Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Marking off the list

I went to lunch between my doctor’s appointment this morning and going to work this afternoon, and grabbed Love that dog by Sharon Creech from my car to read whilst eating.

This book is written in free verse poetry. It is the beginning of the year, and it appears that Miss Stretchberry, teacher of Room 105, has assigned journal writing to the students. She also shares poetry with them. Jack starts the journal with the complaint that only girls write poetry.

The reader only sees Jack’s words; however, from them a story develops – conversations with his teacher, what happened to his beloved dog, and the best school day ever. Jack realizes that boys also write poetry, and he finds that he has a knack for it as well.

This was number 75 on the Top 100 Children’s Novels list from Fuse8. After briefly discussing this book with one of my coworkers, I placed it on hold. I think that was a month ago. It sat in my car for several weeks, being renewed at least once, until I finally picked it up to read.

I love Jack’s voice. Adore it. His personality comes through the text. I was touched by his worry that some of his classmates would be sad after reading one of his poems, and laughed at his instructions to his teacher as to how to type and display his work. His fear that Mr. Walter Dean Myers would not like that he borrowed some words for his own poem, and his rambling letter to Mr. Walter Dean Myers, full of apologetic hesitation resonate feelings of many people when talking about or to their favorite artist. Lastly, Jack’s feelings for his dog are those that any animal lover and pet owner will completely understand.

Another book from the Top 100 list that I finished this weekend was an audiobook production of Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This was number 24 on the list.

The first book in the Little House series, it is here that we are introduced to Laura and the rest of the Ingalls family – Pa, Ma, Mary and little Carrie. Laura is quite young – only four at the beginning of the book – and many of the experiences of life in the Big Woods fill her with awe. Though told in third person, the reader experiences life through Laura’s eyes, and such wonders as a sugar snow, Christmas with family (and her first real doll), and seeing a town for the first time. While Laura knows there are dangers abound in the woods, she feels safe at home with her family.

I’m not sure how I missed reading this series as a child, though I think I’ve read excerpts of some of the books. Perhaps it was because the television show was so popular at the time. *shrug* It’s not worth mulling over, as I can read the books now.

I enjoyed the first book in the series. The narrator, Cherry Jones, does a great job with each character’s voice. Between the text and the narration, I could truly feel Laura’s excitement and wonder about Christmas and her new doll, her annoyance of being quiet on Sundays, and her fear when she and Ma accidentally encounter a bear.

I’ve already put the next few books on hold (in audio format) and should be able to start listening to them tomorrow!

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