Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Reports, Fourth Quarter 2010


A Literary Education by Catherine Levinson is a list of books Ms. Levinson found particularly appropriate for a Charlotte Mason education. I loved how she provided a paragraph of description for each book as well as suggested read aloud and independent reading levels. A great many of these were ones I had already read and many of the ones new to me are out of print, but some of them were intriguing enough I will try to seek them out to read myself.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton was recommended as a real-aloud for first grade on the Mater Amabilis website. I picked up some of the later books at a library book sale, but hadn't read them or this one before. It's a delightful story of "borrowers" who live beneath the kitchen of an English home and what happens when they are "seen." I'm not sure First Son is quite ready for it and think I'll save it until First Daughter is more likely to listen as well. I enjoyed it quite a lot!

The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma by Alex Kotlowitz is the story of the death of a young man (16 year old Eric) and two towns across a river from each other: one where he lived, the other where he was last seen. It's mainly about race and race relations in America. I think it's important to remind myself how far we have to go in terms of race in this country (having a black sister and a sister-in-law from El Salvador), but this particular book seemed a little repetitive after awhile.

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell is the story of a Navaho girl kidnapped and sold into slavery who escapes in time to be forced with her family and community on The Long Walk. I think it could be a useful addition to a history unit for older children.

A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla is a nice little story of Amanda, Jemmy and Meg, who travel from London to the New World in 1609 to join their father. It is full of hardship, uncertainty, and quite a bit of excitement as they are shipwrecked along the way. First Son will definitely be reading this aloud later this year. Clyde Robert Bulla is now officially one of my favorite authors of books for children. Like the ones I mentioned in the last book report post, this one seems to be around the second or maybe third grade level. I believe First Son could read it easily at this point.

How Do You Tuck in a Superhero? by Rachel Balducci

The Power of the Sacraments (a review for The Catholic Company) by Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C.

The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Robert Bulla, a preview for First Son, has much more of friendship than ghosts in it.


A Bedside Book of Saints by Fr. Aloysius Roche

The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland

My Journey to the Land of More (a review for The Catholic Company) by Leona Choy

The First Christians (a review for Sophia Institute Press) by Marigold Hunt

Ring of Bright Water (Penguin Nature Classics Series) by Gavin Maxwell was on my list of potential books for First Son when he is older. At first, I couldn't figure out how it ended it up on the list. Then I reached Part II "Living with Otters." Maxwell's descriptions of procuring, traveling with, and living with his otters are informative and entertaining. I think boys a little older than First Son might enjoy listening to excerpts while a couple more years would give enough reading experience to read it themselves. Parents may want to research Maxwell's life before allowing children to do so on their own.

How to Raise a Healthy Spite of Your Doctor by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce. I wanted to write a whole blog post about this book, but didn't have time to write something detailed enough before it had to go back to inter-library loan. I struggled with this book at first because much of what she says of the women in the Quiverfull families fits what I often strive to accomplish in our family life (managing the household tasks so Kansas Dad can focus on other things, preparing many foods from scratch to save money or improve our health, serving others as a way to serve Christ...I could go on). I was also quite disturbed that there are no footnotes or endnotes. It's a serious flaw in the book (though one I've read should be blamed on the publisher rather than the author). The later chapters in the book seemed to better describe the characteristics of Quiverfull families that set them apart from families that may be conservative but not so focused on patriarchy. I found those chapters much more interesting. I could write at length on ways I disagree with the author and ways I disagree with the Patriarchy movement (at least as she describes it), but I did think the book was interesting.


The Trial by Franz Kafka was confusing and disturbing. At least, as Kansas Dad pointed out, now I will better understand when someone describes something as Kafkaesque.

Our First Pony by Marguerite Henry is one I picked up at a used book sale. I love Henry's horse stories growing up, though this is one I had not seen before. It's a cute story and one I think I'll read to the kids later this school year.

Stories of the Child Jesus from Many Lands by A. Fowler Lutz is a book I was considering for our Christmas reading but have decided to set it aside until my children are a little older. Most of the stories involve people, mainly children, who do dangerous deeds for others (like going out in a snow storm to deliver Christmas gifts to the needy in the middle of the night without parents or rowing out into a stormy sea to rescue people from a shipwreck). While I want my children to be willing to sacrifice for others, I wasn't sure I was ready for them to see someone sneaking out without a parent's permission to do their good deeds. One story in particular gave me concern when two children are kidnapped and told they will be beheaded and their heads sent to their parents on Christmas Day. They escape and their captor dies a gruesome death, but I didn't want First Daughter in particular to start thinking someone might actually try to do something like that to them. These are moral tales, not true tales (as far as I know, though they are all possible for God), and some of them are quite good. We'll read them, just not for a while.

Celebrating Saints and Seasons: Hundreds of Activities for Catholic Children by Jeanne Hunt (a review for The Catholic Company)

The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families--How they Do It  by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar was an interesting look at the lives of the Duggars. I'd never seen the show, so everything was new to me. They write of wide-ranching topics like child-rearing, organizing, and building their house.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a wonderful little book. It's a shame I waited so long to read it. I think it's still a little too dense for my children to enjoy. I don't want to ruin it for myself (or them later on) so we won't read it together anytime soon, but I do highly recommend it.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan is a tale of schoolchildren who save Norway's gold after the Nazis invade. It's based on a true story and is well-written. This is definitely on my list for First Son.

Once again, I encountered an error from Blogger with my labels. Here are the additional ones I would have included if I had more than 200 characters: Advent and Christmas, American, Colonial, race, natural sciences, society, guardian angels, archangels, feast day, World War II, Lent. I think next year I'll try to write summaries every month or every other month to try to avoid this problem.


  1. Snow Treasure sounds like something we would like, and I'll add it to my list. And Our First Pony, too - Amanda is reading another of Henry's books right now, and I see a lot of horse books in our future.
    By the way, we're still reading Christmas books here, and I'd like to make a list of good books to read between Christmas and Epiphany for next year. If you have any suggestions, please pass them along!

  2. Tiffany, Snow Treasure was definitely one of my favorites.

    Are you trying to focus on something specific between Christmas and Epiphany? I was trying to decide if we should read certain kinds of Christmas books during the Christmas season (next year; we didn't do anything this year because I was so sick!). I was thinking of writing up all our Advent / Christmas books with descriptions and reactions but I'm not sure I'll get to that now.


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