Each month, I write a book review column for a local magazine here in town. In collaboration with (and with permission from) the publisher, I am adding the column to my blog as I thought it might be a fun feature. So – here you go:
Little Treasures – Endearments from the World – Jacqueline Ogburn
A charming picture book packed with the little loving phrases that parents and guardians throughout the world call the children in their lives. Ranging from England, the U.S. and Australia to Uganda and the Slovak Republic, readers will delight in learning (and trying to pronounce) the pet names that families call each other: honey, possum, poppet, light of my heart, my ruby, little mouse… A sweet book which clearly shows how love crosses the world from one family to another. Lovely illustrations as well.
The Borrowers – Mary Norton
This classic spins a tale around the idea of some “little characters” who live under the floorboards in a big half-empty house and who live by “borrowing” whatever they can carry back to their little sheltered home (e.g. safety pins, bits of paper etc.). Pod (the father) and Homily (the mother) have a daughter called Arrietty who is growing up and wants to go beyond the safety of the home. Reluctantly, her parents allow her to go on her first “borrowing “expedition but only with this caveat: she cannot be “seen” by one of the “human beans” who live in the big house above them. As stories go, Arrietty is, of course, “seen” by a young boy and this really charming little story explores the consequences that result from that. This was written in the 1950’s, but it will still charm modern young readers, especially anyone who has always wondered where the little things go missing in the home. Both boys and girls will enjoy this one and for home schoolers, there are lessons and related activities on-line. There are also other books in the series.
House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
Please don’t shudder when you see this title and think “school reading”. This is a very approachable story that is a classic for a reason – it’s darned good! (Honestly.)This is the story of Lily Bart, born into poverty but with very expensive tastes, and who is forced to live on the generosity of her friends. (It’s the early 20th century in the US.) But – how does a young woman who wants the High Life get that when she is not rich and has little prospect of getting rich? The choices in the 1900’s were very limited for women, and this plot goes on to explore that in detail and depth with great characters that you will believe in and understand. When you have few choices, do you marry for love or for money? Or hold out for both? If you enjoy the reality shows of today, then I would bet you would enjoy this. Again, don’t be put off by the “classic” label. It’s a good read.