February Book Group Read–Lanie!

Hello everyone, welcome to our bookgroup discussion! Everyone is welcome to participate in the discussion via the comments section. I do want to set a few rules first though. No personal attacks, we can all have differing opinions without nastiness. And please, keep on topic. If I find that a comment is not on topic, it will be deleted. The only exception to this is if the conversation goes in that direction, but this is not the place to discuss other posts and other goings on in doll land. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get started!

The book for this group “meeting” was Lanie, written by Jane Kurtz. Lanie was the 2010 Girl Of The Year, and what attracted me to her story was the ecology/nature aspect of it. I’ve been a long time supporter of recycling, even working as the recycling coordinator at my last job for a small municipality. I also liked the outdoorsy theme running throughout the book, when I was that age, I practically lived outdoors.  I was even known to drag all of my Barbie stuff outside during the summer months.

Since we’ve all read the book, I’m not going to go into depth about the story. This isn’t intended to be a review, nor do I want to recap it completely, less ruining it for someone who maybe hasn’t read it. The main purpose of this group is to discuss various points in the book that we liked or didn’t like, themes, etc.

Let’s see…as I mentioned before, the nature part of it was a big attraction for me, and my favorite part of that was the story about the hatching of the butterflies. I’ve always been fascinated by that whole process, particularly with Monarch butterflies, and it took me back to a book I had when I was a kid that explained the process with fantastic photos. I’ll be honest, after I got done reading Lanie, I was tempted to go order one of those monarch butterfly hatching kits, it stirred up that interest all over again. I also liked her journaling like she was doing scientific studies and her vast interest in science.  Her interest in birds was also appealing to me as I used to be very into that when we lived at our other house.  It wasn’t something I got into until I was an adult, but it’s a fascinating subject!

Parts I didn’t like: the nasty neighbor with the cat. I felt that the whole part of the story with Lulu and the cat having a confrontation was kind of unnecessary. Plus the whole situation with the neighbor went rather unresolved at the end of the book. So that really served no purpose and I think that section of the book could have been left out and replaced with more about her older sister, her aunt and the science she was studying. I also didn’t like how her older sister was depicted at the beginning, she comes off as being a bit of a prissy pain in the neck, but then later in the story she seems to be the one person who genuinely feels bad for Lanie. I’m just not sure about how she was portrayed.

The rest of the characters were fine, although I would have liked to have seen more of her Aunt Hannah. I haven’t read the second book yet, so perhaps that is covered more there. I got a kick out of her descriptions of her parents, her dad sounds like the typical absent minded college professor! And Emily is your typical 1st grader, picky eater with an unreasonable fear of bugs. I thought they got the dynamic between the two girls right, it reminded me of a friend of mine who had not one, but two younger sisters, and the issues they would have.

There were quite a few things that she had to deal with that were handled in an appropriate manner–her envy at her friend Dakota, taking on the job of the garden in her Aunt Hannah’s absence, and her frustration with her family and their “indoor genes” when she suggests going camping.  My only complaint was in how her mother handled the situation with Emily when she damaged Lanie’s journal for science class.  This would have been a good opportunity for the author to go into respect for other people’s belongings a bit more.  I thought it was kind of lost and something that could have been a learning moment was ignored.  Oh well.

Did anyone else love the little illustrations throughout the book?  They reminded me a bit of Susan Branch or Marjolein Bastin drawings.

Overall, I thought this was one of the better GOTY books, and I especially liked that her interests were science related.  I wish they had done more stories like this, showing that girls can have interests beyond dance and music.

Talk amongst yourselves now!!!

Book for March 15 is Meet Kit (pre BeForever version), book for April 15 is Isabelle, book for May 15 is Meet Marie-Grace.

emily 5
My own Lanie and Emily!


22 thoughts on “February Book Group Read–Lanie!

  1. I also liked the garden and ecology theme. The author chose cute email addresses for Lanie and Dakota- hollandnotthecountry and dakotanotthestate. This sounds like something friends would do together. I could relate to Emily’s eating habits. When one of my granddaughters was little she would eat anything as long as it was on a tortilla and you told her it was a quesadilla.

    The monarchs hatching was interesting. We used to own a summer cottage in Northern Michigan. One day while we were sitting by the lake we were lucky enough to see dragonflies hatch. The burrowed out of the sand and opened up their wings to dry. The birds in the area decided they would be a good thing to eat for lunch. For the next few hours my kids would run up and down the beach to scare off the birds and let the dragonflies dry.

    It would have been nice to resolve the crabby neighbor issue. Maybe Lanie could have given her some extra vegetables from the garden.

  2. Hi! I’ll be back later with more in-depth comments and thoughts from the crew. 🙂 however, I did want to mention that the neighbor situation is kind of a cliffhanger and resolves in book two. This was the set up.

    Be right back!

  3. Okay, back and ready to converse. I was putting the finishing touches on a Wednesday wonders post based on this book. Lanie is taking over the week at Tea Time with Melody Q.

    I LOVED these books the first time I read them. I chose Lanie for my collection because I have an Aunt Lanie who loves to garden and the rabbits would visit her yard. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. Lanie Holland is on her way to being a biologist or botanist or entomologist.

    This book introduces us to her family and I liked how each person is a bit different or unique in their likes and pastimes. It handles the idea of being different from others nicely. Quite a bit of diplomacy here. I agree the idea of respecting other’s property was missed – yes, Emily was just trying to be like Lanie, but she shouldn’t have drawn in Lanie’s book.

    The neighbor is a bit of a mystery right now, but the interaction with the cat was funny. One would think the first thing the cat would do is to pounce on prey, but I’ve seen this type of confrontation in my own home. That first meeting is all “I am a domestic bunny. You will not hurt me and I will get in your face to tell you that” with the cat jumping back in surprise. Stalking the boot nest is another thing and I was glad to see Lanie understood to take that option away from the female wren.

    I like the sister interaction. It can be hard to have siblings. Angela has to be a role model, Emily has to learn, and Lanie is stuck in the middle still learning herself and having to be a model for Emily. I do wonder what happened between Lanie’s mom and Aunt Hannah.

    First Graders: A Field Study (giggles) Not sure that will make the NatGeo channel. Lanie being a classroom helper was interesting. It showed how observant and caring she really could be.

    The illustrations were the best! Especially the ones that were supposed to be from Lanie’s journal. It showed scientists are also artists.

    Lanie’s story provides a glimpse at the life of a girl who is intrigued by science. She eagerly learns from her classes at school and from her aunt. Her main hobbies revolve around her love a nature. It is kind of sad her mom doesn’t join her – a lot of quality time missed there.

    I liked this story a lot. It was a fun read. Lanie’s field notes and sketches helped the reader understand what she was observing. The meerkats were funny.

    Nice read. I’m wondering how they will keep the local bunnies out of the pizza garden.

    It was fun to read a story where the main character shared my name. I don’t say “best ever” nearly as often as the book character. This Lanie was brave to sleep out under the stars with no tent.

  4. This is my favorite GOTY book. I think the dynamic between family members are very realistic. I just felt Lanie’s older sister was just being an older sister. I love the illustrations. I’m kind of biased because Emily looks Exactly like me when I was a girl.
    I was also completely entranced by the outside world. Not birds so much, but any wild animals and especially bugs. My goal in life as a girl was to dig a hole in my backyard that went all the way through the earth because I wanted to see the magma and the earth’s crust. Ha! I barely got down two feet because anytime I saw a bug I’d pick it up and put it on an upside down frisbee filled with dirt and just observe what it did. I mostly caught ‘rolly pollys’, worms, earwigs, centipedes, etc. So of course I felt sad that Emily was so terrified of bugs. The book made me want to be Lanie’s friend and have some outside adventures with her.
    I thought the pizza garden was such a great idea, I want to try that myself!

    • Jackylina, you made me laugh. I too wanted to dig a hole to the center of the earth, but when I hit I would come upon something other than an earthworm that would signal my time to stop and fill in the hole. 😀 That’s why my flower beds are haphazard now too, but now it’s because i feel I’m disturbing their homes. Still grossed out by a few too, but overall…

  5. I really enjoyed Lanie’s book too!! I am not an outdoorsy type of person, but I do have a garden, so I could especially relate to that. I would really like to have a vegetable garden one day, but for now all we have is a flowerbed.

    At one of the greenhouses here in town, they have a butterfly house where you can go every year to watch the butterflies come out of their cocoons. It’s really fun and educational for the kids. Then they have a butterfly release where each child gets a tiny box with a butterfly in it, and they get to release their butterflies all at the same time. Once a large butterfly landed on my daughter’s flower hairband, and it just stayed there for a good twenty minutes. She kept wandering around the greenhouse showing people her live butterfly hairband. LOL! 🙂

    We don’t mind the bugs either, although I prefer that they stay outside. It’s strange. I can be out working in my garden in my bare feet alongside all of the worms, spiders, beetles etc. and be as happy as can be, but as soon as I spot one of them in my house, I go into all systems red alert mode. 🙂

    One thing that we are huge fans of is Aunt Hannah’s camper. To tell the truth, I’ve never been camping in a camper. We had a tent once, but that is kind of like survivor man, and we all know how that turns out. It’s not exactly the ideal vacation, and like I said, I’m not an outdoorsy kind of gal to begin with. Despite that, we just had to make a DIY version of Lanie’s camper so that the dolls could do some camping indoors. 🙂

    All in all, I really liked the book. I think that I will have a look at the library to see if I can find the sequel though. I’m curious to know what happens with the neighbour and her cat. I would also like Aunt Hannah to come back, along with Dakota. I felt like I was just getting into the character’s world, and starting to see it from her perspective, when suddenly the book was over, and I was left with all of these loose ends.

    Oh, I wanted to mention one more thing. My daughter is a picky eater too. I think that parenting would be simple if I didn’t have to feed her all the time. LOL! Unlike Emily though, if she doesn’t like it, she won’t eat it. It doesn’t matter what you shape it into. Sigh.

    She also hates a lot of what other kids love like Kraft Dinner, hot dogs, ketchup, french fries, gummy candies, etc. She only likes ‘gourmet’ food, nothing out of the box. LOL! She does take to Asian and Thai food better than North American cuisine though, possibly because we are part Japanese. She will eat Thai curry, but not lasagna.

    She does come by it honestly though. I can count on one hand what her father will eat. In fact, she eats more variety than he does. (growing up all he would eat was plain mustard between two slices of white bread, so that’s what his mother made him for his lunch everyday *eye roll*) I like to say if it isn’t a ‘naturally occurring food’, then she doesn’t like it. That includes all condiments, sauces, fake cheeses, pickles, jam, juices, you name it, she doesn’t like it.

    I must say, I’ve come a long way with her though. She used to refuse to eat fruit. I mean, what kid doesn’t like fruit??? Kale on the other hand, she would chow that down raw! Same with broccoli, spinach, and other veggies. In fact, she would eat only veggies if you let her. How bizarre. Hence why I really need a vegetable garden. Now she will eat some fruits, but not all, and not all the time. I refuse to cater to her though. I just put food in front of her, and she has the choice. I won’t make her mustard sandwiches either. Oh yeah, she hates mustard. And bread. *eye roll*

    ginnie / http://www.fakingitmostly.com

    • Looking at that list of your daughter’s dislikes…it looks as if she does not like vinegar or processed sugar.

      I’m a barefoooter too! But I do like tent camping. We recently added an air matress to our kit and it makes the world of difference with regards to comfort.

      If you can find Lanie’s Real Adventures, do read it. No spoilers, but things do progress.

    • I’m like you, I don’t mind bugs most of the time, but I would prefer them to stay outside. However, I am not a fan of spiders. Don’t mind the smaller ones, but when the bodies start getting the size of your thumbnail, I don’t want any parts of them.

  6. I really like the older GOTY books! You can tell they were made for fairly new readers, those just getting into chapter books. The language is simple and the illustrations and overall layout are very engaging. These are perfect books for 7-9 year olds. I’m really looking forward to the day my eldest reads this because I think she is going to love it.

    Our kids do the butterfly hatching (and ladybug) in preschool. It is something we all get excited for, and it was neat to read about in a story. I really enjoyed Lanie’s time with her Aunt Hannah and learning about bird calls. Being newer to the AG world and first being exposed to Grace and Lea and their fantastical journeys, it was refreshing to read about a little girl doing normal everyday things, and finding joy in her surroundings.

  7. I really enjoyed reading Lanie. I love the outdoors too. I plant milkweed (butterfly weed) for the monarch butterflies. They lay their eggs on the underneath side of the leaves. I keep checking to see when the caterpillars hatch. They eat all the leaves of the plant until they are big enough to make their crystals. In about two weeks, they hatch into butterflies. It is so much fun to see them hatch and dry themselves in the sun before they fly to a flower to get nectar. We used to camp out in a tent, but now if I went camping, I would like a camper like Lanie’s aunt. I also feed and watch the birds (and squirrels, since they think the bird seed is for them). I too believe Lanie’s mom should have stresses the importance of respecting other people’s property. All in all, a good book.

    • Cool about planting the milkweed! I remember when we went to Fort Necessity several years ago, there was a whole section of stuff planted to attract butterflies and it was full of activity. I got some awesome pics. Still thinking about getting a butterfly hatching kit…

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