Saturday, June 06, 2015

April/May Book List

Favorite Picture Books

Just How Long Can a String Be? by Keith Baker
This is the second book by Keith Baker that we have read together and enjoyed. The first one, No Two Alike which also features birds, I included on a Cozy Winter book list last year. This one is equally enjoyable and an encore reading was immediately requested and granted with smiles and laughter as we pointed out funny things in the illustrations. Baker also wrote a Beginner Chapter Series about Mr. and Mrs. Green and we have two of those books.

The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp, illustrated by David T. Wenzel
I first heard about this book from a Question and Answer Author Interview style post from the Rabbit Room. I was interested and requested it from our local library. I really enjoyed it myself and so did Seth. Here are a few photos of some of our favorite pages.

Puss & Boots by Ayano Imai
True confession. I do not know the original story of Puss and Boots, so where this exactly deviates from the popular story I do not know. But we enjoyed the cat outwitting the beast, so that should count for something. This is the second book by this author-illustrator that we have liked. The first, Mr. Brown's Fantastic Hat was in my February Book List.

Chapter Books

The Martyr of the Catacombs by Anonymous
I specifically bought this because of our studies through Ancient Rome this year. This is our second time going through the Ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman Empires. I pre-read it before giving it to Seth and while at times, I found it a little syrupy in its Bible passage quotations, I can imagine that the underground Christians would have clung to the Word of God in a way that perhaps many Westerners today cannot imagine needing to. It provides good detail in describing the rooms and pathways that make up the catacombs but there are no illustrations in this book.
Seth enjoyed it and it provided an excellent companion to The Story of the Romans, the main history book he is finishing up this month.

The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher
I saw this book mentioned somewhere because of its gentle introduction to French. It did provide that and also an excellent growing-up story set in post-war France. The last few pages are written in French and give the reader a chance to practice the French that has been gradually introduced to them in the story. It was suspenseful and heart-warming, A true adventure book and as the photo below shows, the book won a Newberry Honor award in 1947.

Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome
Seth and I are slowly working our way through this series, Swallows and Amazons and this is the fourth book we have read aloud together. I know many non-sailors may get hung up on the sailing jargon, but if you can get past the detailed sailing terminology, you will find a great series of books to enjoy for the rest of your life. The best of the best. No angst, just good story-telling and adventures of all sorts.

Nonfiction Books
The Other Side of the Dale by Gervase Phinn
This book forms the first in The Dale Series which recounts with humor and reflection the author's debut into the world of school inspections in the Yorkshire part of England. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest. If you have read any Miss Read or James Herriot, you will find yourself at home with this series.

Under the Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
After reading A Severe Mercy, I started this one and promptly got bogged down. It wasn't as linear as I thought it would be, so I would put it aside and let languish until I got determined to tackle it again. There are some very good insights that I am glad to have read, but it was not an easy read for me. I have some good quotes that I have written in my notebook as well as shared online. So while I cannot say I highly recommend it, I would say that if you have read the first one, the second one is quite different but is also thought-provoking.

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane
Wow, what can I say about this book. I  learned so much from this book in the way of vocabulary, geography and geological terms. I was constantly looking up stuff on Wikipedia, online dictionaries, Google images and atlases which made for slowed reading but very enjoyable and interesting time spent. And while he dips heavily into mysticism at times, I see it as an image-bearer seeking to find purpose and meaning in life through walking because he has not found it in his Creator. Robert MacFarlane has several books that I would eventually like to read starting with his newest Landmarks.

Classics and Other Such Books
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth

It took us three school years, but we finally finished this classic. It helped when I tracked down earlier this year, an illustrated copy by N.C. Wyeth with much better font and chapter subtitles. Since we knew that Friday entered the story at some point, we could read with anticipation and then enjoyment over what happened after he arrived. While the long sentences and difficult language left us occasionally overwhelmed, reading in short bits and then discussing it as we went along helped us with the first half of the book. I am glad we persevered, although I think I would have future readings with two copies of the book to read aloud together with. Being able to follow along with the reader would likely help on the longer passages.

Black Ships Before Troy:The Story of the Iliad by Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Alan Lee
This is a great introduction to the story of Troy as told in The Iliad. We had some really good discussions about the events and the characters in this Greek epic. And the illustrations are full page and bring you right into the story.
We are currently read Sutcliff and Lee's other book, The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey. Seth will also be reading on his own Padraic Colum's The Children's Homer this summer.

The Aeneid by Virgil
I intend to make a separate post about my experience of reading The Aeneid along with Roman Roads Media's Old Western Culture course taught by Wesley Callihan because this is a truly excellent meida series offering great support and context for reading these epics.
I would never have enjoyed and understand this story without Wes Callihan's helpful history lessons and Christian insights. I have learned much about biblical passages, other epics, artwork and music by watching these lectures and reading the assigned chapters. I will be glad to go back and read The Aeneid again and again now that I have such a great foundation laid. It is also the first book I have read completely on our tablet and I surprisingly didn't mind. Although I do have the paper version pictured below, because books on paper are still my thing.

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico
I believe I first read this story many years ago when the girls were babies which is basically in another sleep-deprived lifetime that I generally have no recollection of. So I requested this from the library and had a delightful time following Mrs. 'Arris to Paris to collect her dress. It is a very thoughtful story which is more than I can say for Alexander McCall Smith's, 44 Scotland Street series that I tried to read last week and finally gave up at around the halfway point.
Gallico's stories have soul and meaning which I have never detected in Smith's books no matter which ones I have tried. But that's just me apparently based on how popular his books are. Oh well.
Paul Gallico wrote several of these Mrs. 'Arris books with different destinations and I will be glad to read the other stories. He also wrote shorter stories like The Snow Goose which I read last year.

Movies and Television
In the world of television I have been catching up on Larkrise to Candleford seasons and also starting All Creatures Great and Small. And this week I spotted David Suchet's Poirot Season 1 and 2 at Costco for under twenty dollars each so we have started watching Season 1. We also have watched some Inspector Morse, but honestly the episodes are so long it's hard to stay awake long enough to find out who did it.
So there you have it, two months of reading and reviews finally caught up in one post. And by the end of June, I hope to be officially on summer break and really tackling my reading shelves in between lesson planning, puttering, gardening, lolling, and vacationing with family.

1 comment:

  1. I love your books lists, Heather! I'm adding a few of these to my library list. :)

    I, too, read A Severe Mercy and while I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his conversion, I found it annoying how needy he was. I felt like the couple couldn't do ANYTHING without each other and it drove me crazy! That probably sounds bad, but I appreciate that my husband is his own person, you know? :) Other than that, I really liked the book.

    And, we LOVE Mr. and Mrs. Green! I can't remember which one, but there's one book in the series that talks about Halloween and we don't read that one b/c it's too scary! But otherwise, my girls love'em!


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