An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the February 2018 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND!

BloodlineWith the addition of Hoopla Digital to our local library membership, travel time, and ongoing frustrations with his progressive lenses, my husband’s favorite way of “reading” has become audiobooks. He’s been listening to Bloodline by Claudia Gray. This Star Wars story takes place before The Force Awakens, at the birth of The Resistance. My husband characterizes it as less an action story and more political intrigue, focusing on Princess Leia in particular.

The Lady and the LionheartI’d read so many glowing reviews of The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof, that I feared the book could never live up to the hype. I discovered, however, that it’s worthy of the praise it’s received. If you enjoy a character-driven story, a gentle romance, and a book that tugs on your heartstrings, you’ll enjoy the novel. Like any good fiction, there are themes and layers that resonate with truth, calling the reader to go deeper, examining what truly defiles the body, and how we participate in Christ’s suffering and sacrifice. Set amidst 19th century circus life, it’s a book that leaves an impression.

All the Light We Cannot SeeI’d also read many raves about Pulitzer-prize winner All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It tells the story of two children during World War II: one a blind French girl whose father hides a sought-after gem, and the other a German orphan boy with an affinity for radio communication. The story was beautifully written, the characters expertly drawn, but in the end, while I enjoyed the book, I felt as if the hint of hope was too little, too late for me. (For more discussion, check out this month’s Sabbath Rest Book Talk.)

Bible Basics for CatholicsMy oldest son is still concentrating on the Greek mythology he began reading last month, but he brought home a new book he received at a  school assembly: Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History by John Bergsma. His copy has a different cover and is marked the “Special Augustine Institute Edition,” but I don’t know how that differs from other editions. It takes the reader through the Bible with a broad eight-chapter overview, including some stick figure illustrations.

The PenderwicksAfter seeing this National Book Award winner recommended twice within a few days, I requested a copy from the library. It’s The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. My daughter enjoyed what she thought was a more realistic depiction of family life than she usually reads. The children needed correction, and the siblings sometimes didn’t agree.

Shoo-Fly GirlShoo-Fly Girl by Lois Lenski is about an Amish girl who (along with other Amish children) attends public school. This author is a new favorite of my daughter’s, and she’s slowly working her way through the library collection. It includes a recipe for shoo-fly pie, which is a big deal in Lancaster, PA, but which I always find a bit bland.

Gilgamesh the KingAfter studying the Epic of Gilgamesh, my oldest son was enthusiastic about sharing the story with his little siblings and found this picture book, which I borrowed from the library. Gilgamesh the King by Ludmila Zeman is the first book in a trilogy. (Why the library carries the first one and not the remaining two is beyond me.) We enjoyed the retelling for children and ancient-looking but still inviting illustrations.

Mercy WatsonThe Mercy Watson series is our all-time FAVORITE for beginning readers! The series features a pampered pet pig, Mercy (a “porcine wonder”), who loves nothing more than hot buttered toast. In her quest for it – and a bit of adventure – Mercy is involved in some hilarious escapades. Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride by Kate DiCamillo is my favorite of the series. And, I absolutely love the illustrations by Chris Van Dusen, which make me laugh out loud. Mercy wears such a look of innocent glee.

Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!Our copy of Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! by Susan Meyers is well-loved and tattered. All of our children have loved this simple picture book. They study the illustrations by David Walker on each page, and pick out which puppy represents them. Cute rhyming story, fun read-aloud, and charming illustrations.

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10 thoughts on “An Open Book

  1. That edition of Gilgamesh looks amazing! Our library only has the McCaughrean version, which is awesome, but yours looks even better.

    And I see where you’re coming from on All the Light. The ending was dark, but for me, it fit (if painfully so). It gave this individual/personal dimension to how broken our world became (and remains still) after that particularly dehumanizing war. Anyway. YMMV.

    • I thinking I’m going to request the library purchase the other books in the Gilgamesh trilogy. It really was very good. And maybe I was too hard on All the Light We Cannot See. The characters had to have been scarred. I just wanted a wee bit more hope, I guess.

  2. I too keep seeing The Penderwicks well reviewed and am thinking that it needs to be added to our Read-Aloud list.

    I’ve now lived in Pennsylvania for many years and still don’t get the appeal of shoo-fly pie.

    • Yes, I would’ve liked to have read it aloud, but my daughter got hold of it first. Maybe with the other kids I’ll do that. And, yeah, shoo-fly pie is highly overrated. Give me a good fruit pie any day.

  3. Couldn’t get it together enough to do a “real” OpenBook, but I’ve got something to add, anyway. I haven’t gotten it together enough to read “All the Light We Cannot See,” either, though I did purchase a copy because my library’s wait list was over 100 people long. And “The Penderwicks” looks good! I miss my regular exposure to kid lit now that I’m not in the school library anymore.

    • Oh my gosh! I’ve never seen a wait list 100 deep. I gave up on the library copy of another Pulitzer winner – The Goldfinch – because the wait was so long, but it wasn’t THAT long.

    • Thanks, Sarah. I liked it, too – just wanted a wee bit more. WWII Fiction – I enjoyed Cathy Gohlke’s Saving Amelie. I can half-heartedly recommend Amy Harmon’s From Sand and Ash. The history I very much enjoyed. The romance involving the priest, not so much. Going by the reviews, priests breaking vows for love doesn’t seem to bother people much. Just me. 😉

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