Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
I bought a full set of the Little House on the Prairie books back when I was still in high school. I'm ashamed to say they have sat on the shelf ever since. Maybe my daughter read them, but I never did. The books would be in pristine condition if the pages weren't so yellowed. Luckily, this is one of the few books I can find that is set in South Dakota. So I finally read one of the books, not even the first one. It took me two tries to even get started. It didn't grab my attention so I set it aside looking for another South Dakota book. There were just biographies of Laura Ingalls Wilder and it seemed silly to pass up basically the same thing that I already owned. So I gave the Ingalls family one more try. And I'm glad I did. The description of the vast prairies without a tree in sight (How did they stand it?) were so vivid. I finished the book with an even greater appreciation for those pioneers who braved the dangers and discomfort of moving west, not just Indians (The only one in this story helps the Ingalls immensely) but wolves, shady men, mosquitos, rough railroad workers, and the cold, cold blizzardous conditions of winter. The black and white illustrations just added to the charm. I'm thinking I may do this challenge again in a couple of years and read the whole set. There's at least four states involved in those eight books.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Dylan is nine-years-old and the only boy in his school in the small town of Manod, Wales. His family owns and runs a gas station but it's failing. The whole town is painted in shades of gray and the inhabitants seem to match. Due to a flood, the National Gallery in London moves all its painting to the abaondoned quarry at the top of the local mountain; and Dylan strikes up a friendship with the caretaker. Even though the friendship is based on false assumptions, Dylan is able to take his mom and various neighbors up the mountain at different times to see paintings before they are shipped back to London. The reactions to these different paintings change the people's attitudes and the face of the small town. Dylan is such a great character who, everytime he opens his mouth, seems to insert a foot. Not that he realizes the significance of the things he says, but the consequences are hilarious. He has an older sister, Marie, who is obsessed with her looks but can also fix almost anything. His younger sister, Minnie, is a genius and wants to carry out the perfect crime. There are so many things going on in this small town and with this unusual family that you just have to read the book to sort it all out.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
75. A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation by Catherine Allgor (Audio)
In A Perfect Union, Catherine Allgor reveals that while Dolley’s gender prevented her from openly playing politics, those very constraints of womanhood allowed her to construct an American democratic ruling style, and to achieve her husband’s political goals. And the way that she did so—by emphasizing cooperation over coercion, building bridges instead of bunkers—has left us with not only an important story about our past but a model for a modern form of politics."
My mother and I listened to this audio book when we traveled to Salt Lake City. It is filled with great historical information about the time leading up to James Madison's presidency, the eight years spent in Washington, the War of 1812, and then the Madison's retired life. I'm not too sure that Allgor doesn't idealize Dolley a bit too much, crediting her with changing the very course of American politics. Even so I enjoyed learning more about the political structure of that era, how Dolley decorated the White House before its destruction and the famous story of how she saved George Washington's portrait. She really was a fascinating person. Having said all that, I have to admit that this was not the most gripping tale to listen to on a long trip. I would advise reading it or listening to it in small tidbits as I did with the last disc. Plus, I feel like she skated through the last years of Mrs. Madison's life while presenting a huge amount of details of her life in Washington. On the reverse side, James is kind of overlooked during the presidential years but more is said of him after his term ends. I think I would like to read a book about Dolley that maybe I could pay better attention to.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Thursday, August 06, 2009
The Tale of Hill Top Farm (2004) —The Tale of Hill Top Farm tells how Beatrix Potter acquired her farm in the tiny hamlet of Near Sawrey, and how her farm began to change her life.
The Tale of Holly How (2005) —A shepherd falls from a cliff, his sheep have gone missing, and Tabitha Twitchet, Crumpet, and Rascal, want to know how, why, and who. Add to this the mysteries at Tidmarsh Manor and Bosworth Badger's Brockery on Holly How, and Miss Potter has her hands full.
The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood (2006) —Rats, cats, fairies, and a lady with a mysterious past. Is she a witch, or just out to cause trouble in the Land between the Lakes? Beatrix discovers all the answers.
The Tale of Hawthorn House (2007) —A foundling baby, gypsies camped in the meadow, a fox on the loose, and a nest of unhatched eggs. Miss Potter has another flock of mysteries to solve!
They may be a touch on the fluffy side, but absolutely delightful, fun and easy to read.