Yes, I do bring books to my kid's baseball games. He's not always up to bat.
Speaking of Edmund, we both enjoyed Gerald Morris's The Squire's Tale. Our young protagonist, Terence, cares for a hermit with the gift of prophecy. When a wanna-be knight crosses his path, the hermit foretells both of their futures. Terence leaves with the future Sir Gawain as his squire.
Off they ride, to meet King Arthur and go on a quest. Like other Arthurian tales, some of the adventures are somewhat bizarre, but all come with a lesson to take away. Morris gives these ancient characters new life with flaws and personalities all their own. Terence is a kind-hearted boy and Gawain is a likable knight struggling to be noble.
This is not a new series. Just new to us. Back in 1998 the good people at School Library Journal wrote,
"Overall, this is a good story, well told, both original and true to the legend of Gawain, counteracting his lesser position in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. Readers who savor swashbuckling tales of knighthood will enjoy this adventure. Librarians will find a great choice of comic and breathtaking quests for booktalks."
I agree with those statements and with their assessed age of appropriateness as Grades 5 to 9. Edmund and I just got Book 2 of this series of 10 (hooray for series!): The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady.
The lovely Laura Pearl wrote a new novel for middle schoolers, Erin's Ring.
When Molly McCormick, new girl in Dover, New Hampshire, finds an old claddaugh ring outside the local Catholic church, she sets out on a journey of discovery about the city's history and Catholic heritage.
There are lots of heroines in this novel. We learn the lineage of the ring's owners while Molly makes a friend and works on a history project for school. Each of the women who owned the ring faced different challenges as immigrant, factory worker, single mother and widow, and star-crossed lover.
Erin's Ring is a sweet story with lots of Irish-American history and idioms. The Irish brogues are very thick and there is a glossary in the back of the book to help those unfamiliar with Irish vernacular.
I did note one anachronism is Erin's Ring. One of the nineteenth century heroines finds herself on January 1st, bemoaning the fact that there is no Catholic church in town to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary. January 1st was the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord until 1969, when it was changed to the Solemnity of Mary. I know this because the pastor at the parish where I grew up joked that the diocese had been naming parishes after events in the life of our Lord. When our parish was built, there were only two events left: the Transfiguration and the Circumcision. But this doesn't affect the story in any way.
Erin's Ring is both shorter and more innocent than Laura's first novel Finding Grace, making it appropriate for any middle-school reader.
I'm trying to read more grown-up books this summer. I'm about a third of the way in to Jennifer Chiaverini's Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule. We are going to Galena later this month, and I have some distant familial ties to Ulysses S. Grant, so this historical novel is of particular interest to me.
As @reinventingmother commented on my Instagram photo, it is a little slow. Sometimes slow is what I need however. "Slow" allows me to take in all of the historical and political details of the time.
Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule is a tale of two women, both named Julia. One is the Southern belle, Julia Dent who eventually marries the quiet Captain Grant, and the other is her slave since childhood, Jule. Jule was given to Julia at the age of four to be her playmate.
I was unaware that the great military mind of the North was married to a slave owner from St. Louis. The family politics alone are worth the read. Julia is the lesser of two heroines, at least where I am in the novel. She is naive to the feelings of the "help" and over-confident in her role as master/beneficiary.
What I like about this book is that it's missing the sex and graphic violence that I've come to expect from best-sellers. That's not to say that there isn't any romance or tales of the horrible treatment of slaves. Chiaverini does an excellent job with both without offending my delicate sensibilities.
Now for the monthly link up for people who found time to read books and write what they thought about them.