Monday, December 3, 2012

November 2012 Book Reports

Seventeenth Swap by Eloise McGraw is the story of a young babysitter, Eric, who decides to buy a pair of outrageous red cowboy boots for his even younger charge, a boy in a wheelchair. To do so, Eric begins a series of swaps to trade up for the money he needs, making new friends and finding new opportunities as he does so. It's a nice enough story, but there's not much development of the relationship between Eric and the boy he babysits. Also, I'm ambivalent of Eric's realization a pronounced flaw in his father's character. Of course, parents are not perfect, but I don't see a need to read aloud a book that emphasizes that fact with my little children (8, 6, 4, and 2). If First Son wanted to read this book I would let him, but I'm not going to read it aloud. (library copy)

A Catholic Family Advent: Prayers and Activities by Susan Hines-Brigger (a review for The Catholic Company)

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein is one of Kansas Dad's books. I found it on the shelf and managed to read it before he did. In the book, a penal colony on the moon becomes a permanent home for generations of men and women for whom physiological changes preclude ever returning to Earth. Run by a demanding corporation, the narrator and a few friends orchestrate a revolt with the help of a sentient computer. Heinlein is able to discuss and present his views on revolution, 1960s culture, and government in the course of the story. It was exciting, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Recommended. (purchased copy)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is what historical fiction should be, punctuated by innovative use of photographs, movie stills, and black and white narrative illustrations. The whole book gives the impression of a classic silent movie (purposefully). I've heard there's a movie version coming out soon (or recently out?) and I don't know anything about that, but I loved this book and am putting it on First Son's independent reading list for third grade. (library copy)

Breakdown by Katherine Amt Hanna is the story of a man making his peace with an alternative world in which a virus destroys all the computers and a plague kills huge swaths of the populations. Chris loses his wife and infant daughter to the plague. In the six years after their deaths, he wanders dangerous roads and works his way back to England where he tries to make peace with his family and friends. It's a enjoyable book despite a few weaknesses. I spent a whole day reading it. (Kindle version borrowed for free from the Kindle lending library)

The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat is the only book I've ever read that takes place when Cromwell was in power. It's an older book and reads much like a Swiss Family Robinson in an English forest - four children loyal to the King escape certain death to make their living as children of a forester. The boys hunt and garden. The girls cook and clean. (The girls barely feature in the book.) I found only one really disparaging reference to Catholics, though there is a disturbing portrayal of a gypsy they "capture" in a pit and then seem to domesticate. I decided rather quickly not to read it aloud to the children but finished it just to see what would happen to the family. (free Kindle version)

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross (inter-library loan)

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (library copy)

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger is a pretty entertaining book that follows the story of a group of sixth graders fascinated by the origami Yoda made by a member of their group who starts giving advice. The variety of voices in the book (presented as a series of case files written by different children at the school) and the drawings on the pages are fun. I decided against sharing it with First Son, though, mainly because he's only in third grade. A great number of the interactions in the book focused on boy/girl relationships (of which he has none that are not youthful friendships). The kids also call each other bad names all the time (things like loser and stupid). First Son has heard all those words and even used them occassionally, but they seemed to be everywhere in the book. (library copy)

Books in Progress (and date started)


  1. Yes, the movie is called Hugo. A store was selling the DVD's for $6 after Thanksgiving, but I decided to see if Amanda would be interested in the book before showing the kids the movie.
    I've been enjoying my increased reading time lately, though I still only aim to average a book a week. I might have a few recommendations for you, though. =)

    1. Tiffany, please share! I think I like adding to my book list more than I like reading.


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