One of the many pleasures of staying with my in-laws on "the ranch" in Central Kansas is doing nothing. While here, "nothing" often entails watching food television (for the Mister more than me, but we're both plenty guilty of sitting down to an episode of Top Chef and then staying awhile) and reading children's literature (my MiL was a school librarian for many years). I picked Lost Star: The Story of Amelia Earhart by Patricia Lauber, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, and Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech off the shelf for reading over the last three days. I chose the first because it is a "star" book and the latter three because they are Newberry Award Winners or Newberry Honor books.
I was startled to find unexpected themes in these books: families are ruined by alcoholism in three of the four, two of them speak a great deal about constellations, and mothers leave their families in three of the four (or possibly all four depending on which of the Earharts left the other). Since I was expecting a book about a pioneering aviatrix, a book about a dog, a book about middle school quiz bowl and a book about Indian mythology (all of which are accurate except the last), death and dysfunction among mothers shook me quite a bit.
Have you ever discovered yourself quite inadvertently in the middle of themed reading? Was it coincidence or message from the universe?*
All four books are very good, by the way, and all, except the Amelia Earhart book, manage to have happy endings without the unresolvable being resolved (i.e. the dead stay dead and the divorced stay divorced). Walk Two Moons is the only real tear-jerker or the bunch and The View from Saturday a bit too much Slumdog Millionaire**, but I like angst with my sweetness in children's literature, and therefore didn't mind at all.
*I'm fairly certain that this is coincidence; "It will hurt your family if you drink too much and leave them," doesn't strike me as a particularly relevant personal message at the moment.
**Quiz bowl answers relate directly to vignettes of sixth graders lives.