Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey

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It was only about the sentences, her breath matching the give and take of the cadence, the rhythm filling her chest, and for the first time in days she did not feel empty. p 254

There is a particular bliss in walking out to meet the blue sky holding a bouquet of  balloons. On Saturday morning I picked up the all the necessities for our party including a carrot cake. I had heard that Beverly Cleary was going to be indulging in some for her birthday and I thought we should do the same.

A few days before her actual birth day, we held a celebration for Beverly Cleary’s 100th at our library, with both kids and adults in attendance. There were crossword puzzles, pages of trivia and of course the aforementioned cake covered in orange roses. One attendee in particular was saddened that Ms Cleary herself wouldn’t be at the party. I tried to explain, very gently lest I bring on tears, that it’s rather difficult to travel and then tried to distract him with choices of a corner piece or one covered in frosted flowers. As he ate he told some facts about life in 1916 and we agreed that she has seen much in her time her on earth.

We sang a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday and everyone voted for their favorite book. I read aloud from the top three: Ramona the Pest, The Mouse and the Motorcycle and Henry Huggins. It’s a joy and a pleasure to read out loud, especially something as beloved as these chapter books. There is a rhythm and a cadence that is established and the phrases just flow. Once you are in the zone, then you feel as if you can read standing in front of an audience for as long as your voice and legs hold out. The fear gives way to the joy of the performance.

And wasn’t the splendor of the translation this very thing—to discover sentences this beautiful and then have the chance to make someone else hear their beauty who had yet to hear it? To arrive, at least once, at a moment this intimate and singular, which would not be possible without these words arranged in this order on this page. p 132

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The fact that this author who has inspired so many kids to read and keep on reading turned 100 years old—a full century—astounds me. She’s someone I look up to and admire. I think of her loving her life and all that she has done, the thousands and thousands of lives she has touched through the words she’s written. I’ve never seen her in a hat, but I imagine this is what it would be like if she chose to wear one. Or maybe the basis of a book about a grown up Ramona.

 Between the dark feather and the giant white brim of the hat, she looked like a woman who was slightly off her rocker, or maybe just a woman with a sense of humor who wasn’t willing to wait for some impossible alignment of stars to enjoy her life. p 108

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Surely she had her doubts. Was there a pivotal moment when she made the choice to keep going, to put in the hours and create these characters out of thin air. Characters who will live on for maybe more than a century.  I wonder…

And if her fingers failed to comply, if what she wrote wasn’t worth typing up, who would ever know? She was alone with all the hours of her life. p 242

But that wasn’t the case. Lucky for us she was inspired to write more than 45 books in her lifetime. If you aren’t familiar with her books either as an adult or perhaps there’s a chapterbook reader in your life who needs to meet Ramona, Beezus, Henry, Ribsy, Socks and Ralph S. Mouse. Please find a copy and share them with a friend. Maybe pick one up, read a bit out loud. Even if you feel silly, keep reading. Your voice will gain confidence and the words will weave their magical spell—as they always do.

Happy Birthday Beverly Clearly. Thank you for absolutely everything!

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