Saturday, February 28, 2009

For the Record: February 2009:

Feb-ROO-ary was quite a good reading month for me (14 books!). It wasn't a very good month as far as pronunciation goes, but reading went very well indeed. I'm certain that March will give me much less anxiety as far as pronunciation the meantime, let's talk books.

Jackaroo: A Novel of the KingdomJackaroo, Cynthia Voigt. The author of Dicey's Song has written a wonderful piece of historical fiction for the junior audience. In Jackaroo, she provides an insightful jaunt into medieval life. The book showed a woman's plight in the Middle Ages wonderfully, as well as the exsistence of massive class distinctions (and the helplessness therein). I loved how insightful and educational it was, whilst remaining eventful and interesting. I bought this from Sonlight around Christmas time, although when I recently searched for it again on their site, I was unable to find it. It was an enjoyable read, written well, and has left me wanting to read more Cynthyia Voigt.

Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright. This is a Sonlight Core 4 reader that I pre-read before handing it over to the boys. A nice, innocent, adventurous book--one that makes you happy for having read it.

The Terrible Wave, Marden Dahlstedt. This is another Sonlight Core 4 reader, but this I read aloud to the kids. They really enjoyed it, as did I.

Earthquake! A Story of the San Francisco Earthquake, Kathleen Kudlinski. Hmmm, I don't know if this should even be included on my reading list, because it is really short. But here it is. This was a Winterpromise read-aloud that we blew through in one morning. It provided a nice introductory glance at the devastating earthquake of 1906.

The Bell Jar (Everyman's Library (Cloth))The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. This is a haunting story about the cloud of depression that can affect the most normal of people, and how improbable it is that anyone on the outside will understand. This book made me ache. It will definitely be one that I'll read again sometime.

Ramona and Her Mother, Beverly Cleary. I've always loved Ramona, and reading her aloud to my girls is a joy indeed.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by W.S. Merwin. This is a Sonlight Core 530 (British Literature) book. I was dreading it (have you looked at the cover of this thing?) but ended up enjoying it very much. The translation made it easy for me to get into the story and enjoy some of the symbolism and history.

Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine. This book was fun to read. It reminded me of the movie Ever After, but this book was much more alive and interesting. Fun, yet thoughtful.

The Cay, Theodore Taylor. My 12 year-old son requested that I read this, and it was a good recommendation. It takes place in the Caribbean during WWII, and is a great coming-of-age novel.

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer. Okay, so I admit that I kind-of jumped on the bandwagon with this one. This book was left at our house after our Christmas party (on purpose--it was left over from a white elephant gift exchange). It stared at me long enough and I decided to read it. It's over 500 pages, but takes the brain activity of watching a tv series (that's not a compliment, btw). It took me about 5 hours to complete. Hmph.

Agnes Grey (Oxford World's Classics)Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte. This somewhat autobiographical novel depicts highly believable characters. It was nice steady reading. Thoughtful, yet not overly descriptive. It tells the tale of a young girl who decides to become a governess for the sake of helping children, and finds her task to be much different from what she'd expected.

Rough and Ready, Horatio Alger Jr. I have a 1908 copy of this book, and came across it not long after we'd studied the New York newsboys in our homeschool history. I read it quickly (as it is junior fiction) and enjoyed it. Most of my enjoyment stemmed from how the style of writing differed from today's junior fiction. It was fun to read the small lectures on morality, and to notice the overtones regarding the importance of cleanliness and not being lazy. Fun stuff!

Ramona's World, Beverly Cleary.  Another wonderful entry in the life of a misunderstood, and very funny, girl.

Miracles on Maple Hill, Virginia Sorenson. This is another SL Core 4 reader that I pre-read. Of course, it was another wonderful book. My kiddos get so jealous that I read their readers before them (cue evil laugh)!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

For the Record: January 2009:

I read a whopping 11 books this month! I'm so pleased! I'm even more pleased that I finished Emma...that keeps me on track for my goal to read a classic each month.

The Best Christmas EverThe Best Christmas Ever by Sylvia Green. This was my 8 year-old daughter's "break-through" book. She hasn't been a huge reader, and until recently it was a struggle for her. She saw this book at the bookstore and instantly wanted to take it home and read it. I was surprised because it was much bigger than the other things she was reading. She read it and loved it, and it was my honor to indulge her wish for me to read it too. Now she is reading more often and more willingly, and fondly remembers how great this book was.

The Fire Within by Chris D'Lacey was a book that my 12 year-old son wanted me to read. It was not the best piece of literature, but it did have some fantasy/adventure elements without anything questionable. Personally, I was not too thrilled with it. But since said 12 year-old is also reading The Hobbit, I figured I'd let him learn about good fantasy literature by himself.

Shakespeare: The World as Stage
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson is a book that I first saw in a bookstore in London. I love Bill Bryson; I don't love Shakespeare. No, that's not quite right. I get very tired of hearing how very god-like Shakespeare was. I've never been a fad-chaser. But this book is very balanced and enjoyable to read. It was a nice brief overview of Shakespeare and what we know about him (not much actually).

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. How I wish that I'd read this back when my kiddos were new! He spends a lot of time talking about public schools and "at-risk" families, but there is a lot of other pertinant information. I borrowed it from the library, but ended up buying a copy.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary. What can I say? I love Ramona. Always have, always will. I read this aloud to Melinda. We both enjoyed it very much.

Honey for a Child's HeartHoney for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. I wanted very much to like this book better than the Read-Aloud Handbook. I had such high hopes for it. I will use it for the book list, but the first half of the book was nowhere near as valuable to me as the first half of the other book. It was written/published within a Christian framework, and I felt like this was very limiting. It seemed as though the author was very consciously trying to defend some of her opinions (and indeed she has been blasted on Amazon reviews for recommending Harry Potter, so it was not unwarranted) and as a result felt watered down and nearly meaningless to me. Bummer.

Growing Up in Coal CountryLife of Pi by Yann Martel was great fun to read! This all in spite of the fact that most of it takes place on the ocean--of which I'm not the biggest fan. Chris, my husband, has been wanting me to read it for some time. I'm very glad I did.

Growing Up in Coal Country by Susan Bartoletti was one of our school books. It is included in Winterpromise's American Story 2 package. I love how Winterpromise approaches history. This was a great book!

Emma (Everyman's Library (Cloth))Little Britches by Ralph Moody. This was my second time around for this book. I read it to myself last year, and just finished reading it aloud to my kids for school. I cried both times at the end. I'll be reading the next in the series to myself sometime later this year.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. Fun to read, like The Tale of Despereaux, with humor, heartbreak, and lovely illustrations.

Emma by Jane Austen. I love Jane Austen. Emma is no exception. This book is filled with the social workings like Pride and Prejudice, but with the special treat of being inside Emma's head. Fabulous.