Tuesday, November 22, 2016

5 for Children

This is the last list of five that are not from lists, at least for a while. I have enjoyed reading off my list because my list was a bit overwhelming this year. I am pretty sure I will have at least five titles that spill over into next year. So many of my titles were dense and heavy and historic- so very adult. It was great to pick up a book a child could read. Although even there, I managed to pick up some heavy subject matter!

1) Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo- Can someone tell me what has happened to our culture that we think disrespectful kids who treat adults like they are idiots are adorable? I think it started with Saved by the Bell. I truly do. Mr. Belding was an idiot, Zach was impertinent, and the formula began. Almost every Disney Channel show has this formula. And way too many children's books have this formula. It makes finding appropriate reading or viewing for my children really difficult. Finding good books for Elspeth is where this is the most annoying. Elspeth doesn't like to read classics very much. I don't know what it is about books that make them feel new, but I sense it too. And she just likes how newer books read. (She does take an exception with the Betsy Tacy books. But honestly, who wouldn't love Betsy Tacy?!) Anyway, Flora and Ulysses is a book about a young girl who treats all adults like they are stupid. Now maybe the adults in the book are stupid. (Some of them are- her parents seem to be particularly idiotic.) I don't care. Why are adult writers continually writing stupid adults? What does this teach children who read and watch these stories day after day? That adults are stupid? That stupid adults don't deserve respect? There is also a squirrel who flies and writes poetry in this book. I have never been able to find squirrels endearing, but somehow the insolent main character and the not so super squirrel find friendship and she does eventually also seem to appreciate the people, including the adults, in her life. Needless to say, after pre-reading, I decided this would not be a good book for Elspeth.

2) The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate- This one was a little better, but it was kind of sad. It was about a gorilla who lives in a cement cage at a shopping mall and performs in circus acts. It has the true happy ending of the gorilla's story it was based on, but much of the story is made up. That's not to say that it isn't a cute and sweet story. I think I just always feel conflicted over embellished truth. I think I'd rather the whole thing be made up- then I don't have to wonder about what did and didn't happen or how what actually happened actually happened. I didn't think Elspeth would enjoy this one so I sent it back to the library when I finished. However, I can see that many kids would enjoy it very much.

3) The Green Ember by S.D. Smith/ The Black Star of Kingston by S.D. Smith- My dear friend Rebekah sent these books to my children after George and I visited and left the children with grandparents. Her children love these two and rightly guessed that mine would as well. Smith is a contemporary Christian fiction writer not unlike Andrew Peterson and N.D. Wilson. I love that children's adventures after the fashion of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia are newly available for young readers!

4) Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson - There's a lot of time travel in this. It was a bit confusing to tell you the truth. August read it this summer and was very confused. I think some of it was because he didn't want to wait for answers to come. Even with the answers that did come, I was still a little confused. I wanted to like it more than I did. But I am still eager to read the next ones in the series as they are written and released. The most interesting unanswered question to me was the reason all of Sam's friends share names with Jesus' disciples. Perhaps this will become clearer as the story develops.

5) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - ugh. I had this on my next to read list, had put in a request for it at the library, and then apparently Chelsea Clinton mentioned the book in a speech she gave at the Democratic National Convention and everyone started snapping it up. Little do they know that L'Engle is a Christian author. Or maybe they do. But my purpose in reading it was because she is a Christian author and because I remember loving the book when I was about Elspeth's age. I didn't particularly love it this time. I didn't hate it, I just didn't feel like it had as much to it as it needed to. But it's a classic and I am not an expert, so I am probably wrong. Also, I'm not a big sic-fi person, so that's another reason I didn't love it.

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