Thursday, April 4, 2013

March 2013 Book Reports

Ice Age by Brian Freemantle is a science fiction book about a virus released from the melting ice caps. There are too many problems with this book to mention. Please don't read it. (purchased for the Kindle when it was a Kindle Daily Deal)

"B" Is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood is a sweet little story of young Betsy in her first year of school. If you have a young reader eager for chapter books, it would be a good choice. Personally, I don't think it's as good as Happy Little Family, but it may be easier to find. (library copy)

Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life by Mike Aquilina is a collection of essays on Catholic family life. The short essays are a good length for harried parents of young children and do a nice job of connecting what we do as we move through our days with spiritual growth and the life of the Church. (inter-library loan)

Chucaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa by Francis Kalnay is more the story of the gaucho Juan than the wild pony, but it's a quiet story of the pampa of Argentina. It's recommended by Mater Amabilis for Level 2 when reading about the Americas. I thought it was amusing at times and a nice little book (probably a bit easier reading than First Son will need in fourth grade). I'm happy with this book as one of the three he'll read, but I'm open to other ideas for South American books. (Secret of the Andes is an option as well, but I'm not sure how much he'd enjoy it.) (library copy)

The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money by Carl Richards is mostly a book on investing. Kansas Dad and I don't do a lot of that. (We have some retirement accounts, but nothing we spend any time on.) I found this book fascinating, though, because it really encourages people to think about their own goals and dreams, then pick a financial strategy. It's inspired me (and therefore Kansas Dad) to take a little time this year to review our financial goals and how we plan to reach them. Last year, we focused on our physical health. I'm not at the end of that journey yet, but I think I'm ready to tackle something else in the same way. (library copy)

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh is a rather awful book. Harriet is mean and spiteful. She experiences no personal growth. The adults are all complicit or vacuous. Seriously, skip it. (library copy)

The Cay by Theodore Taylor is recommended as a book on the Americas for Mater Amabilis Level 2. Set during World War II, Philip finds himself alone on a raft with an old black man after his ship is torpedoed. A head injury causes him to go blind before they reach an island. The novel follows his growth from a completely dependent and frightened boy while telling quite a bit about the geography of the Caribbean. I think it'll be a good addition to our studies in fourth grade. (library copy)

Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation for the Tyranny of Henry VIII by Kyra Cornelius Kramer is a fascinating argument that King Henry VIII carried a rare blood antigen that led to multiple miscarriages and infant deaths for his wives and an even rarer condition as he aged in his forties that accounted for the dramatic personality changes and paranoia that contributed to his attacks on family, friends, and the Church. There's no way to tell if her argument is true, but it certainly seems plausible. This was a great book for me to read as the children and I were covering this period in English history. (borrowed for free from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library)

Third Shift - Pact (Part 8 of the Silo Series) by Hugh Howey carries the story begun in Wool and the first two shift books a bit farther. It brings all the story lines together in preparation for the final installment. I really enjoy all of these books. (purchased for the Kindle)

Holy Crocodile by Caroline Cory (a review for The Catholic Company)

Tippy Lemmey by Patricia C. McKissack is the story of a young girl and her friends terrorized by a neighborhood dog. The problem-solving is pretty good. The story is fun and exciting without being too scary. I'd recommend speaking frankly about race while reading this early chapter book with a child because the children are black and (based on what I can tell in the pictures), the dog owners are white. Race isn't an issue in the story, which is nice, but I think it's best to talk to children about race rather than just assume they won't think a person's color makes any difference. It takes place during the Korean War (the dog belongs to a soldier) but the war itself doesn't figure prominently. This is on my list as a possibility for First Daughter to read aloud to me. (library copy)

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie on Julie Sternberg is a sweet tale of a girl whose babysitter must move away. Her parents are supportive. Her new babysitter is understanding. She makes new friends and grows up a little. This is on the list for First Daughter to read aloud to me in first grade. (library copy)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr is a classic I had never read. Sadako, of course, becomes ills with cancer years after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. I think it could be a nice complement to a study of World War II or modern Japanese history for an older child (perhaps twelve). The reading level is not difficult, but the topic is complicated and distressing. (library copy)

Books in Progress (and date started)

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