Franklin Sanders, author of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole
Most Crew reviews are homeschool curriculum or enrichments, so this book was a bit of a surprise for a Crew item. The book was hilarious! There were times when I laughed until the tears came. It was also full of folksy wisdom, such as, "Almost forgetting is one of our Christmas traditions. Now a tradition is not a rut. A rut is doing the same things year after year because you don't have enough imagination to do anything new. A tradition is something you do once and discover a joy so deep that you do it again, Christmas after Christmas, to keep on savoring it and make it last." I loved little nuggets like that.
When I first heard about At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, volume 1, Nothing That Eats, the title alone had me wildly curious. It's actually what the author kept repeating to his children at a 25 acre flea market event. "Nothing that eats! You're not taking home anything that eats!" (They brought home 11 animals, anyway.)
The sense of humor in this book had me reading excerpts aloud to my husband. I particularly appreciated one temper tantrum the author described that left him shouting, "Internal combustion engines are the work of the devil!" (author's emphasis) I've so had temper tantrums that could compare.
Of course, since Franklin and his wife have 7 children, there were bits about large family life. Like when their family exceeded the maximum allowable group size at the portrait studio. Having just been through family pictures, that resonated with me.
Since much of the book was taken from the author's newletters that spanned from 1995 to 2002, there were some flashbacks for me from those years. Remember Windows 95? It's in there. How about Y2K? Oh, yes. Quite a bit on that, too. But overall, it's a story of a family. Babies are born, kids get married, the family moves, all the things that happen in a family over a time period of several years. Okay, so maybe most families don't teach pigs to jump rope, (not really, but almost) but then, this is not your basic, suburban family.
Being a California native, the insight into southern culture was interesting. From the southerner's explanation of the meaning behind the rebel flag to the scads of historical sites mentioned from The War. He hardly needs specify which one; it seems the south only really counts the Civil War. Actually, the impressive amount of travelling Franklin (and his family, most of the time) does, surprised me. The book even mentions Tonopah, which is near where we have family in Nevada.
At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, volume 1, Nothing That Eats is available in both oversized paperback ($22.95) and Kindle ($16.95) versions. You can read a sample chapter at the website. Volume 2, Best Thing We Ever Did, is set to come out very soon, with volume 3, The Sage Of Dogwood Mudhole in the works.
Although this is a "grown up" book (as opposed to juvenile--"adult book" just sounds wrong), I would have no problem with one of my teens picking it up, and in fact, I plan to leave it where Sam will come across it. Sam reads the way sharks eat: anything in his path.
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