Sunday, September 8, 2013

August 2013 Book Reports

Lorna Doone by Richard Blackmore is a very long book, but I enjoyed the voice of the narrator immensely. (read from both a library copy and the free Kindle edition)

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde is a new series by one of my favorite authors written for young adults. It's not a difficult read. First Son may even be able to read it now, but the jokes would be most enjoyable for someone who understands a little about commercialism and advertising. (library copy)

Breathe by Sarah Crossan is the first of a planned trilogy exploring a dystopian world in which a corporation "saved" humanity by providing an enclosed city of air to breathe when the world's trees are decimated and the oxygen level drops too low outside of the bubble. The premise is a little far-fetched, but the idea of commercializing something everyone should have as a right is a good one to discuss with young adults (the audience for the series), as is the inevitable class distinctions that arise in such a situation. I inted to read the rest of the series for my own enjoyment. My kids wouldn't be old enough for these books for a while. (library copy)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is the story of Abilene, a young girl sent to live in Manifest, KS, during the Great Depression by her father who is struggling to make a living. While there, an unusual neighbor begins to tell her the tale of the town during World War I that eventually draws together all of the people she loves. It's a wonderful book to use with children when studying the Great Depression or World War I or just because you want to read a great book set in Kansas written by a Kansas author. First Son will definitely read this book, though I'm not sure if I'll assign it next year as independent reading (fifth grade) or if I'll assign it sometime when it fits with our history studies. (library copy)

The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler is, I believe, the first of a trilogy. It's written for young adults and I downloaded it to my Kindle to read on vacation. I wanted something light and fun and this fit the bill. If you want to share it with your children, pre-read it first, as there are lots of quotes from non-Christians presented in a way that might be confusing. Personally, I think this presents a great opportunity to talk with our young adults about the bits and pieces of the Truth they'll find in other religions that are nevertheless incomplete. (borrowed for free from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library)

The Tempest (Shakespeare Made Easy) by William Shakespeare is the first play we'll be studying this year in fourth grade. I wanted to read it myself in preparation. I think I read it before, in eighth grade, but I didn't remember much of it. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to read Shakespeare. I didn't read all of the "modern version," only in the parts when I wanted to check my understanding. It seemed like a good basic explanation. First Son will not be reading this version. We'll be reading Lamb and Nesbit and some excerpts of the original. (purchased copy from Sacred Heart Books and Gifts)

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe explores the changes within an African community when Europeans arrive, centered on the story of a warrior whose entire life was built around the way the world was without the means to adjust. It's powerful, thought-provoking, and wonderfully written. (library copy)

St. Dominic and the Rosary by Catherine Beebe is one of the Vision Books. It's a nice biography of St. Dominic for young readers. I was particularly pleased with the relatively balanced presentation of the Inquisition. First Son selected this book for his independent reading in fourth grade when I gave him the choice of any of the Vision Books available at Sacred Heart. He's reading it now and enjoying it. I do not ask him to narrate from his independent reading, though sometimes we discuss it. (purchased copy from Sacred Heart Books and Gifts)

Matched, Crossed, and Reached by Ally Condie are the three books of a trilogy that explores a dystopian world in which the government makes all the choices - what to eat, what to learn, and even who to marry. It's written for young adults and I think could be the start of a great discussion on choice and safety. Do we lose anything if a committee chooses One Hundred Poems for everyone to learn and study, destroying the remainder? Would it be better to use an algorithm to choose spouses? As in the Hunger Games trilogy, revolutionary forces are not the ideal answer. These books are primarily a love story and though only kisses are exchanged, it's best to pre-read. (library copies)

Books in Progress (and date started)

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