Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book #2 for CCLRC: Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (1926)


As impossible as it might be to believe, I never read Winnie-the-Pooh as a child. Sometimes I actually have a hard time remembering exactly what I did read  that didn't comprise of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. However, that is neither here nor there.

There's no need for a summary since practically everyone, whether they've read the books or not, knows the story of Pooh Bear and his friends living in the Hundred-Acre-Wood, and having their adventures with the little boy known as Christopher Robin. What I hadn't expected was the charming prose that Milne employed to tell his story. He's one of those interactive authors, sort of like C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien, who occasionally interjects himself into the conversation. As Milne is writing, or telling, this particular story, he has Christopher Robin sitting next to him, listening to the tales, asking questions, and hugging his stuffed bear, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Despite the stories being a little silly, or a lot silly, they are absolutely enchanting. I almost wish I had read them as a child because then I would appreciate them more than I can ever do as an adult. The tales are a way to awaken a child's imagination. Christopher Robin is one of those imaginative children that used to be the norm. He played with his stuffed animals in probably a little forest outside his home, and imagined they were real. I can't think of a single child of my acquaintance that would have the wherewithal to make up such a complex world of characters and so I must give kudos to both A. A. Milne for his ingenuity, and to little Christopher Robin Milne for giving him the idea in the first place.

Now, one might be surprised to learn that the characters in Milne's stories are rather different from the Disney characters we know and love. Eeyore is pretty much the same, but Piglet surprised me by quite a selfish little creature. Pooh hasn't changed one iota; he is still a bear of very little brain, but Rabbit has myriads of friends and relations who follow him and, therefore, everyone else, on their adventures.

This book covers a birthday for Eeyore, a flood in the Hundred-Acre-Wood where Pooh and Christopher Robin save Piglet, an adventure to find the North Pole, an adventure to find a Heffalump, and the time that Eeyore lost his tale, along with several other short stories. Each chapter is a different tale, although Christopher Robin does plan a party to celebrate Pooh after he came up with the idea on how to save Piglet.

So, while I never read these as a child, I want my children, when I have them, to read about Winnie-the-Pooh and learn by Christopher Robin's example. Children should have wild and vivid imaginations!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Library Loot - 2nd Week of January


Yes, I'm on a young adult fiction kick, and really loving it. Not that I have all that much time to read, what with school, but I snatch a few chapters here and there. I really should read that Death in the Air book from last week. I started it, but got distracted by the Classic Children's Lit Challenge that I'm doing. My bad!

New Loot:
  • Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madelaine L'Engle
  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture by Kathryn Lasky
  • Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Old Loot:
  • Boy Sherlock Holmes: Death in the Air by Shane Peacock
  • The Curse of the Toads by Rebecca Lisle
  • Enchanted Inc. by Shanna Swendson

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book #1 for CCLRC - Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)



Ballet Shoes is the story of three orphans all adopted by the same man when they were babies. Pauline was brought home to Gum's (Great Uncle Matthew) ward, Sylvia, to keep her company. He'd found her during one of his excursions for fossils, in a shipwreck without parents and no identification. The adoption was finalized and Pauline became the very first living Fossil. Two years later, Petrova (a Russian orphan) followed, and then two years after that, little Posy, whose mother was a dancer and had to give her up because she just couldn't afford to keep her.

This charming story starts with the decline of the household finances. Gum leaves Sylvia enough money for 5 years as he goes off on another adventure, but he doesn't come back when they expect him, and they don't hear from him. Finally, Sylvia resorts to taking in boards, like Mr. and Mrs. Simpson and their magnificent motorcar that Petrova just adores, then Miss Theo Dane, an instructor at the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training, and lastly the two female professors, Doctor Jakes and Doctor Smith.

Fortunately, the two lady professors take such a shine to the children that they offer to teach them, and Miss Theo gets all three of the girls acceptance into the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training, and even Petrova gets to spend time with her new favorite person, Mr. Simpson and his motorcar. Posy takes to dancing like nobody ever expected, undoubtedly an inherited gift from her mother's genetics. Pauline turns out to be quite the actress, and learns that even if one is excellent as an actress, one can still learn techniques and tips from observing others. And Petrova, well, poor Petrova would rather not be in theater at all, but because sweet Sylvia, or Garnie as the children call her, needs a bit of extra financing, she perseveres with her theatrical studies.

The children cannot be in official productions until they turn twelve. Then, however, they are paid for their work. Pauline's first performance was for Alice in Alice in Wonderland and she was paid a delicious 4 pounds a week. These performances ran for months at a time, or as long as the public wanted to see them.

Honestly, my fascination with Ballet Shoes stems from being a small part of that world for 6 years when I was a child. I almost wish that I'd dedicated myself to it more. My poor instructor. Looking back, I gave her a rough time by my lack of enthusiasm as I started to grow older. I got chubby, and that was embarrassing enough without squeezing me into leotards and tights.

Ballet Shoes is an intriguing look into a world that very few people understand. Characters aside, just the inner workings of the ballet interested me. That said, the girls have their likeable and their unlikeable moments. There were times when I couldn't stand Pauline or when Posy mouthed off with an arrogance unbefitting such a very little girl. Truly, though, if you love something and are good at it, why shouldn't you pursue it with every fiber of your being? This is what all the Fossils do in the end, and that is why I love the story.

A note on reading ages: I tried when I was a child to read this book, but could never get past the first chapter. Now that I'm an adult, I gulped it down. Sometimes it does take a grown-up to appreciate fine children's literature.

Films

2007 version - This is the one starring Emma Watson from Harry Potter. I've yet to see it, probably because I didn't care for the reviews, or for some character alterations (cough, the professors, cough).

1975 version - I grew up on this version, and still love it today. It's even on DVD. This might be what encouraged my interest in ballet, actually, apart from seeing The Nutcracker live when I was 4.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Classic Children's Literature Challenge - Jan 2013





Host: Simpler Pastimes
Event/Challenge: Classic Children's Literature Challenge
Specifics: Must be written before 1962.
When: January 2013
# of books: Undecided at this point. We'll see what college has planned with assigned reading.

I totally doubt that I'll get all of these read, but it gives me a goal.

1) The Princess & the Goblin by George MacDonald
2) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
3) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
4) The Borrowers by Mary Norton
5) Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers  
6) Stuart Little by  E. B. White
7) Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
8) The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
9) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
10) Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild


Library Loot - 1st Week of January


Weird, they're all teen books. The Boy Sherlock series is pretty cool, I must admit. It almost makes sense that Sherlock might have some Jewish heritage and be ostracized because of it.


New Loot:

Boy Sherlock Holmes: Death in the Air by Shane Peacock

The Curse of the Toads by Rebecca Lisle

Enchanted Inc. by Shanna Swendson


Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Book Review: Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart (Kopp Sisters #3, 2017)

Original Summary Deputy sheriff Constance Kopp is outraged to see young women brought into the Hackensack jail over dubious charges ...