Saturday, 25 July 2009

#6 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Date read: 6/21/2009
Rating: 4*/5 = great

My thoughts:

I enjoyed reading this childhood favorite. I liked how Mary "blossomed" as she started caring about others and let others care about her. I also liked how she and Dickon showed Colin a new way to live.

#5 The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban

The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban
Date read: 6/16/2009
Rating: 4*/5 = great

My thoughts:

Although it's been many years since I had read this book, I still found it as poignant, funny and moving as I did when I was a child. I enjoyed the interactions between the tin mouse and his son in their quest to find a home and a family.

#4 The Book of Three

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Date read: 6/14/2009
Rating: 4*/5

My thoughts:

I enjoyed rereading this childhood favorite featuring the characters Taran, Eilonwy and Fflewddur Fflam. I especially liked how Taran learned that being a hero takes more than swinging a sword and looking handsome. I look forward to rereading the next book in the series, The Black Cauldron.

Monday, 22 June 2009

End of Challenge

A big thank you to all of you who joined me in this challenge.
I hope you enjoyed reading your childhood favourite books as much as I did.
I've rediscovered a few more of them thanks to your reviews and will be re-reading them over the years.
Many thanks to all
Lynda ;0)

Sunday, 21 June 2009

What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge

Katy - Book 3
Published: 1886
Pages: 178
My Rating: 4 stars

Sarah Chauncey Woolsey was an American children's author who wrote under the pen name Susan Coolidge. She died in 1905 and is best known for her classic children's novel What Katy Did (1872). The fictional Carr family was modelled after the author's own, with Katy Carr inspired by Susan (Sarah) herself, and the brothers and sisters modelled on Coolidge's Woolsey siblings. Two sequels follow Katy as she grows up: What Katy Did at School (1873) and What Katy Did Next (1886). Two further sequels were also published: Clover (1888) and In the High Valley (1890) - wikipedia

This is another one of my mother's books that I also loved as a child. The totally adorable cover shows a picture of Katy and Ned on the Grand Canal in Venice. I can't locate book 2, What Katy Did At School so I've gone straight to book 3 which takes place 3 years after Katy Carr leaves Hillsover boarding school and returns home to Burnet.

Katy cares for a neighbour's daughter, Amy Ashe, while Mrs Ashe cares for her nephew who is stricken with Scarlet Fever. After many months, a grateful Mrs Ashe asks Katy to accompany her and Amy on an extended holiday to Europe. What follows is a travelogue through England, France and Italy and the reader is given glimpses of the growing love between Katy and naval lieutenant Ned Worthington, Mrs Ashes's younger brother. The glimpses mind you, are little more than fleeting mentions, we are talking 1880's children's story (wouldn't want to sully a young girl's mind lol)

I particularly loved Katy's journey through story-book England. Katy had a penchant for visiting places she had read about in novels, one such being 'Wimpole Street'

"That is the name of the street where Maria Crawford in Mansfield Park, you know, 'opened one of the best houses' after she married Mr Rushworth. Think of seeing Wimpole Street! What fun!"

Another nostalgic read; adorable, outdated and slightly 'kitschy' story but nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable. This also completes the Childhood Favourites Challenge for me.

Posted on my blog The Eclectic Reader

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Childhood Favourites #5: A Watcher in the Woods

A Watcher in the Woods

Florence Engel Randall

First Hardcover Printing: 1976

New York: Atheneum Publishers

Jan Carstairs is 15 (almost 16) when she and her family move into the old Aylwood place. Jan wasn't happy about the move in the first place, she's used to the city; not the isolation of this country estate. But there is something else, something more unsettling that has Jan so upset. She felt it that first day, a presence in the woods. The old woman knew it was there too and after talking to Jan, decides to "take a chance" on the Carstairs, reluctantly leaving her home and the Watcher behind.

It isn't long before odd occurrences have the entire Carstairs family upset. Mirrors are mysteriously broken, always in the same X pattern. 10-year-old Ellie begins to "hear" things and relate messages in mirror writing. The TV becomes a bridge of communication when strange programs are transmitted late at night. With help from their nearest neighbour and Jan's new friend 19-year-old Mark, the Carstairs race against time to piece together the identity of the Watcher in the Woods!

I was 11-years-old in grade six when I first read A Watcher in the Woods. I've always considered this one my crossover book; my first step onto the bridge between children's literature and the world of adult books. Skip ahead thirty years and though I remember the thrill of reading this book, some of the details were sketchy. Revisiting this childhood favourite became great fun with all the "oh yeah, now I remember!" moments because try a I might, the ending would not come back to me 'til the end!

In 1980 Scholastic released a paperback edition with the slightly altered title The Watcher in the Woods to coincide with the Disney film version in theatres the same year. To complete The Childhood Favourites Challenge, this 1980 edition is the one I had to borrow on an inter-library loan.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women is at the top of my list of childhood favorites. I'm not alone, as almost every female friend and acquaintance I know says the same thing. Louisa May Alcott wrote this book in 1868. It was an instant hit and has continued to remain a hit.

It's a story loosely based on the author's own family experience. In it we find a family of four daughters (Beth, Jo, Meg and Amy). a mother (Marmee) and a father who is away from home as a civil war chaplain. In addition, we have Aunt March, old Mr Laurance, his grandson Laurie, John Brooks and so many more. This novel is rich with characters. 

The plot revolves around the daily activities of the four girls and follows them for several years as they grow from girls into women. Each of the four girls have different personalities, with strengths and weaknesses. I enjoyed reading how they were all so creative when it came to devising ways to entertain themselves and each other. One of the activities included a secret society, The Pickwick Club, or P.C. as they called it. Gardening was another activity. Each girl had her own quarter where she planted her favorite flowers. All that is, except for Jo, who liked to experiment with different flowers. The girls also had various chores and other jobs.

The book follows the girls with various friendships and as they contemplate marriage and what they will do with the rest of their lives. There are various issues in the book that I didn't notice in previous readings. I liked the strong feminine determination they each showed. As a child I remember liking Jo because she was such a tomboy. I still like her for that. 

It's been 140 years since the book first came out and it's still relevant for today's girls/young women. I was thinking about this book for my ten-year-old granddaughter but I've decided to wait a year or two. I'd recommend this for 12 and up.