Ladder to the Moon Written By Maya Soetoro-Ng Illustrated by Yuyi Morales Ladder to the Moon rests on a bookshelf, in my bedroom, where I can keep an eye on it. I bought it for Simone and Nadia, but it is all mine. Mine, I say. I am in love with the writing. It is, in a word, gorgeous. The book is longer than the average picture book, and the words paint dreamy pictures. As for the illustrations, they are the most intricate I've ever seen in a picture book and evoke the imagination of a child. When I find a publisher for my picture book, I'd be happy for Yuyi Morales to illustrate it. I'm drawn to the story as well. My mother passed before Simone and Nadia were born. In Ladder to the Moon Suhaila wishes she could have known her grandma. One night, Suhaila realizes her wish when a ladder appears at her window. In lush prose, Grandma Annie invites her granddaughter to come along with her on a magical journey. Together they explore a mother's love, empathy for others, and the value of civic engagement. The book has given me an idea about how I can make my mother real to Simone and Nadia. There has been a long-running debate about whether picture books are written for children or for parents. They are written for both. This one resonates with me, and I hope one day Simone and Nadia will embrace it as much as I do. Have you read this book? What did you think of the writing and illustrations?
Any teacher will tell you reading is the gateway subject. So, we started reading to Simone when she was an infant. At one point, a young but very clever Simone had us reading a pile of books at night. We obliged her thirst for reading even if she was just trying to stay up a little longer. Ken and I read so many books we were yawning and pretty much putting ourselves to sleep. There were some nights when I know I read to her for an hour. A couple of years ago I was at a family gathering when I heard a four-year-old read a book. I wondered how his parents had taught him how to read. The boy's mother, my cousin, said she read to him, of course, but she also told me about two sets of videos she had used: Meet the Sight Words and Leap Frog. Videos? Really? I found the Meet the Sight Words videos at a store that caters to teachers. I bought one to see how Simone would react. She loved it, and I went back to the store to purchase the other videos. (By the way, they can be purchased as a set.) Then I ordered three Leap Frog videos from Amazon. Both sets are quite fun, and we played them when Simone asked to see them. Simone now reads a few books to Nadia and me at bedtime. She is a wonderful reading mentor for Nadia, who often pretends she is reading and is asking to watch those same videos that helped her sister learn how to read. I am surprised by how well Simone deciphers big, complicated words, and I want to see how many books she can read this summer. In the meantime, math is calling her name. Which learning materials have you used in your home?
Motherhood is a daunting task without all of the input from others. In my quest to be aware of what I am up against, I clicked on a piece about body image. Those who have older girls may want to take a look at this Newsweek gallery. Unattainable Beauty: The Decade's Most Egregious Retouching Scandals shows just how far editors will go to promote the beauty ideal. The photos of Madonna, Beyonce and others are striking, and the slideshow touches on everything from wrinkles, to dimples to skin color. Check it out.