Friday, February 3, 2012

January 2012 Book Report

Summer's Crossing by Julie Kagawa is a short story in a world she created based on A Midsummer Night's Dream. Parts of it were wonderfully written and it seems like the series (The Iron Fey) may be appropriate for late middle school or early high school age children. (Kindle version, available for free for a limited time)

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco is a delightful story of a stuffed rabbit who is loved enough by his Boy to become real (courtesy of a nursery fairy). It's embarrassing, really, that I hadn't read it sooner. (free Kindle version without illustrations, other Kindle versions are available that do include illustrations)

Making Sense Out of Suffering by Peter Kreeft attempts to address the problem of evil - explaining the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving God when bad things happen to good people. I was going to write a long review of it, but a certain someone of a small stature removed all my bookmarks and crumbled them to bits, so here's the condensed version. I wasn't overly impressed or satisfied with this book. I intend to read The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis...eventually. (library copy)

The Fighting Ground by Avi was a book I considered for our Revolutionary War studies this year. Jonathan, disobeying his mother and father, follows the Corporal into battle and is captured by Hessian soldiers. The events take place in less than two days. It's fascinating, exciting and scary. Jonathan learns much about himself, war, and his father. First Son would probably be fine reading this book (at age 8), but I'm not ready for the girls to hear it. I think I'll set it aside and ask First Son to read it to himself the next time we study the Revolutionary War or he can read it as independent reading in third grade next year. (purchased copy)

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen is a lovely story of Marly and her family's year living on Maple Hill in Pennsylvania after her father returns from WWII. Full of descriptions of nature, sugaring, and the seasons, it's a wonderful book to help develop a sense of place and home for children (by encouraging them to engage with their home as Marly and her brother, Joe, engage with theirs). Because the descriptions and storyline make it difficult to tell when the story takes place, I do think it will be important to discuss the 1940s and 1950s depictions of differences in expectations for boys and girls, but the sweet story is worth that little investment. I think we'll read it together next year, when First Son is in third grade and First Daughter is in kindergarten. (purchased copy)

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks is the fascinating story of a young boy who learns his cabinet can turn toys to life with a twist of one of his mother's keys. I read it when I was young but didn't really remember it. There's no doubt it's an exciting book, full of friendship and danger....but, the depictions of the cowboy and Indian are rather awful. I could see using this book in lessons by asking a student to detail the errors in a report after reading the book, but I'm not going to use it as a read-aloud. If my children find this book on their own and want to read it, I'll let them after a little talk about stereotypes and racism. I haven't read any of the sequels, but from summaries I found online they seem to become even more unrealistic than the first one. (library copy)

How to Be a Sister: A Love Story with a Twist of Autism by Eileen Garvin is a memoir by a woman describing her relationship with her older sister who has autism. I don't have a sister with autism, but I do have a sister who is completely different from me, in nearly every way, and who will probably always need someone to watch over her. I enjoyed this book and especially loved how the author describes her mother's relationship with her sister. I thought it was honest in the difficulties of having a sibling with autism without being harsh. I did think some of the chapters didn't flow well with the rest of the book, as if they had been written as essays and then tacked on instead of integrated. (inter-library loan)

The Lathe Of Heaven: A Novel by Ursula Le Guin was the first book I read for my class (ha!). In this novel, George Orr has effective dreams, dreams which don't just come true. They change reality itself. The book is full of opportunities for thinking about reality, society, culture, love, relationships and a host of other issues. Highly recommended, especially if you can sneak into a college seminar to discuss it. (desk copy)

Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry is a lesson in story telling and writing from Gooney Bird Greene, a second grader. She tells a number of stories with explanations of character development, language and plot. I expected it to be contrived, but it flowed well and was quite amusing. As an additional advantage, Gooney Bird's fashion sense is exactly like Second Daughter's. I think we'll read this aloud. (library copy)

I expect next month's reading list to be full of books for the science fiction class and books I'm previewing for third grade. (It's that time of the year, when I'm more excited about planning next year's booklist than finishing the current grade.)

1 comment:

  1. Aw, I loved the Velveteen Rabbit as a child, and still do. There are some beautifully illustrated versions out there.

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