Wednesday, March 10, 2010

{book}worm wednesday

Some people may pine for box seats at a Red Sox game, but I would venture to say that having front row seats to the delight of watching a young boy learn to read is nearly as or even perhaps more exciting. Last year at this time I was bemoaning the fact that my sprouting four year old hardly seemed interested in learning his letters; but this year, true to all the sage advice from my mother and a host of other "been-there" moms, he has shown that when they're ready, they're ready. 

Sometimes I think I can literally see the the gears in his head turning as his mouth twitches and moves, eyes squinting as he silently ponders all the sounds and phonics and piles of information he is sifting through in there. And then he has it, the word. His face breaks into a smile and I can feel the pride and pure joy emanating from his little chest. His journey is just beginning. 

Here's where the rest of us are on the road...

what i'm reading
The Peasant Girl's Dream by George MacDonald (formerly Heather and Snow)
A natural follow up to Surprised By Joy was to read one of Lewis' greatest influences, George MacDonald. His stories are always simple, but with a clear and pervading love of people, nature, and God all woven beautifully in and throughout the moors and cottages his story dwells in. This particular story is set in the Scottish highlands, where MacDonald grew up and always loved to write about. In the words of Michael Phillips, it "tells a humble story of the enduring quality of love-- between man and his friend, between parents and children, between brother and sister, between man and woman, and between a simple-minded boy and his God. This is a quiet story, to be savored as its influences and relationships and perspectives soak gently into your spirit."

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
I was moved and (for some reason) frightened by this book as a 5th grader years ago, but am going back to spend some time with one of the most influential writers in recent history. I have a couple other books on order from Amazon... so more from her in the future.

Evil and the Justice of God  by N.T. Wright
My most influential prof in college first introduced me to an in depth appreciation of N.T. Wright. I saw this book on the display table when I walked in the library  the other day and immediately picked it up. Further inspection has proved what you would expect from the current Bishop of Durham and former canon theologian of Westminster Abbey. Its, well, "thesis-ish." This is not bad and in fact probably quite good but my brain is a little out of practice (perhaps forever dulled by diapers and conversations with Marble-Mouth?). I am hoping to plug through and learn a lot but check on me in two weeks... hopefully I will still be trucking and not curled into a ball reading Twilight or something.

the husband list...
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
First of all, can I just say that I am blown away by this man? I mean, did you know he is studying for a Master's Program, teaching a full load, fathering three kids and husbandering one needy wife? How does he find the time to read in the midst of all this? I'm so glad he does though... it makes for a lovely friendship to balance out all the passionate making out. Anyway, I'm digressing. Les Mis is a beautiful story, epic picture of Love that gives all, pours itself out, and Mercy that forgives and gives and gives. As Hugo states in his preface, "so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless." It's a story of crime, hate, oppression, love, sacrifice, forgiveness, and redemption. All the themes of life and history and the beauty of God's redeeming Story are here. If you try it... don't be alarmed if it takes you a couple attempts to get through. You will not be disappointed.

the kids corner...
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The saga continues... we found a copy of Little House on the Prairie, but found that the books have been re-numbered and technically Farmer Boy is now next in the series. I don't remember reading this one as a child. I must have skipped it because it looked boring to me or it wasn't about Laura. I'm glad we're reading it now... it seems we must always have a book in our hands about farming these days, rubbing salt in the city-dweller wound. I think that's why I like Chaim Potok-- he makes the city seem cool too, in a Hasidic Jew sort of way. I'm digressing a lot today...
I think the thing that hits you more than any other in this book is the amount of food this kid consumes. Almanzo works hard mind you, and I have to keep reminding my husband of this fact when he asks me if we too can eat a dozen eggs, flapjacks, biscuits and gravy, a piece of apple pie (for breakfast!) and a large glass of whole cream with nutmeg sprinkled on top all in one sitting. Sure, I tell him. Go right ahead. But first you must go outside and dig up the entire concrete parking lot, furrow it, then seed it with the heirloom seeds you have saved from last years potato crop. And if you're me, why you ought first to sheer the sheep, spin the wool by hand, weave it on the loom into a broadcloth, then hand sew it into a suit for your son when he heads off to school. And knit all his socks.
So, we had toast for breakfast.

Green Eggs and Ham & The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
It's fun to have fun but you have to know how. Where else can you get that kind of wisdom? I'll be honest, I didn't grow up reading Seuss but I have come to really enjoy him as I've read him with my kids. I believe Sam I Am has come close to converting my three year old into a vegetable eater. Well, a vegetable tryer anyway. I believe another test for Newberry Medals and Caldecott Honours and other such awards should be whether or not an adult can sit and read a story time after time, hour after hour, day after day, and still enjoy it themselves. In my opinion, Seuss passes this test.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
We seem to have a flair for the Frenchies these days. Les Mis, and now Madeline. She's a cute (redhead, 'nuff said) spunky little girl who lives at a boarding school in Paris (you must say Pare-ee or it won't rhyme!). The illustrations of Miss Clavel racing through the hallways in the middle of the night will leave impressions on young minds for years to come. 

Davy's Dream: A Young Boy's Adventure with Wild Orca Whales  by Paul Owen Lewis
A delightful story of a boy and his boat, and the adventure he experiences with the "wolves of the sea." 

Curious George Goes to the Beach by Margret & H.A.Rey's
In my humble opinion, the world could do without another Curious George book. I know he's a cute monkey and all, but mostly I just find him rather annoying. And I don't understand his friend's outfit. My biggest beef with the books though is that I find them incredibly boring to read. But somehow we have accumulated a few of them and I can't find it in my heart to dispose of them... so we read and re-read: "He was a good little monkey [YEAH RIGHT!] and always very curious..."

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
I adore her books. I have vivid memories of these pages from my childhood, and I love to read them still. Clearly this woman has a rosy-colored view of the past and bemoans the passing of the small town and the old country ways... but she writes about it in such a way with "steam shovels that dig as much  in one day as a hundred men could dig in a week" and Little Houses with pink paint that you begin to feel much the same way.

keepin' it real (wherein I literally scoop all the books off our coffee table and give you the as-is list)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson 
My sons have taken this book (and a few others floating around about pirates, as well as one recent showing of Swiss Family Robinson) a little too much too heart. Currently we have two bulging "pirate bags" loaded up on their dresser, filled with loot and hand-made books of "pirate plans" and such to take to Grandma's house (who lives in America and will not be visited until about 18 months from now). Nothing is safe from being made into a sword, or used as a treasure chest for all their moneys. Apparently, more modern pirates are using Tuppeware and checkers pieces, along with Lincoln logs and masking tape to carry out their deeds.
There is no telling where the Hispaniola and Long John Silver will take you, or your children.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
A lovely little tale, though it is a bit disturbing that the mother so bluntly tells her children that their father was cooked in a gooseberry pie as a warning to stay out of the neighbor's garden. I love the vocabulary she uses and the way you are practically lulled into reading with a British accent. I love that the sparrows implore Peter to exert himself, and that he is left with camomile tea at the end of the day as his punishment.

Curious George Gets a Medal by H.A.Rey
Seriously? A medal? I can't believe I've been roped into reading two George books in one week. Torture by curious monkey. I must love these kids or something.

There you have it my friends. And now, what are YOU reading?


  1. Thanks for posting this each week Christine! So fun to see what others are reading! I have long held the same opinions about the works of both Rey and Seuss. As a junior higher I read and re-read L'Engle's Ring of Endless Light... time to share her with my tween age girl, I think!

    BTW... the ads on your page for "Little Black Rambo" and "Scientology" are cracking me up!!

  2. Two thoughts Jen: 1) I can't believe you have a tween. 2) how did we never do a book club or something together? sadness.

    I love hearing what people are reading too... though I can't seem to get them to tell me on the world wide web:) I think it is my favorite conversation starter!