Monday Morning Reading

January 3, 2011 @ 6:08 pm | Filed under: ,

[openbook booknumber=”1553378830″ templatenumber=”1″]

The Strictest School in the World, Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken, by Harold Whitehouse.

This is a book I read about at Hilltop Farm a while back, and at Big A little a a much longer while before that but then I forgot about it until the Hilltop Farm post reminded me. Methinks we’re going to enjoy this tale, which gets off to a fine start with lively characters such as a young female aeronautics enthusiast, an eccentric natural-foods-loving auntie given to serving up dishes like earwig curry and rhubarb-centipede-dandelion crumble, and a tactful Sikh butler. I’m reading it to Rose and Beanie (the others are welcome to listen in), and it’ll be the centerpoint of a little cruise we’ll be taking through the Victorian era during the next month or two.

[openbook booknumber=”9780806966120″ templatenumber=”5″] Who better to pull off the shelf next than Tennyson? We read “The Mermaid” and “The Eagle” and, because his language practically begs you to, talked about alliteration and imagery and simile. Like that gorgeous bit in Mermaid when “that great sea-snake under the sea / From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps / Would slowly trail himself sevenfold / Round the hall…” Wonderfully creepy, that, and then the surprise of the sea serpent not attacking but instead looking “in at the gate /With his large calm eyes for the love of me”—delicious. And the Eagle’s lonely lands and wrinkled sea, so incredibly evocative.

This particular volume, part of the Poetry for Young People series, only includes the first two stanzas of “The Mermaid,” so perhaps we’ll look at the third stanza another day, as well as its companion poem, “The Merman,” while we’re at it.

[openbook booknumber=”9780806955414″ templatenumber=”1″] After that we indulged in a bit of Lewis Carroll—“Jabberwocky” at the 12-year-old’s request. Reading that poem aloud may be rather like eating a rhubarb, centipede, and dandelion crumble—all sorts of intriguing and unnerving textures in the mouth.

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9 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. sarah says:

    I want that first book, if only for the sake of the title alone. My Rose and I love Tennyson, but I don’t think I’ve ever read The Jabberwocky to her – for shame. I’ve recited the first stanza often enough, but never gotten around to the whole poem. You’ve inspired me to get it out for tonight.

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    Snicker-snack! Calloo, callay!


  3. Sarah N. says:

    After seeing you mention Strickest School here, Santa left it in my daughter’s stocking. I thought it would be a read aloud but she’s taken it off to read herself and I keep plotting to steal it back. If you’re enjoying fun Victorian set reads, I highly recommend the Larklight trilogy by Philip Reeve. My daughter and I just finished it and we’re both anxious for a re-read already. Larklight is set in an alternate steampunky 1851 in which Newton’s development of an alchemical engine allowed British imperialism to extend throughout the solar system. The language has the flavor of Wodehouse and the Victorian outlook of the space travelers never failed to amuse me.

  4. Penny says:

    Strictest School was a big hit here too – enjoy!

  5. Sue says:

    I had Evan memorize Jabberwocky one day instead of reading a story he really detested in his literature textbook. He loved it, and he loved discovering that he could remember a whole poem. Plus, he recites it dramatically with appropriate dramatic gestures–which I love. We also identified what parts of speech each of the nonsense words had to be. I think he learned more than he would have from the detested literature selection. One of the things I love about homeschooling is the flexibility that lets you tailor a kid’s education to his interests.

  6. Christine says:

    I checked The Strictest School in the World out from the library after the first time that you mentioned it. All of my children have thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. Thank you!

  7. Eileen Smithdeal says:

    You always find the best books!!! Thank you!! Hope we talk soon 🙂

  8. Nancy Piccione says:

    I feel like such a contrarian here, but I did not like the Strictest School in the World. It was okay, but I just had to push my way through to read to the end. I didn’t find myself interested in the characters, or only mildly. Because we are busy reading and re-reading a lot of classics on the new Kindle this Christmastime (Rilla of Ingleside again!), I couldn’t make a case to my kids that it was worth reading, and back it went to the library some weeks back. Now I feel I should have made one of the kids take a look at it to see if it was just me.

  9. Melissa Wiley says:

    Nancy, I always love a contrarian response–a little spice in the soup! 😉 I’m eager to see how this book unfolds for us. Some books wind up better read-alones than read-alouds. (I never could manage Swallows and Amazons aloud, for example, but I dearly loved it when I read it myself.)