Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's "What We're Reading Now" Wednesday!

Ok, here's hoping Baby J doesn't swat the mouse pad....


Last year, I started reading One-Handed Catch by M. J. Auch, because it was nominated for a Caudill award (which is like the Newbery award of Illinois).  I stopped reading, because I was in some kind of funk and just couldn't get past the part where Norm gets his hand stuck in his father's meat grinder at their family owned supermarket in post WWII America. 

I have been on the lookout for more "equal opportunity" in my reading choices and have been making a concerted effort to read just as many "boy" books as "girl" books.  So, I picked up One-Handed Catch, again.

This time I started where I had left off, when Norm gets home from the hospital, mid-summer, minus his left hand.   His mom, from day one, gives him no breaks when it comes to chores or schoolwork or other expectations.  She does help him to tie his shoes, however.  Norm's dad, blaming himself for the accident, is far more likely to cut Norm some slack, even to the point of discouraging Norm from trying out for the baseball team next spring. 

Norm, inspired by stories of a one-handed major league outfielder, figures out a way to re-learn throwing, catching, and batting with only one hand.  I don't want to give away the ending, but I'm really glad I finally finished this book.  Susan saw me reading it and said, "Haven't you read that already?  It's really good!" 


While perusing the local library shelves for more masculine material, I found this classic.  Peter read this whole series in grade school.  Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen is the story of a boy, Francis Tucket, who is captured by Pawnee from a wagon train on the Oregon Trail. 

Do not worry, gentle reader, he escapes after three weeks with the help of yet another one-armed character, mountain man extraordinaire, Mr. Jason Grimes.  Mr. Grimes takes a lot of time teaching Mr. fourteen year old Tucket how to survive in the wild West, as they look for the wagon train and the rest of his family, which they do not find, for at least five or six more novels. 

I can totally see why Peter loved these books, and how they have fed into our family's obsession with Survivorman and Man Vs. Wild.  His sixteenth birthday is coming up, and I have a feeling he might enjoy some Louis L'Amour.  If I find one more multi-tool, or homemade spearhead, clanking around in the dryer....




We were delighted to see that the Ranger's Apprentice series of ten volumes, had one more addition.  If you're new to the series, this is not the place to start, as The Lost Stories by John Flanagan is a collection of vignettes and backstory to the original series prompted by questions from his fans. 

Authors do read their fan mail!  That's why Richard Peck decided to write one more Grandma Dowdel book.  They also occasionally read this blog.  That's how I've gotten comments from Sarah Prineas, author of The Magic Thief series and Rick Yancey, author of The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, and The Monstrumologist, among others.


Lucy is reading the third in the Red Blazer Girls series by Michael D. BeilThe Mistaken Masterpiece.  I read the first adventure, The Ring of Rocamadour a few years ago.  The Red Blazer Girls books are fun mysteries, solved by four girls who attend a Catholic all-girls prep school in Manhattan.  As I remember, some of the girls take their Catholic faith a little more seriously than others.  Art imitates life and all that, but there was nothing objectionable.  Imagine a Trouble with Angels/National Treasure hybrid.  Lucy likes it so much, she wants to read the other three in the series.


Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman is the tale of a young, pious girl who finds herself apprenticed to a bone-setter in medieval England.  Matilda has been raised in the manor of a wealthy lord and educated by a priest in reading, writing and Latin.  She is severely lacking in inter-personal skills, and tends to view all illiterate people as less than herself.

The priest is barely in the story at all, but Matilda quotes him ceaselessly.  Though he is not the villain, I'm not too thrilled with the way the priest is portrayed.  It is clear that he is a man of letters, not a man of compassion, letter of the law, not so much the spirit.  It's not enough for me to dissuade my kids from reading the book, but it bothers me, nonetheless.  Matilda learns to change the way she thinks about others and to stop priding herself on her nearly useless skill set, while at the same time learning how to care about the poorest of the poor. 



Lucy declined participation in the Battle of the Books competition, but I am still encouraging her to read some of the books from this year's list, especially Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott, which I am re-reading myself.


Edmund, however, is busily reading the books on his competition list.  Right now, he's reading Freckle Juice by Judy Blume.  Now, don't freak out on me.  Judy Blume is not all female problems and fornication.  She wrote lots of decent fiction for younger kids, including the hilarious Fudge books.  Freckle Juice is the harmless tale of a kid who want freckles and buys a secret recipe from a scheming classmate.

Susan is too busy to read, eat, or sleep this week.  Tech week for Beauty and the Beast is upon us.  We can't wait to see her stage debut as Napkin #1, and Male Villager #1 - a role which she is probably doomed to play in every production.  That's what happens when you're tall and you go to an all girls school.

2 comments:

  1. I'm so excited about this post that I'm skimming through it to comment. Thank you so much! I have an almost 7 year old boy who is an extremely advanced reader, and I'm always agonizing over books that are challenging yet not too mature for him. Left to his own devices, he'll just read "Magic Treehouse".

    I'm picking up the Mr. Tucket series tomorrow. You rock.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooooh, I am excited about the new Karen Cushman book. I agree, in adult literature - and it makes sense it is trickling down to YA - there is a movement to portray all medieval priests as liars, cheats, and impious people, and it makes me so frustrated.

    My youngest was recommending the Paulson book to me - he really liked "Hatchett" and the sequels.

    ReplyDelete

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's "What We're Reading Now" Wednesday!

Ok, here's hoping Baby J doesn't swat the mouse pad....


Last year, I started reading One-Handed Catch by M. J. Auch, because it was nominated for a Caudill award (which is like the Newbery award of Illinois).  I stopped reading, because I was in some kind of funk and just couldn't get past the part where Norm gets his hand stuck in his father's meat grinder at their family owned supermarket in post WWII America. 

I have been on the lookout for more "equal opportunity" in my reading choices and have been making a concerted effort to read just as many "boy" books as "girl" books.  So, I picked up One-Handed Catch, again.

This time I started where I had left off, when Norm gets home from the hospital, mid-summer, minus his left hand.   His mom, from day one, gives him no breaks when it comes to chores or schoolwork or other expectations.  She does help him to tie his shoes, however.  Norm's dad, blaming himself for the accident, is far more likely to cut Norm some slack, even to the point of discouraging Norm from trying out for the baseball team next spring. 

Norm, inspired by stories of a one-handed major league outfielder, figures out a way to re-learn throwing, catching, and batting with only one hand.  I don't want to give away the ending, but I'm really glad I finally finished this book.  Susan saw me reading it and said, "Haven't you read that already?  It's really good!" 


While perusing the local library shelves for more masculine material, I found this classic.  Peter read this whole series in grade school.  Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen is the story of a boy, Francis Tucket, who is captured by Pawnee from a wagon train on the Oregon Trail. 

Do not worry, gentle reader, he escapes after three weeks with the help of yet another one-armed character, mountain man extraordinaire, Mr. Jason Grimes.  Mr. Grimes takes a lot of time teaching Mr. fourteen year old Tucket how to survive in the wild West, as they look for the wagon train and the rest of his family, which they do not find, for at least five or six more novels. 

I can totally see why Peter loved these books, and how they have fed into our family's obsession with Survivorman and Man Vs. Wild.  His sixteenth birthday is coming up, and I have a feeling he might enjoy some Louis L'Amour.  If I find one more multi-tool, or homemade spearhead, clanking around in the dryer....




We were delighted to see that the Ranger's Apprentice series of ten volumes, had one more addition.  If you're new to the series, this is not the place to start, as The Lost Stories by John Flanagan is a collection of vignettes and backstory to the original series prompted by questions from his fans. 

Authors do read their fan mail!  That's why Richard Peck decided to write one more Grandma Dowdel book.  They also occasionally read this blog.  That's how I've gotten comments from Sarah Prineas, author of The Magic Thief series and Rick Yancey, author of The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, and The Monstrumologist, among others.


Lucy is reading the third in the Red Blazer Girls series by Michael D. BeilThe Mistaken Masterpiece.  I read the first adventure, The Ring of Rocamadour a few years ago.  The Red Blazer Girls books are fun mysteries, solved by four girls who attend a Catholic all-girls prep school in Manhattan.  As I remember, some of the girls take their Catholic faith a little more seriously than others.  Art imitates life and all that, but there was nothing objectionable.  Imagine a Trouble with Angels/National Treasure hybrid.  Lucy likes it so much, she wants to read the other three in the series.


Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman is the tale of a young, pious girl who finds herself apprenticed to a bone-setter in medieval England.  Matilda has been raised in the manor of a wealthy lord and educated by a priest in reading, writing and Latin.  She is severely lacking in inter-personal skills, and tends to view all illiterate people as less than herself.

The priest is barely in the story at all, but Matilda quotes him ceaselessly.  Though he is not the villain, I'm not too thrilled with the way the priest is portrayed.  It is clear that he is a man of letters, not a man of compassion, letter of the law, not so much the spirit.  It's not enough for me to dissuade my kids from reading the book, but it bothers me, nonetheless.  Matilda learns to change the way she thinks about others and to stop priding herself on her nearly useless skill set, while at the same time learning how to care about the poorest of the poor. 



Lucy declined participation in the Battle of the Books competition, but I am still encouraging her to read some of the books from this year's list, especially Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott, which I am re-reading myself.


Edmund, however, is busily reading the books on his competition list.  Right now, he's reading Freckle Juice by Judy Blume.  Now, don't freak out on me.  Judy Blume is not all female problems and fornication.  She wrote lots of decent fiction for younger kids, including the hilarious Fudge books.  Freckle Juice is the harmless tale of a kid who want freckles and buys a secret recipe from a scheming classmate.

Susan is too busy to read, eat, or sleep this week.  Tech week for Beauty and the Beast is upon us.  We can't wait to see her stage debut as Napkin #1, and Male Villager #1 - a role which she is probably doomed to play in every production.  That's what happens when you're tall and you go to an all girls school.

2 comments:

  1. I'm so excited about this post that I'm skimming through it to comment. Thank you so much! I have an almost 7 year old boy who is an extremely advanced reader, and I'm always agonizing over books that are challenging yet not too mature for him. Left to his own devices, he'll just read "Magic Treehouse".

    I'm picking up the Mr. Tucket series tomorrow. You rock.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooooh, I am excited about the new Karen Cushman book. I agree, in adult literature - and it makes sense it is trickling down to YA - there is a movement to portray all medieval priests as liars, cheats, and impious people, and it makes me so frustrated.

    My youngest was recommending the Paulson book to me - he really liked "Hatchett" and the sequels.

    ReplyDelete