Friday, December 10, 2004

Catch a star

One of the books Helena received for her birthday is How to Catch a Star, by Oliver Jeffers, published by HarperCollins. Delightful.

It reminds me a lot of Kitten's First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes (which is extraordinary, by the way, and finding a place on lots of year-end best-children's-books lists), in the naive attempts, and failures, of our heroes to reach the sky.

The text is little meatier for this boy-hero than in kitten's adventures: "He thought he could fly up in his spaceship and just grab the star. But his spaceship had run out of petrol last Tuesday when he flew to the moon."

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The illustrations are a complete contrast to Henkes'. They're wacky and modern, but without being jarring or busy.

While the Henkes book is romantic, the Jeffers is adventurous. How to Catch a Star recounts a serious expedition, not a whimsical dream of a notion.

It's been generally well reviewed, and I like it.

Helena doesn't yet love this book. It's rare that she experiences love at first sight, whether with books or any object. (People, too, I think.) She's a lot like me that way. She has to warm up to the idea of something.

But I already see the glint in her eye that signifies this book is an idea that holds some appeal.

J-F dropped off Helena at daycare this morning and reports that little Xavier was delighted to see her. He called out her name, ran over, and hugged her. She hugged back. They stood hugging. Minutes passed. They kept hugging. To the point that J-F wanted to scream "Get your grimy little paws off my daughter."

Although, it being all fluffy-snowy outside, today is a good day for hugging.

Helena's spent other mornings kissing this same boy. I don't know how to react to this. Is she merely mimicking behaviour she sees at home? Is she "exploring and discovering"? Has she formed a special attachment to Xavier? Is it an attachment imbued with anything other than having a best friend? How is it that she can already be this complex creature with emotional needs satisfied by physical comfort?

It's obvious to me that the emotional and physical are intertwined in our experience from birth — no wonder we have difficulty trying to separate them (I know now, of course, we shouldn't bother trying).

I won't be seeing my mother for Christmas this year, nor do I have set plans to see her immediately after the holiday. (This is a first.) As such, I've ordered some presents for family and friends online and am having them delivered there. The first parcel arrived today. My mother did not remember my warnings and instructions: my brother has already opened the package — the unwrapped contents are spilled — and thus will have no surprises from me on Christmas. On top of this, my mother actually sounded disappointed to learn that the other gift therein contained is intended for my sister and not for her. And so the festivities commence.

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