Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Summer reading

Seems like I used to do a monthly reading post. Well, June and July were a blur of packing and moving and unpacking, and August was little better. Still, we read some books.

First, the audiobooks. These were a life-saver during the move. I don't think we'd have made it across the country without them:

- Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye. This was a gift from some friends, and I admit I did not hear a word of it - the kids listened to it on their own, while Daddy and I were working. They enjoyed it so much they both read the sequel, The Sands of Time, on their own. I know this is against the mommy rules - letting kids read/listen without previewing the books or listening along. But I'd heard enough good things about the books, and I trust my kids to let me know if something's amiss, so...

- Urchin of the Riding Stars (Mistmantle Chronicles Book 1) by M. I. McAllister. This cd set was loaned by a friend. We all enjoyed it very much. A squirrel epic of bravery. Epic of squirrel bravery? What's with all the fantasy books involving small forest animals anyway? I'll look for the further books in this series soon.

- A "Hank the Cowdog" book, the name of which I've forgotten.

- The Fellowship of the Ring by oh, you know. Actually, we didn't finish this. Started listening to it late in the trip, and tried to finish it at home. The kids say they enjoy it but not at bedtime. Hard to go to sleep after an encounter with a Balrog! And they don't ask for it any other time. So we've shelved it for now. Plenty of time.

Now "real" books. Hm, not many:

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. A fun romp, meant to be full of messages about media and government and letting your mind go soft, but we just read it as fun.

Ben and Me by Robert Lawson. For history (though we didn't learn much from it). Fun.

American Revolution by Bruce G. Bliven. A Landmark book I read for history. Very good overview of the war. The most exciting moments came when we read of the soldiers marching up Skippack Road - we drive on that road frequently!

J's reading had been picking up but is dwindling a bit again. Well, that may not be exactly true. He often has his nose in a book but he is a "browser" and will look through nonfiction books with lots of pictures (think DK "Eyewitness" series) and will read the parts that interest him. I don't try to log those. But I don't nag him about it either. I'm starting to assign him books to read now; he just finished The Winter at Valley Forge (a Landmark book; I can't find it and have forgotten the author's name) and is now reading Hero of the High Seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution by Michael L. Cooper.

But for fun he read:
Akiko and the Alpha Centauri 5000 by Mark Crilley.
It's a Dog's Life by John R. Erickson (Hank the Cow Dog).
Pick of the Litter by Bill Wallace.
The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden - his kind of book: he received 3 copies of it as gifts!

E is a reading machine. I can't keep up with her. Only difference between her and me at about her age: she's not into Nancy Drew. This is just some of what she's read:

Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
Dick Whittington and his Cat
by Marcia Brown
Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary
It's a Dog's Life by John R. Erickson (Hank the Cow Dog)
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

More American Girls
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren
Ramona the Pest by Beverley Cleary
Ramona's World by Beverley Cleary
Ramona and Beezus by Beverley Cleary

Too many Beverley Cleary books to keep track of

She needs some new challenges. These books are fine, but pretty fluffy. Last week she complained of having nothing to read. I gave her Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, and Black Beauty, but she wanted none of those. So we have to work on the classics. She does want to read Alice in Wonderland but I want the pleasure of reading that one to her!

Oh, both kids are now reading Little House in the Big Woods. We are using The Prairie Primer this fall, making a notebook so we have something tangible to show for our efforts this year. New state, new rules, you know! Also I think everyone should read the "Little House" books and they are not ones J would pick on his own. We're just reading a few chapters a week and doing some of the activities. E would fly through them if I let her. She's read several of the prequels by Melissa Wiley and Roger Lea MacBride.

As for my own reading... well, I'm even behind in my daily Bible reading - I use Tabletalk magazine as a devotional aid (what a weird term) and am just now on July 10. To the kids I've been reading an old story Bible I found in our books. They're enjoying it and we're filling in on some of the less-familiar stories. So I am not living a Bible-less existence, even if my own reading is poor. I did read two novels for fun:

Garden Angel
by Mindy Friddle which was complete fluff and annoying at times, but I finished it. Annoying ending, too. For more on this book, please come here.

The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier which was just wonderful. I don't usually go for best-sellers because I am usually disappointed. But I kept seeing that picture and finally picked it up at the library. What a wonderful book. I had some moments of annoyance with the main character - a maid in the house of the artist Vermeer - when she seemed weak and didn't do what she ought. Then I remembered how powerless a maid in such a house is. I had a hard time giving up my reading moments once I got into the book, but I didn't peek at the end, as I sometimes do when trying to decide if I want to bother finishing something. Very good, satisfying ending, though not what I expected.

The ending of a book is very important to me. I am very dissatisfied with contrived "happy" endings. I am thinking of the otherwise wonderful book Time of Wonder (about the village that quarantined itself during the time of the plague) which was so good but spoiled by a contrived ending. A bad ending will truly ruin a book for me.

Now I am starting to read Miniatures and Morals: The Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter Leithart. I've had the book for quite some time and had intended to reread the novels mentioned before reading it. I've changed my mind and am reading it and the novels as they come up.

So, that's our summer reading. Hope to have a long list for September!

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