No, Really. Irreplacable
There Is No Try

A Tale Of Two Titles

CAVEAT: If you are a fan of Charles Dickens please don't read any further. It will only upset you and I hate it when I upset you.


I only recently figured out how to get audiobooks from the library to download onto a kindle; an admission that speaks volumes about my technical abilities because I am pretty sure that our library system has been hooked up with OneClickDigital for at least a couple of years. Probably longer. And, despite being idiot-proof, I could never get the hang of it. So we've been a borrowed CD/audible household.

But mother, invention, necessity and my desperation to keep up with Edward's voracious need for bedtime listening

[Dear Audible,

Obviously you are aware of the fact that you and I are in a very serious relationship but your credits are too valuable (read: expensive) to fritter away on a second grader and, honestly, $11 for the first Hardy Boys book is robbery. The entire thing is, like, six minutes long. So please reconsider your pricing on juvenile texts but I still love you. 

Best regards and tell Nicholas Boulton that I am having trouble reading the phone book so if he wouldn't mind... Julia] 

lead me to get it all sorted and now I have gotten the entire family set up with various free audiobooks.

Caroline is listening to A Little Princess.

I got Steve The Road 

["How are you with the apocalypse?" I asked Steve.

"Great!" he said.

Weird - I get flattened by worry with that sort of thing - but I know that some of you loved it so I downloaded it for him.]

Patrick is reading The Outsiders. I offered to get him an audio version but he declined, wiggling his fingers and blinking at me as if to indicate that he, at least, was capable of turning pages and reading. Whatever.

And Edward. Ha. Oh dear. Edward listened to the Prydain chronicles. Then he listened to A Short History of Nearly Everything - twice. He listened to the ED Baker Princess stories. As I am typing this it occurs to me that he might like the How to Train Your Dragon books. He listened to... I'll have to check. I don't remember them all. Lots of stuff. But most recently I went to get him something in a hurry, checked the library catalog and thought, "Oh! The Cricket in Times Square! Charming" and put it on his kindle.

Two days later I asked how his book was going.

"It's a little slow and hard to follow and the words are very... very old sounding."

I thought, huh, I don't remember it being particularly tough but... "Stick with it!" I said. The next day when he complained again I assured him that he just needed to give it a little more time and a couple of days after that he admitted it was less terrible than it had been. Hardly glowing praise but I said something helpful like, "See!"

A week later he finished it and asked for a new book. I suggested the sequel.

Edward said, "How can there be a sequel?"

"It's about Tucker, I think."

"Who?" said Edward.

"Tucker the mouse?" I prompted.

"Who? I don't remember a mouse. Just the miser and the Peerybingles."

Now it was my turn to be confused. "The what and the whos?" I asked.

"You know, the mean guy and the toymaker and Tilly... ."

I went to get Edward's kindle, opened the app and discovered that Edward had been dutifully listening to hour after hour of The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens.


Whew. Sorry. First, as much as I love 19th century novels, I don't really like Dickens (except for Great Expectations. and the Pickwick Papers.) Never have. In fact, I read Oliver Twist in the seventh grade and had to write a book report that followed this form: the book ______ by ______ was (adjective.) I wrote: the book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens was maudlin. I spent a good fifteen minutes with the thesaurus before coming up with that and I was particularly pleased by it. Second, of all of the soppy, gloopy, wordy wordy Dickens, this particular Dickens is perhaps the soppiest, gloopiest and wordiest. It has it all: Christmas, guardian angel insects, blind dependents, missing and presumed dead sons, poor but honest working men... you get the idea. In fact, now that I think about it, didn't Vladimir Lenin walk out on a performance of the play version because he thought it was schmaltzy?

I am laughing all over again as I picture Edward lying in his room listening to this book night after night. Edward who likes facts: math, science, geography, historical trivia; facts. He must have thought I had lost my mind.

He is now listening to Cod - the history of cod and cod fishing which I just finished - and he is enjoying it very, very much.

Dickens! Ha ha ha ha ha ha. It's like anti-Edward.