Pretty amazing how Rebecca Stead blends together issues of adolescence (making and losing friends, first crushes, learning to live with your parents)...morePretty amazing how Rebecca Stead blends together issues of adolescence (making and losing friends, first crushes, learning to live with your parents) with mystery, adventure, a deep sense of what growing up in Manhattan means, and science fiction a la Madeleine L'Engle. I loved this book as an adult, and man would I have loved it at 11 or 12!(less)
Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series is a favorite of mine from childhood, and a series I think every child should read. It's full of history, mystery...moreSusan Cooper's Dark is Rising series is a favorite of mine from childhood, and a series I think every child should read. It's full of history, mystery, and enough magic and suspense to make it one of the top ten fantasy series out there. A particularly good series for kids who are into King Arthur and other British folklore.
Over Sea, Under Stone is slightly different in tone than the other four books in the series - it's more of an adventure story than a fantastical, slightly philosophical look at good versus evil that the rest of the books in the series become, but it's also my favorite in the series because it introduces us to three compelling kid protagonists who will drive the series (along with Will - added in in book two) for the rest of our journey. When I was little I found the kids' search, and their mysterious enemies, chilling and exciting. As an adult, even knowing "how it all ends" I found it no less compelling.(less)
Although this is the book in the series that amps up the truly fantastical elements of the story (and sets the tone for the remaining novels), I've ju...moreAlthough this is the book in the series that amps up the truly fantastical elements of the story (and sets the tone for the remaining novels), I've just never liked it as much as the other four in the series. I think it's in large part because it gets off to a slow start, but I also think that the characters are fairly emotionless. Even as a child I didn't relate to Will in this book - although I really like him in subsequent books in the series, particularly The Grey King. Merriman is nowhere near as paternal as he is in Over Sea, Under Stone, which humanizes him a great deal and makes him a much more compelling character.
I always felt like this book was a little bit of a standalone in the series, but it's no less important to read because of the aforementioned tone setting, but also because it has some really cool philosophical ideas on life, choice, and good versus evil that are pretty advanced for a book for kids not quite old enough to read, and fully comprehend, Phillip Pullman's worlds.(less)
It's easy to see why this is the book in the series that won the Newbery. While to me, no book in the series truly captures the mystery and the dark f...moreIt's easy to see why this is the book in the series that won the Newbery. While to me, no book in the series truly captures the mystery and the dark forboding quality as well as Over Sea, Under Stone, this is the most mature book in the series as it deals with gruesome tragedy and also deepens the series' ties to Welsh/British myth and culture.(less)
Where do I begin with a book that in one reading I've promoted to my list of "all-time favorites" - a list usually reserved for beloved books from chi...moreWhere do I begin with a book that in one reading I've promoted to my list of "all-time favorites" - a list usually reserved for beloved books from childhood that have withstood my simple "do I just love this for nostalgia reasons" test. There are multiple layers of excellence working in this story of a young turn of the 20th century, Southern girl, awakening to the opportunities for females, but still struggling with a society that refuses to accept that women can be men's equals. Callie Vee, our heroine, is a worthy successor to "spunky female protagonist" title held by characters like To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout, and Anne of Green Gables. This book follows her through the second half of 1899 after she has discovered a scientific kinship with her intimidating war-hero grandfather. The two explore the natural world together as Callie navigates her six brothers' first crushes, her own introduction to housework (which she loathes) by her well-meaning, but woefully misguided mother, and life at the turn of the 20th century.
The book has enough subtle humor and winks to its audience to keep older readers engaged, but Callie's various, mostly humorous, adventures will appeal to younger readers. The book never shies away from the historical truth that being a young female scientist in Texas in 1899 is not only not easy - it might very well be impossible, and this fact casts a bittersweet emotional depth to the novel, the sort of depth that renders books "classic." And sadly - according to accounts from friends, and the never-ending examples of gender inequalities that we see every day in television ads, news reports, etc. being a scientifically-inclined young woman, or even just aspiring to a career that doesn't involve marriage, or babies, or "keeping house" is still far from a given ten years into the 21ST century.
But as I said from the start - there are a multitude of amazing layers I could get into with this book (it's also a fresh look at turn of the century America!). This is definitely a must-read for kids of all ages - particularly for girls who dream of something bigger in life.(less)
I liked Anne of Avonlea when I was little well enough, but always sort of saw it as a bridge book between the excitement of getting to know Anne in he...moreI liked Anne of Avonlea when I was little well enough, but always sort of saw it as a bridge book between the excitement of getting to know Anne in her first novel, and getting to see that moment when she FINALLY REALIZES SHE AND GILBERT ARE MADE FOR EACH OTHER (after of course a near tragic loss of quite frankly the best male romantic counterpart of any book I've ever read. period.) in Anne of the Island. This time around though, I realized something else. In the past few years, I've revisited a lot of childhood favorites (the most distinctive beyond this book being the Last Unicorn movie, not book sadly) and thought to myself, huh...that's why I'm the woman I am today. Anne is such an accidental feminist in this novel - making sacrifices for Marilla, working hard against all odds to teach and also learn for herself, completely not getting why all of her friends are so desperate to "settle down with a man," and ultimately fighting to the end to achieve her goals. Granted - she's still looking for love herself, but who isn't?
I also liked the Davy and Dora sideplot more this time around than I did when I originally read the series. I do have to jump ahead a bit though and admit that I'm skipping over most of "Davy's letters" in Anne of the Island - but more on that later....
Re-reading these books this summer was the smartest thing I've done in awhile - it's so nice to revisit Avonlea and some of my favorite literary characters of all time.(less)
You know? I remember loving this book when I first read it, and re-read it in high school, and re-re-read it in my early twenties, but this time aroun...moreYou know? I remember loving this book when I first read it, and re-read it in high school, and re-re-read it in my early twenties, but this time around I wasn't quite as starry-eyed about it. Basically everything that doesn't involve Anne and Gilbert (excluding some great scenes with Diana, Ruby, and Jane and some fun college stuff involving Anne's three roommates) felt like filler. The letters from Davy are particularly tedious (as I mentioned in my review for Anne of Avonlea - I was never really on the Davy/Dora bandwagon to begin with and his misspelled missives of boyhood antics are pretty tedious).
Still though - a bonus star for the last chapter.(less)
Another interesting one to re-read as an adult. I have to admit, I was starting to sympathize with Leslie Moore in this book when she says that she re...moreAnother interesting one to re-read as an adult. I have to admit, I was starting to sympathize with Leslie Moore in this book when she says that she resents Anne her happiness - books 3 & 4, and maybe book 2 are all about the precious adorableness of every single thing in Anne's life (which is why I think I especially get tired of Davy, and Elizabeth, and all the other charming sad little children that Anne saves...). But this is the book where I think things start getting more interesting - we see Anne lose a child, in the next book we see her having problems with Gilbert, Rainbow Valley's a bit of a blippy lark, although it does have its moments of realism, and then we end with Rilla of Ingleside, one of the saddest, most realistic accounts of World War I and the people left behind that I've read.
I'll always love these books first and foremost for the charming depictions of PEI life, for the sweet and simple romance between Gilbert and Anne, for the strength of her love for Marilla, Matthew, Diana, etc., and for Anne's ahead-of-her time brightness and creative way of looking at the world but it's interesting to revisit them and discover the subtle depth that pervades these books, particularly the later ones.(less)
People complain that this book doesn't have enough about Anne or her family in it, but I've always kind of liked it anyway (maybe because I'm a fan of...morePeople complain that this book doesn't have enough about Anne or her family in it, but I've always kind of liked it anyway (maybe because I'm a fan of L.M. Montgomery's other books too, and not just the Anne series). Mostly, the book is about the Merediths, the children of an absent-minded widower minister. The Merediths are far more exciting characters than Anne's children (at least in this book - Rilla of Ingleside is my favorite and focuses more on Anne's brood) and I love the side story of Rosemary and Ellen West and Norman Douglass, some of the most compelling characters that we encounter in the entire series. A little too much Susan Baker in this book, but still - this is one of my favorites in the series - like the original Anne of Green Gables, this book manages to capture both the inherent happiness of childhood the sad truth of how easy it is to break a child's heart through neglect.(less)
God - I just love this book so much. And now as an adult I've learned how groundbreaking the book was (one of the only books written by a woman as she...moreGod - I just love this book so much. And now as an adult I've learned how groundbreaking the book was (one of the only books written by a woman as she was living through World War I, that focuses on Canada's importance in the war efforts) which makes it all the more amazing. Such a fitting end to the series in my opinion even if it is completely different in tone and style then any of the other books in the series.(less)