Hi. Do you remember me? I’ve been gone from the blogosphere for a few weeks, longer than I’d anticipated. I’m still here. Last week was very busy with holiday activities. I’m determined to make this week a catch up week, in which I try to clean the house, put my son to bed early each night, mail Christmas cards, finish Christmas shopping/projects, make Christmas fudge, and oh yeah! blog a little bit. Below is my Reading Journal (so you know what I’ve been up to) and a Mini-Review of a reread from my childhood.
I’m 70% finished with Trollope’s Phineas Finn, and I’m finding Trollope’s style is growing on me. Although I didn’t think I liked Can You Forgive Her?, in retrospect, I think I liked it more than I realize. I’m sincerely looking forward to reading more of Trollope’s novels.
On the War and Peace front, I’m almost finished with Volume 1 (of 4), on page 250 or so of 1200. I need to read a bit more diligently if I want to finish by the end of next month, but once Phineas Finn is complete, I will make it a priority. Each 50-page block takes about an hour, so I’m trying to give myself that time each evening so I can see my progress each week. I’m finding it enjoyable, although the war sections do drag for me compared to the society sections. The P&V translation is sufficient (no complaints) and the interspersed French and German (footnotes at the bottom of the page) don’t bother me at all, to my surprise.
I also picked up a nice used copy of A Moveable Feast from Sam Weller’s in Salt Lake while on my vacation. I have enjoyed the bits I’ve read (about 30%) but have taken a break to focus on Phineas Finn, as the Circuit stops here on Friday.
I finished two more books for my African Autumn project. Tropical Fish by Doreen Baingana is a collection of related stories about three sisters in Uganda, and I loved the writing and the stories. It is very well done, and as it has been a few weeks since I’ve finished reading it, I wonder how I can do it justice. The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa is narrated by a gecko in war-torn Angola, and it is wonderful in its complexity. I closed the book and decided I had no idea what it was about but I really liked it. It is another book I’m not sure how to write about. I may try this week to get some coherent thoughts about the two books. They are both well worth reading.
Then, I finished a few rereads. I realized what a comfort a reread is when I’m stressed and abnormally busy. They are just a sweet respite from the day, and because I know what happens, they are easy reads.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was my first reread of the season, and it is a tradition for me at Christmas time. I read it every two years or so. I love the cheesy sentimentality and the Christmas spirit it gives. It gets me in the mood for Christmas. Also, I reread The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogama for my book club. I had suggested it to my group and I’m pleased to say that everyone liked it! A few even loved it, and one explained how she’d stopped reading to try to figure out the math. I was surprised, on the reread, how much math was in the book. I still liked it and I will reread it again. But I’m still not a math person, beautiful as it seems in the book!
And then, after my reread of childhood favorite The Girl Who Owned a City, I thought it time to track down another middle grade favorite, Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi to see how it has withstood the tests of time.
Just as with the other book, this is one I have fond memories of. I would reread it frequently, whenever I saw it on the shelf at the library. But also, I had a huge author-crush on Avi when I was in second grade because he came and spoke to select students from my school district. (I had written a promising story about a boy who turned into a kite and so I was one of the select few.) I wanted to be an author just like Avi, so I began my quest by reading every single book that Avi had written that my library had. (In retrospect, I should have continued writing creative stories instead. But then, I’ve always been more of a reader, despite the fact that I thought I wanted to write.)
Avi is a very versatile author and has written Young Adult novels as well as middle-grade books as well as graphic novels (after my day). Given the fact that I was eight years old, it should be no surprise that one of the middle grade novels became my favorite. Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? is a creative story of twins who solve a mystery themselves: they find the clues to solve the mystery in the children’s books that had been stolen, including The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows, Through the Looking Glass, and Winnie-the-Pooh. What’s the connection among the the books?
It was with trepidation that I began to read it, but I’m pleased to say I still like it. I am not a mystery person, but this is a light enough mystery that I still like it very much. As the reader, I’m not expected to solve the mystery but one may be able to if they wanted to. Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? is a celebration of the mysteries to be discovered in books. It shows children who love to read and visit the library. It shows children who have determination and who solve a mystery without adult annoyance. It’s a fun adventure.
Reading it as an adult did reveal the flaws. Technically, the kids are breaking the law at times, and ten-year-old children should really not decide to take down thieves themselves. The superficiality of the robbery and the facts surrounding it are unbelievable, and the writing is not Avi at his best. Nonetheless, I can still say that Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? is a memorable favorite childhood book, and it is still fun to read today, despite the flaws.