This book was an adaption of the "Nun's Priest's Tale" from "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer. It won the 1959 Caldecott Award. The main thin...moreThis book was an adaption of the "Nun's Priest's Tale" from "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer. It won the 1959 Caldecott Award. The main thing that I love about the book were the illustrations, which have a wood-cut quality to them. Barbara Cooney studied illuminated manuscripts to get ready for the illustrations for this book, as well as studied live chickens in her studio to get just the right details. The illustrations are predominantly black and white with pops of vibrant red, gold, blues and greens.
Chanticleer is a rooster owned by a widow and her two daughters. He has a harem of seven chickens to keep him company and he is very vain. One day, a sly fox sneaks up upon him and almost manages to carry him away and eat him. Thanks to the fox, the rooster learns a little humility and saves his own life through quick thinking. Recommended for ages 5-10, 4 stars. (less)
Gilgamesh was one of those classics that I had always intended on getting around to reading, but never really picked it up. It is, after all, the worl...moreGilgamesh was one of those classics that I had always intended on getting around to reading, but never really picked it up. It is, after all, the world's first hero story and so important to our worldwide literary culture. So when I saw this version (it is called a version instead of translation because the author is not a translator), I decided to give it a try. I've not read the poem before, but I know from his mentioning of the other translations, that his is quite different and modern from the original Akkadian/Sumerian version. I thought the language was very good and masterfully done, though the repetitiveness of the text sometimes got a bit boring. I was a bit shocked by the graphic descriptions that he used to describe the sex and violence, considering that this poem is 3500 years old. This audiobook collection includes the author's version of the poem as well as a comprehensive essay written about the poem. I personally liked the essay, as it helped better explain the poem, whose ideas were difficult to grasp at times.
The basic story is about the Sumerian King Gilgamesh of Uruk and his self-discovery. It starts off talking about the wild man Enkidu, who is created by the gods as a foil to Gilgamesh, thought of as a greedy and selfish tyrant. A young trapper sees Enkidu helping the local fauna and asks the king how to get rid of him. The king enlists the help of Shamhat, a priestess of Ishtar (goddess of love, fertility and war) who acts as temple prostitute and seduces Enkidu and brings him back to Uruk. Enkidu and Gilgamesh eventually become best friends (though there are definitely some homoerotic overtones to their friendship). Gilgamesh decides that in order to achieve everlasting fame, he must kill the guardian of the cedar forest, a vicious monster named Humbaba. The conquences of this action affect the rest of the story. After Humbaba is killed, they head back to Uruk, where Gilgamesh is propositioned by the goddess Ishtar. He proceeds to verbally bash and abuse her, ultimately refusing her advances. Her retaliation is to get her father Anu (the father of the gods) to send the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh, but he and Enkidu kill the bull instead. As punishment, Enkidu is killed and Gilgamesh is overcome with grief. He decides that he must go see the only immortal human Utnapishtim and figure out how to beat death. Utnapishtim tells him the story of the flood and how he was granted immortality as a result of it. He also tells him of a plant that will make him immortal, but Gilgamesh foolishly loses it and there ends the poem. 4 stars. (less)
Although I really enjoyed this, it wasn't full of Anne hijinks like the last one. I understand that the last book was over six years, while this was o...moreAlthough I really enjoyed this, it wasn't full of Anne hijinks like the last one. I understand that the last book was over six years, while this was over two, but it just didn't have the oomph of the first book. This book covers Anne Shirley from ages 16 - 18, after she finishes teaching certification and becomes the new school teacher in Avonlea. She is going to school by mail with Gilbert, who is pining for Anne, but will not admit it. She meets several new people including Mr Harrison and his foul-mouthed parrot Ginger (and later Mrs Harrison), Paul Irving (who becomes her favorite pupil) and Miss Lavendar Lewis. Marilla ends up adopting two of her cousin's children, the twins Davy and Dora. Davy is a handful and Dora is the well-behaved one. Ms Lewis's story was probably one of the most interesting, as she was previously engaged to Paul's father but they had a falling out and he left town and married another. It's 25 years later and they renew their love and get married at the end of the book. Anne and the other young teachers in the area organize AVIS, the Avonlea Village Improvement Society, and there are many good and bad things that come out of that project. Rachel Lynde's husband Thomas dies and she decides to move in with Marilla, so Anne decides to go to Redmond College. The best thing of the whole book was Anne finally seeing Gilbert in the way he sees her, "Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare...perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps...perhaps...love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship (pg 393)." Recommended for ages 12+, 3 stars. (less)
Having learned about Randolph Caldecott in library school, who completely changed the world of children's illustration during the Victorian period, I...moreHaving learned about Randolph Caldecott in library school, who completely changed the world of children's illustration during the Victorian period, I was eager to read some of the stories he illustrated. I picked up this volume from a library sale today and it is an addition of the book from the 1960s or 70s, and features both color plates and black & white illustrations. The volume includes "The Diverting History of John Gilpin," "An Elegy of the Death of a Mad Dog," "The House That Jack Built," and "The Babes in the Woods." Unlike today's stories which seem like they are trying to have too many Disney endings, most of these are unhappy (including the last story in which the children die). Recommended for ages 7+, 4 stars. (less)
I read about half of Dante's inferno in college with my Italian professor, so I know the basic storyline. But when I picked this up by accident at the...moreI read about half of Dante's inferno in college with my Italian professor, so I know the basic storyline. But when I picked this up by accident at the library, I thought it would be interesting to see the Divine Comedy explained in graphic novel form. It was a good interpretation for the complicated text, which is filled with politics and Italian history, and is sometimes hard to get through. I really enjoyed Chwast's adaption of the Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. 4 stars. (less)
I had been looking forward to listening to this for awhile ever since I had found out that Stephen Fry narrated part of it. He has such a distinctive...moreI had been looking forward to listening to this for awhile ever since I had found out that Stephen Fry narrated part of it. He has such a distinctive voice, which I thought would be excellent in audiobook format. Dame Judi Dench played Kanga and one of the narrators, Stephen Fry was Pooh, Geoffrey Palmer (who starred in the BBC "As Time Goes By" with Dame Judi Dench) was Eeyore, as well as many other well known British actors and actresses. The readers did an excellent job and really made the stories come alive. I had actually never read the actual Pooh books so I figured this was as good a way as any to do it. The two stories themselves were actually really funny, more so than I would've thought, in the way that Shrek appeals to both kids and adults for different reasons. My only gripe is the way Rabbit, Owl and Eeyore kept berating Pooh and Piglet for being "of little brains", even though I thought that Pooh came up with some pretty awesome ideas, poems and songs. Recommended for ages 5+, 4 stars. (less)
I had originally tried the audiobook version of this, but got too distracted to listen to it, so I figured the graphic novel version would work better...moreI had originally tried the audiobook version of this, but got too distracted to listen to it, so I figured the graphic novel version would work better (which it did). The book is set in the not-too-distant-future and is about fireman Guy Montag, whose job is to find all books and burn them and the houses that contain them down. He has been a fireman for years and always liked his job, until he is questioned by a young free-spirited girl named Clarissa, who opens up his eyes and makes him question everything. He ends up hoarding a book from a burning and reads it and soon he is devouring all the books he can get his hands on. His wife ends up betraying him and he has to burn down his own house, but ends up killing his boss and escaping with some books. He joins a group of intellectuals who have each memorized one book and when it is safe, they will write them all down. Recommended for ages 13+, 3 stars. (less)
This copy has 341 pages. I've tried reading this book on and off for a month now and I just can't get through it (ended up reading about half of it)....moreThis copy has 341 pages. I've tried reading this book on and off for a month now and I just can't get through it (ended up reading about half of it). I was trying to read it for my Banned Book Club, which is meeting this week. It's not that it's a bad book, it's just dense and a bit rambling. The story is about this Lithuanian family that immigrates from Europe to Chicago and ends up working in the stockyards (meat processing plants). They take any job they can get and work for pennies per hour to bring home a few dollars each day. They buy a house but are continually behind in rent and interest. Everyone gets sick and they have a very hard life.
The descriptions of the work and things they do at the stockyards is enough to make a person vegetarian and an animal rights activist. As is described on the author description at the beginning of my copy of the book, because of this book "The president invited Sinclair to the White House and solicited his advice on how to make inspections safer. By June 30, Congress had passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, cracking down on unsafe food and patent medicines, and the Meat Inspection Act. To this day, our hamburgers, chicken patties and other meats are safeguarded by the same law (http://www.capitalcentury.com/1906.html)." Another thing I liked from the above website, is that Lord Winston Churchill said the book ""pierces the thickest skull and most leathery heart."(less)
This version of Ivanhoe was a BBC production entirely voiced by actor Christopher Lee, which I thought was pretty cool, as he voiced all the character...moreThis version of Ivanhoe was a BBC production entirely voiced by actor Christopher Lee, which I thought was pretty cool, as he voiced all the characters. The story was a little hard to follow with all the French/Norman names and the difficult prose, but eventually I got the gist of it. I will say that if this book wasn't in audiobook format, I probably would've given up on it. I liked that Robin of Locksley was in the book, though I couldn't really figure out why, other than Scott must've have needed another former crusader on the side of Richard.
I apologize in advance at the ramblingness of this summary. It is a little over 100 years after the Norman invasion of England, when King Richard the Lionheart is in the Holy Land for the Crusades, his brother John is trying to seize the throne and the Saxons still don't like their Norman overlords. The story takes place in Yorkshire, and centers on a Saxon family led by a man named Cedric. His son, Wilfred (aka Ivanhoe) is in love with Cedric's ward, a beautiful young woman named Rowena. However, Cedric is determined to marry her off to Athelstane, another more well-off Saxon noble, and disinherits his son because of this. According to this blogger (http://coversgirl.blogspot.com/2007/0...), "Prince John takes it upon himself to find an advantageous, Norman husband for the Saxon princess Rowena, and Cedric wants her to marry Athelstane in the hope that the two together will form a powerful figurehead for a Saxon rebellion." Ivanhoe goes with Richard to the Crusades, but secretly returns to fight in a joust with the Knight Templar Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert. Isaac of York, a Jew, and his daughter Rebecca get involved with the proceedings the night before the joust and get sucked into the book's turmoil. On the way back home after the joust, all of the Saxons and the Jews, who are carrying away an injured Ivanhoe, are attacked by a disguised group of robbers and taken to a Norman castle. Rebecca is taken by Sir Brian, who tries to force himself on her. Later she is taken with him to the Templar stronghold, and is accused of being a sorceress because of her healing abilities. The book is very anti-Jew and women-are-helpless- stupid-creatures mentality, but that is in keeping with the time the book was set in. Will Ivanhoe ever be able to see the fair Rowena? Just who is the mysterious Black Knight and what is his true purpose? Will Rebecca be saved from her awful fate of burning at the stake for supposedly being a witch? To find out, check out this adventure novel. To see another good review of "Ivanhoe," check out this blog: http://theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.... 3 stars. (less)