Wednesday, June 20, 2012
It's What We're Reading Wednesday
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart is the fifth book in The Mysterious Benedict Society series. The books are very long, and written with very advanced vocabulary, and contain some truly clever puzzles to solve.
This fifth installment starts out quite sad. The biography of Nicholas Benedict's early years reads like a Dickens novel. He is locked in his room at night, due to his sleeping problems, he has few if any friends, and immediately incurs the wrath of the resident bullies of his newest orphanage. But hang in there. His Extraordinary Education is less about book larnin' and more about learning to put others first.
I picked up Once On This Island by Gloria Whelan because it had a Caudill sticker on the spine. Once on This Island is the story of half French/half Irish resident of Mackinac Island, Mary O'Shea and her life during the British occupation during the War of 1812. Her father is exiled from the island because he refuses to take an oath of loyalty to the British. Her brother longs to join her father and the American troops in Detroit, her sister longs to go to the dances at the Fort, even if the only dance partners are the enemy.
Before I read this book, I knew Mackinac Island has a Grand Hotel, no mosquitoes and a reputation for fabulous fudge. I'm working on the Chef to extend our Michigan summer vacation plans to include a trip to historic Fort Michilimackinac. I'm also working on a Mac Woods Dune Ride and some outlet mall stops, but I might be aiming too high.
After reading Once On This Island, and realizing that Gloria Whelan also wrote Listening for Lions, which I loved, I tried another book by Whelan, Parade of Shadows. Dull. Whiny protagonist who is torn between her father and her would-be boyfriend and their conflicting political beliefs on a trip though the pre-WWI Middle East. Couldn't finish it. But Listening for Lions, that was anything but dull. You can read a summary of it here.
Reading Once On This Island reminded me of Jonica's Island by Gladys Malvern. I own a rare copy, I can't loan it to you, because to replace it would cost at least $149.50 according to Amazon. It's a riveting tale of a girl in New Amsterdam who goes from being indentured servant, to exiled thief, to heroine and nurse, after an Indian uprising and a smallpox epidemic.
I love every book by Gladys Malvern that I have read. I even liked her on Facebook, which let me know that many of her novels have been re-printed, but not Jonica's Island, at least not yet. I just ordered some that I haven't read, as well as a copy of Behold Your Queen!: A Story of Esther, which the local public library got rid of. Great historical fiction for girls.
The Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone is making the rounds of the female readers in my house. Similar to Love, Aubrey, Louise lives with her grandparents and the reader is not quite sure what happened to her parents or why she quit the championship gymnastics team, and switched schools. And I'm not telling.
Okay, I'm telling. Spoiler alert.
Louise's mom took her own life after severe depression when her dad left them. Louise found her. Her mom died from overdosing on meds, nothing graphic. Louise suffers mental trauma and memory loss from this event and struggles to have any memories of her mother. But with the help of a mysterious secret admirer, two best friends, and two loving grandparents, she gets better. The recovered memory of this event is a small but tragic part of Louise's story. Maybe not as heart-wrenching as Love, Aubrey, but just as beautiful.