Friday, August 3, 2012

July 2012 Book Reports

Earthquake at Dawn by Kristina Gregory is a fictional account of Edith Irvine's experiences of the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. She was an amateur photographer whose prints survived 80 years in a trunk before they were donated to Brigham Young University by her nephew. They show a devastated city. I had considered reading this aloud next year along with our American History studies but decided it would not be engaging enough for First Son, mainly due to its focus on the young women and families rather than the excitement and danger of the firefighters and other rescuers. I'll put it on the list for consideration when the girls are older. (library copy)

Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh is a well-written account of Edmund Campion's life and martyrdom. I had wondered if it might be more nuanced than Edmund Campion: Hero of God's Underground which I read last May. I find it tells nearly the same story. I suppose it's not quite so black and white, but there is no redemption for the leaders of the English Reformation in Waugh's book. I do recommend it for anyone interested in the life of Edmund Campion. (inter-library loan)

Made to Crave by Lisa TerKeust (purchased copy)

The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum (library copy)

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright is a nice little book about nine-year-old Garnet's summer days on a farm in Wisconsin in the late 1930s. The drought is breaking and it seems to be a summer of joys and fun. There's no dramatic plot, just a series of events in Garnet's life, most of which are the kind I'd love for my children to have. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the importance smell has in the descriptions. With air conditioners and machinery, I think the good smells of life have been diminished.  The book has a major flaw, though. The text talks repeatedly of one of Garnet's friends being "fat" while the illustrations show them both as very slim. It would be hard for a young girl not to wonder exactly how thin you can be and still be fat. We might read this as one of our read-alouds this coming year, but I doubt I'll show those illustrations if we do. (purchased at a library sale)

The Story of King Arthur (Dover Children's Thrift Classics) by Tom Crawford was on our list for last year's history reading but we didn't get to it. I read it this summer thinking I might give it to First Son for independent reading but I was rather disappointed. It's the bare story of King Arthur (mainly Sir Lancelot) and not much else. (purchased copy)

Old Sam, Dakota Trotter by Don Alonzo Taylor is now on our list of read-aloud books for American history. It's written based on the memories of the author's childhood in Dakota Territory. Exciting and entertaining, it's perfect for boys but I expect all my children to enjoy it. (purchased copy; I bought mine from Bethlehem Books)

Louisa May Alcott, Young Writer by Laurence Santrey is a nice little book on Louisa May Alcott. I intend to ask First Son to read it independently (which he should be able to do in a single sitting) if we read Little Women together as a family this year.  (received from my mom; I think she bought it at a thrift store)

A Picture Book of the Mass from Catholic Icing (review copy)

The Story of Christianity: Volume Two - The Reformation to the Present Day by Justo L. Gonzalez was recommended to me by Kansas Dad when I was looking for a broad overview of the Reformation to prepare myself for the upcoming school year. He said it wasn't very entertaining, but I found it to be a relatively easy read for the weight and breadth of the topic, treated with broad strokes, of course. I believe the author is Catholic, but did not think it was biased against the Protestants. I learned a great amount about the Reformation in a relatively short number of pages, so would recommend it to homeschooling moms. So far I've only read the Reformation section, but I plan to read the rest of this volume as well. (Kansas Dad's copy; a new edition is available)

Chike and the River by Chinua Achebe showed up in a library search I made for "Niger River." Chike is eleven and longs to cross the Niger River, though he lacks the money for the ferry. A reader will learn along with Chike about honesty, wisdom, trust, friendship, and courage, along with some well-written descriptions of life in a Nigerian village. I intend to include this with our study of 52 Days by Camel, though I haven't decided if I will read it aloud or if First Son will read it to the rest of us. Highly recommended. (library copy)

Help Me Pray (a review for Catholic Company)

1 comment:

  1. I got the book, Thimble Summer, when I was a kid and I did not recall the friend being called fat in description, but thin in the pictures. I just now had to go get the book and skim it a little and look at the pictures. You are right! I never noticed that as a kid. And I know I read it a bunch of times. If they happen to see the pictures, then you can have a discussion about how the illustrator's picture is different from the author's description. :)

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