The Book for Your Cancelled Plans
I’ve been hearing a lot about the trouble of comparing sorrows to others as a way of invalidating your feelings, but I can’t help feel a little ungrateful to be thinking about cancelled plans when I am so fortunate to have had them in the first place. Nonetheless, there is a certain grief to all the might-have-beens. As Kristoff being Sven wisely sings in Frozen 2, “you feel what you feel, and those feelings are real”. Below is my attempt to have some fun with the idea of matching books to plans that have been cancelled because of COVID-19 and with the hopes that memories and movements and meaning are being built in their place.
I’ve put stars next to all the books I’ve received from publishers. I am so grateful to Chronicle, Candlewick, Harper Kids, and Berkley for enriching our library and hope it goes without saying that, if the book is here, it means I’m genuinely recommending it!
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Honeymoon to Italy
There was going to be so much pasta and gelato eating, fields of poppies seen from village dotted hills, late night wandering around the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. You’d been practicing bits of Italian, letting words like “stracciatella” and “mi scusi” trip from your tongue.
Indulge yourself with Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun (not like the movie), Anthony Doerr’s Four Seasons in Rome, Erica James’ Summer at the Lake, and the Jenna Evan Welch’s YA book I’m reading right now, Love & Gelato, all of which will really evoke some of the wonders of Italy.
You were planning on spending several quiet hours alone in the museum, sitting in front of whatever paintings caught your eye, standing as close as you can to admire the artist’s signature. Or you were planning on finally bringing your kids to your favorite museum and sharing something you love to learn about, eager to hear their questions and see what piqued their interest.
Maira Kalman’s My Favorite Things is based on the collection she put together for the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and is her signature style of thoughtful and whimsical and all around lovely. The main character in Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together, Jade, makes collages that made me long to go see an exhibit just like it. Alexis Coe’s You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington is the cooler version of any mythbusting you were hoping to learn.
For fun education for your kids, check out these picture books. Carole Boston Weatherford’s and Michele Wood’s BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom* is a haunting, beautiful book in verse about the true story of a man who shipped himself out of his enslavement. Matt Lamothe’s This Is How We Do It follows seven kids around the world and tells you about their daily lives. Darwin’s Rival: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Search for Evolution* is a fascinating picture book for older kids about the man who discovered natural selection at the same time as Darwin. It’s gorgeously put together and basically every nerdy parent’s dream. Michael J. Rosen’s and Matt Tavares’ A Ben of All Trades: The Most Inventive Boyhood of Benjamin Franklin* is a playful look at Benjamin Franklin and his many enthusiasms and Kate Messner’s and Adam Rex’s The Next President* takes an inspiring look at what future presidents were doing while one president was in office. Britta Teckentrup’s Ocean will teach kids about all the life going on under the ocean with her fun peek-through pages.
Your car piled up with gear, your fingers sticky from s’mores around the campfire, your head wet from dips in the lake. This one might still be able to happen?
You might want to read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass to embrace your awe of nature. Pick up Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry to immerse yourself in the nature poetry you might not have experienced yet.
You and the kids can enjoy Pete Oswald’s Hike*. It’s a story without words, which normally I don’t go for, but completely works for me here. It’s an absolutely beautiful story of a father and daughter completing a family tradition of planting a tree on top of a mountain. It makes me so happy every time we read it. Laurel Snyder’s and Emily Hughes’ Charlie & Mouse Outdoors* is a cute, humorous beginner chapter book that had our daughter so excited to have a tent outside and has inspired a lot of her pretend play from story telling to imagining lions in bushes. Jennifer K. Mann’s The Camping Trip* is so sweet and evocative of first experiences camping. It’s another one I’m often putting on the table next to our reading chair and that has our daughter excitedly dreaming of camping one day.
You love watching their faces as they see each other for the first time at the ceremony, wandering around the venue and looking at the personal touches, and seeing people you haven’t seen in a long time come together to celebrate love.
I haven’t read any of these, as I’m realizing I don’t read about weddings ever, but the following are ones I think sound excellent: Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date series, Morgan Matson’s Save the Date, and Katie Fforde’s Wedding Season.
If you have a kid who was excited to go to one, we like B.G. Hennessy’s Jake Baked the Cake which is one from my childhood and I’m requesting Karen English’s and Jonathan Weiner’s Nadia’s Hands about a Pakistani wedding and Sarah S. Brannen and Lucia Soto’s Uncle Bobby’s Wedding about a little girl learning she’s not losing an uncle, but rather gaining one, from the library. For your middle grader, the last Penderwicks book, The Penderwicks at Last, features a wedding, and you know those books are wonderful.
Family Trip to India
You were planning on visiting right after the monsoons. You were so excited to see the Taj Mahal and the Chand Baori, admire the pink buildings of Jaipur, and have as much tea and pakora as possible.
Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger is told from the point of view of a Bangalore driver to a wealthy family and is a story that will completely pull you in. Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy is a sweeping novel to get caught up in the lives of three Indian families after the Indian partition.
Kids might like Emily Hayne’s and Sanjay Patel’s Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth with its humorous tone and playful, colorful illustrations or Uma Krishnaswami’s and Soumya Sitaraman’s Chachaji’s Cup, a heartwarming story of memories and familial love.
Traditional away camp? Amy Rebecca Tan’s Summer at Meadow Wood*. Art camp? Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s Under the Egg. Patricia MacLachlan’s and Hadley Hooper’s The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse. Science camp? Jada Jones: Rock Star. Karate? Holly Sterling’s Karate Kids*. Baking? Janae Marks’ From the Desk of Zoe Washington or Tara Dairman’s All Four Stars.
Disney World Vacation
You can taste the Mickey ice cream bars. Feel the happiness floating up inside you as you walk down Main Street with the Dapper Dans singing and the castle lit up by magic. This cancelled plan is hitting very close to home. I don’t think I want to talk about it.
If you’re into Disney history, check out Martin Sklar’s One Little Spark all about imagineering or Mindy Johnson’s Ink and Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, which will give you a new perspective about animation.
For the young ones, the Little Golden books telling the stories of their favorite movies are wonderful or the 5 Minute Stories add new stories about beloved characters- we have this one. Older kids can check out Robin McKinley’s re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty.
You had visions of sailboats and lobster rolls and tours of the opulent mansions. There was your very cute striped dress that was just meant for drinking a Dell’s lemonade and walking along the Cliff Walk.
Read about Alva Vanderbilt in Therese Anne Fowler’s fascinating book, A Well-Behaved Woman*, which made me remember why I liked historical fiction so much as a kid, and picture luxurious sailing with David Shellack’s Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France’s Cote d’Azur and Italy’s Amalfi Coast, which is a memoir of a chef on a private sailing yacht.
For the kids, Einat Tsarfati’s Sandcastles* is such a delight. It’s so whimsical and imaginative and we spend so much time poring over the detailed pages and being silly about what we’d have in our sandcastle. Michelle Cuevas’ and Erin Stead’s The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles is the sweet story of a lonely man whose job it is to deliver all the messages in bottles that he finds. Fellow ice cream lovers, check out Bonnie Bader’s Curious About Ice Cream to learn about ice cream and get swept away by a little girl’s memories of beach trips in Iran in Rashin Kheiriyeh’s Saffron Ice Cream.
Shall we commiserate? What cancelled plans do you have? Are you reading books to fill the voids or is all too fresh?
If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!