Thank you so much for your comforting and understanding words! I have read your comments over and over, and am amazed at how much they help me.
We are headed out in a couple of days on an Epic Journey, visiting friends and family in the beautiful, muggy Southeast. I wish I had a laptop so I could use some of the driving time to keep this here blog updated! Maybe it's just as well, though, so that I'm sure to focus on ENJOYing the trip. :) (And keeping things relatively peaceful in the car - three little boys and one 5-month-old will make quite the adventurous driving companions! ha)
Here are some bookish thoughts I wanted to record before making one LAST trip to the library to return these puppies. . . .
The Robe. Lloyd C. Douglas. Very interesting book. I had a little transition time getting used to the style of the writing (I always felt like I was watching a "Ben Hur"-type movie in my mind as I read), but it grew on me and I was definitely hooked. I loved the fact that it began with a character witnessing Palm Sunday and not knowing anything about who the man on the donkey was. I loved learning more about early Greek and Roman culture, and how they viewed the Jews and early Christians. The Christian-ness of this book is inspiring and not sentimental like in many modern Christian novels. (Except at the end, I suppose, which disappointed me). I want to be more like the Savior after reading it. It also leaves me wanting to learn more about those early Saints, and what things were really like after Peter had become the leader of the Church.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Rick Riordan. These are so fun!! I never would have read them if Exacto hadn't recommended them to me, because I thought they looked kind of silly. They ARE very silly in parts, but I will never forget the Greek gods and goddesses now! In fact, shortly afterward I reread D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and was amazed at how much better I connected to those wonderful ancient stories. I recommend these for age 10 and up. (They are a bit violent / gruesome. Also they have some content that you may not want to give yet to younger children, such as plenty of unmarried parenthood, taking "gods'" names in vain, trips to Hades, etc.)
Milkweed. Jerry Spinelli. A story about an orphan living in the Warsaw Ghetto. Wow. This was really an incredible book, but the ending is a let-down. I am amazed that anyone considers this juvenile fiction! It is clearly an adult book. Actually, have you noticed that a lot of award-winning "children's literature" is not enjoyed by children, but adults always rave about it? This would definitely be one of those. For one thing, it is one of the harshest books I have ever read--the author spares no detail about the living and dying conditions of those times. I felt sick after reading it. But it has some really beautiful parts, too, such as the theme of childish innocence in the midst of brutal insanity. I wish Spinelli had developed that theme through the end of the book--it really does have a strange ending. *spoiler alert* Do you honestly think any child will relate to a book that ends with the main character as a mentally disturbed grandfather? I'll probably never read this again, but I'm glad I read it, for the perspective it gave me on that part of history, and for knowing what Exacto had to experience in order to write that last report for Social Studies!
Fablehaven. Brandon Mull. Ahhhh, what a delightful book. I had already tried to read it once, was completely unimpressed by the cliche-seeming first chapter, and returned it to the library. But then my brother Russ recommended it, and I found out my sister Becky had loved it, so when Exacto suggested that we read it aloud together, I decided it was time to try it again. I'm really glad I did! Although I don't always care for Mull's style of prose (I don't think he gives enough clues about character's appearance or the expression of their voices--maybe I'm too used to Dickens), but I love his sheer creativity and gift for telling a story. The charm of the world he has created pulls me like Harry Potter's world did. Also, I love finding the little spiritual truths tucked in there, since Mull is a Mormon, too. :) (anyone out there notice those, too? Lena = Eve?) Exacto and I are well into the second book now, and loving it even more than the first.
Out of the Dust. Karen Hesse. Another award-winning book that grownups will love, and children may read and get sad and not understand. This one is written in free-verse poetry, from the point of view of a girl growing up in the Dust Bowl. She is starved for many things besides food. I just want to take her under my wing and love her. But I admire her strength, and the ending is very satisfying. Beautifully written. I think what it is with these types of books is that the authors really do express something meaningful, but children don't read to get deep meaning like adults do. They just want an interesting, good, cathartic story. Hmm, I'll have to think some more about this. . . .
Rosebud is still nursing exclusively, in case you're wondering how on earth I have time to read this much. I am loving this phase!