Ariel Bradley: Spy for General Washington by Lynda Durrant

Ariel Bradley: Spy for General Washington by Lynda Durrant (Vanita Books, 2013) is a historical fiction early chapter book based on a real experience. Since Raisin and I are learning about American history this year, I decided it would be a perfect choice for reading aloud together during our school time.

In many ways, Ariel Bradley’s story is a fun and exciting one. Ariel is a young boy, with two brothers who are a part of General Washington’s army. He wishes he could be brave,  but his life is still at home. When his brothers come to visit, though, they have a special mission for him to perform for General Washington himself! As Ariel acts like a country bumpkin and stumbles in to the British war camp, he knows he can be a spy for General Washington and do his own part to help the country.

I liked the story. It showed how a child helped in the war effort. It showed my son the different way someone could help the Patriot cause. As we read, we looked up unfamiliar words and talked about what Ariel Bradley was doing. Raisin was very excited to see General Washington, and I believe he enjoyed the suspense of what would happen next.

It’s been a few weeks since we finished and Raisin tells me now that he does not remember it. I know he liked it, but apparently the story was not a memorable on. There are many historical fiction stories based on real events that relate to the American Revolutionary War. This may not have been the strongest choice out there, but Raisin and I did enjoy it when we read it. We found it to be a fine book to tie in to our American history studies.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher via

Shakespeare’s Common Prayers by Daniel Swift

William Shakespeare’s plays have abundant evidence of the influences on the man behind the words. Shakespeare obviously was familiar with the world and especially human nature. I’ve read that he did not get some geographic facts correct, but in general, he seems to have been pretty well rounded. Just read a play and you can see it! I’ve often read commentary on how various concepts appear in his plays. But I never before considered the impact of The Book of Common Prayer on his plays.

Shakespeare’s Common Prayers by Daniel Swift (Oxford University Press, 2012) is a deep examination of how The Book of Common Prayer impacts the phrases and themes in Shakespeare’s plays. Mr Swift takes a few of Shakespeare’s plays almost line by line in examining the impact that the liturgy of the Church of England may have had on the playwright. Reading his examination made me think, “Wow! Why didn’t we notice this before?”Continue Reading

Kids Corner: Baby’s Books

My daughter, Strawberry, is 13 months old now, and she is entering a fun age of reading. She loves books, she loves reading, and she loves eating, ripping, and tearing apart any book-like item that comes near her! The combination means there are lots of reading times with the book just out of her reach. But mostly I’ve been looking for board books that she loves.

Her favorite thing right now is babies. Crying babies, smiling babies, far away on the other side of the room babies. She loves them! She knows she is a baby and loves herself too. It’s so much fun to enjoy this stage once again. My son liked babies, but nothing like this. At 13 months, he was obsessed with cars and trains. Strawberry, then, is total girl.Continue Reading

Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy

My first Thomas Hardy novel was simply fantastic. Emotionally poignant but also socially resonant, Tess of the D’Ubervilles provides an intriguing story about Victorian social and sexual hypocrisy through characters with clear flaws to recognize and appreciate. And yet, although it was clearly a commentary on the social structures and sexual morality in Victorian England, Hardy never once lectured or made his novel about those issues. At first and last glance, the book is a tender one about one poor woman and those who associate with her.

Note: this post contains spoilers for the entire novel.
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