Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What We're Reading Now Vol. 2


Susan and Lucy both told me that I have to read The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, so I did.  You might think a book about two princesses who are sisters would be about rivalry and jealousy and general snark.  But you'd be wrong in regards to this book. 

The two princesses are sisters, who love each other.  Meryl is bold, Adelina is timid.  Meryl protects Adelina, killing spiders for her and even taking a vow not to leave the castle until Adelina is wed.  When Meryl is stricken with the fatal Grey Death, Adelina is the one who must leave the castle to quest for the cure, facing shape-shifting spectres, flesh-eating gryphons, ogres and dragons.  Awesome sister stuff, plus epic poems.  I heart epic poems.


Peter is reading Roberto and Me by Dan Gutman.  Yes, Peter is fifteen, but he is a baseball fanatic.  I enjoy reading stuff much too young for me, so why can't he?  Yeah, why not?!  Roberto and Me is one of the Baseball Card Adventures series, in which a modern day boy (Joe Stoshak, aka Stosh) goes back in time to meet a baseball hero of the past.  Part historical fiction, part biography, part sci-fi.  It all works.  I reviewed another title in this series way back in August 2007. 

Edmund is participating in his school's Battle of the Books competition.  And guess who volunteered to help lead the third grade team? Yup, you guessed it. 

Oh, but didn't I give up volunteering as a New Year's Resolution a few years ago, just like I gave up hosting parties where my guests have to buy things?  I guess I sorta forgot.  Having team meetings with third graders in the cafeteria that perpetually smells like bananas and bologna will be so fun, especially with Baby J crawling in the filth crumbs underneath the table. 

I'm actually quite proud of Edmund for signing up.  Reading is not his strong suit.  In fact, he goes to multiple tutors a week and is being tested for learning disabilities.  If your child is smart, but scores pathetically low on state tests, you might want to look into testing.  No one told me this until my sister, an educator and his godmother, suggested it.  I wish I knew this in kindergarten. 


So, he has to read and/or listen to books from the third grade list.  He finished Betsy Byars' Tornado last week.  A sweet story about a family who is waiting out a tornado in a storm cellar and listening to a farm hand tell stories.


And we are almost finished listening to The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner on audio cassette.  The audio book is less than two hours long.  Those kids were so lucky, living in a boxcar and not getting attacked by bears, crawling around the dump and not getting tetanus, getting utensils from said dump and not getting e-coli, adopting a stray dog and not getting rabies or fleas, drinking out of the creek and not getting dysentery.  I'm constantly stopping the story to explain how Violet, Benny, Jessie, and Henry are doing really dangerous things. 


Susan "lost" my copy of Anne of the Island, so I had to get her one from the library.  If it's not at my mom's house, Susan is going to buy me a new one.  And it had better fit into the slipcase with the rest of the set.


But before I made her read Anne, she had strep throat.  Twice.  So I let her read The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg.  I read it, too, and I made a big mistake.  I regret to say that I committed a cardinal sin for book lovers everywhere.  I read the ending first.  And it ruined the story for me.  DON'T READ THE ENDING FIRST! 

The Year We Were Famous is based on the author's great-aunt and great-grandmother's real walk across the United States in 1896.  It's a good look at that time period and the risks women faced at the time.  Some states were just giving women the right to vote.  Bicycles and shorter bicycle skirts were in vogue.  The heroines of our story are out to save their farm from the auctioneer's block by publishing a book about the trip.

The main characters, eighteen year old Clara and her mother, Helga, have one heck of a journey, facing blizzards and deserts, Indians, and even shooting an assailant.  They meet lots of famous historical figures along the way as well, including President-elect McKinley. 

One night in Pennsylvania, Clara learns that her father is not her biological father.  This subject is treated quite well in the book.  Helga explains how her lover left to find gold before she learned of her pregnancy.  She tried to locate him, but she only knew roughly what area of Colorado he had gone to.  Desperate, she asked her mother to help her.  Her mother married her off to one of the workers from her father's factory, Ole.  Ole was crazy about Helga, but too shy and too poor to do anything about it.  He married pregnant Helga and they moved to Spokane to start a new life together.  Helga makes a great point of telling Clara, that it is because of Clara that she married Ole, who became the love of her life, and the father of Clara's nine siblings.  Clara reflects that this knowledge makes her love Ole all the more, because he chose to love her as his own. 


Baby J is big into farm animals right now.  The Chef makes all the animal noises for her and she laughs and laughs.  The Chef is actually quite talented at this.  His goat noise is the best I've ever heard.  We all have our gifts.

We got this board book from the library.  Never fear!  It was brand-new, out-of-the box, when we checked it out, so no one had chewed on it. Yet.

Did you know that the library frequently washes and disinfects things like board books, puzzles, puppets, computer keyboards, the toys at storytime, etc.?  At least our library does.

I really love the Dwell Studio board books.  The simple geometric illustrations are very attractive.  The Easter Bunny might be putting some of these in Baby J's basket.  Dwell Studio should totally sponsor me and send me free stuff to keep and free stuff to do another giveaway.  One can always dream.


9 comments:

  1. Okay, that first book sounds awesome. I have two daughters very close in age and they need more sisterly inspiration, they truly do.

    We have also recently lost, but then found, Anne of the Island. What is up with that sneaky book?

    Have you guys read Heidi? We did it for read aloud time in the evening recently and it was SO good. Loved it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not read Heidi, and I am planning a 10 hr round trip, road trip this month, so I will look for it on audio. Thanks!

      My girls and I like all of Gail Carson Levine's books. She wrote Ella Enchanted, plus several more.

      Here's hoping St. Anthony finds my copy of Anne of the Island, as well as a brand new bathing suit complete with butt ruffle, that I recently bought for the struggle pig and mislaid.

      Delete
  2. Jessica, have you read the rest of the Gregor the Overlander books? My oldest just finished the first one and loved it, but I was wondering if the maturity level goes up with the subsequent books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only read the first one: http://www.housewifespice.com/2008/07/gregor-overlander-or-tunnels.html

      But my sister (the eighth grade teacher, God love her) read them all. The content is fine. She lost interest though, and thought the series dragged out.

      Suzanne Collins also wrote The Hunger Games, but for a much older audience. I reviewed that one here: http://www.housewifespice.com/2011/08/more-books-for-middle-schoolers-and-up.html

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Jessica. I've only read the first one, too. I actually had to snatch The Hunger Games away from her yesterday after she found my copy lying around while she was prowling around looking for something new to read. I wish I could get her to try Gail Carson Levine, but anything that smacks of girlyness makes her run away screaming...
      Anyway, I really appreciate your book recommendations...your blog is such a great resource!

      Delete
    3. Similar to GC Levine is Gary D. Schmidt's Straw into Gold (but about a boy), or Angie Sage's Magyk series, or The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas who has commented on this blog before. How cool is that?

      How old is your oldest?

      Delete
    4. That is really cool! My oldest, Lili, will be ten this summer. She is constantly reading, so I just have a hard time keeping her supplied with good books. It seems like a tricky age, because she reads well enough to read "teen" books, but she is only nine, and then there is the fact that her taste seems to run away from anything too romantic or girly. She read the first two Anne of Green Gables books, for example, but then I think got bored with them.
      So thanks so much for the recommendations! I will definitely check out the ones you listed above.
      By the way, I just read the first two "The Queen's Thief" books on your recommendation and loved them...I'm sure Lii will love those when she's a bit older. Thanks again!

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  3. Oooh, I read "Heidi" and the non-Spyri sequels as a kid and loved it.

    I agree, my youngest is a reluctant reader and a baseball fan. If he wants to read under his level, I'll sing with joy. I do it as well.

    ReplyDelete

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What We're Reading Now Vol. 2


Susan and Lucy both told me that I have to read The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, so I did.  You might think a book about two princesses who are sisters would be about rivalry and jealousy and general snark.  But you'd be wrong in regards to this book. 

The two princesses are sisters, who love each other.  Meryl is bold, Adelina is timid.  Meryl protects Adelina, killing spiders for her and even taking a vow not to leave the castle until Adelina is wed.  When Meryl is stricken with the fatal Grey Death, Adelina is the one who must leave the castle to quest for the cure, facing shape-shifting spectres, flesh-eating gryphons, ogres and dragons.  Awesome sister stuff, plus epic poems.  I heart epic poems.


Peter is reading Roberto and Me by Dan Gutman.  Yes, Peter is fifteen, but he is a baseball fanatic.  I enjoy reading stuff much too young for me, so why can't he?  Yeah, why not?!  Roberto and Me is one of the Baseball Card Adventures series, in which a modern day boy (Joe Stoshak, aka Stosh) goes back in time to meet a baseball hero of the past.  Part historical fiction, part biography, part sci-fi.  It all works.  I reviewed another title in this series way back in August 2007. 

Edmund is participating in his school's Battle of the Books competition.  And guess who volunteered to help lead the third grade team? Yup, you guessed it. 

Oh, but didn't I give up volunteering as a New Year's Resolution a few years ago, just like I gave up hosting parties where my guests have to buy things?  I guess I sorta forgot.  Having team meetings with third graders in the cafeteria that perpetually smells like bananas and bologna will be so fun, especially with Baby J crawling in the filth crumbs underneath the table. 

I'm actually quite proud of Edmund for signing up.  Reading is not his strong suit.  In fact, he goes to multiple tutors a week and is being tested for learning disabilities.  If your child is smart, but scores pathetically low on state tests, you might want to look into testing.  No one told me this until my sister, an educator and his godmother, suggested it.  I wish I knew this in kindergarten. 


So, he has to read and/or listen to books from the third grade list.  He finished Betsy Byars' Tornado last week.  A sweet story about a family who is waiting out a tornado in a storm cellar and listening to a farm hand tell stories.


And we are almost finished listening to The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner on audio cassette.  The audio book is less than two hours long.  Those kids were so lucky, living in a boxcar and not getting attacked by bears, crawling around the dump and not getting tetanus, getting utensils from said dump and not getting e-coli, adopting a stray dog and not getting rabies or fleas, drinking out of the creek and not getting dysentery.  I'm constantly stopping the story to explain how Violet, Benny, Jessie, and Henry are doing really dangerous things. 


Susan "lost" my copy of Anne of the Island, so I had to get her one from the library.  If it's not at my mom's house, Susan is going to buy me a new one.  And it had better fit into the slipcase with the rest of the set.


But before I made her read Anne, she had strep throat.  Twice.  So I let her read The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg.  I read it, too, and I made a big mistake.  I regret to say that I committed a cardinal sin for book lovers everywhere.  I read the ending first.  And it ruined the story for me.  DON'T READ THE ENDING FIRST! 

The Year We Were Famous is based on the author's great-aunt and great-grandmother's real walk across the United States in 1896.  It's a good look at that time period and the risks women faced at the time.  Some states were just giving women the right to vote.  Bicycles and shorter bicycle skirts were in vogue.  The heroines of our story are out to save their farm from the auctioneer's block by publishing a book about the trip.

The main characters, eighteen year old Clara and her mother, Helga, have one heck of a journey, facing blizzards and deserts, Indians, and even shooting an assailant.  They meet lots of famous historical figures along the way as well, including President-elect McKinley. 

One night in Pennsylvania, Clara learns that her father is not her biological father.  This subject is treated quite well in the book.  Helga explains how her lover left to find gold before she learned of her pregnancy.  She tried to locate him, but she only knew roughly what area of Colorado he had gone to.  Desperate, she asked her mother to help her.  Her mother married her off to one of the workers from her father's factory, Ole.  Ole was crazy about Helga, but too shy and too poor to do anything about it.  He married pregnant Helga and they moved to Spokane to start a new life together.  Helga makes a great point of telling Clara, that it is because of Clara that she married Ole, who became the love of her life, and the father of Clara's nine siblings.  Clara reflects that this knowledge makes her love Ole all the more, because he chose to love her as his own. 


Baby J is big into farm animals right now.  The Chef makes all the animal noises for her and she laughs and laughs.  The Chef is actually quite talented at this.  His goat noise is the best I've ever heard.  We all have our gifts.

We got this board book from the library.  Never fear!  It was brand-new, out-of-the box, when we checked it out, so no one had chewed on it. Yet.

Did you know that the library frequently washes and disinfects things like board books, puzzles, puppets, computer keyboards, the toys at storytime, etc.?  At least our library does.

I really love the Dwell Studio board books.  The simple geometric illustrations are very attractive.  The Easter Bunny might be putting some of these in Baby J's basket.  Dwell Studio should totally sponsor me and send me free stuff to keep and free stuff to do another giveaway.  One can always dream.


9 comments:

  1. Okay, that first book sounds awesome. I have two daughters very close in age and they need more sisterly inspiration, they truly do.

    We have also recently lost, but then found, Anne of the Island. What is up with that sneaky book?

    Have you guys read Heidi? We did it for read aloud time in the evening recently and it was SO good. Loved it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not read Heidi, and I am planning a 10 hr round trip, road trip this month, so I will look for it on audio. Thanks!

      My girls and I like all of Gail Carson Levine's books. She wrote Ella Enchanted, plus several more.

      Here's hoping St. Anthony finds my copy of Anne of the Island, as well as a brand new bathing suit complete with butt ruffle, that I recently bought for the struggle pig and mislaid.

      Delete
  2. Jessica, have you read the rest of the Gregor the Overlander books? My oldest just finished the first one and loved it, but I was wondering if the maturity level goes up with the subsequent books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only read the first one: http://www.housewifespice.com/2008/07/gregor-overlander-or-tunnels.html

      But my sister (the eighth grade teacher, God love her) read them all. The content is fine. She lost interest though, and thought the series dragged out.

      Suzanne Collins also wrote The Hunger Games, but for a much older audience. I reviewed that one here: http://www.housewifespice.com/2011/08/more-books-for-middle-schoolers-and-up.html

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Jessica. I've only read the first one, too. I actually had to snatch The Hunger Games away from her yesterday after she found my copy lying around while she was prowling around looking for something new to read. I wish I could get her to try Gail Carson Levine, but anything that smacks of girlyness makes her run away screaming...
      Anyway, I really appreciate your book recommendations...your blog is such a great resource!

      Delete
    3. Similar to GC Levine is Gary D. Schmidt's Straw into Gold (but about a boy), or Angie Sage's Magyk series, or The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas who has commented on this blog before. How cool is that?

      How old is your oldest?

      Delete
    4. That is really cool! My oldest, Lili, will be ten this summer. She is constantly reading, so I just have a hard time keeping her supplied with good books. It seems like a tricky age, because she reads well enough to read "teen" books, but she is only nine, and then there is the fact that her taste seems to run away from anything too romantic or girly. She read the first two Anne of Green Gables books, for example, but then I think got bored with them.
      So thanks so much for the recommendations! I will definitely check out the ones you listed above.
      By the way, I just read the first two "The Queen's Thief" books on your recommendation and loved them...I'm sure Lii will love those when she's a bit older. Thanks again!

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  3. Oooh, I read "Heidi" and the non-Spyri sequels as a kid and loved it.

    I agree, my youngest is a reluctant reader and a baseball fan. If he wants to read under his level, I'll sing with joy. I do it as well.

    ReplyDelete