Arrr! 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
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
In 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
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
There’s a room in our house empty of furniture, its walls displaying patches of tested paint color and spackled over imperfections. It’s the first of several interior painting projects we planned in winter and started to work on in late spring. Since then, other events and projects have taken priority and the room has sat, prepped and full of potential, awaiting a fresh coat of color with an eggshell sheen.
It’s become a bit like this blog. Continue reading
“Why should we ever read fairy stories, when the truth of history is so much more interesting and entertaining?”
–Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Story of Mankind
The pristine condition of this book should have tipped me off that the patrons of my local library prefer the fairy stories. Continue reading
The library and bookstore ranked high among the favorite places of my childhood. Here, my parents displayed endless patience as they waited for me to pick out my selections. Cautionary words about not judging books by their covers were only partially heeded, as a book’s physical appearance was often what caught my eye and prompted further investigation (i.e., reading the dust jacket or back cover to find out what this beautiful book was about).
Like anyone else with a love of reading, I developed favorite authors whose works often made it to my check-out pile or shopping bag. Criteria for the unfamiliar typically depended on two characteristics. One was thickness of the volume (the thicker the better so the delight of reading it would last longer). The other was the presence of a medal or seal related to the Newbery Award on the front cover. Continue reading
I’m noticing a trend here, as I write yet another seasonal blog post. No matter, I’m over winter a month ago, and every day it persists I’m reminded of what I’m looking forward to when it’s finally over.
Warmth. (Pardon me for stating the obvious.) I don’t ever like being cold. Spring, for me, is ideal because it’s that blissful time without need of the extra layers essential to survive winter’s drafts and summer’s air conditioning. Continue reading
Maybe I’m a sympathetic crier. Maybe, as I’ve grown older, I understand more and empathize with more situations. Either way, it doesn’t matter — if there’s a tearjerking moment in a film, television show, or book, I better have the tissues handy.
It sounds silly. We’re talking about fictional characters here; it’s not like they’re real people experiencing real moments. Is it feeling too much to shed tears of joy and sorrow along with people who don’t exist?
I say no. Continue reading
NFL refs, analysts, and commentators take a lot of heat from fans. It is, after all, an integral part of watching football to yell at the TV — whether it’s because of a poor or missed call, statement of the obvious, or enforcement (or lack thereof) of a subjective rule. Was it a catch or an incomplete pass? If I had a dollar for how many times this season I heard if a player did or did not “maintain complete control of the ball” debated … I still wouldn’t be able to afford tickets to the Super Bowl. Continue reading