I didn't like this any better than I did when I first read it as a youngster. (view spoiler)[
The Bird's Christmas Carol is one of those moral tales a I didn't like this any better than I did when I first read it as a youngster. (view spoiler)[
The Bird's Christmas Carol is one of those moral tales about a saintly child who contracts an unspecified Victorian disease and dies at the end of the story after morally uplifting the lives of everyone around them. I've always liked Victorian Kid Lit, but this one didn't do a thing for me despite its moments of humor. I reread it because I'd recently read Mother Carey's Chickens by the same author, a book which I simply loved it. I was hoping that my indifference towards this book had been due to reading it at too young an age. But my first impression hasn't changed. (hide spoiler)]...more
I wanted to like this book. I enjoyed the little historical background illustrations that showed how a coracle was constructed, the order of strokes fI wanted to like this book. I enjoyed the little historical background illustrations that showed how a coracle was constructed, the order of strokes for the uncial alphabet, and the steps in cutting a quill pen. But -- puhleeze -- could we dispense with the depiction of the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages, a period "of ignorance and the shadow it cast over people's mind"? That's such a tired old stereotype! And despite the mention of monasteries and scribes, the religious element of Columcille's story was totally excised.
A better choice would be The Man Who Loved Books by Jean Fritz. I blogged about it here:
If ever a book deserved to be thrown against a wall, this is that book. Mawkishly sick, twisted, and wrong. A distorted portrayal of giving that shoulIf ever a book deserved to be thrown against a wall, this is that book. Mawkishly sick, twisted, and wrong. A distorted portrayal of giving that should never be read to little girls unless you want to raise co-dependent females looking for abusive relationships.
Maybe I'm just taking it too seriously. Some people claim that it's a satire. If so, it's a bit too subtle for a child audience given the book's ending....more
This was on the For Sale stack at the library, and I snatched it up because I've loved every other book by this author which I've ever read.
It's a stThis was on the For Sale stack at the library, and I snatched it up because I've loved every other book by this author which I've ever read.
It's a story about four siblings who have been sent to spend the summer with a great aunt and uncle while their parents are working out the details of their divorce. All of the kids are miserable at being removed from their home, friends, and neighborhood. And they are sooo bored. And then certain elements creep into the story which seem to indicate that this will either be a fantasy or a book with supernatural bits. But alas! It all turns out to be merely psychological.
The eldest, Nels, is coping with the pressures of having to parent the younger children while himself grieving over his parents' abandonment. And he's secretly worrying about where and with whom they'll all be living after the summer ends. Unbenownst to his siblings, their father has privately proposed that Nels go to live with him in Alaska after the divorce. Nels doesn't know what he wants to do, and as the summer progresses, withdraws further and further from his brothers and sister. Then he discovers a wonderful secret and a perfect friend. Or has he?
I think the book would have been much improved if it had been more ambiguous about whether Nels' adventures with Alan had really taken place. But to be baldly informed at the very end that it was "all in his head" was deeply disappointing and far too didactic for my taste.
And I was kind of repulsed by the book's "lesson" which was that kids must stick together because adults cannot be depended on for anything. Family identity has shrunk to kids only. As he tells his younger brother on the last page, "All us kids have to to stay together, that's the big thing. We've got to promise> each other. If we stick together, then whatever happens outside -- whatever the grown-ups do -- it won't matter so much D'you see? We'll still be us."
Perhaps this was not a surprising conclusion for the children to have come to since their parents had shuttled them off to spend their summer in a holding pattern. (And by the way, I wondered why the children had to be sent away even though their mother was now working. Nels was 12, and their mother had planned that during the school year he'd take care of the other children after they got home from school. So why couldn't they have spent the summer in the security of their own home? I'm sure there were latch-key children back in 1977. I felt that the whole dislocation thing was just a clumsy device by the author to set her characters up for a particular psychological response.
Evelyn Sibley Lampman was a favorite author whose City Under the Back Steps and Shy Stegasaurus of Cricket Creek I read and reread when I was a littleEvelyn Sibley Lampman was a favorite author whose City Under the Back Steps and Shy Stegasaurus of Cricket Creek I read and reread when I was a little girl because in those days they were the closest thing to fantasy and science fiction to be found in the little library near the Navy housing project where we lived. Each time our family was transferred, I would check the local library to see if they had any more of Lampman's titles. I was able to read quite a few, but never realized how many books she wrote until the advent of the Internet.
Navajo Sister is one of Lampman's realistic books. Published in 1956, It's about a young Navajo girl who has been brought up by her grandmother. The two of them are pitied by other members of the tribe because they have no clan, no extended family. Worried about her granddaughter's future, Grandmother decides to send her away to school. (This book would probably not be published today because of its positive portrayal of the boarding school where Navajo children were sent to learn English and vocational training.)
I originally read this when I was quite young and recall liking it as I was always curious about people of other cultures, especially when they encountered cultures foreign to them. Vivid mental images from it have stayed with me all these years. I'll rate the book after I've finished rereading it.
Update: Yes, I liked it as much as I did when I was a kid. The author did a good job of presenting the dominant culture through the eyes of an outsider. Simultaneously, through the main character's thoughts and reactions, she conveyed information about Navajo culture to her readers. The emphasis of the book was on learning the English language and the Anglo technology and way of doing things in order to adopt those elements that would be useful in making a life in the modern world while acknowledging the value of Navajo culture. ...more
This book is shelved with the YA in our public library, but I would have put it into Children's. It reads younger than YA, but sRip-roaring good fun!
This book is shelved with the YA in our public library, but I would have put it into Children's. It reads younger than YA, but since the protagonists are about 14 that's probably appropriate. (Typically kids like to read about characters who are a bit older than themselves.)
Although I ended up enjoying it, I would probably not have picked up this book had my daughter not recommended it. For one thing, I have a problem with the whole alternate history/steam punk thing. I guess I was off doing something else when this subgenre first appeared on the scene, so I'm not used to its conventions, and it also hit me as cheap world building. I mean, you don't want it to take place in our world, but you want to use our world's history as a short cut to nuances and resonance. Why not make up your own world with its own history?
However, once I got past that, I really enjoyed the book because its such a fun adventure story. I mean, Tesla lightning cannons! Ya gotta love it! (Just cover your mental ears to block out the questions about how the Darwinists could possibly be genetically engineering their biological airships with Victorian technology.) Girl protagonist disguised as a boy so she can follow in her father's footsteps as an airman. Male protagonist, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and also in disguise), is on the run from the baddies that have just murdered his parents. And World War I is just about to break out, Britian's Darwinist culture vs. the German's steam-driven mechanical culture.
Send your critical faculties on holiday and then enjoy this book....more
This book, and others in the series, were among my favorites when I was a little girl. I recently picked this up and reread it, and discovered that IThis book, and others in the series, were among my favorites when I was a little girl. I recently picked this up and reread it, and discovered that I am still charmed by the humor....more
Currently rereading this because I've just gotten a copy of the second book in the series and want to be able to judge it in the context of the first.Currently rereading this because I've just gotten a copy of the second book in the series and want to be able to judge it in the context of the first.
Hey, still good the second time around!
In an alternate universe, young G.K. Chesterton meets the young H.G. Wells while on assignment to write about some strange "meteors." Yep, it's the War of the Worlds as the Martians invade England. The two young men are soon joined by Father Brown and a mysterious fellow known only as The Doctor (but not the one you're thinking of) and there's enough action, adventure, gore and slime -- not to mention mysterious secret societies -- to delight the heart of any young boy.
I particularly liked the way the author mashed together the Mars of C.S. Lewis and Edgar Rice Burroughs with the Mars of the real H.G. Wells. And did I mention that it's a steam punk England with analytical engines and air ships? And don't forget the mysterious red-haired girl! She's not only gorgeous; she's quite capable.
The author's love for the real G.K. Chesterton shines through the story. Each chapter is headed with a quote from the works of G.K.C., and he helpfully gives the citations for the quotes at the end of the book -- something I appreciated. And in the course of the novel the author manages to compare and contrast Chesterton's philosophy with that of the fellows he used to argue against. (I know I should be more specific, but it's really late at night.) ...more