Monday, November 11, 2013

September/October Book List

Favorite Picture Books

Nurse Clementine by Simon James
This delightful picture book was recommended in a recent post by Stacy along with another title which our library did not have. Clementine is gifted with a nurse's outfit and first-aid kit and finds that her nursing skills are in high demand around her home with one exception, her dare-devil brother Timmy who would prefer to be left alone to manage his own bumps and bruises.  I have high praise for this author's ability to tell both a humorous and heart-warming story in word and picture. But even more so, for deftly using a phrase repeatedly throughout the story that is not only not tiresome, it actually provides the closing punch-line and a chuckle with the closing illustration. Pairing this book up with a first-aid kit would make a great gift for some little person.  Thanks Stacy for a great recommendation.

Mark Twain and the Queens of the Mississippi by Cheryl Harness
A short selection from this book was used in our grammar lesson(First Language Lessons, Level 4) earlier this fall, so I looked up the book and borrowed it from our library. I confess much ignorance about the Mighty Mississippi River, like the fact it begins in northern Minnesota.  Yikes. Full page illustrations and hand-drawn maps detailing the river and its many tributaries were a wonder to pore over and fill in the gaps of my mind. Learning about Mark Twain, aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the context of steamboats and the river life was enriching and Cheryl Harness' illustrations are colorful and engaging. Just my kind of book.

Peter Rabbit and the Pumpkin Patch based on the original tale by Beatrix Potter
This was an impulse purchase at our local pharmacy store while waiting for a prescription for Seth's encounter with poison ivy back in early October. I was looking for something for him to occupy him until the worst of the swelling on his right eye was over and I found a Star Wars Lego minifigure sticker book that he didn't have.  And then among all the tasteless Hallowe'en titles, this little darling cover caught my eye. A quick flip through the first couple of pages assured me that while it was not expressly written by Beatrix Potter, it carried the spirit of her work. (As a sidenote, we do enjoy trick-or-treating in our neighborhood and carving a jack-o-lantern for our front door. And Sheep Trick or Treat is a fun book to read for this time of year.)

Later, reading it at home together, Laura learned that a parsnip is not a white carrot and that scarecrows in old nightshirts aren't really scary. But it was the last two pages that we all loved. To come home to this little party would delight anyone who loves celebrations and cozy gatherings.

Mousekin's Golden House by Edna Miller
Written back in the mid-60's, this first book in a series about Mousekin are sweet, yet full of interest for the natural world and all that happens often unseen by busy humans. In this story, Mousekin happens upon a discarded jack-o-lantern in the woods which sparks both curiosity and suspicion, but with a hungry owl swooping down on him, he finds himself taking shelter inside this strange new pumpkin world.  As autumn fades into winter, Mousekin and the other forest animals prepare for the snow and hibernation.  Perhaps putting our jack-o-lantern in the trees along the river will provide some little creature with its own Mousekin adventure and shelter this winter. I recommend any of these stories.

Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell, second edition
This is the first book I've read by Thomas Sowell, although I have read several of his articles and listened to various interviews given by him so his work is familiar to me. He discusses and argues against almost every idea I have heard promoted everywhere and anywhere, from our Canadian news agencies to our Canadian neighbors. Ideas of overpopulation, exhausting our natural resources, gender pay differences, the shrinking middle-class, racial inequality, third world countries, etc. I found his style of writing interesting, his examples helpful and his use of statistics straightforward. I will be getting back into his Basic Economics next.

Classics and Other Such Books
Silas Marner by George Eliot
With a bit of a slow start, this shorter Eliot novel contains many plot threads which somewhat taxed my mind trying to bring them into connections with each other, but as typical of these older novels, one must keep reading and soon the loose threads form a rich and complex story. Eliot, like Alcott, enjoys adding to her stories, her thoughts and opinions on the characters she creates and human nature in general. And she does so without sounding preachy or moralistic. Last month, I posted an example of this here if you're curious about her writing style. I liked this Eliot novel enough that I am now reading her much longer Middlemarch.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
I started this early in September and then let it sit on my nightstand for a while. The first week of the partial government shutdown in the states found me curious to finish the book.  It was a bit surreal to read a portion each night as the news articles and broadcasts were bombarding us with dire predictions and impending doom. If only something significant had happened, but as it turned out to be instead, more of the same policies.  Now that I have read this book, it seems that I find more frequent allusions to it where previously I was ignorant of the importance of something in a comment or political cartoon. And the chilling use of the phrase, "Tactics, comrades, tactics!" to explain a so-called "cunning" move by the leading animal Napoleon did little to ease my agitated state of mind that this was written about past Soviet government leaders as opposed to a current North American government leaders. No, this is not a comfortable read, but it is a necessary one.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Animal farm, a necessary read and one I can stomach, but re-reading 1984 ... I'm not sure I can handle it. I worry the "Ministry of Truth" might hear about it... yikes.


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