For my first full week in March, I finished 2 Audios and 2 Juvenile books. Slow and steady indeed.
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Such a good read. I can see myself rereading this one. I could talk at length about all the juxtapositions and allusions it has in it. And Axel! If Axel Stuck didn’t sound so bad, I would use it. Axel is one of the most truest characters ever. I have read books in which the protagonist is unlikable, but to read a story with a wimpy protagonist? That is rare. Axel faints during their adventures and has a hard time keeping himself sane when the going gets bad. I love how raw, how real he is.
The ending was a little of a letdown for me. I can’t mention more or I may spoil it for you! Pick it up. It’s one classic that is a breeze to read.
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Since I enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth so much, I had high hopes for this story. The story doesn’t disappoint, but it wasn’t as thrilling as Journey. This story isn’t science fiction like I thought it would be. I always associated it with a hot-air balloon ride across the world and that was wrong. It turned out to be more of a cultural and geographic study. The trip around the world was almost like a disguise for Verne to document the specialties of the countries his characters head through.
Phileas Fogg is an eccentric Englishman with a panache for punctuation. He wagers a bet with his fellow friends at the Reform Club that he can indeed circle the earth in 80 days. He takes leave with a newly hired Frenchman, Passepartout, to complete the trip.
Problem: some robber who resembles Fogg stole 55,000 pounds from the Bank of England before Fogg left. A detective, Fix, gets wind of Fogg’s travels and how similar he resembles the robber. He decides to follow Fogg and get a warrant for his arrest in the different English hubs during the travels. He fails time and time again to get a warrant in time before Fogg dashes off to next destination. Fix tries to deter Fogg from moving on in his travels but even those are dashed.
Along the way, Fogg and Passepartout rescue an East Indian girl named Aouda. She ends up making the rest of the trip with them from India. Everything is resolved in the end; I kind of figured out what the ending was before the last 15 minutes, and it is a happy ending after all.
My favorite part of the book has to be their travel through America by train. Verne’s description of the stereotypical westerner (with his love for guns!) is so spot-on.
Undefeated: Jim Thrope and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
I finished this sad story. I don’t think it was suppose to be sad, but for me it was. Thrope was a terrific football player and even earned Olympic gold, but he had to rescind his medals because he played minor baseball one summer. But he didn’t know that was against the rules and supposedly Warner had no idea he played, turning the tables from him having any responsibility. But everyone knew Warner knew. Yet, he turned his back on Thrope who did wonders along with his fellow Carlisle players to forever change and improve the game of football.
Since I don’t understand football, a lot of it was over my head. Football aside, it shows historically how Native Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s were treated. A good history lesson.
Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
Freckle Juice is one book I do remember reading (outside of The Little House on the Prairie series and True Book non-fiction books). It’s classic Judy Blume: short, snarky, and funny! An easy read, especially for kids who enjoy pranks, such as The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John.
Andrew wants freckles and his classmate sells him a recipe. It’s basically a cocktail of grossness, but Andrew wants them so bad he makes it and drinks it, only to get sick off it. Instead of going to school freckle-less, he takes a blue marker and draws freckles on his body. Everyone knows they aren’t real, but Andrew doesn’t care. His teacher gives him a recipe to magically erase the freckles.
And the little prankster? She tries to sell freckle remover to the most freckly boy in the class.
Soupy Saturdays with the Pain & the Great One by Judy Blume
The Pain (Jake) and the Great One (Abigail) are at it again. The siblings who act like they don’t like each other show time and time again that deep down they do. For example, the Great One makes cardboard ears for the Pain to get his haircut and the Pain “encourages” the Great One to learn to ride her bicycle. Their exchanges are true to typical sibling rivalry. It’s a good read for beginner readers looking for more “meat” (or their parents for them), especially for kids who love funny stories.
Since we are going on a little vacation this weekend, I stocked up books for the weekend. Actually, I forgot to bring the books home mid-week so I just left them especially for our trip. So what did we read in advance of the weekend?
The Bunyans by Audrey Wood and illustrated by David Shannon
The focus in this book is not exclusively on Paul Bunyan but on him as a family man. He gets married and the couple has two children together. The picture book explains how the natural wonders of the US came to be, not by virtue of time and natural occurrences, but by the mischief and ingenuity of the Bunyan kids. A highly entertaining read and introduction to some landmarks in our country. Shannon shines with his illustrations, as always.
What have you been reading?