Castle Blair by Flora L. Shaw

Written at the urging of John Ruskin, recommended as exemplary fiction for children by Minerva Sanders in her 1890 Reading of the Young report because it depicted real children, Shaw's book is an interesting puzzle to me. It certainly fits the idea that approved children's fiction was written from any perspective but that of lower-class children. These children are the heirs and heiresses to an Irish estate.

They also have little inherent moral sense, especially the eldest boy, Murtagh, whose temper almost causes him to have the estate manager killed by one of his non-wealthy friends.

The poor children are there for the amusement of the rich children. They even tell Teresa at one point. Murtagh declares that they will "protect" her, and his sister Winnie agrees, saying: "Why, ye live on our land, don't you? So we're bound to protect you even if we didn't want to." (p. 55)

I'll be thinking about this one for awhile... there could be a paper in this, if I wanted to pursue it, following up on the book chapter about how adult approval of fiction for children correlated with the social class of the children depicted in the story.


You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.

And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all. You're open to learning you're wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.

You're naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.

(But they're not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma

Ah, Goodreads has it figured out!

They let me blog my reviews with a quick copy-and-paste:

Playing with Matches Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
High school is actually like this... Leon is kind of a geek, and he's attracted to a girl (especially attracted to her shapely butt) who has massive facial burns. But then a "regulation hottie" (please watch Mean Girls if this doesn't register) shows interest in him, and he does the wrong thing. He ditches facial-burns Melody, then gets dragged around by hottie Amy until he realizes he really loved Melody. He tries to get her back, and she flatly refuses. The ending is ambiguous, but Leon may have a shot again. Good read, and new as of July 2008.

Out of the Wild Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
Durst's first, Into the Wild, is much better. This time, the fairy-tale "wild" takes over the world, and Julie Marchen (daughter of Rapunzel who escaped) has to save the world from the wild. It's a little Dark Crystal, in that good and bad merge to make a new middle ground. I preferred the first book because the wild was so evil and the plot was just stronger all around.

Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools by Philip Caveney

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sebastien is a lousy jester, not funny at all. However, his exploits as he travels to offer his services to a far away kingdom are plenty funny. His cynical buffalope companion Max and their traveling companion Captain Cornelius Drummel are hillarious, improbable, and although some of their exploits bring to mind video game fights, there's enough flair and daring to make this an enjoyable fantasy romp. This is sure to be the first of a series, and less completely absurd than Terry Pratchett often is. It would be a 3.5 if I could give that, but I still recommend it as fun reading.

View all my reviews.

Diamonds in the Shadow Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Spooky, creepy book about a groups of Africans who come to America. When housing arrangements fall through, their sponsoring church asks one family to take the Africans in, and all appears to be well as the mother, father, son and daughter make themselves at home. But they're not who they appear to be.

Cooney's fabulous The Face on the Milk Carton is now a creepy classic, and this book once again shows why she's the horror author for the middle-school set.

View all my reviews.

What will Goodreads mean...

What does it mean to keep a reading blog when you're also on Goodreads? I'm still convinced that these notes to my self are extremely helpful, and I am also aware that some at-home viewers may benefit from seeing my beyond-the-classroom reading habits and thoughts.

They may function in complementary ways. For instance, I'm sitting here with a pile of 10 books that I've read, and they aren't all worth a big review. Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, for example, was a fine read but I don't really need to blog it, since it's out there all over the place.

Newer things, though, I almost feel I should blog, but then again not all of them seem worth the effort. Making this commitment to track my reading with a blog has been most valuable, and I've really held to it for a long time now. At the same time that I want to see what my friends are reading, I also know that Goodreads will dilute my focus on children's/young adult books in favor of adult books because, let's face it, most of my friends are adults (chronologically).

A quote from one of my summer reads, again about solitude:

"I often feel exhausted, but it is not my work that tires (work is a rest); it is the effort of pushing away the lives and needs of others before I can come to the work with any freshness and zest." --May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude, p. 13

Sarton is a rebel; she dares to speak what others would label "selfish." She names a dynamic that is real, but that people (and especially women) so rarely name, the effort that is needed to create space for solitude. That effort can be tangible or metaphorical, but it is effort either way.

Laughing out loud...

I'm reading Lucky by Rachel Vail, and just came across this line:

"[S]he'd been obsessed with the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I couldn't get through at all; it just seemed like long stretches of weather punctuated by Pa making another chair." (p. 153)

Weather... another chair! Do not misunderstand, I loved these books myself, but that is a priceless perspective. Weather. Another chair.