Sunday, December 12, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Lot of stars, I know. But this is the type of book I just loved as a kid, & evidently still love as an adult!
Edward Tulane is a rabbit, 3 feet tall, made of china. Abilene, 10 years old, is his mistress. She dresses him in silk suits, little leather shoes, & hats with two holes cut out of them for his ears. But Edward doesn't love her--he cares for no one other than himself.
But when he goes on an ocean cruise with Abilene & her parents, Edward is suddenly thrown overboard. And his life changes forever.
Not only is the story beautiful & sad, but the illustrations are so moving that they leave you breathless. There are several full color plates in the book, but I think my favorite picture is of the young boy Bryce, pausing while hoeing a garden, looking up at Edward. His expression is wonderful, & he looks rather similar to my own son.
This story about love, both giving & getting it, is appropriate for children at about the 4th grade level. There are some heartbreaking moments in the book that would be hard for a younger child to grasp.
I heartily recommend this jewel of a book.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Howard Dully was given a lobotomy in December 1960, when he had just turned 12 years old. His step-mother hated him & wanted him gone from her life, & this was her way of doing that. When that brutal procedure didn't make him non-communicative & immobile, he was made a ward of the state of California & lived the rest of his childhood & young adulthood in mental hospitals. As Howard writes in this book, he always wanted to know "why?" What had he done so wrong to warrant these actions against him?
When he was approached by two producers from NPR to do a 22 minute story about lobotomy, Howard finally found out what had happened to him. And the horrible truth, which was that he was a typical 12 year old boy, with no justification except his step-mother's lies for what was done to him.
To say this is a moving book is to put it mildly. The horror & outrage that I felt when reading this, & the fear that filled me when I realized that sometimes the medical community is not only incompetent but twisted, was breathtaking. How could this happen? How could this happen?
After reading the book I looked up Howard's NPR story online. If I thought the book was moving, it was nothing compared to hearing Howard himself finding out & dealing with what was done to him.
I think the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the realization of the power we, as adults, hold over children. We make so many choices for them, & not just for our own kids, but those we deal with in our jobs & in the community. We owe them the responsibility of doing what is best for them at all times, in all ways. As Howard points out, he was helpless against what was done to him. But no one stood up for him: not his father, not the doctors, not the nurses, no one.
With Holocaust Remembrance Day fast approaching (April 11), we remember to say, "Never again." Let's remember that when we deal with children also. Never again.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Way Down Deep is the story of the preciousness of childhood, our greatest treasure. It's a quick read (2 days for me) & it will leave you feeling good about your own childhood & the kids around you. Give it a try, I highly recommend it.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The best part of this book was reading Riki-Tiki-Tavi. Puppy has watched the cartoon of this many many times, so I knew the story well. I was amazed by how true to the story Chuck Jones stayed when he made the cartoon--it's almost verbatim!
At this point in the book Puppy came up to me & asked what I was reading. I told him, & he insisted I read it to him. So I did. And then I had to read it to him again. And then one more time. He loved to hear it read, I think because he already had the pictures for it in his mind. It was neat to see how happy he was to totally understand every word he heard. I wonder if I can't find some other books that have been made into cartoons that I could read to him after he's seen them. It really seems to help with his comprehension.
Overall, a good book written mostly from different animals' points of view. Kipling had a wonderful way of portraying animals so people could understand them. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it before.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Well, I'm diverging. I'm going to review a TV show for a change, simply because it was so good. It's based on a classic piece of literature, though, so I figure I'm not going too far off my beaten path.
For the past few weeks, a new version of Emma has been on Masterpiece Theatre. Now I love Masterpiece--I've watched it since I was about 14 years old. And last year at this time they had a Jane Austen festival, if you will, where they showed all of her books made into movies. But this is a new production, & the very best version of it I've ever seen.
I think what makes this one so good is the rapport between Emma & Mr. Knightley. They banter back & forth & give each other trouble throughout almost the whole production without Emma ever realizing that they are actually in love. The actor playing Mr. Knightley does a wonderful job of making him a much more human character than I've seen in other productions. And though I know they've taken a few liberties with the book, this interpretation really speaks to modern viewers without totally forgetting the context in which it was written. The screenwriter also goes to the trouble of trying to help us understand why Mr. Churchill does the things he does, & leaves him in a little more sympathetic light.
Rent it, buy it, whatever. If you like Jane Austen, or any good romantic comedy, please see this!!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
The biggest annoyance I had was the main character, Fanny Price. I just couldn't ever get to where I sympathized with her very much. She was so timid & frail that she just got on my nerves after awhile. And she tried so much to be good always that she just came across as a prude to me. Every time I got close to identifying with her, she would turn me off again. I especially didn't like her dislike of her own, very un-polished, family, who she visits towards the end of the book. Fanny was much more a bore to me than her family was to her.
The only redeeming character I came across was right at the end--Susan, Fanny's younger sister. It's like Jane Austen realized at the end of the book that she could have made Fanny more interesting--she could have been like Susan. Susan ends up in the same role Fanny had with the Bertram's, only with the promise of being a much more interesting person.
Sorry to slam it, but I just felt very frustrated by the end of the book. So sorry, Austenites!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Anyways, the Canadian author Yann Martel started the blog to give Mr. Harper some suggestions of things to read. Looking at the list (which is now on it's 73rd book) I realized I've read very few of these lovely books. So I thought that whenever I felt the urge I'd just whale away at it.
This is book #1. If you're wanting something light & happy, don't read this amazingly short Tolstoy story. But if you want to read something profound & satisfying, do it.
The book opens with Ivan already dead, but we then travel back in time to follow his life up to the moment of his last breath. Ivan followed all the rules of society. So why does his life look like nothing as he lays in bed dying?
As I read the story, I couldn't help thinking of my own father's death. Is this how he felt, I wondered, as his life quickly folded up around him? Did I keep up the act, the farce, that he wasn't dying, just as Ivan's family does? I don't know. I do know that this is a book of great value. And I certainly can see why Yann Martel recommended it to Stephen Harper.
I recommend it to you.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I know the use of characters as pinnacles of virtue to be attained is still used, but I do think that now they are shown in their weakness, thereby helping those of us who are so very imperfect feel more in common with them. Anne's imperfections are those of being dreamy & perhaps too optimistic, but I don't think those are really considered faults in our society.
All in all, Lucy Maude Montgomery paints a picture of a character that it's hard not to like, simply because she embodies youth & the promise therein. I'm sure my own pessimism towards Anne, which isn't much, has to do with the fact that I'm moving farther & farther away from those days myself with each new year. It's a hard job to keep those feelings alive in your heart, but perhaps I can give it a try in this new year. I do have one major thing in common with Anne--I love nature & am inspired by it as much as she is. Despondency gets wiped away when I look outside & see the beautiful world around me.
Maybe there is a bit of Anne in me after all.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The heartache of loss is told very well in this book. Losing a parent is never easy, but I can imagine losing one at the age of 10 would bring your world to a halt. Change is inevitable, & it's hard moving forward when you feel like you're leaving someone behind. But as Evie's mother says in the book, "There's a time for birth & a time for death. Life moves in cycles, Evie. That's the way things are meant to be."
May you read this book & find the beauty in life again.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
First & foremost, this a beautiful book. That's the best word to describe this masterpiece--absolutely beautiful. Love & death, loss & renewal, hope & failure. It's all here. I marvel that a man could so eloquently & perfectly describe what goes on inside a woman's head. Not just one woman, but many women. All different, all familiar. Then you have the men. So different also, but at the same time all trying to get something, somewhere.
The setting is New York City, August 7, 1974. What happens is a man walks along a tightrope strung from one tower to the other of the World Trade Center. And how that is a backdrop to all the millions of lives in the city, that one moment in time, suspended in space.
If you read one book this year, I highly encourage this one. If you don't feel as though you have a connection to the person telling the story, just keep reading. You will. Because there are many tellers of this story.
On another note, this was the first book I read with my new Kindle. It is nifty, to say the least! I don't think I'll read all my books this way, but it is neat to use when I want to. I ordered a cover for it, which I think is a necessity for me since I take books everywhere & I know I'll be doing the same with the Kindle. I feel funny reading books on it, since I'm so used to holding an actual book, but I think I'll get used to it. I also hope libraries start having ebooks, then it would be a little more practical. Until then, I'm reading all the great free books I can get my hands on (other than the above book)! If you have an ebook reader, let me know what you think about it.