Books, Reviews

A Post in an attempt to wrap up a few challenges…

Books in 1st Years of My Life Challenge 2012

All three books completed for this challenge. I had finished two of them earlier and one I completed over the last week!!

I love Shel Silverstein (and I am sure I have mentioned this in many posts on my blog. He makes it to many a Top Ten list. I love that I can read this with my little ones and we all smile, laugh, giggle, as well as feel the emotional tug strings at our heart that his
poems evoke as we read.  Shel Silverstein’s books have found their way into many of our friends homes – well – because I love to gift them!
Where the Sidewalk Ends is another delightful collection of
poems by Silverstein and we have many favorites in this book. We love to read them aloud and have marked many pages with sticky notes to reread. These are the poems my kids choose always to read aloud in class when they are asked to share a poem. My favorite ones in this book are ‘Hug O’ War’, ‘Lazy Jane’, ‘Jimmy Jet and the TV Set’, ‘Ma And God’, and ‘My Beard’.
Rating: A+
Reading Level: 6 and up
Reread Level: 5/5
Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl: I love the relationship between Danny and his dad – it is portrayed so beautifully here. The main plot is not something we would want to teach our children but Dahl’s story telling and his wonderful characters more than make up for this moral blemish.  The BFG is introduced as well.
Every boy and every girl, too, will love to have a dad like Danny’s – a dad who takes care of you, teaches, plays with you, is a wonderful story-teller, whose eyes twinkle when he smiles, who is sparky, even quirky, and not perfect (he has a deep, dark secret of his own which Danny discovers soon enough in the book); a dad who is in short, in the words of Danny – “What
I have been trying so hard to tell you all along is simply that my father, without the slightest doubt, was the most marvelous and exciting father any boy ever had.”
Dahl is one of my favorite authors and it is no wonder I loved this book as well.
Rating: A- (- for that moral blemish)
Reading Level: 8 and above
Reread Level: 4/5
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver:  a great collection of short stories by a newly discovered author thanks to this challenge. Raymond Carver’s stories challenge you by just being. Every story here, as you read it, is about what happens in the course of a normal day for the normal person, but it manages to hold your attention by calling your attention to the
mundane details, by leaving you with an ending that makes you wonder and think, and thus giving you pause, to reflect on such moments when they occur around you. The human failings each character has is exposed by Carver very subtly in the stories and as I mentioned before, he ends the story with a twist, and mostly abruptly when you least expect it, but still leaving you feeling satisfied with it. That is the beauty in these stories.
Am going to read myself some more Carver.
Rating: A
July Prompt – Lasting Impression –
 What Katy Did  & The Mayor of Casterbridge
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge: considered a children’s classic – must be one of the first classics I fell in love with and which left a lasting impression on me. This book was one of my first favorites! And I read it many times as a
little girl and reread it again this year. I admired Katy for her strength, cried for her when she did not, laughed when she had fun.
Though this is not a book I read this year, the prompt inspired me to write this thought: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy: was another book – not so much a children’s book which I read years ago as well that invokes
feelings of having read a good and well loved book even today. This was a book I shed a lot of tears over, left the pages moist and even now am sure that this book will evoke the same response in me.
You can see their influence on me because of references in many places on my blog
August prompt – Quote – 
What Katy Did
 “She read all sorts of things: travels, and sermons, and old magazines. Nothing was so dull that she couldn’t get through with it. Anything really interesting absorbed her so that she never knew what was going on about her. The little girls to whose houses she went visiting had found this out, and always hid away their story-books when she was expected to tea. If they didn’t do this, she was sure to pick one up and plunge in, and then it was no use to call her, or tug at her dress, for she neither saw nor heard anything more, till it was time to go home.”  ― Susan
, What Katy Did – this quote is perfect for me, as my parents said exactly something similar to friend and relatives of me and actually would ask them to hide the books if they wanted me to talk and play🙂
September prompt – Music
Thimble Summer & What Katy Did
Both the main characters in Thimble Summer and What Katy Did are girls who are tomboys at heart and as I read the book, I was often reminded of the song ‘Maria’ from ‘Sound of Music’. The girls personalities are strong, independent, yet with a big heart, just like Maria. The song reflects the feelings the nuns have for and about Maria.  These are the similar feelings that the families/friends in both these books feel for the main characters.
October prompt – chapter musings – 
Quite a few chapters made me bring out my notebook (in this case, my virtual notepad) to take down notes, copy quotes. Two of them in this book were chapter 5 and chapter 43.
I loved the discussion on pride in chapter 5. It brought a smile and I could easily understand Elizabeth’s point of view. I think most often we are willing to forgive others their mistakes (in her case, she talks about Darcy’s pride) but our ego does come in the way.  As Elizabeth says – “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
Mary, in her own thoughtful way, explains – “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
This made sense too, in a weird way. And I loved how Mary and I made sense of this statement.
In chapter 43, the interactions between Darcy and Elizabeth are fraught with tension – quiet but palpable – when Elizabeth unexpectedly runs into Darcy at Pemberly. Every passage is replete with it, as below:
‘At such a time much might have been said, and silence was very awkward. She wanted to talk, but there seemed to be an embargo on every subject. …………..Yet time and her aunt moved slowly—and her patience and her ideas were nearly worn out before the tete-a-tete was over.’
She goes to visit after assurance that the master of the house will not be back until the next day, but, that is not to be. Elizabeth’s internal dialogs especially were interesting for me.
“Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me—it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me.”

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