Plodding Through the Pages: Review of Smoky the Cowhorse

When writing a review, even if I don’t particularly care for the book, I try to find something nice to say. So when the only thing that comes to mind (as someone who appreciates the fragrance of a book) is that it smelled good, well … yeah. It was that bad. Continue reading

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Lackluster Lore: Review of Tales From Silver Lands and Shen of the Sea

During my preschool days I went through a phase where I would pretend to be a princess. In my best English accent I made morning announcements like, “Father, I am ready to get out of bed.” My dad, being pretty awesome, played along by carrying me out of my room because it was too strenuous for a princess to walk herself to breakfast.

Which is a long way of saying I was really into fairy tales. Continue reading

I Forgot the Title of This Post

Among the many books from my childhood was a Sesame Street one where Bert ties a piece of string around his finger to help his memory.* I think I tried it out for fun, but the string kept slipping off and I lost interest. No matter, my youthful mind didn’t forget much — other than when my mother told me to clean my room.

These days, I could use some help remembering things. Especially since the things I’m forgetting are sometimes bizarre. Continue reading

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Newbery Update

I am a little disappointed not to have read through all the Newbery books in a year. (Technically, the year isn’t up yet since I didn’t get started until mid-February, but I don’t think I’ll be finished by then either.) While I’m not expecting less distractions in 2015, I plan to continue reading and catch up on reviewing. Although it may take me two years instead of the intended one, or even if it ends up taking three, I won’t be giving up.

Yuletide Mystery: The Case of the Disappearing Doll

“You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why…”

Christmas: That magical time of year when we bribe children into good behavior under the watchful eye of Santa Claus and his army, a.k.a. the Elf on the Shelf. As children discover whether their efforts result in toys or lumps of coal, parents will search for new strategies to coerce them into being good during the off-season. Or, if they’re anything like my parents, gift-wrapped reward or no, they’ll have the audacity to expect good behavior year round. Still, if it was Christmas-related, my parents weren’t above playing the Santa card. Which brings me to a tale of one of my Christmases long, long ago. Continue reading

Deck the Halls (And the Blog)

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Readers of my blog around this time last year likely caught on to my love of the Christmas season. (There may have been an overabundant use of exclamation points.) Well, Christmastime is here again and I am at my traditional level of excitement with decking the halls — and the blog.

While last year I went for a festive header (and started with the same idea this year), I decided on a temporary change of theme. Perhaps inspiration came from the annual WordPress provision of falling snow on my page. Maybe the emailed pictures of my niece today brought out my love for all things adorable. Whatever the reason, it’s been an extra dose of fun to decorate my little corner of the Web this December. Continue reading

A Pirate’s Life Not for Everyone: Review of The Dark Frigate

1924_frigateArrr! Who doesn’t love a good swashbuckling pirate tale? While piracy plays a large part in 1924 Newbery winner The Dark Frigate, absent is the humor (and possibly eyeliner) familiar in popular, modern pirate portrayals. There is, however, no shortage of adventure in this story of orphan Philip Marsham by Charles Boardman Hawes.

Finding himself in trouble and in need of escape, Philip follows in the footsteps of his sea-loving father by signing on with the “Rose of Devon.” More misfortune strikes when the ship is overtaken by pirates who give the sailors the choice of piracy or death. Forget walking the plank, the sailors who refuse a pirate’s life are brutally and bloodily executed by the sword. It’s no surprise the path Philip chooses; after all, what sense would there be to kill off the hero in the middle of the book? He makes it clear he is an unwilling participant though, and devotes his time to solving the problems of how to escape the pirates and avoid the penalty of piracy — hanging. Continue reading

Back Off, Bugs, Inside Is My Territory

Around this time of year when I was little, the occasional bug would attempt an escape from the falling temperatures outdoors and wander into our home. If said bug was a spider, I would shriek and my mother would say something like, “Oh look! It’s a Halloween spider!” Maybe this was her attempt to make something scary seem cute, but years later, I remain unconvinced. I hate bugs. Continue reading

Animals, Adventure, and Controversy: Review of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

dolittleIn Hugh Lofting’s The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, narrator Tommy Stubbins recollects when he was 9 and a half and met the Doctor, became his assistant, and joined in his adventures. I found the book to be a fun, quick read, imaginative, and an overall improvement from my reading experience with the previous Newbery winner.

Still, I found it ironic that Doctor Dolittle, who converses with animals and hates zoos, eats meat. Pages after referencing a pig that lives on his property, he’s digging sausages out of his bag and frying them up for him and Tommy. I’m no vegetarian, but I wonder how the Doctor justifies this choice. Is it OK as long as the animals on his dinner table weren’t any former patients or friends? How can he be so sure? Continue reading

Book Review Rating Process

Before I get back to posting Newbery book reviews, I thought I would explain my rating process. Since I’m tracking my reading progress on Goodreads, I adopted a one to five rating scale. Instead of stars (because I find it amusing), I assign an item or theme from the book being reviewed. For The Story of Mankind, that item was missing maps. Continue reading