Sunday, June 03, 2007
May reading part 2
A couple of months ago we started the "Green Knowe" series of books by Lucy M. Boston when we needed a break from Swallows and Amazons. We enjoyed the first two books: The Children of Green Knowe and Treasure of Green Knowe.
This month we finished off the series, starting with The River at Green Knowe, which was similar to the other books: a gentle story with some elements of magical realism, but not what I'd consider real fantasy. Then we listened to A Stranger at Green Knowe while on a road trip; I didn't like that one so much and wrote about it here. Next came An Enemy at Green Knowe which we also got on cd from the library - and it too was very different from the gentle stories we'd come to expect. This had full-on black magic in it; more along the lines of Harry Potter than the other books. It was good, but very different. We finished up with The Stones of Green Knowe which again had the gentleness we'd come to expect and enjoy.
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright was a re-read from a few years ago which we loved once again.
The Tale of Despereaux - Kate DiCamillo was another audiobook I picked up. It's nice to use those to give me a break. I have to confess that I didn't listen to all of this one, just caught snatches in the car and when I was working around the house. The kids liked it, though.
The Swing in the Summerhouse by Jane Langton is part of the Hall Family Chronicles series. We'd read the first one, The Diamond in the Window, over a year ago, I think. This one involved a magic swing that transported the kids to weird places. I can't say I love these books because the fantasies are just so weird. But they are well-written, exciting, and there's usually a good "lesson" or moral to the story. More important, there are always some literary allusions for the kids to get (or me to point out). They are set in Concord, MA, and the slightly-loony uncle has a "friendship" with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. I love books like that show my kids that the more they read, the more they will get out of the books they read.
Case in point, Johnny Tremain which we are reading now. In a scene in which a family is reading the Bible together, one boy is said to be "asked to read about sluggards and going to ants." If a child reading this is not familiar with the Bible, they're going to be sitting there saying "huh?" about that. We get so much more out of literature when we are well-read.