Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman is a strange, dream-like story. It is a story told by a father to his children when he took too long to go to the store and get some milk. When he came home with the milk, the children asked why it had taken so long. The remainder of the book is a clever and ridiculous story that the father tells in order to convince his children that he had been gone for good reason.Continue Reading
Kids Who Are Changing the World by Anne Jankeliowitch (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, September 2014) is an inspiring volume of brief biographies of young children from around the world who took action to fight for ecological awareness. The author shares how each child was inspired, what he or she did as a result, and the end result of their action, including what they currently are doing to promote awareness and make a difference.
Some of the children used their talents to promote ecological awareness. Some painters sent artwork to those who donated to a cause. Others made music videos that have made a difference by raising awareness world wide to those who see the video. Others began locally in planting trees or inspiring recycling or petitioning to ban plastic water bottles at their schools. These small movements became larger as their cause spread throughout their towns, countries, and (now) the world.
It’s amazing to me to see what very young children can accomplish when they are determined to do so. I appreciated the note along with most of the biographies in which they acknowledged the roles their parents played in helping them be successful. I do think it is important to encourage our children to make a difference in what they see as important, and parental support was obviously a big part of helping these kids meet their dreams for “changing the world.”
If I have one complaint it is that the gorgeous photographs of places around the world did not always match the locality that the children’s biographies described. For example, a child worked to plant trees and discourage deforestation in Africa, and the photograph showed the rain forest in Brazil. This is a small matter, however. The photographer, Yan Arthus-Bertrand, President of the GoodPlanet Foundation which emphasizes children’s education of these ecological matters, has ecological awareness at heart. The photographs selected simply emphasize the need for ecological awareness and delight at the beautiful world we all live in.
Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
I grew up with Anne of Green Gables, which I reread frequently. For some reason, I don’t recall branching out and reading the other Lucy Maud Montgomery novels. As I was reading some longer, denser books recently, I felt the need for a reading break and took the chance to read two stand-alone novels by the writer from Prince Edward Island.
The Blue Castle (published 1926) is one of Montgomery’s novels written for adults. Valancy is a 29-year-old old maid who is constantly criticized, berated, and teased by her extended family, finding her only relief from reality in nature writing and daydreams about her dream home, an exotic Blue Castle. I must admit that when I began the novel, I really did not like the set up. I didn’t know anything about the plot, and I worried that I’d be able to read a novel with a weak woman. Never fear, L.M. Montgomery was able to quickly bring me around. When Valancy receives some surprising news, she comes to a decision that shocks her family: she speaks her mind. I loved Valancy’s transformation, I loved the twists in her life, and the ways in which she struck out on her own. I loved the romance in the story and all the coincidences of the plot. The Blue Castle is a novel I will enjoy rereading, and I suspect each time I finish it, I’ll be able to say with a sigh, “Ah, that was nice.”
Jane of Lantern Hill (published 1936) focuses on a young child (11 years old) but she faces similar frustrations in her life. Her grandmother nags and criticizes her, her loving mother is a weak-willed woman who still succumbs to the grandmother, and Jane longs for something to make her life complete. Like Valancy, Jane retreats from reality in to a daydream, in her case a trip to the magical moon. When she finds out that her long-absent father is alive and wants to spend the summer with her on Prince Edward Island, Jane is delighted by her new freedom. Although Jane transforms in ways similar to Valancy and even Anne Shirley herself, Jane didn’t feel as alive to me as these other favorite characters. Maybe because the romantic notions of a preteen no longer echo my own notions as preteen reading Anne of Green Gables, or maybe the plot simply wasn’t as satisfying. Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed reading about Jane’s self-discovery. It was a hopeful and peaceful book.
I now look forward to finding the other L.M. Montgomery novels I have not yet read!
(Can I just add that I greatly dislike these awful 1980s covers?)
“The Horla” is the term for the invisible ghost-like creature that haunts the unnamed narrator in Guy de Maupassant’s short story of the same name (written 1887). Maupassant’s story is a journal of this man’s decent into madness. Maupassant captures panic in a real way, and the ending is simply wonderful. When I first read it, I called it “wonderfully weird” and it’s held up to that description. Continue Reading