorite store. It’s great how they enjoy reading so much. They both like to write stories, too. Don’t know where that came from… 🙂

    • Thank you, Lori 😊. Having kids who share your passions must be so rewarding. I have felt rich all my life because of libraries and their valuable contents. Who needs anything more (although Barnes & Noble is a close second LOL)

  15. Loving your tangles, Sammy 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful Christmas (if you ever get those books posted/delivered)

  16. LOL! A box full of giveaway books arrived from Amazon this weekend and I thought I had to be very, very careful turning each page as one isn’t supposed to read gift books before wrapping them. I didn’t want to get caught but apparently everyone does it? Too cool.

  17. Oh, Sammy, those are awesome! Love the “tangled” bookmarks 🙂 Books are the bestest present ever !

  18. Wow…more things in common! I LOVE My publisher. I made alphabet books for my 2 year old niece and 3 year old nephew, using combination of photos of them, family members and animals. “A” for aunt was a way to get them to remember me–their geographically distant auntie.
    I also just finished reading Wonder. You nailed it with your description!
    Have a wonderful holiday season!

    • Shelley – such fun to find mores ways we share interests and activities! Your alphabet books are such a sweet idea, especially incorporating family photos.

      I’m glad you read Wonder, and that there are books of this calibre for middle-schoolers.

    • And thank you for your holiday wishes! i hope you and your family enjoy your time together as well 😍

  19. Look what I’ve been missing all this time. Gorgeous. Happy holidays, Sammy, and thank you for sharing your talent.

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