Tag: childrens-lit

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

This is apparently one of the funniest novels in English literature. I did not really find most of it funny but it was really amusing in parts. I have not read that much Dickens. Actually, I’ve only read Great Expectations before this and even though I feel like I’ve read A Christmas Carol, I haven’t actually read it. I keep forgetting that. I will read it for this holiday season. Back to Nicholas though, I did not find it that hard to read though there were a lot of tangents and side characters. I did like the principal characters but a lot of the women in the book are passive or two dimensional. It’s too bad because I think Kate had potential to do more but I think most Dickensian female characters are like this. I liked Nicholas too because of his loyalty to his family and Smike. Poor Smike. What a tragedy. This book is very melodramatic with a lot of villainous and horrible characters. All in all, I did find it engaging for the most part and Dickens is objectively a great writer how he weaves so much ridiculous drama and comedy for 800 pages.

3.75/5 stars. October 7-10, 2023.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Narrated by Kate Winslet. Read about this one from the Reading Glasses Slack. I wanted to listen to this before bed as it was one of my favourites as a kid. Winslet’s ability to change voices made it too intense especially since there was a lot of emotional child abuse. Her ability to become the awful Wormwoods was great. She did such a fantastic job. This was a good follow up to Nicholas Nickleby because it’s referenced twice. Maybe I subconsciously remembered it. I certainly did think about bad adults and headmasters. I usually do not like reading precocious children in books but Matilda is one of the exceptions. Most of the characters are so awful that you need a fantastical brilliant child like Matilda to teach them lessons. Very satisfying ending and reminded me why I loved it as a kid. I rewatched clips from the 1996 adaptation and it really is one of the best adaptations. Danny DeVito and the whole cast did such a great job.

4.5/5 stars. 1.1x. October 9-12, 2023.

Relaxation Revolution: The Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing by Herbert Benson and William Proctor

This one has more details than The Relaxation Response so I liked it more. I am keeping ebook version to have as reference. Even though the info is repetitive at times, I’ve become a big believer in the relaxation response meditations.

4.5/5 stars. Sept 26-Oct 13, 2023

The Cartographer by Peter Twohig

A book club friend of mine who use to live in Melbourne lent this to me. This is a longer than average debut novel at 400 pages. It crossed a few genres as well. It is from the perspective of a middle grade kid who is known only to the reader as the Cartographer. The protagonist is having a rough time dealing with the grief and loss of his twin brother. It documents his adventures in his Richmond, Vic neighbourhood and all the violent and crazy things in the 1950s. It was slow because the writing is a bit too padded in parts, but once things got going, a lot happened. It’s an adventure story with a dash of thriller and some mystery. It’s a historical fiction and a coming of age story with elements of literary fiction. It’s ambitious and different. I wish more people knew about it because it was good.

3.75/5 stars. October 14-15, 2023.

GoodReads suggested one of these books to me. I don’t usually find that many recommendations on GoodReads but the author and the reviews sounded promising. I requested all three books from my library. All of the books are children’s picture books, two them have no text in the story, and all have themes of being lost and found.

The Only Child

This is the author’s most well known work. The story was based on their experience of growing up lonely under the one child policy in China. I really resonated with this story as we have similar backgrounds. Loneliness was a theme of my life as well. I still work on it in therapy and how to connect better to myself and others. I cried at the end of this book which is rare. I’ve been more emotional lately though. That’s not a bad thing and this book really captured specific feelings and experiences that I could really relate to. Beautiful artwork.

4.75/5 stars.

Stormy: A Story about Finding a Forever Home

This is a shorter story about a stray dog. This also made me cry at the heels of the last one.

4.25/5 stars.

The Flamingo

The colouring on this was the best of all. Ghibli vibes. I didn’t cry with this one but I almost did. Lovely stuff.

4.25/5 stars.

Read all three on August 14, 2023.

I know some people read cozy mysteries and romance novels as their comfort reading. I am finding that young adult / children’s books and graphic novels are my comfort reading.

I read the first Borrowers at the end of 2019. I liked it enough to read the rest of the series in the past couple of months. Overall, I really liked this series. I wish I had read it when I was younger but I definitely appreciate it as an adult. There’s a lot of whimsical details. As a cozy novel, the adventures and conflicts are mostly resolved by the end of each novel.

I liked all the core characters and found the world building so interesting too. I liked both the outdoor and indoor adventures. I adored Arietty and I wish the adventures would continue. The last book The Borrowers Avenged did have a bit of an abrupt ending. I know that almost twenty series separated book four and five. Maybe Norton also planned another book or vignette after the last book. The epilogue seemed tacked on as well. I wonder what other adventures Arietty and her family got to after moving to their final home.

This was a wonderful series to read during the holidays and in winter. I am really happy that I keep finding children and young adult gems like these.

Read December 2020- January 2021.

As with last year, I have made more of an effort to read children’s literature. Recently, I went through a little streak from July into August.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

This was nice. I do not really remember much from Charlotte’s Webb and had not heard or read anything else by White. I enjoyed that the titular character has adventures all over North America.

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

I have read most of the Dahl books and surprised I missed out on this one. I liked it except it glorifies poaching a bit too much. I like Danny as a character and his relationship with his father.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

I have the most mixed feelings about this book. While I liked Heidi, her grandfather, and most of the characters, I did not really warm to the religious and conservative messages. I think children should learn faith and this book was written over 140 years ago, but it got almost preachy in certain aspects. The prose about the Alps is lovely but I am aware that it probably glorified life in the mountains. I gave it three stars but I would not recommend it to kids.

My first book of 2020 was graphic novel for children based on history.

I really liked this graphic novel; it’s heavy and well written and drawn. I like the use of water colours and images from historical times. Even though the story is not real history, it is based on it and I believe some of the elements concerning the religious aspect is true. I really enjoyed the folk and fairy stories in it as well. That would be true to the Tudor and medieval era.

The story is a classic one about an orphan who comes of age and learns much about herself. It is dense and has a great cast of characters. I really enjoyed reading this on a wet winter’s day. It’s a cozy book. I hope there are more graphic novels for children like this. I love the historical aspect and would have liked it as kid as well.

I believe the author is planning a sequel which I will devour if I get the chance.

Read January 11, 2020.

I finished 2019 by reading these two children’s books.

The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

I really liked this one. It was published in 1941. With the Agatha Christie books and this one, I was put into a real pre-war mood. The novel is quite similar to the Boxcar Children as well.

I thought there was a lot of clever writing and it makes me miss this early 20th century writing style. No one writes like this anymore.

December 29-30, 2019.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

This has a good premise. It was written and set in the 1960s and I definitely thought of “Mad Men” in a couple of moments. There was some fun moments in the book, but I didn’t love it like I did with the Saturdays or other children’s books. I can’t say why exactly. It’s similar to how I felt about Pippi Longstocking.

December 31, 2019.

Part of my spontaneous reading challenge to read children’s books. I have heard about this book growing up. I vaguely remember the 1997 movie but I never watched it. The only time I really became interested was when Studio Ghibli released Arrietty.

I like the descriptions and the world building but the book did not win me over until the last third. I think the movie is better than the book in this case.

I do become more invested in the book by the end and I intend to read the sequels. They are easy to read and I like the light fantasy of this book and others (Indian and the Cupboard was the same). It’s gentle fantasy fiction because it is for children. Fantasy for adults or young adults have become saturated and a bit too overwrought these days. I don’t find it as escapist anymore.

These books are working for me. I think I will try to rewatch Arrietty over the holidays and read the sequels to this book.

Read December 21, 2019

When I finished Voracious a few months ago, I was inspired to put a few children’s books on hold. As a kid, most of my non-school book discoveries were self-initiated so I missed out on some of the books below.

Home Price by Richard McClostky

This was a cute one to start off with. It was published in 1943 and has all the references and illustrations from that time. Homer is an industrious young protagonist. I liked that he tamed and kept a pet skunk. The best story in the book is the one about the doughnuts.

Read October 15, 2019

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

This was very sweet and nice. It was written in the 1930s. I found it relaxing as the characters were so nice. It may be a bit too cute and idyllic but there is something classically about this children’s book. This was the first one I really wished I had read when I was a kid.

Read October 20-21, 2019

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

I really enjoyed this. It may have even been worth a standalone post. It has a lot of heart and outside from some dated concepts; I actually thought the writer was thoughtful about the character development. Now I’m really curious about the adaptation and the sequels.

Read November 13, 2019

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

I have mixed feelings on this book. It’s not that I did not like it or the characters, but there were times where as an adult, I did not have much patience with Pippi. On the other hand, I do like her. She’s a true rebel and nonconformist. It took me longer to read this book because of it. I think this is a good children’s book but it did not work for as well as the others.

Read November 27, 2019 – December 5, 2019

Overall, I’ve found reading children’s literature really enjoyable as compared to other books. The stories are straight forward and they don’t take as much time. Philosophically, I like the optimism of these books which can be sometimes missing in adult day to day life. I have put more children’s books on hold.

This was the right spring time book for an Easter read. I’ve seen more than one adaptation of this book on TV and movies. I also think I read at the very least an adapted version of this as a kid.

I liked the transformation of spoiled and sour Mary into a kinder and more robust one. I was less interested in Colin and the move shifts more to him in the latter half. Dickon is a funny character too. I do genuinely like the kindness of the characters that Burnett writes about it here and in A Little Princess.

What I liked most about this book was that my hard cover was big and had lovely illustrations by Inga Moore. I think that was a big part of why I enjoyed the story as much as I did. As a child, I loved a similar style book of Peter Pan. It really makes a worthwhile reading experience when children’s books are presented this way.

Read March 27, 2016.

I am counting this as one Classics Club entry because technically I’ve reread most of the books except two.

  1. The Little House in the Big Woods
  2. Farmer Boy
  3. Little House on the Prairie
  4. On the Banks of Plum Creek
  5. By the Shores of Silver Lake
  6. The Long Winter
  7. Little Town on the Prairie
  8. These Happy Golden Years
  9. The First Four Years

When I started this read-along, I wanted to judge if the books were as good as I remember them and if reading them as an adult coloured my views. This was not my absolute favourite series as a kid, but it definitely had its moments. I’m someone who has always been pulled to the country and simpler life. I have a lot of old fashioned tastes and hobbies so the books worked on me in that level. I also enjoy history.

I was perturbed and saddened to find that Pa Ingalls did seem to be an irresponsible father at times. As much as he loved his girls, he was a bit shady and a poor man with finances. Most kids would have a lot of this stuff go over their heads, but even as a kid, I never understood why Charles Ingalls moved his family so much across the country. I also disliked the racism especially as voiced by Ma.

I would still read or recommend these to children, even though I have the aforementioned qualms. One of the best aspects of the series is Laura herself who is honest, brave yet realistic. She is inherently relateable to most young girls. The writing is good too. I think Wilder is a lovely writer. There is some memorable images and fun moments from these books. Credit to Laura and maybe Rose Wilder Lane for that. I think it’s written well for the most part.

More than ever, this readalong has really made me excited for Pioneer Girl. I look forward to reading Laura’s even less embellished childhood.

The more I re-read these books, the more uncomfortable I am with Charles Ingalls. While the books have some lovely moments especially with Laura exploring the wild and the glimpses of frontier life, I get annoyed with Pa.

He buys lumber for a house in the spring on credit of the wheat he will harvest later. It is a big lack of foresight because the last wheat harvest by the previous owner was poor. He does not research the area they move into very much at all. Unsurprising that they have locusts for two years. It’s horrifying to read though.

On a positive note, I continue to like Laura. She relatable to most girls. Aside from the moment where Ma gives Charlotte away, I have to hand it to Caroline. She does very well under the circumstances. I have also liked Christmas scene in the book so far. I like how it was a cherished time of family, love, and unselfish behaviour among people. There is a deep sense of gratitude and warmth in the gift scene. I also think Caroline and Charles do really love each other. Charles loves his family, and I feel sorry for him and his family.

I continue to have mixed feelings about the books, but some of my favourite moments will come as Laura grows up.

Reread August 30th-September 3rd, 2014 on Kindle.

Compared to the first book, lots of things happen in this novel. So also begins the
the restlessness of Charles Ingalls.

This novel had moving, travel, house building, Indians, malaria, and more. A lot of the stuff was on the scary side such as the creek crossing part, almost losing Jack the dog, and basically all the parts with wild animals.

It was a bit interesting to watch them travel and build a home on the prairies. Pa also seems to be a great hunter. I do like his endearment to Laura being “half-pint of sweet cider half drunk up.” I also liked the introduction of Mr. Edwards; I liked him when I was a kid too. I enjoyed the Santa Claus chapter and laughed out loud with that line: “In the Southwest, Santa Claus rides a pack mule”

The Scotts’ racism against Indians was a low point though. Pa wasn’t particularly prejudiced, but I’m wary about this whole land issue in the book.

I can’t judge this book without reading the others I feel. There are some nice moments that exemplified Laura’s (or Rose’s) writing ability.

Reread August 23, 2014 on Kindle.