Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review of "A Little Princess"

A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

5 stars!!!

Description: India-born Sara Crewe travels to a London boarding school while her wealthy father goes back to India. Snubbed by some and adored by most, she consequently makes both friends and enemies of her classmates. As a pupil of status, Sara is treated with outward respect by the headmistress, but suspects that Miss Minchin really despises her; when tragedy strikes and Sara is reduced to poverty, she is no longer in doubt. Most of the school imitates the headmistress’s mean treatment of Sara, and when she thinks she can’t bear her circumstances any longer, a monkey and two Indian gentlemen surprise her with unlooked-for kindness, not knowing that Sara’s fate hangs in the balance.

Concerns: Sara believes in magic, although nothing that happens in the story is actually supernatural.

Summary: I can’t quite put my finger on what makes this book so fascinating. It could be the classic rags-to-riches theme that never grows old; or the way the author can depict every lively scene and character with delicious vividness; or perhaps the exceptionality of the courageous and proud Sara herself. Whatever the cause, this long-beloved book is one that no-one should miss. The captivating plot and characters will pull you right into the book and won’t easily let you go until you are through with this marvelous adventure.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review of "Babe: The Gallant Pig"

Babe: The Gallant Pig, by Dick King-Smith

5 stars!!!

Description: Babe is a pig. And pigs, as all border collies know, are stupid. Not as stupid as sheep, of course, but still thick-headed. So when lonely Babe starts following his adoptive collie "mother" around the farm, he's got a lot to learn. Fly enjoys the company, but even though she knows that Babe can't be expected to get everything right, his strange ideas worry her. For example, she knows that sheep must be bullied and frightened into submission. Babe can't get that through his head. What's a rough-and-tumble collie to do with a pig that says please and thank you -- to the SHEEP???

Concerns: The dogs calls sheep names; also, the female collie is calmly referred to with a term that would be inappropriate if used elsewhere.

Summary: This is a fantastic book. The characters are wonderful, the story unique, and the peaceful bustle of farm life offers boundless amusement (I can't help laughing at the poor harassed ducks!). There's a smattering of thrills (sheep rustlers, stray dogs), and the moral of the story is broader than just minding your manners: as Babe demonstrates, heroes come in all shapes and sizes! A short but snappy and satisfying read; one of King-Smith's best.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review of "Remarkable"

Remarkable, by Lizzie K. Foley

4.5 stars

Description: Visit the town of Remarkable, where you are sure to stay right next door to adventure! You can tour the Museum of Remarkablility and may also have time to meet the rest of Remarkable’s incredibly talented citizens – which actually would include everyone. Everyone, that is, except Jane. Plain Jane Doe (aged 10), is the only one in Remarkable without a single talent. When you first get acquainted you may find her life a bit boring, but don’t pack up and leave town yet, because this is where things start to get exciting: dangerous-minded twins enroll in Jane’s school following the appearance of a mysterious pirate on her doorstep; someone plants a bomb that turns everyone blue; there is a kidnapping conducted by a devious gang of pirates; and even the lake monster gets in on the action! In the midst of all the swirling confusion, you will be right there beside Jane when she discovers the secret that will rock her world. But when the key to fame involves risking the happiness of a friend, will Jane be willing to release her dream of a famous life?

Concerns: There is some brief but uncomfortably intense fortune telling (my reason for not rating this 5 stars).

Summary: This book can only be described as remarkable! I love the sense of humor the author brings to every page, while cleverly enticing the reader to become a part of the story by getting them caught up in the lives of the intriguing characters. After all, who wouldn’t love a story where there are jelly wars, a pirate with two peg legs who can ride a bike, a monster saves the day, and a local dentist who is furious because everyone in Remarkable has perfect teeth?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Review of Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

5 stars!!!

Description: Spunky, fun-loving, impulsive scapegrace Anne Shirley is adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, the two most old-fashioned, quiet, down to earth folks on Prince Edward Island. They’re not exactly the ideal combination, especially in light of the fact that neither Matthew nor Marilla has a spark of Anne’s imagination, the very essence of which Anne practically lives and breathes. Not only does redheaded Anne turn their lives upside down and inside out, but she reaches the whole town as well! Disturbing the peace of the quiet town of Avonlea in ways that sometimes shock the inhabitants, Anne has many adventures, misadventures and just plain hilarious moments in her repertoire. Accidentally dying her hair green; walking a roof ridgepole; playacting in a sinking boat; serving liniment-flavored cake to company; from scrape to scrape, Anne works her way into the hearts of many (definitely including readers!) and we wonder how we ever did get along without her.

Concerns: Anne’s vivid imagination runs away with her sometimes and leads her to believe some woods are haunted.

Summary: I love this book!! 5 stars are by no means sufficient. Montgomery does an amazing job of creating realistic (yet unique) characters in entertainingly funny scenarios. A personal favorite is when Rachel Lynde (the town gossip) finds out that Anne’s temper may just be as fiery as her hair when Anne starts giving Lynde what-for in the most amusing, Anne-like way!