Standing in the Rainbow

When an avid reader and dear friend recommends a novel, her favorite one at that, I gladly agree to read the loaner.  In this case, Fannie Flagg’s Standing in the Rainbow does not disappoint.

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Following the lives of residents from the small town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, through generations, the reader becomes emotionally engaged, and, in essence, a member of middle America.  Visualizing Bobby Smith, the only son of the Smith family, overcome his fear in order to climb the water tower as a young boy and his coming to the realization of his smallness in this vast universe offered the reader his raw humanity:

Could it really be possible that . . . [I] was nothing but just another small dot among a bunch of other small dots? . . . always thought . . . [I] was something different, something special.  Now . . . [I] was thrown for a complete loop.  (21)

Furthermore, reading of Bobby’s school work struggles which resulted in the repeat of sixth grade allowed me to bond with this young man, and I found myself silently cheering him on.  His eventual enlistment in the Korean War caused me great tension because I was so invested, fearful he may not return, so I proceeded slowly and with caution while reading as my buddy who had given me the loaner has probably been wondering when I was planning to return her novel.

Flagg writes with such humor as in her depiction of the Oatmans crammed in their car travelling cross country to their next singing gig.  With the older brothers and daughter, Betty Raye, in the back, and the chaos and noise from the front seat, the reader learns, “Chester the dummy was out of his box, yammering away at Ferris and complaining because Floyd had also wanted to stop at the gas station and get himself a cold Dr. Pepper”  (100).

Flagg, in her writing, is able to capture such a simpler time, bringing forth a sense of nostalgia for the reader.  When Bobby’s Cub Scout field trip is canceled due to rain, he is not bothered or unable to entertain himself.  Instead, he spends the day on the porch watching the rain and listening “to the sounds of the cars swishing up and down the wet streets” (102), no cell phone or computer needed.  Later, when his grandmother joins him on the porch, and he inquires about life when she was a child and whether she was bored with no electricity, movies, or radio,  Mother Smith explains, “We had books and we played games and sang and went to parties.  You know, you don’t miss what you don’t know”  (103).  This brought to mind my many weekends spent with my own grandparents feeding the geese, helping grind meat, and walking around their farmhouse in the ice and snow pretending I was on quite the explorer’s adventure.

Just a friendly suggestion, but towards the end of Standing in the Rainbow, be sure and keep the tissues within an arm’s reach.  As the reader concludes following roughly four decades of life, there is the inevitable end of life and reflection on what has been, what could have been, and what inevitably remains.  Thus, take the time to meet Tot, Macky, Neighbor Dorothy along with the other residents of Elmwood Springs and really listen to their stories.

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The Girl Scouts Take on The Magic House and Win*

Interested in four hours of nonstop playful learning for your third grader (or Brownie or Junior Girl Scout) followed by a slumber party?  Then, a Wintertime Blues Camp-In is just right for you.

Arriving at 8 p.m. at The Magic House in Kirkwood, Missouri, our Brownie troop checked in, dropped off our gear of sleeping bags and pillows, and were then let loose in The Magic House for an hour of free play.

Think the Kracken with an endless supply of energy unleashed x10.  Yes, young girls given free reign in this 55,000 square foot children’s museum.  The result . . . laughter, wide eyes, perspiration, hurried movements, and exploration due to such activities as fishing, cracking bank vaults, rocking babies, shopping for groceries, and climbing the beanstalk over and over and over and over again.  Time out . . .  I need a minute to catch my breath.

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After an hour passed, stinky bodies (okay, my stinky body) gathered in the legislative branch to hear our instructions for the evening from our young, energetic facilitators.  Directed to our snack of pizza and beverage, we were then assigned our Scavenger Hunt to complete as a team for a special prize.  Passing this task on to our former Cookie Queen, Miss Toni guided the girls from room to room in order to discover answers to such questions as, “How many yellow balloons are in the Conservatory?”  When all questions were completed, the girls hustled to the front desk so that their answers could be graded for completion.  Discovering an incomplete response, the girls hustled back downstairs in search of the correct answer.  I, on the other hand, decided to hold down the fort right where I was.  With another climbing of the bean stalk under their belts, the girls returned to the front desk in order to retrieve their prize, a colored pin of their choosing with The Magic House logo.

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Allotted further free time to play before our assigned Art Class at 10:30 p.m., the girls spent a great deal of time in the special exhibit, Magic Tree House, based on the children’s book series by Mary Pope Osborne.

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By the time Art Class rolled around, I was beat.  Finding a place on the carpet, I rested my head on my Rapunzel backpack while instructors led the girls in Simon Says before leading them in a stamping project.

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Once again granted free play until our 11:30 p.m. settle down and make camp time, the Brownies played in frenzied delight while I found a chair with a back in a corner of the bank where I observed robberies, deposits, and overall Magic House mayhem.

Grateful when it was time to roll out the sleeping bags, my squirt staked claim on a closet for us to sleep in our designated area (insert forced “Woo!” here).  With the sound of steady snores and gregarious giggles in the background, I actually drifted off to sleep until close to our 7 a.m. wake time.  With a doughnut in each of our bellies, we exited the building with our much deserved patch in hand (it’s hard work earning a fun patch) and our carelessly folded baggage under our arms.

Silence ensued on the ride home as I dreamt of an actual bed in which to rest my weary forty-three-year-old body whereas, I am sure, my squirt and her fellow Girl Scouts remembered fondly, then and for a long time to come, the previous night’s events at this house filled with much magic.

Sassy!
Sassy!

*This post is dedicated to the fearless Mommas who survived a night at the museum.