Our Week in Books, October 10 Edition

October 11, 2015 @ 2:52 pm | Filed under: ,

Bonny Glen Week in Books #5

Our past few weeks have been a swirl of doctor appointments and deadlines. I had to skip a few of my weekly Books We’ve Read roundups because usually I put them together on weekends, and my last three weekends were quite full! Three weeks’ worth of books is too many for one post, but I’ll share a few particular standouts…and next Sunday I’ll be back on track with my regular “this week in books.”

Mordant's Wish by Valerie Coursen Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas

Mordant’s Wish by Valerie Coursen: a family favorite, now sadly out of print (but available used). This is a sweet story with a chain-reaction theme. Mordant the mole sees a cloud shaped like a turtle and wishes on a dandelion for a real turtle friend. The windblown seeds remind a passing cyclist of snow, prompting him to stop for a snow cone—which drips on the ground in the shape of a hat, reminding a passing bird that his dear Aunt Nat (who wears interesting hats) is due for a visit…and so on. All my children have felt deeply affectionate about this book. The domino events are quirky and unpredictable, and the wonderful art provides lots of clues to be delighted in during subsequent reads. If your library has it, put it on your list for sure.

Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon. Review copy provided by publisher. A strange, snoozing beast shows up in the backyard, and the kids don’t know what it is. They ask around but the adults are busy, so they hit the books in search of answers. All the while, the sloth sleeps on. The fun of the book lies in the bold, appealing art, and in the humor of the kids’ earnest search unfolding against a backdrop of clues as to the mysterious creature’s identity. Huck enjoyed the punchline of the ending.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas. I’ve had this book since before I had children to read it to: it was one of the picture books I fell in love with during my grad-school part-time job at a children’s bookstore. Fox and Vivas are an incomparable team—it was they who gave us Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, which I described in 2011 as perhaps my favorite picture book of all time, an assertion I’ll stand by today. Possum Magic is the tale of a young Aussie possum whose granny works some bush magic to make her invisible, for protection from predators. Eventually young Hush would like to be visible again, but Grandma Poss can’t quite remember the recipe for the spell. There’s a lot of people food involved (much of it unfamiliar to American readers, which I think is what my kids like best about the book).

Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild  Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Rilla and I finished Dancing Shoes, our last Saturday-night-art-date audiobook. Now we’re a couple of chapters into Swallows and Amazons. She’s a little lukewarm on it so far—so many nautical terms—but I suspect that once the kids get to the island, she’ll be hooked. The Ransome books were particular favorites of Jane’s and I’m happy to see them get another go with my younger set.

The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt  Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne  dear committee members by julie schumacher

After Charlotte’s Web, I chose Natalie Babbitt’s The Search for Delicious as our next dinnertime readaloud (for Huck, Rilla, and Wonderboy). We’re nearing the climax now and oh, this book is every bit as gripping as I remember from childhood. The kingdom is about to erupt in war over the question of what food should define “delicious” in the Royal Dictionary. The queen’s brother is galloping across the kingdom spreading lies and fomenting dissent, and young Gaylen, the messenger charged with polling every citizen for their delicious opinion (a thankless and sometimes dangerous task), has begun to discover the secret history of his land—a secret involving dwarves, woldwellers, a lost whistle, and a mermaid’s doll. So good, you guys.

My literature class (Beanie and some other ninth-grade girls) continues to read short stories; this month we’re discussing Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” and Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” In November we’re doing Around the World in Eighty Days, so I’ve begun pre-re-reading that one in preparation. But I also found myself picking up a book I read, and didn’t get a chance to write about, earlier this year: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. The fact that I’ve read it twice in one year is probably all the endorsement I need give: with a TBR pile is taller than the Tower of Babel, I really shouldn’t be spending any time on rereads at all. 🙂 But there I was stuck in a waiting room, and there it was on my Kindle, calling me. It’s an epistolary novel—you know I love those—consisting of letters (recommendations and other academic correspondence) by a beleaguered, argumentative university writing professor. His letters of recommendation are more candid and conversation than is typical. He’s a seriously flawed individual, and he knows it. But his insights are shrewd, especially when it comes to the challenges besetting the English Department. I thoroughly enjoyed this book on both reads.

Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace  Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery  Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis

Beanie finished Betsy and the Great World and is now reading Betsy’s Wedding (Rose insisted, and I fanned the flames) and Rilla of Ingleside, as our 20th-century history studies take us into World War I. Don’t Know Much About History continues to work quite well for us as a history spine, a topics jumping-off place, especially given the way it is structured: each chapter begins with a question (“Who were the Wobblies?” “What was the Bull Moose Party?”) that serves as a narration hook for us later. Then we range into other texts that explore events in more depth or, as with the Betsy and Rilla books above, provide via narrative a sense of the period. I probably don’t have to tell you I’m pretty excited about getting to include Betsy and Rilla in this study. Rilla of Ingleside is one of my most beloved books. The fact that my youngest daughter’s blog name—which I use nearly as much as I use her real name—is Rilla is probably a good indication of how much this book (and Rainbow Valley) means to me.

Illustration School Lets Draw Happy People  Illustration School Lets Draw Plants and Small Creatures  Illustration School Lets Draw Cute Animals

My late-September busy-ness put me in a bit of a slump with my sketching progress—it’s really the first time I’ve dropped the ball on my practice since I began just over a year ago. This week I pulled out our Illustration School books (Beanie and Rilla found them under the tree last Christmas) and decided that whenever I feel slumpy, I’ll just pick a page in one of those, or in a 20 Ways to Draw a book (we have Tree, Cat, and Tulip) and follow those models. It’s an easy way to get some practice in and there’s something satisfying in filling a page with feathers, mushrooms, or rabbits—even when I make mistakes. Which I do. A lot.

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This roundup doesn’t include much of the teens’ reading, and nothing from Scott although he has racked up quite a few titles since my last post. I’ll get the older folks in next time. And I suppose it goes without saying that these posts also provide a bit of a window into our homeschooling life, since I try to chronicle all our reading—a large part of which is related to our studies. If you’re curious about what resources we’re using (especially the high-schoolers, about whom I get the most queries via email), you’ll find a lot of that information here.

Speaking of which: any favorite WWI-related historical fiction you’d like to recommend?

Related:

   Books We Read This Week - Here in the Bonny Glen  Bonny Glen Week in Books Sept 6 2015 books to read with my 9yo

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Comments

11 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Avatar

    sarah says:

    I love Rilla of Ingleside too, I read it probably twice a year. Lately I’ve been hearing from people (men and women) how Anne of Green Gables was their favourite book, but I prefer the sequels. I really admire how much you read to your children.

  2. Avatar

    Elizabeth says:

    wow. We couldn’t read this many books in three months let alone three weeks! Kudos to you!

  3. Avatar

    Emily D. says:

    Gosh, I’ve always loved that Rilla cover. That’s actually one of my favorite AOGG books–I like it better than Rainbow Valley, for sure. For the longest time though, when I was kid, I could NOT picture what that soup tureen she puts the baby in looked like–and I only found out as an adult! Ha! Oh, the pre-Google days….

  4. Avatar

    Penny says:

    Angel on the Square (1914 Russian Revolution) (Gloria Whelan) and The Singing Tree (WW1) (Kate Seredy), both excellent.

    Thanks for the book ideas. Like I need ’em. But I DO! 🙂 xo

  5. Avatar

    Kristin says:

    I always loved “One of Ours” but I am a huge Cather fan (so a bit biased). The first time I read it I remember it was shortly after reading “All Quiet on the Western Front” and I always associate the two together.

  6. Avatar

    tanita says:

    The Ransome books always take a little warming up to get into, but they do pay off.
    Meanwile, I am three quarters of the way through THE TOYMAKER’S APPRENTICE by Sherri L. Smith and it’s a delight that your 8+ kidlets may enjoy during the holidays – it’s absolutely WILD, and gives the crazy world of the NIMH rats a run for their money.

  7. Avatar

    Erin says:

    https://sites.google.com/site/aussiebookthreadssite/world-war-1

    Lissa,
    Have a pile of WW1 books to recommend, some for you, some for the chapter book readers and some pic books too. Love to know which ones you enjoy