Since I’m not doing the school newsletter any more I figured I ought to volunteer for something at the kids’ school because, you know, an extra supply of brownie points never hurts. Not wanting to overextend myself, I chose to do this lunchtime enrichment thing where, during the cold winter months, parents run small activity groups as an alternative to the post-lunch recess. Half an hour a week for six weeks? Sure, I can do that! Typical activities are arts & crafts, board games, science, origami, knitting, yoga… whatever parents are interested in. Well, you know what I’m interested in — I offered to do “quiet reading.” Ha ha! Nine fourth-grade girls (including Lena, of course) signed up.

At first I had a vague idea that I might take a poll and see if the girls would be interested in all reading the same book and discussing it. However, within two minutes I realized it wouldn’t be necessary. Each little bookworm had brought her own book, and for half an hour there was utter silence in the room as we all sat and read. We were all startled when the bell rang.

I had planned to bring Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which I am still loving although it’s taking me a while to get through. Part of the problem is that the battle chapters are just unbelievably gruesome. Still, that was my plan, but then the mail came just as I was about to leave, and in it was the latest issue of One Story. And the one story in it was by Andrea Barrett. Andrea Barrett! Who writes historical fiction about biologists! What a perfect break from Captain Corelli!

NOT! Barrett’s story, “Archangel,” turned out to be a totally gruesome WWII story. Different front (Russia instead of Greece) but equally gruesome. I don’t recommend it. I do, however, recommend “quiet reading” with fourth-grade bookworms if you’re looking to rack up some brownie points with the PTO.