Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett

This is the Third book in the series of My Father's Dragon. It was good but her first book was the best. They are all pretty short so I do like a story to continue and she does this nicely with the 2nd and 3rd book. I think everyone should read these books to their kids. They are so creative and funny and easy for kids 6-10 to understand.
Elmer is the main character. His friend is a gold-winged dragon named Boris. They have great adventures. In this book Boris and Elmer save his family from danger. Very clever and I love happy endings.
Whole Book

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones

This was a most curious book. I couldn't put it down but when I got to the end there were so many loose ends still... I wish I hadn't read it. I usually don't read books about witches and stuff but a friend said this was a good book. It was creative and fun but it never really cleared up a few mysterious details.

A girl and a boy are orphaned. They live on a different world then the world we know. Witches and warlocks are quite common. The girl is Gwendolen and she is Cat's sister. She is a very powerful witch. He doesn't seem to be able to do any magic.

One day they get adopted by a distant relative and move to a mansion. blah blah blah...Gwendolen has a little temper tantrum and tries to get noticed. Then she does some bad things with magic. Cat is terrified that his sister will take things to far. Chrestomanci is another magic guy...but we never get to find out all the important things about this guy. That is where it really just leaves you hanging. Maybe the book was supposed to be this way because it is written from the perspective of the boy and he seems to be clueless about alot of things...and this leads to his death but only uses one of his 9 lives....
hmmm, weird story and I don't recommend it.

Broken Book

Monday, February 19, 2007

Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers by Jean Fritz

After reading Uncle Tom's Cabin written by Harriet Beecher Stowe last week, I still can't get the story out of my head. Saturday my sister-in-law pulled out this book sitting on her shelf. It is a biography of Harriet. I asked to borrow it and I read it in one day. It is only about 130 page scholastic children's book but very interesting.

Harriet had quite an amazing life. She also had a very interesting family. Most of her siblings took part in significant events and changes in this countries history. I think her impact was greatest of all but wouldn't have happened without her family.

Her father was a preacher. Most of her brothers were preachers. She was a girl or she would have been a preacher too. Instead she preached through her writing. They were changing lives one at a time serving in the clergy and she was changing the nation by writing one book at a time.

I think reading her biography really brought this great women in American History to life. She was an instant celebrity, not only here but in Europe after writing Uncle Tom's Cabin. That part really isn't as impressive to me as her determination to make a difference despite so many things in her life that she could have used an excuse to just mind her own business and stay at home raising her children. Instead she believes she can make a difference and doesn't let herself be discouraged.

She eventually becomes an abolitionist. She writes letters to Senators. She writes articles for papers. She gets to meet Lincoln. She supports him, despite all the criticism he was receiving around the time the the civil war finally starts. She helps free slaves. Her relatives fight in the war. She tours Europe getting support for the Northern States against slaves and to support the war. She made a difference.

I really enjoyed reading about her and what led her to writing Uncle Tom's Cabin. It was really cool to see what happened after the book was published. She also wrote another book called Dred. I think I will find that and read it. She didn't care what the critics said, there were a lot of them, she spoke out anyway.

Later in her life after the war and the slaves were free she started speaking publicly not just writing her thoughts but speaking in large lecture halls. She also supported women's rights. She was a Christian and also a good wife and mother. She was a teacher since she was 14 years old and she taught throughout her life by her great example.

Whole book.

Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff

Hmm, this book was just one that I judged it by the cover. Looked interesting so I got it from the library. It was okay. It won a Newberry honor award. It is written for maybe a 8-10 yr. old.
It takes place in 1944 right in the middle of World War II. A little girl and her grandmother live in Rockaway during the summer near the Atlantic Ocean. They see the convoys of ships going out to sea and to fight in the war. They have to eat Spam and canned fish. The vegetables are from a victory gardens. The little girls dad is an engineer and has to go to war to help rebuild France. The little girl likes to spy and look for Nazi's in her neighborhood.
She finally finds a friend. He is a young boy that escaped from Europe but his sister is still there. He is staying with some friends in Canada that always come to Rockaway for the summer. His grandmother, mother and father are killed in the war for trying to print propaganda against the war in Budapest. He wants to go back and get his sister but he can't swim. He talks Lily, the little girl, into teaching him so he can swim out to a ship going to Europe. She knows this is impossible but she wants to go too and plays along with the idea until one evening there is a storm and they both almost get drowned.
They find a cat and they share secrets about their dreams and fears. They become best friends. I think they must be about 10 years old. It is a cute story. It was interesting to think about what life was like for those left at home during the war. The only thing they have to go by is the radio and letters from loved ones. So many boys didn't come back, so many people died.
The story has a happy ending when the dad comes home and the little boys sister is found and brought to America also. Lily starts to write stories and play the piano and she really learns that summer how much her grandmother loves her.
Whole Book

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

February is Black History Month. I have owned this book for over 15 years and have just now finally read it. (My copy was lost in a fire last year so the copy I read was actually a replacement.) The story was very familiar, probably because it was one of the first to fuel the Abolitionist movement. It was also very popular and actually was the best selling novel in the 19th century. The best selling book in that century was the Bible. This book was written in the 1850's. Many plays and movies and additional books were based off of this original depiction of life in the southern states where slavery was abundant.

This book takes a look at slavery in America. It jumps right into the harsh realities of being a slave, a slave owner and a slave trader. It also made you ponder how a christian could declare to be a good christian yet still own a slave. The best part of this book is how the author again and again shows faith in Christ and christian love helping to overcome even something as evil as enslavement of fellow human beings.

The book was written by a white woman, a mother and a christian. Her descriptions of mother's having their children taken from them or trying to protect them are very real. I'm sure it would give me nightmares if I thought about it too much. I think this is actually what she is trying to do because these things really happened and were really bad yet they were legal and no one cared.

You might think that one person can't make a difference but just the opposite. One person can make a difference. One person wrote this book and it touched the hearts of people all over the world. Even Abraham Lincoln read it and commented on it at the beginning of the American Civil War. The main character in the book, Tom, was one person but he made a difference in fellow slaves day to day lives of sorrow and oppression. He also, through his christian example, helped his "mast'r's" to start to have a different outlook on their own lives. The one person that made the biggest difference and was referred to many many times in this book was Jesus Christ. His life, his death, his Resurrection made the ultimate difference and showed us all the way. There were so many sad stories about people in this book and it was very depressing. The hope of Christ helped me see and many of the characters, a different light on the senseless, shameful events surrounding slavery.

I am glad I read all 500 plus pages of this book. I hope that when I am faced with something hard, (I can't imagine what I would be faced with that was harder then the time depicted in this story when slavery was as common as eating bread), I hope that I can remember to turn to Christ. I hope to keep my integrity and my promises. I hope to be honest and be able to hold my head high and stand up for the truth. I hope to make a difference.

This was a WHOLE and HEALING book.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Can you believe it? I have never read this book before. My son brought it to me and said it was good, so despite the 4 other books I am reading I got this one in!

It is a WHOLE book. Very mysteriously written. You never know what is happening next, it is always a surprise. Some kids go to outer space but it isn't really about that or martians or anything. It is about time travel and defeating evil with love. There is a funny word they use, "tesseract". That is where they get the title of the book. It is a wrinkle in time or a jump using a shortcut.

There is a lot of imagination in this book and descriptions of beauty and concepts that are hard to grasp, yet we almost do because it is written with such power and patience.

In one part, the girl is on a different world and everything is gray. The beings that live there can't see with their eyes so they don't understand color or have a need for it. They know the sun is there because it is warm and gives life. They can tell it is night or day by the temperature. The little girl is trying to communicate but she uses words that describes things she can see and they just don't understand because they only feel. It is neat when the little girl realized that maybe that would be really cool to be so in touch that you don't need to see something to understand it. This goes along with the Faith concept, believing without seeing and it is still true.

I give this classic two thumbs up. I can't wait to read the sequel.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

what to post...hmmm

I keep thinking of things I want to blog about but then forget when I sit down to write.

Our chickens started laying today! We don't know which of the three hens the eggs belong to. They are happy to run around outside and scratch in all the empty flower beds. I have to sweep daily because they scratch all the dirt out of the beds onto the walkway. AND those little presents are all over our porch waiting to be stepped in. They also found the cat food dish and make sure it is cleaned up every last teeny bit. No leftovers for you kitty!

We finally replaced our stolen car with a blue mini van! It came with a purple marble! YIPPEE! Now I can go...where ever I please!

Went to the pediatricians earlier this week. Our new baby is 2 months old and 12.9lbs. She still has a yeast problem, thrush. She has stopped spitting up so much and she hardly ever cries unless she gets scared at my husbands loud sneezes or if someone bumps her wrong. Living in our barrel of monkeys sometimes that happens on accident. Usually she is all smiles, even when she wakes up from naps she has the biggest cheesiest grins!

We hit the dentist this week too. Cavity city for the sugar freak girl. The other two were just getting sealants on their new molars. Sugar girl was sad the rest of the day with a big fat lip and a very funny lisp because the left side of her face was sleeping. She took two naps too.

What a week and we still have a few days left. My brother's just got home from their missions and all my siblings are having a party in Utah, (sob) without me!

That's all for now.