Friday, January 16, 2009

Mary Poppins Comes Back

Finished Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers. This is the second book in the series. Mary returns, via kite, to again be nanny for the Banks children, which now consist of not only Jane and Michael, but twins Barbara and John and the soon to be born Annabel. Mary is as prim and stern as ever, but orchestrates all sorts of unusual adventures. Travers' Mary is much harder, much more severe than Disney's version of the character, but that's what makes her so much more fascinating, especially to the children.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Brontë Project

Finished The Brontë Project by Jennifer Vandever. Sara Frost is searching for letters written by Charlotte Brontë for research in connection with her thesis. Her topic and academic outlook are out of step with the English Department's new tone and newest visiting Scholar Claire, who has created a Diana Studies genre dedicated to the life of the late Princess Diana. Sara's fiancee leaves her and her research fellowship is not renewed. While these circumstances all sound pretty bleak, the tone of The Brontë Project is edgy, humorous and at times zany. This is a fun read, especially for Brontë fans, English majors and classic film buffs.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Village Diary

Finished Village Diary by Miss Read. It is the second book in the Fairacre series (see Village School, December 2007). Miss Read continues on as Headmistress of Fairacre School. The infants teacher Mrs. Annett leaves to start a family. Miss Clare comes out of retirment to fill in for a bit, but then a new teacher, just out of teacher's college arrives to assume the post. Miss Jackson is very progressive and somewhat puzzled by the ways of this country school and it's students. She must board at the school house with Miss Read, which is less than advisable given their complete opposite natures and teaching philosophies. It's not until Dr. Martin brings Miss Clare's quiet poverty to light that a solution is found and Miss Jackson cheerfully goes to board at Miss Clare's. Once again, a cozy, funny, lovely read.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pierre Pidgeon

Finished Pierre Pidgeon by Lee Kingman. This book won the Caldecott Honor Medal in 1944. Set in Canada, by the sea, it is the story of a boy who is fascinated with a ship in a bottle that he sees in the local store. He and the shopkeeper discuss the concept of how the ship got inside the bottle. The shopkeeper tells him that if Pierre ever figures that out he will be a very smart boy indeed. Pierre earns an unexpected dollar when he assists an artist who wants to paint in a neaby field, but is frightened by Pierre's family's ox Henri. Pierre uses the dollar to purchase the ship in a bottle, but the bottle is later broken. Pierre is very sad, but notices how the little ship has collapsed on itself. He wonders, now that it is so small, if he can insert it into another bottle. He tries this out and is successful. He then runs back to the shopkeeper the explain how it was done.

This was an interesting book with a very original story to tell. The illustrations are charming, especially those of Henri the ox. Kingman was a children's literature editor at Houghton Mifflin in the 1940s.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Small Rain: Verses from the Bible

Finished Small Rain: Verses of the Bible by Jessie Orton Jones. This book won the Caldecott Honor Medal in 1944. Normally I find picture books based on bits of The Bible somewhat annoying. Not this one. Most of the selected text is familiar, even to a heathen like me. Jones' illustrations are wonderful. Her style seems a blend of Norman Rockwell and Robert McCloskey. The drawings feature children of more than one race, and are so warm and engaging that I found myself really enjoying this book.

Another interlibrary loan. This time from the Spring Lake District Library, Spring Lake, MI.