Saturday, July 2, 2016

April, May, and June 2016 Book Reports

City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II's Krakow by George Weigel, with Carrie Gress and Stephen Weigel - link to my post. (copy provided by Blogging for Books)

Father Junipero Serra by Ivy Bolton  - link to my post. (purchased used)

A Triumph for Flavius by Caroline Dale Snedeker - link to my post. (purchased copy)

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett is a series of thirteen books following the adventures of three orphans evading and battling Count Olaf, a distant relation attempting to access their fortune. I think ids wonder about terrible things happening and whether they can handle it. These particular children work through their problems, reasoning answers and solutions. They build inventions, search through books for knowledge, and act bravely. There are lots of references to mythology and fiction, humorous examples, and plenty of explanations for idiomatic phrases. With each book, there are more mysteries. I was frustrated at the overwhelming references and depictions of the world as a "treacherous place" without any balancing goodness and at the complete inability of any adult to provide solace or security. My biggest frustration was the astounding number of unanswered questions at the end of the series. Real life often involves unanswered questions, but a children's series that drags through thirteen books should address just about everything. We listened to these books on audio CDs from the library. The ones read by the author are terribly narrated (write, don't read please!), but Tim Curry does a fantastic job on the others. Overall, the kids enjoyed them; I'm glad we're done; I'd suggest you just let your kids read them as a small part of their reading time. (audiobooks from the library)

Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay - link to my post. (library copy)

The Little Flowers of Saint Francis - link to my post. (purchased copy)

Saint Athanasius by F. A. Forbes - link to my post. (owned copy)

Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - I read portions of this to the children and wanted to read the entire poem myself. I found a lovely old copy of it at the library with a few helpful notes, so I can't really speak for the Kindle version linked here. I couldn't help thinking Evangeline would have been better off just settling down at her betrothed's father's house, but it's meant to be romantic.  (library copy)

Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry - This is the fictionalized account of a burro that lived in the Grand Canyon, making friends with a few of the early settlers. My children loved listening to this story and were very happy to walk a bit of Bright Angel Trail in his honor when we visited the Grand Canyon. (

The Green Ember by S. D. Smith - We listened to this on a trip early this spring. It received high marks from Kansas Dad. ("That wasn't bad.") In the book, a civilization of rabbits is facing dire threats from wolves and birds of prey. Two young rabbits are caught in the maelstrom and must mature quickly, using their talents to protect their people..ur...rabbits. The ending is tremendously exciting, but leaves the rabbits in a world still in upheaval. (The kids demanded the sequel, and were shocked when I said it hadn't been written yet. Guess we read lots of old books!) The children were all enthralled. I think the text is somewhat awkward in places. The author has the potential to write something exceptionally good and a more involved editor might get him there. (Audible recording purchased for free or inexpensively with a publisher's deal, along with the Kindle version of the book)

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (linked version translated by William Butcher) - I wanted Kansas Dad to choose at least one audio book for our Grand Adventure. While he says the books we choose are fine, he always seems reluctant to actually listen to them. After much discussion and debate, he decided Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was a good option. I then spent far too long searching through the available version on Audible (to use our free trial credit) and finally picked this one (that's not an affiliate link because I can't seem to find it on Amazon) which one of the reviewers identified as the best translation available on audio. We all enjoyed it. The children would often laugh at appropriate times, so I know they were paying attention. We sometimes got bogged down in the "natural science" of the book, but that's part of Jules Verne who's explored new literary territory. (audio book purchased during our free trial at Audible)

The Black Star of Kingston by S. D. Smith - This is a short story, a bit of history that happens before The Green Ember above. It's not so much a prequel as a legend. I knew the children would love to hear more, so I purchased this before our Grand Adventure. There were still some awkward phrasings (one conversation in particular just didn't flow well), but the story is a great one of courage, sacrifice, and perseverance, just as legends should be. (audio book purchased from Audible)

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton - link to my post. (owned copy)

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald is a series of stories about children with problems cured by Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle in unusual and unexpected ways. A girl who refuses to take a bath, for example, is allowed to become covered in soil and then planted in radish seeds. The cures would never work, but the ridiculous proposals and results will entertain the children. I suppose they might even think about being cured themselves of some of the maladies. (library copy)

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey is a humorous story of a young man in a small town who solves problems and mysteries in each chapter. My favorite chapter would be a particular treat for a young person who knows the tales of Rip Van Winkle, the Pied Piper, and Odysseus. While it occassionally seems to show its age (the African Americans and Native Americans, for example, aren't depicted as you might find in a more modern book, though I think it's acceptable), the book is worth reading and will be on the list of potential books from which to choose for independent reading during our school year. (library copy)

Books in Progress (and date started)

The italic print: Links to Amazon are affiliate links. As an affiliate with Amazon, I receive a small commission if you follow one of my links, add something to your cart, and complete the purchase (in that order). 

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks - another affiliate link.

Any links to RC History and PaperBackSwap are affiliate links.

Other links (like those to Bethlehem Books) are not affiliate links.

These reports are my honest opinions. 

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