Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Reflections

In January, I read 45 books.

My top five:

Prisoner B-3087. Alan Gratz. 2013. [March 2013] Scholastic. 260 pages.
Kizzy Ann Stamps. Jeri Watt.
Going Vintage. Lindsey Leavitt. 
The Masqueraders. Georgette Heyer. 1928. Arrow. 290 pages.
Pollyanna. Eleanor H. Porter.

Though it may vary by month, my top five--at least this month--excludes books that I reread. 

Board Books, Picture Books:
  1. Over the Moon: Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and My World. Margaret Wise Brown. Illustrations by Clement Hurd. 1947, 1942, 1949, 2006. HarperCollins. 108 pages.
  2. Five Little Monkeys Jump in the Bath. Eileen Christelow. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 20 pages.
  3. Trains Go. Steve Light. 2012. Chronicle Books.16 pages.
  4. Clifford Collection: The Six Original Stories. Norman Bridwell. 1963, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1975, 1977. 2012. Scholastic. 182 pages.
  5. Thomas The Tank Engine Story Collection. The Reverend W. Awdry. (The Railway Series Since 1945). Based On the Railway Series by the Reverend W. Awdry. 2005. Random House. 512 pages.
Children's Books:
  1. The Real Mother Goose. Blanche Fisher Wright. 1916. Scholastic. 128 pages.
  2. The Racketty-Packetty House. Frances Hodgson Burnett. Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. 1906/2006. Simon & Schuster. 96 pages. 
  3. Star Wars Phonics. Quinlan B. Lee. 2012. (September 2012). Scholastic.
MG and YA Fiction:
  1. Prisoner B-3087. Alan Gratz. 2013. [March 2013] Scholastic. 260 pages.
  2. Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 308 pages. 
  3. Kizzy Ann Stamps. Jeri Watt. 2012. Candlewick. 192 pages. 
  4. Gingersnap. Patricia Reilly Giff. 2013. (January 2013) Random House. 160 pages. 
  5. Heidi. Johanna Spyri. 1880/2009. Puffin Classics/Penguin.  320 pages.
  6. Pollyanna. Eleanor H. Porter. 1913. 304 pages. 
  7. Going Vintage. Lindsey Leavitt. 2013. [March 2013] Bloomsbury USA. 320 pages.
  8. The Secret Garden. Frances Hodgson Burnett. 1911. 302 pages.
  9. Party Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1946. Oxford Children's Classics. 320 pages.
  10. Skating Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1951. 224 pages.
Adult Fiction:
  1. The Black Moth. Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages.
  2. Powder and Patch. Georgette Heyer. 1930. 284 pages. (Originally published as THE TRANSFORMATION OF PHILIP JETTAN in 1923.)
  3. These Old Shades. Georgette Heyer. 1926/2008. Harlequin. 384 pages.
  4. The Masqueraders. Georgette Heyer. 1928. Arrow. 290 pages.
  5. Beauvallet. Georgette Heyer. 1929. Arrow Books. 264 pages.
  6. Whose Body? Dorothy L. Sayers. 1923/1995. HarperCollins. 224 pages.  
  7. The Case of the Worried Waitress: A Perry Mason mystery. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1966. 151 pages.
  8. Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. James Runcie. 2012. Bloomsbury. 400 pages. (Grantchester Mysteries Series #1)
  1. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children. Jan Pinborough. Illustrated by Debby Atwell. 2013. [March 2013] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  40 pages.
  2. Noah Webster & His Words. Jeri Chase Ferris. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.
  3. Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure. Jim Murphy and Alison Blank. 2012.  150 pages.
  4. The Giant and How He Humbugged America. Jim Murphy. 2012. Scholastic. 112 pages.
Short Story Collections:
  1. L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1896-1901. L.M. Montgomery. 142 pages.
  2. Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903. L.M. Montgomery. 216 pages
  3. .L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1904. L.M. Montgomery. Dodo Press. 144 pages.
Christian Books:
  1. Brentwood. Grace Livingstone Hill. 1937. 315 pages.
  2. God on the Streets of Gotham. Paul Asay. 2012. Tyndale. 240 pages.
  3. The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ. Bruce A. Ware. 2012. Crossway. 156 pages.
  4. Spring for Susannah. Catherine Richmond. 2011. Thomas Nelson. 352 pages.
  5. Love Comes Softly. Janette Oke. 1979. 240 pages.
  6. Preparing for Jesus' Return. A.W. Tozer, James Snyder, ed. 2012. Regal. 211 pages.
  7. The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. Olivia Newport. 2013. Revell. 320 pages.
  8. To Win Her Heart. Karen Witemeyer. 2011. Bethany House. 347 pages.
  9. How You Can Be Sure That You Will Spend Eternity with God. Erwin Lutzer. 1996. Moody. 159 pages.
  10. Found God's Will: Find the Direction and Purpose God Wants for Your Life. John MacArthur. David C. Cook. 80 pages.
  11. And the Lamb Wins: Why The End of the World Is Really Good News. Simon Ponsonby. 2008. David C. Cook. 322 pages.
  12. Becoming Lucy (Winds Across the Prairie #1) Martha Rogers. 2009. 304 pages.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Skating Shoes (1951)

Skating Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1951. 224 pages.

I really loved reading Noel Streatfeild's Skating Shoes. Harriet Johnson is recovering from an illness. Part of her recovery involves daily exercise. At first, this involved tedious, dreary walks. But after visiting her doctor again (well, the doctor visits her), he prescribes something much different. Wouldn't it be wonderful if she could skate daily?! He's happy to make arrangements with the owner of the rink, but her family will have to cover the cost of renting ice skates six days a week. One of her older brothers volunteers to get a paper route which will provide just enough money to pay for the skates. (It will also allow two shillings a week to go into his savings account.) A bit timid, Harriet takes her mother with her that first day at the rink. But she happens to meet a girl her own age, Lalla Moore, and Nana. The two girls become very friendly, and though it takes some plotting on the part of Nana, it soon becomes routine for the two girls to go everywhere together. Lalla envies Harriet her large family at times. And Harriet envies Lalla's natural abilities on the ice. After a few months, these two are soon inseparable. Lalla even spends Christmas day with the Johnson family while her own aunt and uncle choose to holiday on their own. This includes having lessons together on and off the ice. (Harriet still not being allowed back in school just yet.)

Skating Shoes is a lovely book. I loved getting to know Harriet and her family. I did like Lalla. Yes, she could be obnoxious at times, showing how spoiled she was, but I felt sorry for her too. 

Read Skating Shoes
  • If you have an interest in ice skating (figure skating)
  • If you enjoy coming-of-age stories with strong friendship and family themes
  • If you enjoy Noel Streatfeild's children's books
  • If you enjoy books set in Britain 
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Party Shoes (1946)

Party Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1946. Oxford Children's Classics. 320 pages.

Party Shoes isn't quite what I expected it to be. It started out with great promise, I thought. We meet Selina, a girl living with her British cousins through the war (World War II). One day she receives a present from her American godmother. The parcel contains a beautiful (though inappropriate for the times) dress or 'frock' and some lovely shoes. Selina knows, as do her cousins and aunt and uncle that there will never be a suitable occasion for her to wear the dress and shoes. Not with the war on, not with the economy being what it is, not with shortages and restrictions, etc. So the cousins have a meeting. Every person has to suggest at least one idea of how Selina can wear her dress and shoes before she outgrows them. After many ideas are presented, everyone concludes that they will have a pageant on the neighbor's lawn. They set the date for September 20, 1945. And then they each begin writing their piece.

Selina does learn through the process that she is more capable than she ever thought, that she can do things, that she is good at many things, that she is great with working with people, solving problems, etc.

Over half the book is focused on the tiny details of the pageant, each scene of the pageant. We're there for what feels like three hundred rehearsals. Of course, that's not really the case. Probably more like forty. But still. As their scenes are changed, arranged, rearranged, scripted, directed, etc. I found most of the book tedious. I didn't want it to be tedious. I wanted it to be a delight. But most of the delight happened in the first hundred pages.

Read Party Shoes
  • If you like Noel Streatfeild
  • If you like reading about creativity, drama, etc. (writing poetry, dancing ballet, acting/directing drama, etc.)
  • If you like historical fiction set during this time period (1944-1945)
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, January 28, 2013

January Movies

I watched three "Anne" movies. The first one I watched was Anne of Green Gables (1934) starring Anne Shirley and Tom Brown. This adaption is something. I would say it stays true to the book for the first ten or fifteen minutes, but that wouldn't exactly be true for instead of Rachel Lynde it is Rachel Barry. Yes, Mrs. Lynde has become Diana's mother for this adaptation! Anne does hit Gilbert over the head with a slate, but, their "feud" is considerably shortened. It is not Anne's stubbornness nor lack of interest in boys--any boy--that keeps this predestined couple apart. In this adaptation, Gilbert and Anne start seeing each other secretly; they are madly in love with one another. It is Marilla and a decades-old feud with the Blythe family that keeps these two from being able to see each other openly. There are so many ways that this is not like the book that I couldn't begin to remember them all. The second movie I watched was the Anne I grew up with, the 1985 adaptation starring Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie. I love, love, love this movie. I love it so much that I hardly notice when it parts ways with the book. I love Marilla and Matthew. I love Anne and Diana. And most of all I love Gilbert! I also LOVE the music. The third movie I saw was Anne of Avonlea (1975) starring Kim Braden and Christopher Blake. This adaptation covers Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island. While it doesn't precisely follow the two novels in exact detail, it gets it right for the most part. It includes Mr. Harrison, and his parrot, Ginger; Davy and Dora, the twins Marilla adopts; Paul Irving, Stephen Irving, and Miss Lavender; Philippa Gordon and her other roommates from Patty's Place, and Anne's first official boyfriend, Roy Gardner. For anyone who loves the books, this one is a treat! I wish other sequels matched this one.

I also watched Pollyanna (2003) starring Georgina Terry, Amanda Burton, Aden Gillett, and Kenneth Cranham. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this adaptation. I have always found the Disney movie disappointing and frustrating. But this one, this was a Pollyanna I could LOVE because it was so true, so faithful to the book. True, they've set the book in England and not the United States, but that's a little thing. The characters are just right, the story is done just right. It's a joy to watch this movie!!! 

Heidi (1993) was almost a complete failure. There was one scene that I think they got right: when Heidi runs away to the church tower and ends up bringing home a kitten. The rest of the movie? Well, just assume it's not following the book. The big problem isn't necessarily in the plot details but in the characterization. (Though some of the changes are just WRONG*) The movie barely got any of the characters right. I just read the book which makes the contrast that much harsher. For a movie that barely gets it right, it is very long!

I did enjoy The Secret Garden (1949) starring Margaret O'Brien. Mary Lennox is quite a character! And I always enjoy watching adaptations of this one. Do you have a favorite adaptation? 

*The grandmother does NOT die in the book!!! And more importantly Heidi does NOT run away after a big fight with Klara and fall off a cliff!!!

In TV (on DVD) I watched seventeen episodes from the second season of Perry Mason. I also watched the first season of Babylon 5!

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Secret Garden (1911)

The Secret Garden. Frances Hodgson Burnett. 1911. 302 pages.

Mary Lennox is a perfectly flawed heroine. (She's no Pollyanna or Heidi!) Readers meet the newly orphaned Mary, and she's not exactly easy to love being quite spoiled and bratty. One gets the idea that while plenty (in India) have obeyed the young girl's orders (or wishes) none at all have bothered to love her or even like her. So her arrival in England, in Yorkshire, to her uncle Archibald Craven's estate shocks her a bit. But given the right opportunities and circumstances, Mary transforms dramatically. She discovers that life is worth living and that people are worth loving. Her hate melts away the more time she spends outdoors, the more time she spends in the gardens, the more time she spends with Dickon. And she becomes quite the influence on her cousin, Colin, a young misunderstood boy. Colin is quite the tyrant when readers first meet him. He's prone to fits and tantrums. He's all DRAMA. But Mary, well, Mary essentially tells him to grow up! Don't be so ridiculous!

Is The Secret Garden a character driven book? I'm not sure it is. The "Magic" of the "secret garden" is at the center of this one. It is the natural world, the beauty and wonder of Nature, of all growing and living things that makes this book memorable. It is the "secret garden" that helps to transform Mary and Colin. The book itself is constantly singing the praises of Nature, of being one with the natural world, of finding your place within the Magic.

Mary Lennox may not be as sweet and innocent as Heidi, Pollyanna, or even Anne, but, she is memorable in her own way! The way she interacts with Colin is effective even if it might not be the way Heidi or Pollyanna would have done it! And Mary isn't the only memorable character. Colin and Dickon are both interesting characters. Oh, how Mary absolutely idolizes Dickon! Mary isn't as mesmerized by Colin perhaps, but they are so similar to one another in a way. I think that is why Mary is able to help him when no one else can.
“The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place. The few books she had read and liked had been fairy-story books, and she had read of secret gardens in some of the stories. Sometimes people went to sleep in them for a hundred years, which she had thought must be rather stupid. She had no intention of going to sleep, and, in fact, she was becoming wider awake every day which passed at Misselthwaite.” 
“One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live... surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place. Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.” 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Library Loot: Fourth Trip in January

New Loot:
  • Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit by Corey Olsen
  • Freight Train by Donald Crews
  • Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone
  • Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
Leftover Loot:
  • Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie
  • Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
  • Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie
  • Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie
  • My Big Train Book by Roger Priddy 
  • The Clocks by Agatha Christie
  • The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer
  • The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer
  •  Trains Go by Steve Light  
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Week in Review: January 20-26

It has been a busy week!

My third Sunday Salon of the year featured Heidi. Another children's classic I reviewed this week was The Real Mother Goose.

Nonfiction titles reviewed this week: Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough, Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris, and for older readers, Jim Murphy's The Giant and How He Humbugged America.

Christian nonfiction: Found: God's Will by John MacArthur, And the Lamb Wins by Simon Ponsonby,  and Erwin Lutzer's How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God.

I read one mystery: Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Worried Waitress.

It was a great week for romances: Georgette Heyer's Beauvallet, Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades,  Karen Witemeyer's To Win Her Heart, and Olivia Newport's The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow.

I completed the L.M. Montgomery Reading challenge this week by completing a collection of short stories, L.M. Montgomery Short Stories 1904.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2013 Challenge Completed: L.M. Montgomery

Host: Reading to Know
Name: L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge
Date: Just January 2013
# of Books: 2+

I read three short story collections and one novel.

1) L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1896-1901
2) L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903
3) Anne of Green Gables, 1908
4) L.M. Montgomery Short Stories: 1904

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

L.M. Montgomery Short Stories 1904

L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1904. L.M. Montgomery. Dodo Press. 144 pages.

This is the third L.M. Montgomery short story collection I've read and reviewed this month. (The first covering 1896-1901; the second covering 1902-1903.) This collection features eighteen short stories: "A Fortunate Mistake," "An Unpremeditated Ceremony," "At the Bay Shore Farm," "Elizabeth's Child," "Freda's Adopted Grave," "How Don Was Saved," "Miss Madeline's Proposal," "Miss Sally's Company," "Mrs. March's Revenge," "Nan," "Natty of Blue Point," "Penelope's Party Waist," "The Girl and the Wild Race," "The Promise of Lucy Ellen," "The Pursuit of the Ideal," "The Softening of Miss Cynthia," "Them Notorious Pigs," and "Why Not Ask Miss Price?"

It is always interesting to read her short stories. I noticed in this collection in particular that there were several ideas or themes that were later developed more fully and used in several of her novels. For example, "The Promise of Lucy Ellen," reminded me of the West sisters in Rainbow Valley. And "Miss Sally's Company" reminded me of Miss Lavendar from Anne of Avonlea.

The story I loved MOST of all is "Them Notorious Pigs." Here is how it begins:
John Harrington was a woman-hater, or thought that he was, which amounts to the same thing. He was forty-five and, having been handsome in his youth, was a fine-looking man still. He had a remarkably good farm and was a remarkably good farmer. He also had a garden which was the pride and delight of his heart or, at least, it was before Mrs. Hayden's pigs got into it.
 Mrs. Hayden is a widow raising two young children and struggling to keep up with her new farm. After the pigs get into Mr. Harrington's garden one too many times...he loses it...
Harrington had never seen his neighbour at close quarters before. Now he could not help seeing that she was a very pretty little woman, with wistful, dark blue eyes and an appealing expression. Mary Hayden had been next to a beauty in her girlhood, and she had a good deal of her bloom left yet, although hard work and worry were doing their best to rob her of it. But John Harrington was an angry man and did not care whether the woman in question was pretty or not. Her pigs had rooted up his garden—that fact filled his mind.
"Mrs. Hayden, those pigs of yours have been in my garden again. I simply can't put up with this any longer. Why in the name of reason don't you look after your animals better? If I find them in again I'll set my dog on them, I give you fair warning."
A faint colour had crept into Mary Hayden's soft, milky-white cheeks during this tirade, and her voice trembled as she said, "I'm very sorry, Mr. Harrington. I suppose Bobbles forgot to shut the gate of their pen again this morning. He is so forgetful."
"I'd lengthen his memory, then, if I were you," returned Harrington grimly, supposing that Bobbles was the hired man. "I'm not going to have my garden ruined just because he happens to be forgetful. I am speaking my mind plainly, madam. If you can't keep your stock from being a nuisance to other people you ought not to try to run a farm at all."
Then did Mrs. Hayden sit down upon the doorstep and burst into tears. Harrington felt, as Sarah King would have expressed it, "every which way at once." Here was a nice mess! What a nuisance women were—worse than the pigs!
"Oh, don't cry, Mrs. Hayden," he said awkwardly. "I didn't mean—well, I suppose I spoke too strongly. Of course I know you didn't mean to let the pigs in. There, do stop crying! I beg your pardon if I've hurt your feelings."
"Oh, it isn't that," sobbed Mrs. Hayden, wiping away her tears. "It's only—I've tried so hard—and everything seems to go wrong. I make such mistakes. As for your garden, sir. I'll pay for the damage my pigs have done if you'll let me know what it comes to."
She sobbed again and caught her breath like a grieved child. Harrington felt like a brute. He had a queer notion that if he put his arm around her and told her not to worry over things women were not created to attend to he would be expressing his feelings better than in any other way. But of course he couldn't do that. Instead, he muttered that the damage didn't amount to much after all, and he hoped she wouldn't mind what he said, and then he got himself away and strode through the orchard like a man in a desperate hurry.
Something changed after their meeting...Mr. Harrington finds himself wishing that those pigs would get in again...because he would LOVE to see her again...

I also LOVED The Girl and the Wild Race. Mrs. Theodora Whitney desperately wants Judith to get married. (She is twenty-seven after all.) Mrs. Whitney feels that Eben King would be the perfect match for Judith. He is her choice for Judith. But Eben King is NOT Judith's ideal. Judith thinks Bruce Marshall is her "right one." When Judith overhears her aunt talking to a notorious gossiper about how horribly contrary she is and how she's unlikely to ever marry...she reacts.
"I will," repeated Judith stormily. "I'm tired of being nagged day in and day out. I'll marry—and what is more I'll marry the very first man that asks me—that I will, if it is old Widower Delane himself! How does that suit you, Aunt Theodora?"
Mrs. Theodora's mental processes were never slow. She dropped her knitting ball and stooped for it. In that time she had decided what to do. She knew that Judith would stick to her word, Stewart-like, and she must trim her sails to catch this new wind.
"It suits me real well, Judith," she said calmly, "you can marry the first man that asks you and I'll say no word to hinder."
The color went out of Judith's face, leaving it pale as ashes. Her hasty assertion had no sooner been uttered than it was repented of, but she must stand by it now. She went out of the kitchen without another glance at her aunt or the delighted Mrs. Tony and dashed up the stairs to her own little room which looked out over the whole of Ramble Valley. It was warm with the March sunshine and the leafless boughs of the creeper that covered the end of the house were tapping a gay tattoo on the window panes to the music of the wind.
Which suitor will arrive first when he hears the news of Judith's bold declaration? It WILL lead to quite a race!

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Beauvallet (1929)

Beauvallet. Georgette Heyer. 1929. Arrow Books. 264 pages.

The deck was in shambles.

If only Beauvallet had been filmed... Errol Flynn would have been perfect--absolutely perfect--as Heyer's hero, Nicholas Beauvallet. It was easy to imagine, which perhaps helped me enjoy the novel more. Beauvallet is the heroic pirate who agrees to take Dona Dominica and her father Don Manuel de Rada y Sylva directly to Spain--at the risk of his own life, he is a wanted man after all--after their capture. (The ship they were sailing on, the Santa Maria, attacked Beauvallet's ship.) Beauvallet treats the Spanish lady well--very well. Though he could take her to England and marry her, his intentions are completely honorable, he chooses to keep his word and take her to Spain. He will come for her--fight for her--in Spain. There are essentially three sections in this romance: the initial pirating chapters where Beauvallet is wooing Dona Dominica on his ship; Beauvallet's return to England afterwards which allows readers to meet the family; Beavallet's dangerous journey to win Dona Dominica which sees him traveling through France and Spain.

I enjoyed this one. You can read my initial review from several years ago to learn more. But I enjoyed it. Beauvallet would never be among my favorite, favorite Heyer romances. Most of my favorite Heyer novels are set in the Regency. This historical romance is set in the Elizabethan period. But it's good fun and well worth the read. 

Read Beauvallet
  • If you love Errol Flynn, 
  • If you enjoy pirate-adventure love stories,
  • If you enjoy historical novels set in the Elizabethan period
  • If you enjoy Georgette Heyer
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Real Mother Goose (1916)

The Real Mother Goose. Blanche Fisher Wright. 1916. Scholastic. 128 pages.

I enjoyed reading The Real Mother Goose. While I was familiar with some of the Mother Goose rhymes, there were so many that were new to me. The rhymes do vary in quality and relevance. (I'm not sure little ones need to be familiar with each and every poem in this collection in order to "know" their Mother Goose properly). Here are a few of my favorites:
The Tarts
The Queen of Hearts,
She made some tarts,
All on a summer's day;
The Knave of Hearts,
He stole the tarts,
And took them clean away.
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the Knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he'd steal no more. (107)
Sing a Song of Sixpence
Sing a song of sixpence,
a pocket full of rye;
Four-and-twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie!
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish
To set before the king?
The king was in his counting-house
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes;
When down came a blackbird
And snapped off her nose. (62)
The Bunch of Blue Ribbons
Oh, dear what can the matter be?
Oh, dear what can the matter be?
Oh, dear what can the matter be?
Johnny's so long at the fair.
He promised to buy me a bunch of blue ribbons,
He promised to buy me a bunch of blue ribbons,
He promised to buy me a bunch of blue ribbons,
To tie up my bonny brown hair. (127)
Do you have a favorite Mother Goose rhyme?

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two nonfiction biographies (2012, 2013)

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children. Jan Pinborough. Illustrated by Debby Atwell. 2013. [March 2013] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  40 pages.

Once in a big house in Limerick, Maine, there lived a little girl named Annie Carroll Moore. She had large gray eyes, seven older brothers, and ideas of her own. In the 1870s many people thought a girl should stay inside and do quiet things such as sewing and embroidery. But Annie thought otherwise...

There was a time when children weren't allowed in libraries, weren't allowed to touch books let alone to take them home. Some librarians felt differently. Anne Carroll Moore was among them. Children needed access to books, to good children's books. Libraries needed to have special rooms and collections for children. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise tells the story of one librarian whose special work within the field of librarianship had a great impact on the world, on how people thought of libraries. The book does note that she was not the only librarian working in this field, striving to make children's rooms a part of every public library. She just happened to be in the right place and right time. (New York City). She not only was a librarian; she reviewed children's books and compiled recommended reading lists as well.

I definitely enjoyed this one. It is so easy to take having access to books for granted, it's good to have a reminder now and then that it always wasn't so. This book might pair well with Miss Dorothy's Bookmobile.

Noah Webster & His Words. Jeri Chase Ferris. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.

Noah Webster always knew he was right, and he never got tired of saying so (even if, sometimes, he wasn't). He was, he said, "full of confidence" [noun: belief that one is right] from the beginning. He was born in 1758 on a farm in West Hartford, Connecticut, when America still belonged to England, and by the time he was twelve he knew how to grow everything from beans and corn to peas and potatoes. His father said Noah would be a fine farmer, following in the footsteps of a long line of Webster farmers. But Noah did not want to be in that long line. He didn't want to be a farmer at all. 

I definitely enjoyed this picture book biography of Noah Webster. The narrative was straightforward and yet playful at times with it's interruptions of definitions. The book provides background on American life and culture in addition to providing background on Webster himself. The book primarily focuses on Webster writing AMERICAN textbooks for use in schools and his writing of the AMERICAN dictionary. There are plenty of details to bring this story to life. For example, his blue-back speller cost fourteen cents, but Webster's profit was only a penny per book sold. It didn't take Webster long to learn that he wouldn't be getting rich by writing textbooks. Half the book focuses on the time he spent working on the dictionary. It was quite an accomplishment of course...
An example of the book's playfulness:
Now Noah needed to read the two thousand pages he had worked on for almost twenty years, to be sure there were no mistakes. Next, he needed to find just the right publisher. Last, he needed to take a nap.

I would recommend this one.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

These Old Shades (1926)

These Old Shades. Georgette Heyer. 1926/2008. Harlequin. 384 pages.

These Old Shades has a lively, impulsive, honest heroine in Leonie.  The hero, Justin Alistair, is equally unforgettable, a man with a horrid reputation with the ladies. (Among other things, he's even KIDNAPPED a lady in an attempt to get her to marry him.) He's not called 'devil' for nothing. But try telling Leonie that Justin is anything but an absolute angel! You see, he rescued her from her mean brother, he bought her. Of course, even that isn't quite what it appears to be. For Leonie was then posing as, Leon, a young man. (She'd been living as a boy since she'd turned twelve.) So Avon first meets Leon, likes the red hair and dark eyebrows, and decides the boy would be a good page. It would be useful to him to have the boy in his household...

These Old Shades has an intriguing opening and a marvelous conclusion. (The last seventy-five pages or so are just wonderful!) There are some lively conversations in between, of course. As Leon is taken to England and transforms into Leonie. As Avon tries through two women (his sister, his cousin) to teach her how to be a lady, how to dress, how to walk, how to talk, what to say, and most importantly what NOT to say. Readers are introduced to Justin's family: his sister, his brother-in-law, his brother, his neighbors, etc. Rupert, Justin's brother, becomes a playmate of sorts for Leonie. Both being immature, teasing, silly.

There are also hints of villainy throughout These Old Shades as Justin prepares to use Leonie as a weapon against one of his own enemies...

I enjoyed elements of These Old Shades. I certainly found the characters interesting. But I didn't love, love, love this one.

Read These Old Shades
  • If you enjoy Georgette Heyer
  • If you enjoy historical romances set in the Georgian era
  • If you enjoy books set in England and France (there's some French phrases)
  • If you enjoy lively, unforgettable couples 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Case of the Worried Waitress (1966)

The Case of the Worried Waitress: A Perry Mason mystery. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1966. 151 pages.

Perry Mason and Della Street were having lunch at Madison's Midtown Milestone. 

I believe this is only the second Perry Mason mystery I've read. I did enjoy this one more. I really loved it. In this mystery, Perry Mason takes pity on his 'worried waitress' and leaves her a good enough tip so that she can come consult with him at his office. (He also leaves his card.) Kit Ellis, the waitress, has newly moved across the country to live with her aunt, her only remaining relative. So why is she so worried? Well, it seems that her aunt is poor--she is always bargain shopping for their groceries, and even what she does bring home leaves Kit a bit hungry. But when Kit learns that almost all of her aunt's errands--including the grocery shopping going from store to store to store to store--are done in a taxi, well, she's puzzled. How can her aunt afford to take a taxi cab and keep it waiting while she shops? And then there's what Kit found in her aunt's closet...

Mason's advice to the young woman is to GET OUT OF THAT HOUSE. That very day she should GET OUT. But that may be more difficult than even Mason can imagine...

I just loved this one!!! Recommended for all fans of Perry Mason!

Read The Case of the Worried Waitress
  • If you enjoy mysteries, vintage mysteries
  • If you enjoy mystery series
  • If you like or love Perry Mason
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Giant And How He Humbugged America (2012)

The Giant and How He Humbugged America. Jim Murphy. 2012. Scholastic. 112 pages.

The Giant may not be Jim Murphy's best work of nonfiction, it is still a mostly interesting account of an American hoax in the nineteenth century. The opening chapters tell an unfolding story of the discovering of the petrified giant and its immediate local success. The first fifty pages or so stay in the moment, the rest of the book, on the other hand, chronicles the hoax from beginning to end revealing the intent, showing how it was carried out, detailing all the people involved, following the story from its local beginning all the way around its tour. It does provide a behind-the-scenes look at supposedly "clever" deceivers, and the supposedly gullible audience that "should" have known better. I didn't particularly like learning about these (slimy) characters. But the story revealed wasn't uninteresting. But there were parts of the narration I just didn't care for. (I am not sure it was the author's intent to be condescending in matters of faith, but it didn't feel right to me either.)

Read The Giant And How He Humbugged America
  • If you like nonfiction for tweens and/or teens
  • If you like Jim Murphy
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Heidi (1880)

Heidi. Johanna Spyri. 1880/2009. Puffin Classics/Penguin.  320 pages.

I first read Heidi in the summer of 2011, and I just LOVED it. I knew it was a book I would want to reread again and again. I became kindred spirits with a book heroine, Hannah, when she had this to say about Heidi:
My favorite thing in the world to do is read a book. I read Heidi, which I love, then I read another book, then I read Heidi again. If I stopped reading Heidi in between the other books, I'd be able to read twice as many books, but the thing is I like reading Heidi. So I do.
There is something comfortable and satisfying and lovely about Heidi. Heidi is a nearly flawless heroine whose goodness and love prove transformational to those around her. Heidi, like Anne and Pollyanna, is an orphan. She's not quite all alone in the world, however. She has an aunt who has tired of her, an aunt who wants to be rid of her when it's convenient, yet, who wants to push her way back into her life when opportunity arises. All for Pollyanna's own good mind you--if you believe that coming from her. Of course, no matter the reason her aunt brings her to her grandfather, the truth is that it is ultimately the best for her. Heidi loves and adores her grandfather, accepts him just as he is and loves him unconditionally. And oh how he loves her, needs her! Heidi heals his heart, transforms his life in so many ways! And Heidi brings (new) life to others on the mountain as well. In particular, Peter's blind grandmother! Heidi has a big heart and so much love to give! And her compassion for others is remarkable, she seems to feel others sorrows as deeply as her own.

But Heidi's perfect life with her grandfather is challenged when her aunt returns knowing what is best for her. Heidi will be companion to a wealthy little girl, Clara, in the big city. She'll learn to read and write, her manners will be polished. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, even if it breaks two people's hearts. Yet even in sorrow there is joy and hope. For Heidi continues to be Heidi. She becomes close with Clara, and even close to Clara's grandmother! She also impresses Clara's doctor and Clara's father. I really, really LOVED the scenes between Heidi and Clara's grandmother. I loved how the grandmother teaches Heidi how to read, but more importantly teaches her about the Lord. The life lessons she teaches Heidi on faith and prayer are AMAZING.
Mrs. Sesemann had noticed the child's unhappiness, but let a few days pass by, hoping for a change. But the change never came, and often Heidi's eyes were red even in the early morning. So she called the child to her room one day and said, with great sympathy in her voice: "Tell me, Heidi, what is the matter with you? What is making you so sad?"
But as Heidi did not want to appear thankless, she replied sadly: "I can't tell you."
"No? Can't you tell Clara perhaps?"
"Oh, no, I can't tell anyone," Heidi said, looking so unhappy that the old lady's heart was filled with pity.
"I tell you something, little girl," she continued. "If you have a sorrow that you cannot tell to anyone, you can go to Our Father in Heaven. You can tell Him everything that troubles you, and if we ask Him,  He can help us and take our suffering away. Do you understand me, child? Don't you pray every night? Don't you thank Him for all His gifts and ask Him to protect you from evil?"
"Oh no, I never do that," replied the child.
"Have you never prayed, Heidi? Do you know what I mean?"
"I only prayed with my first grandmother, but it is so long ago, that I have forgotten."
"See, Heidi, I understand now why you are so unhappy. We all need somebody to help us, and just think how wonderful it is, to be able to go to the Lord, when something distresses us and causes us pain. We can tell Him everything and ask Him to comfort us, when nobody else can do it. He can give us happiness and joy."
Heidi was gladdened by these tidings, and asked: "Can we tell Him everything, everything?"
"Yes, Heidi, everything."
The child, withdrawing her hand from the grandmama, said hurriedly, "Can I go now?"
"Yes, of course," was the reply, and with this Heidi ran to her room. Sitting down on a stool she folded her hands and poured out her heart to God, imploring Him to help her and let her go home to her grandfather.
and much later...
When Clara and Heidi were lying in their beds that night, glancing up at the shining stars, Heidi remarked: "Didn't you think to-day, Clara, that it is fortunate God does not always give us what we pray for fervently, because He knows of something better?"
"What do you mean, Heidi?" asked Clara.
"You see, when I was in Frankfurt I prayed and prayed to come home again, and when I couldn't, I thought He had forgotten me. But if I had gone away so soon you would never have come here and would never have got well."
Clara, becoming thoughtful, said: "But, Heidi, then we could not pray for anything any more, because we would feel that He always knows of something better."
"But, Clara, we must pray to God every day to show we don't forget that all gifts come from Him."
And Heidi is then able not to only draw close to God herself, to learn to trust Him more and more, but she's able to reach out to others in their sorrows, in their brokenness and speak healing words of faith. She's able to minister to others because her own life has been changed. She's able to reach out to both her grandfather and Clara's doctor in their brokenness--speaking tender words of love and affection, offering hope and peace. And those scenes were so beautiful, so touching to me. 

I loved so many characters in Heidi. I didn't exactly love Peter, her friend on the mountain. He provides contrast to Heidi's perfection, I suppose, being greedy, selfish, jealous, and lazy. He was definitely no Gilbert Blythe!

Favorite quotes:
“God certainly knows of some happiness for us which He is going to bring out of the trouble, only we must have patience and not run away. And then all at once something happens and we see clearly ourselves that God has had some good thought in His mind all along; but because we cannot see things beforehand, and only know how dreadfully miserable we are, we think it is always going to be so.” 

“We must never forget to pray, and to ask God to remember us when He is arranging things, so that we too may feel safe and have no anxiety about what is going to happen.” 
 I happened to be reading Heidi around the same time I was reading the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis, and I couldn't help but notice how Heidi teaches some of the same lessons: God has us in situations that we wouldn't necessarily choose for ourselves, but, God knows best and is working His best for us.

Have you read Heidi? What did you think? Do you have a favorite character? A favorite scene? A favorite quote? How do you think Heidi compares with Anne Shirley and Pollyanna?

You might also be interested in:

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Library Loot: Third Trip in January

New Loot:
  • What Janie Found by Caroline B. Cooney
  • The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Whatever Happened to Janie by Caroline B. Cooney
  • The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie
  • Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
  • Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie
  • Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie
  • The Beatles, God, and the Bible by Ray Comfort
  • My Big Train Book by Roger Priddy
Leftover Loot:
  • Becoming Lucy by Martha Rogers
  • A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist
  • The Clocks by Agatha Christie
  • Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer
  • The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer
  • The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer
  • Gordon's New View illustrated by Richard Courtney 
  • Janie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Trains Go by Steve Light 
  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Week in Review: January 13-19

My second Sunday Salon post of the year focused on Pollyanna! I do plan on reading Pollyanna Grows Up; I think the other sequels may be too hard to find though.

Another children's classic I reviewed this week is Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Racketty Packetty House. (If you love fairies OR dolls, this one is a must!) I plan on reading other Burnett titles this year as well: The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, etc.

I also reviewed a collection of picture books by Margaret Wise Brown: Over the Moon which has Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, and My World.

I reviewed two board books: Five Little Monkeys Jump in the Bath by Eileen Christelow and Steve Light's Trains Go. Both would make fun read alouds.

I reviewed one nonfiction book this week: Jim Murphy's Invincible Microbe

Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watt is a great MG historical read. I definitely recommend it! It was beautifully written. And for those that hesitate to read books with dogs on the cover, there is nothing to worry about.

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt was a very enjoyable YA romance. It releases in March.

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer left me giddy! I absolutely LOVED this one.

I reviewed A.W. Tozer's Preparing for Jesus' Return this week at Operation Actually Read Bible. I just loved this one! It would make a great introduction to A.W. Tozer!

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

The Masqueraders (1928)

The Masqueraders. Georgette Heyer. 1928. Arrow. 290 pages.

It had begun to rain an hour ago, a fine driving mist with the sky grey above.

 I am surprised by how much I LOVED The Masqueraders. I think reading Lorna Doone last year helped me place this Heyer into context. It is not a Regency romance (none of her early novels have been Regency romance). It is set shortly after the 1745 Jacobite uprising. The main characters are siblings with Jacobite leanings. (The brother and father having fought on the Jacobite side.) The father is mysterious, arrogant, a clever schemer. He always seems to be miles ahead of everyone else--in terms of scheming and plotting and getting things to go his way. The brother and sister are something as well, perhaps because of the way they've been brought up. Robin, the brother, has become KATE Merriot. He's become the sister so his Jacobite past can stay hidden. Prudence, the sister, has become PETER Merriot. Readers first meet this pair in disguise. The novel opens with the rescue of a lady in distress. Letitia is being kidnapped by Gregory Markham. It is an elopement gone terribly wrong. I believe at first she agreed to run away with him--to elope--but hours later began to change her mind. By the time Peter and Kate meet her, Letty hates Markham and is struggling to escape. They manage just fine...the adventure even ends with the arrival of Sir Anthony Fanshawe, a friend of the family--Letty's family.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Anthony Fanshawe!!! Peter/Prudence falls for him too. Fanshawe shows great concern for Peter, often worrying about him; he definitely wants to make sure that his new friend doesn't come to harm since he seems a bit young and innocent and inexperienced in the world. Meanwhile, Kate/Robin has fallen in love with Letty....

I enjoyed so many of the characters. My favorite, of course, being Sir Anthony Fanshawe! I loved the scenes between Fanshawe and Peter/Prudence. I especially loved the scene where she learns that he has figured out about the masquerading! But I also loved the father. I loved watching the plot unfold. The book was very exciting, plenty of dueling action, blackmail attempts, kidnapping attempts, daring escapes, etc.

Read The Masqueraders
  • If you enjoy historical fiction 
  • If you enjoy historical romance
  • If you like Georgette Heyer
  • If you enjoyed Lorna Doone
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kizzy Ann Stamps (2012)

Kizzy Ann Stamps. Jeri Watt. 2012. Candlewick. 192 pages.

Dear Miss Anderson,
My teacher, Mrs. Warren, says I have to write you, and when Mrs. Warren says to do something, you do it. 

Kizzy Ann Stamps is set in Virginia in 1963. Our heroine, Kizzy, is nervous about starting public school--the newly integrated public school. Her old school is closing, her old teacher retiring, just so Kizzy and the other students will have the best opportunity to succeed. The novel is told through a series of letters and journal entries: Kizzy writing to her new (white) teacher Miss Anderson. Through these entries, readers meet Kizzy and her family, but even more importantly they will meet her border collie, Shag. (These two are definitely the best of friends.) Readers will also learn a little something about the times in which Kizzy and her family lived. It's a good coming-of-age novel.

Kizzy's self-description:
I'm not frilly, not froufrou, not fancy. I am plain and down to business. I'm a no-bow girl, like Shag is a no-bow dog. I am not a strawberry sundae or a dream. I am just me. I am who I am. I am jeans, dirt on my hands, and my dog with me at the end of the day. (44)
Other favorites:
Folks may be pretending to offer some chances to black people, going to school together and all, but this is still a place that can see Medgar Evers shot down in his driveway like he is nothing and no one gets arrested. This is still a place where a white man can tell somebody else to switch a black girl in public and no one does a thing. You say that things are changing, Miss Anderson, but I don't see much changing at all. (62)
All I want to do is move on, especially from the scar, away from it and from the people who stare and make me feel like I am some sort of a freak because I have a crease on my face that makes me different from them. Differences aren't welcome. Being the same is what matters. People like same. And I'm not the same. I'm me. (80)
Mama says you can learn something from everyone in the world, but I don't know what I can learn from them. I know what I learn from eating with Omera and Ovita, the twins. They hardly say boo, except when they talk to each other in their twin language, so what I learn is Christian patience. I am exhausted after eating with them, and also more than a little annoyed. But Granny Bits says it is good for my soul to be tried by fire. Well, I am getting a good workout on my patience, that's for sure. (96)
How can one man dying make the whole world hush. (103)
I love words. They just pour over you like hot syrup on corn bread. Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle, rush, rush, rush. (153)
Read Kizzy Ann Stamps
  • If you have an interest in dog shows and/or training dogs
  • If you have an interest in spelling bees
  • If you like heroines who LOVE writing
  • If you are interested in the civil rights movement and school integration
  • If you enjoy historical fiction

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Invincible Microbe (2012)

Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure. Jim Murphy and Alison Blank. 2012.  150 pages.

Jim Murphy published two books in 2012. Invincible Microbe is definitely my favorite of the two. In eleven chapters, Murphy pieces together a narrative that tells the story of a microbe--M. tuberculosis--looking at the past, present, and future. The concluding chapters focus on MDR TB (multi-drug-resistant) and XDR-TB (extensively drug resistant). These chapters serve as a reminder that TB isn't a historical curiosity. That the oh-so-romantic image of consumptive artists never matched reality. (Though the fact that many writers, artists, and creative types did have TB is not disputed.) It was not a romantic way to die. (I did find it disturbing to learn that some people tried to look consumptive because they thought it made them look beautiful. It apparently being "in" to be consumptive.) The book is fascinating because it looks at science, medicine, history, literature, and sociology.

 Read Invincible Microbe
  • If you like nonfiction
  • If you like accessible, reader-friendly nonfiction
  • If you like Jim Murphy
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Going Vintage (2013)

Going Vintage. Lindsey Leavitt. 2013. [March 2013] Bloomsbury USA. 320 pages.

When Mallory Bradshaw discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, has been having an online relationship with another girl (Jenny/BubbleYum) she gets very angry. As she processes the break-up over the next day or so, she decides that life HAD to have been easier when her grandmother was a teenager. She concludes that if she could just live life like it was 1962, then her life would sort itself out better. It helps that she's cleaning out her grandmother's house with her Dad during this time, for it is in this cleaning that she discovers "the list." A seemingly random list of five goals her grandmother had when she was sixteen:
  • Run for Pep Squad Secretary
  • Host a Fancy Dinner Party/Soiree
  • Sew a Dress for Homecoming
  • Find a Steady
  • Do Something Dangerous
She makes a plan with her younger sister, Ginnie. She will give up technology (her phone, her computer, the internet, TV, etc.), and her sister will support her and work on the dinner party scheme. (Her sister is the cook in the family.) She'll also try to dress the part. Will it be as easy as she thinks?

I enjoyed Going Vintage very much. I loved the character development! I enjoyed getting to know Mallory and her entire family (her mom and dad, her sister, her grandma) and her friends. I also loved getting to know Oliver.  I LOVED Oliver!
Five months, give or take. Jeremy and I had been together for almost a whole school year by then. He'd already been to one of our family reunions. We'd already started talking in sentences like "Let's go snowboarding at Big Bear next winter," which shows that we were planning for a future together, maybe not forever, but at least for the immediate soon. "When did you start saying I love you?"
Jeremy freezes, which is my breaking point. I never actually read I love you in an e-mail, but his reaction tells me it's happened. How can someone say something like that to two different people at the same time? Not only did he write that to his cyber love, but I believe he felt it. For her. And they weren't just words he said to get the girl to blur her physical boundaries. He said it because Jenny knew him, all of him. And all I got was a piece. (147, ARC)
Read Going Vintage
  • If you enjoy YA realistic fiction and/or romance
  • If you enjoy character-driven YA fiction

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Over the Moon (1947, 1942, 1949)

Over the Moon: Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and My World. Margaret Wise Brown. Illustrations by Clement Hurd. 1947, 1942, 1949, 2006. HarperCollins. 108 pages.

 Goodnight Moon:
In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of--
Can you complete the sentence?! Goodnight Moon was originally published in 1947 and it's been pleasing parents and children ever since. Goodnight Moon makes a great read aloud because of its rhythm and rhyme. Do you have a favorite line or two? Mine is "Goodnight comb and goodnight brush...goodnight nobody goodnight mush...and goodnight to the old lady whispering hush".

The Runaway Bunny
Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, "I am running away." "If you run away," said his mother, "I will run after you. For you are my little bunny."
The Runaway Bunny (1942) is an imaginative story about unconditional love. A little boy wants to run away from his mom, the mom wants to show that no matter what she'll be there for her bunny.  For example, "If you become a rock on the mountain high above me," said his mother, "I will be a mountain climber, and I will climb to where you are" and "If you become a bird and fly away from me," said his mother, "I will be a tree that you come home to." It's a lovely book, one that is easy to recommend.

My World
My book. Mother's book. In my book I only look.
The fire burns. The pages turn.
Mother's chair.
My chair.
A low chair.
A high chair.
But certainly my chair.

My World (1949) is a companion picture book to Goodnight Moon. It certainly rhymes. And some of the rhythms are quite enjoyable. But the story is lacking a little. For example, "My dog. Daddy's dog. Daddy's dog once caught a frog. My spoon. Daddy's spoon. The moon belongs to the man in the moon." The book does focus on a child's world: the day-to-day activities and objects of familiarity.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Racketty-Packetty House (1906)

The Racketty-Packetty House. Frances Hodgson Burnett. Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. 1906/2006. Simon & Schuster. 96 pages.

Now this is the story about the doll family I liked and the doll family I didn't. When you read it you are to remember something I am going to tell you. This is it: If you think dolls never do anything you don't see them do, you are very much mistaken. When people are not looking at them they can do anything they choose. They can dance and sing and play on the piano and have all sorts of fun. But they can only move about and talk when people turn their backs and are not looking. If anyone looks, they just stop. Fairies know this and of course Fairies visit in all the dolls' houses where the dolls are agreeable.

The Racketty Packetty House tells the story of how a fairy, Queen Crosspatch, saved a family of dolls and their house. Cynthia is the disagreeable little girl who wants her old dolls and dollhouse burned when she is given a brand new dollhouse and dolls. Racketty-Packetty house is first saved by neglect. The nurse puts the dollhouse behind the door and places an armchair nearby which keeps the dollhouse out of the little girl's view. You might think the dolls would be upset or hurt by their displacement. They've been rejected by Cynthia, and they've heard the worst: she thinks they're only fit for the fire. But. These are joyful, optimistic dolls who are never gloomy. No matter the situation, they will find something to rejoice about. Perhaps their good-nature is one reason why the fairies love to visit this doll family so very much. The fairies are always watching out for them and are prepared to do what they can to save them...

I really enjoyed this delightful children's story. It has fairies AND dolls, not to mention a couple of good morals mixed in. I think my favorite part was when Peter Piper, one of the old dolls falls in love with Lady Patsy, one of the new dolls. He woos her and is successful! It was also interesting to catch a glimpse of their play. One day Cynthia pretends everyone in her new dollhouse is dreadfully ill with scarlet fever. She keeps playing that they're getting worse and worse, etc. And then very suddenly she stops playing, leaves the room 'leaving the dolls to their fate'. The old dolls decide to go and 'nurse' the new dolls back to health. There were plenty of scenes to delight.

If you're interested in reading this one with its illustrations, it can be found online here

Read The Racketty-Packetty House
  • If you like children's classics
  • If you like dolls and dollhouses
  • If you like fairies and fantasy literature
  • If you enjoy the work of Frances Hodgson Burnett

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Pollyanna (1913)

Pollyanna. Eleanor H. Porter. 1913. 304 pages.

This was my first time to read the novel Pollyanna, and I just loved it. True, Pollyanna doesn't really come close to matching Anne of Green Gables in my affections. But. Perhaps given enough rereads, Pollyanna could do quite well! Pollyanna is a nearly flawless character, unlike Anne, thanks in part to her always playing the glad game. She's an orphan; she's traveled across the country to live with an aunt who is merely doing her duty, yet, Pollyanna finds reasons to rejoice for that is what the Lord would have us do at all times. It is what her Father taught her. Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice!

As Pollyanna meets Nancy, Aunt Polly, Mrs. Snow, Jimmy Bean, and plenty of other characters including "the Man" (Mr. Pendleton) and a charming doctor (Dr. Chilton), she slowly but surely starts changing lives for the better. For her merry spirit is contagious and she soon has everyone--almost everyone--playing the glad game too. Readers get various examples of the glad game, my particular favorite being the occasion where Nancy learns to appreciate her name and to be glad that it isn't Hephzibah!
"Well, anyhow," she chuckled, "you can be glad it isn't 'Hephzibah.'"
"Yes. Mrs. White's name is that. Her husband calls her 'Hep,' and she doesn't like it. She says when he calls out 'Hep—Hep!' she feels just as if the next minute he was going to yell 'Hurrah!' And she doesn't like to be hurrahed at."
Nancy's gloomy face relaxed into a broad smile.
"Well, if you don't beat the Dutch! Say, do you know?—I sha'n't never hear 'Nancy' now that I don't think o' that 'Hep—Hep!' and giggle. My, I guess I AM glad—" She stopped short and turned amazed eyes on the little girl. "Say, Miss Pollyanna, do you mean—was you playin' that 'ere game THEN—about my bein' glad I wa'n't named Hephzibah'?"
Pollyanna frowned; then she laughed.
"Why, Nancy, that's so! I WAS playing the game—but that's one of the times I just did it without thinking, I reckon. You see, you DO, lots of times; you get so used to it—looking for something to be glad about, you know. And most generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it."
"Well, m-maybe," granted Nancy, with open doubt.
 I did enjoy the character of Pollyanna. I enjoyed her point of view. I loved some of her insights, especially her insights on living...
"Oh, but Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, you haven't left me any time at all just to—to live."
"To live, child! What do you mean? As if you weren't living all the time!"
"Oh, of course I'd be BREATHING all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn't be living. You breathe all the time you're asleep, but you aren't living. I mean living—doing the things you want to do: playing outdoors, reading (to myself, of course), climbing hills, talking to Mr. Tom in the garden, and Nancy, and finding out all about the houses and the people and everything everywhere all through the perfectly lovely streets I came through yesterday. That's what I call living, Aunt Polly. Just breathing isn't living!"
"Well, as near as I can judge, there are a good many things you 'love' to do—eh?" he added, as they drove briskly away.
Pollyanna laughed.
"Why, I don't know. I reckon perhaps there are," she admitted. "I like to do 'most everything that's LIVING. Of course I don't like the other things very well—sewing, and reading out loud, and all that. But THEY aren't LIVING."
"No? What are they, then?"
"Aunt Polly says they're 'learning to live,'" sighed Pollyanna, with a rueful smile.
The doctor smiled now—a little queerly.
"Does she? Well, I should think she might say—just that."
"Yes," responded Pollyanna. "But I don't see it that way at all. I don't think you have to LEARN how to live. I didn't, anyhow."
The doctor drew a long sigh.
"After all, I'm afraid some of us—do have to, little girl," he said.
School, in some ways, was a surprise to Pollyanna; and Pollyanna, certainly, in many ways, was very much of a surprise to school. They were soon on the best of terms, however, and to her aunt Pollyanna confessed that going to school WAS living, after all—though she had had her doubts before.  
And I did enjoy the moral message of this one:
 “Oh, yes," nodded Pollyanna, emphatically. He [her father] said he felt better right away, that first day he thought to count 'em. He said if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times [in the Bible] to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it - SOME.”
What I loved most about this one is that it was not like the (Disney) movie at all. The characters may have the same names, but, the characters, the stories, are so much better in the book! The details were just off, in my opinion, in the movie. And HOW she becomes paralyzed is very, very different. Jimmy Bean is also, to my relief, very different. (He's not the most annoying person ever.)

I didn't think I'd love the writing and the characters as much as I did. I would definitely recommend this one!

Eleanor H. Porter also wrote one sequel to Pollyanna, Pollyanna Grows Up. (Other authors later wrote sequels to this novel including: Harriet Lummis Smith, Elizabeth Borton, Margaret Piper Chalmers, Virginia May Moffitt, etc.) She also is the author of Just David. 

Have you read Pollyanna? What did you think? Do you have a favorite character? a favorite scene?

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Two 2012 Board Books

Five Little Monkeys Jump in the Bath. Eileen Christelow. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 20 pages.

Five little monkeys eat ice cream.
Lick, slurp, slop, drip, drop.
Then five little monkeys see a mud puddle!
Slippy, sloppy, goopy, gloppy!
Five icky, sticky, yucky, mucky monkeys!
"Oh, no!" gasps Mama.
"Bath time for monkeys!"

I enjoyed Eileen Christelow's new book, Five Little Monkeys Jump in the Bath. These five monkeys have a way of getting messy and sticky and staying that way--no matter how many times the Mama cleans them up! The text is very descriptive and quite playful! If you have a little one who loves Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, this one might work well for you!

Other books in the series include: Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree, Five Little Monkeys Go Shopping, Five Little Monkeys Play Hide and Seek, Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car, Five Little Monkeys Bake A Birthday Cake, Five Little Monkeys With Nothing to Do, and Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed.

Trains Go. Steve Light. 2012. Chronicle Books.16 pages.

The freight train goes, Squeak clang ting bing bing bing!
The streamliner goes, WoWoo Woooooo Woooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
The mountain train goes, Trip trap fuff puff trip trap fuff puff trip trap fuff puff!

Eight noisy trains are introduced to little train lovers in Steve Light's board book, Trains Go. (He's also the author of Trucks Go.) The illustrations are wonderful--very bright and bold; and the language is very loud and playful!  The eight trains introduced are as follows: a freight train,  a streamliner, a mountain train, a speed train, an old steam train, a diesel train, a big steam train, and a caboose.

Other train books your little one may enjoy: Roger Priddy's My Big Train Book, Roger Priddy's Noisy Trains, June Sobel's The Goodnight Train, and Lucy Cousin's Maisy's Train.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Library Loot: Second Trip in January

New Loot:
  • Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer
  • The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer
  • The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer
  • Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Gordon's New View illustrated by Richard Courtney
  • Anything Considered by Peter Mayle
  • Victoria Rebels by Carolyn Meyer
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  • Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli
  • Janie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Trains Go by Steve Light

Leftover Loot:
  • The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine
  • Becoming Lucy by Martha Rogers
  • White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages
  • A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist
  • Under the Red Sky: Memoirs of a Childhood in Communist Romania by Haya Leah Molnar
  •  The Clocks by Agatha Christie
  • The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer 
 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Week in Review: January 6-January 12

I had my first Sunday Salon post of the year.  Each Sunday I'll post about a classic. I'm starting by focusing on children's classics. My first post was on Anne of Green Gables. I've got a long list of potential reads mentioned on my children's classics challenge post, but I'm open to recommendations as well.

For young(er) readers, I reviewed Norman Bridwell's Clifford Collection and the Star Wars Phonics set.

Gingersnap by  Patricia Reilly Giff was an interesting read, children's historical novel with a World War II setting.

The historical romances I reviewed: Brentwood by Grace Livingston Hill, Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer, Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke, and Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond.

I also reread Dorothy Sayers' Whose Body?

Christian nonfiction: The Man Christ Jesus by Bruce A. Ware.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews