Elephant Man by Mariangela Di Fiore and Hilde Hodnefjeld (Annick Press 2015) is a difficult picture book for older children about an obscure deformed man in history, one that was famous in his own way but tragically alone. Continue Reading
So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan (Little, Brown and Company, September 2014) is a tribute and examination of the often-named Great American Novel, The Great Gatsby. Ms Corrigan is a true fan of the Fitzgerald’s slim novel, and in her tribute to the work, she reviews not just the content of the book and the context in which it was written, but she goes beyond to ask the question: why did this novel become so popular today, when it was so unimpressive to the first reviewers and readers?
It’s obvious that Ms Corrigan enjoys reading and rereading the work. As an avid reader myself, I too have found myself drawn back to Gatsby many times since my first read of it in my Junior year in high school, during which time I spent an extended amount of time researching and writing about Nick Carraway’s relationship to the text. I had to revisit it in college at least once, and I’ve reread it a few times in adulthood as well. I can’t say that I love Gatsby, though, and I cannot imagine spending the time in a theater listening to an actor recite the entire book from memory. What is about Gatsby that draws me in, even though I can’t say that I even like it?
I really loved reading the juvenile nonfiction book Ten Rivers that Shaped the World when I reviewed it earlier this year. It seemed to be a history of the world as captured through the rivers of the world! So I was excited to see Ten Ships that Rocked the World by Gillian Richardson (Annick Press, August 2015) added to the “Ten” series as well.
I did not love this one quite as much but I still really enjoyed it. Ten Ships has a different feel to it, partly because, as the title indicated, it focuses on a different “ten” from the history of the world, it is written by a different author, and it about things that influenced the world, not necessarily shaped it. The ships that were highlighted were almost all foreign to me, so by reading the book I felt I was learning much that I had been unfamiliar with: ships and eras and countries that made a difference even though I did not know about them. Continue Reading
The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster, March 2015) examines the traditions of the assassination of Julius Caesar, clearing up the myths (such as Shakespeare’s play) from reality. Analyzing such an historic event from 44 B.C. is not easy since eyewitness accounts are few and far between and records of supposed eyewitnesses are always questioned. Yet, Strauss’s book provides an entertaining and thorough examination of the most pressing people and events leading up to the assassination, the deed itself, and the immediate result.Continue Reading