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Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I spent a good part of May re-reading and thinking about The Goose Girl.  It was my pick for book club, and whoever picks has to lead the discussion, you know.

I hadn't read The Goose Girl since my college childrens' literature class days, when I loved it.  I must say, I still love it! I love it all over again!

Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee is the crown princess of Kildenree, next in line for the throne. However her early attempts to try to speak with birds (encouraged by her aunt) are less than undesirable according to her mother, the queen.

I really hesitate to say much more (though other plot summaries will) because I love the unfolding of the plot in this book.  It is a retelling of a Grimm's fairy tale, and personally I find those always have some elements of surprise.

Ah, but I love this book! I credit it with turning me back onto reading, and with helping me realize that authors are living people, not just dead people.

And I love the element of romance in the book. It's so nice to get to see people actually get to know each other and fall in love, you know? Rather than the inexplicable love at first sight thing that happens sometimes. The writing is lovely, the plot well paced.  

Two thumbs, five stars, glittery hearts and all.  Recommended for girls and boys, men and women. If you want to borrow this book, I've got four copies. :-D

Monday, May 23, 2011

North and South (high, fluttery, girly sigh)

I fell totally in love with this movie the first time I saw it. I was hesitant to read the book ... I'm sure you've had the feeling at some time---you know it won't be the same, and it might change the way you enjoy the movie, and maybe you'll end up being mad at the way the movie was made, wishing it could be more like the book, etc., etc. But read it, I finally did, and I quite enjoyed the book. (But the movie's better. IMHO. :)

Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South has nothing to do with the American Civil War. We'll just clear that up from the get-go. But it is about the struggle between two geographic areas and their conflicting ideals and worldviews. Margaret is from the South of England. Her father, a pastor, loses faith in the church, quits his job, and moves his family off to the North of England, to Milton, a place as different as possible from the idyllic and countrified Helstone they used to call home. There Margaret has to overcome her natural prejudice against the industrial people and way of life she encounters---a way of life totally embodied by the leading man: Mr. Thornton.

In typical 1800s style, the book has lots of long stretches of character monologues, and a couple of the main characters are Northern mill workers whose accents were often difficult to parse. So the reading was kind of slow going. Even so, this is a lovely, complex book, very Pride and Prejudice in its themes and character development, I thought. Feel free to chime in, anyone else who's read the book/seen the movie. It's so girly. I loved it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

15 Minutes Outside


15 Minutes Outside: 365 ways to get out of the house and connect with your kids, by Rebecca P. Cohen

So this book is a little outside of our usual kids/YA fare, but it is a book that could potentially alter kids' lives (dude, heavy, I know) if their parents were to read and adopt its practices. The back of the book asks, "What could happen if you and your kids went outside, every day, for just fifteen minutes?"

This book was sent to me by its publisher to read and review, and as I've read it, a little at a time over the past month or so, it has proven itself a fabulous motivator. There have been a number of those pulling-my-motherly-hair-out moments when I've suddenly remembered this book and have cried, "Boys, we're going outside! Get your shoes on!" And every time I've done it, it has changed our cabin fever into happy outdoor family time.

My main question when I began reading was how the author was going to manage the fact that some of her readers will reside in Phoenix, AZ, while others will live in frozen winter tundras like Illinois. She does a good job of giving a variety of outdoor-activity ideas that can be adapted to different climates at different times of the year. And since she gives a different idea for every day of the year, I'm sure kids wouldn't notice if the warm-climate-resident parents skipped ahead to the summer chapters in January. Many fun ideas here, and while I haven't gotten my kids outside every day, I am definitely a believer in the value of the great outdoors. I'd especially recommend this book to parents of kids in the 5-12-year-old range.
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