We’re on a Barbara O’Connor roll

I just finished reading another Barbara O’Connor novel to my children. We were quickly hooked. The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester is an ideal summer read – all about having time on your hands and deep woods, mucky ponds and fantastic secrets to explore.

We worried about Tooley the big green bullfrog who just seemed too sad. We were delightfully irritated by Viola and her know it all ways (and also impressed by what she did actually know!) And we rooted for Owen and his plans for the very special and mysterious item he heard tumble (tumble, tumble, tumble) off the train. Small town Carter Georgia. Big days of summer. Life lessons to learn. We love the endearing characters and simple days described in Barbara O’Connor’s novels.


How to Steal a Dog

I just finished reading one of my favourite books ever – How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor to my own children and it was like coming home after a long trip. That lovely secure feeling – like everything is how it should be. There are so many things I love about this book. It is one of my favourite books to read aloud in the classroom because of all of the great discussion it inspires. Kids love this book and talk about it for a very long time. Check out a summary on my top ten read alouds list (it is # 9)

Because I have endless reasons for loving this book, I will limit it here to my top 3 lines in the book. They have a way of sticking with you.

1. “Sometimes the trail you leave behind you is more important than the path ahead of you.” Mookie’s motto, page 132

2. “Sometimes, the more you stir it, the worse it stinks.” Mookie’s other motto, page 134.

3. “I guess bad times can make a person do bad things, huh?” Carmella to Georgina – page 164.

Anyone looking for a great read this summer? This is your book.

Greetings from Nowhere

I love novels by Barbara O’Connor. How to Steal a Dog made my Top 10 Read Alouds list. And I am longing to read her newest: The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester Now, that I’ve discovered her blog, I adore her all the more!

I picked up Greetings from Nowhere at the library the other day and read it in one luxurious sit down and read session.

Greetings from Nowhere

This book is about many things. Struggling parent/child relationships (Kirby and his Mom & Willow and her Dad) Moving on and letting go (Willow, Aggie, Clyde) Yearning for loved ones away or never really known (Willow’s Mom, Loretta’s Other Mother) Change (new homes, new schools, new lives) Memories. Love. So many things in such a well told story.

For me, what this book was about was something more – something related to the spilling your secrets to a stranger on the plane syndrome and then feeling in a tiny cramped space above the clouds like you have found a new friend. This book is all about how we are always collecting friendships. That a shared history is not necessary when things in common will do. Things like hard times, pinned hope, worry . . . The sharing of stories and the working towards one goal (fixing up the motel) forms new bonds and a connectedness that forms quick and solid.

I love the significance of the Great Smoky Mountains in this story. Many things can be lost and found, packed and revisited but these mountains are a constant. I also love Willow’s thinking on page 189 – how she gets to the place of knowing how to ask her Dad if Aggie can stay. So much love in the last bit of her plea “And Harold is in the tomato garden!”

Yes, this book is a work of fiction for children. And yes, I can’t wait to read this to a class of students but this book can have such a wide audience. My Mom would love this book. Because the friendships span generations, it is widely appealing.

Friends are where you find them and family is how you make it. Thank you Barbara O’Connor for delivering us this message in such a lovely book.