Sunday, July 2, 2017

May and June 2017 Book Reports

Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels: The Orient by Richard Halliburton - link to my post (purchased used copy)

The Breadwinner: An Afghan Child in a War Torn Land by Deborah Ellis is recommended as a possible fiction supplement to a short study of Afghanistan in the Mater Amabilis™™Level 4 history lesson plans. First Son will be using those plans next year for eighth grade, though I haven't decided whether we'll have time to include Afghanistan. It's the story of a young girl who ends up dressing as a boy in Taliban-controlled Kabul to earn money for her family after her father is arrested. Through the course of the story, the reader learns about the changes in Kabul from the wars and the occupation by the Taliban. There are a few graphic descriptions of things like soldiers cutting off the hands of accused thieves, people shot in the streets, and bodies left to be eaten by dogs, but they are not unnecessarily gory or excessively described. (library copy)

Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan is another Mater Amabilis™™Level 4 history supplement book. A young girl in India is married to a sickly boy who dies, leaving her a widow with a mother-in-law who resents her. With the assistance of others, she gradually learns to support herself and begins a new life. This is a sweet story that reveals much about Indian life and culture. When Koly is abandoned by her mother-in-law, she sees poverty and callousness as people live and starve in the streets, but not in a way I'd refuse to share with my 10 year old (though it's the 8th grader that might be reading the book). I did think it odd that Koly didn't consider supporting herself with her exquisite embroidery earlier in the novel, especially because her mother earned extra money that way herself. (library copy)

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, another Mater Amabilis™™Level 4 history supplemental novel, shows some of the horrors of World War I from the point of view of a remarkable horse. It begs a little in believability if in no other way than that the horse understands a variety of languages. It's a good way to tell the story, though, because while the injuries, deaths, and sufferings of the soldiers and people of Europe are depicted, most of the bloody action of the war is removed from the action. (requested from

Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight is the original Lassie book. I read this aloud to the kids (13, 10, 8, 6) and they all adored it. Highly recommended as a read-aloud of adventure, devotion, and virtue. We also watched a few episodes of the Timmy show and the original movie, Lassie Come Home, which did a surprisingly good job of following the book. (book and movie were library copies)

Blessed Miguel Pro: 20th-Century Mexican Martyr by Ann Ball - link to my post (purchased from the publisher)

The King's Thane by Charles Brady, Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo, and Beowulf the Warrior by Ian Serraillier - link to my post (library copies of The King's Thane and BeowulfBeowulf the Warrior purchased from the publisher)

Old Sam and the Horse Thieves by Don Alonzo Taylor is the sequel to Old Sam, Dakota Trotter, one of our favorite books. I finally bought a copy and read it as we began our summer. Old Sam continues to astound everyone except Johnny, right up to the end when he helps catch actual horse thieves. There is a shootout at the end of the book. Bodies are lying as if on a battlefield. The actual events are just described to the twelve-year-old narrator, though, so it wasn't too gruesome to read aloud. (purchased from the publisher)

Kingfishers Catch Fire by Rumer Godden - link to my post (purchased used on Amazon)

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol - link to my post (purchased used on Amazon)

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame - I'd tried to read this book a few times to the children and never made it through it, but I kept seeing it as a book that should be read. So I finally got the audiobook which I've found to be a good option for books I have trouble reading aloud myself. Kansas Dad listened to this with us. We found it a rather odd book. I'm glad Toad learns his lesson, but it seems a shame he had to escape prison to do it. (We have a copy illustrated by Michael Hague from years and years ago and an unknown source, but we listened to this Audible audiobook.)

The Long-Legged House by Wendell Berry - link to my post (library copy)

The Book of Saints and Heroes by Andrew and Lenora Lang - link to my post (copy First Son received as a gift)

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 - another affiliate link.

Links to RC History and are affiliate links. Other links (like those to Bethlehem Books) are not affiliate links.

These reports are my honest opinions.


  1. We have struggled with The Wind and The Willows, too! Checked out many times from the library and just never seem to get past first few chapters. I like the audiobook idea and think I will try listening to it instead too.

    1. To be honest, we use audiobooks for the Chronicles of Narnia and the Little House books, too. These are much more wonderful than The Wind in the Willows, but I just can't seem to enjoy reading them aloud. The Little House recordings are particularly good.


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