Wednesday, August 7, 2013

July 2013 Book Reports

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is a novel written from the perspective of a fifteen year old autistic boy. I don't know how accurate it is in depicting an autistic person, but there is a paragraph early in the book that sounded exactly like a young autistic I know. It is an interesting and different narrative form for a novel. This is a quick read and I enjoyed it, but I always find myself saddened by "regular" people in novels who do horrible things, as if that's just how life is now. (started at a friend's house, finished with a library copy)

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy is the sequel to The Hero's Gide to Saving Your Kingdom, which I read last month. It's just as enjoyable and in some ways has a little more depth. More books are in store and I intend to read them all! First Son enjoyed the first one, laughing out loud sometimes as he was reading it. He'll read this one, too. (library copy)

Destination: Bethlehem by Sharon R. Altman follows two cousins who independently develop relationships with the Holy Family in the months leading up to the Nativity. The 24 chapters are meant to be read on the 24 days in December before Christmas as an Advent activity. I found the story to be adequate despite my higher hopes for it, though there is some usefulness is providing the historical information for children. I'm not sure if we'll read this book during Advent. I may ask First Son (who will be in fourth grade) to read it independently. I don't think it would be bad to read; I'm just not sure it would be better than other books I've already planned. (received as a gift)

The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke is a science fiction story based in the far future, when Earth has sent seed ships to the far reaches of the galaxy to avoid the elimination of mankind when the destruction of Earth was assured. A spaceship from Earth arrives at a thriving colony. It was fun to read and interesting to ponder, though it's probably not surprising that Clarke and I differ on many opinions. (Kindle edition borrowed from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library)

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is so enjoyable! I can't believe I had never read it. At first I was going to ask First Son to read it independently, but I think instead I'll read it aloud to the whole family next year. (Kindle edition, though we received a real copy as a gift)

Theras and His Town by Caroline Dale Snedeker (purchased copy from Sacred Heart Books and Gifts)

Impressionism: 50 Paintings You Should Know by Ines Janet Engelmann gives a summary of Impressionism and then presents fifty paintings in chronological order with brief descriptions of the painting or the painter for each one. At the top is a timeline that extends throughout the book. I enjoyed this book and felt like it gave a nice overview of the subject and some important paintings, helping me to prepare for our picture study in the upcoming year; we'll be studying Renoir, Degas, and Monet. (library copy)

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate was a pre-read for First Son. It's the tale of Ivan, a gorilla living in a small cage at a mall zoo until a tiny new inmate prompts him to change. It seems to be written at a pretty easy level with lots of very short chapters that will be inviting to weak readers, but the character growth and topics (animal cruelty and zoos) are appropriate for older readers. First Son may be a little young for a few of those lessons (at nine), but there's nothing here he can't read. It's a great tale of compassion, bravery, hope, and understanding. (library copy)

Prayer (a review for The Catholic Company)

Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss (received as a gift)

Sarah, Plain and Tall and Skylark and Caleb's Story by Patricia Maclachlan is the trilogy of the beginning of a family, when Anna's father puts an ad in a newspaper for a wife, answered by Sarah. Shockingly, I had never read these books. The first is my favorite, with beautiful and halting descriptions of Anna's hopes and fears. The last is a good story of forgiveness and a reminder to parents of the ways our children watch our actions. These are on my list as possibilities for First Daughter to read in first grade. (purchased used on Cathswap)

The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill was written in the 1970s, telling of a white girl befriended by a black boy who go on together to build a successful toothpaste company. First Son will be reading it next year in his financial literacy studies and I think he'll enjoy it. It's a good book of entrepreneurship, friendship, math in real life, self-sufficiency, good corporate citizenship, and racial issues. It is surprisingly not too preachy but honestly fun. Definitely recommended. (library copy)

Something Beautiful for God: The Classic Account of Mother Teresa's Journey into Compassion by Malcom Muggeridge (purchased copy)

Deadweather and Sunrise: The Chronicles of Egg #1 by Geoff Rodkey is full of adventure and unexpected twists. I liked the main character, though I did not like how his family treated him. I think it's an intriguing beginning to a new trilogy for young readers and am excited for the next two. First Son could read this book, but now he's interested in the Redwall series so it's not clear I'll need to provide any leisure time reading for a while. There is one disturbing episode in which some pirates attempt to force themselves on a young woman which I worried would bother First Son, but Kansas Dad thinks he wouldn't really understand it and would just move on. I'm going to put this on our list for next summer (when he'll be ten), just in case I need to make some suggestions. (library copy)

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury is as beautifully written as any Bradbury. And very creepy. (library copy)

Books in Progress (and date started)


  1. Treasure Island is on our list of favorite all-time read-alouds. Just be sure to practice your Long John Silver voice to be ready!

  2. Treasure Island is on our list of favorite all-time read-alouds. Just be sure to practice your Long John Silver voice to be ready!


Comments make me happy; thanks for speaking up!