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Forget the Mac 'n Cheese - I want Ballet Shoes

by: 
Mary, Kids and Families Outreach

Super cold days like today make me think about comforting things - a big bowl of macaroni and cheese, a steaming mug of hot chocolate, and Ballet Shoes. 

Wait. WHAT was that last thing?

Ballet Shoes - A book by Noel Streatfeild I read over and over again as a kid, and still read at least once a year.  You know those books - the ones that, even though you've read them a gazillion times, you still pick them up from time to time because that familiarity is a comforting feeling.  Ballet Shoes, the story of Pauline (the acting prodigy), Posy (ballet dancer-to-be), and Petrova (who really just wants to fly aeroplanes, thankyouverymuch), and their struggle to survive in 40's London with their guardian, Sylvia, is one of my comfort books.

Another one is Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game. While I know whodunit, I still revisit this puzzle mystery regularly in order to spend time with Turtle and the rest of the quirky Sunset Towers residents. I like to follow along as they try to figure out how Sam Westing died, and if one of them is responsible. It's a mystery unlike any other I have ever read - and it should come as no surprise that it won the Newbery Medal in 1979.

I also pick up John D. Fitzgerald's The Great Brain every now and then. Fitzgerald's semi-autobiographical story of his life growing up in turn-of-the-century Utah focuses on his brother, Tom, aka "The Great Brain." Tom's really good at problem solving, but unfortunately, uses his skill primarily to swindle friends and neighbors out of money. I especially like the chapter in The Return of the Great Brain when his family gets the town's first indoor plumbing (which everyone is convinced will stink up the house) and Tom decides to charge the local kids to come in and take a look.  In fact, I loved these books so much that in grade school I won a contest to create a slogan for the school library (nerd alert!) with a drawing that included these two titles. My slogan? "A book a day keeps the lazies away." Winner!

I think I'll go home tonight and grab one of these comfort books off my shelf (I still have all my original tattered copies), fix myself a cup of hot chocolate, and warm up with some comfort reading.