Book Recommendations

>> Friday, October 31, 2008

I've been coming back more and more to my lovely collection of children and young adult books, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.


I'm not really sure why I love The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Weise. It's sad and definitely not politically correct. Ping is a hunting duck from China who goes up and down the Yangtzee River with the family that keeps him (uses him for fishing) along with all of his wide family. Ping gets separated from them one day and has an adventure.

Culturally speaking, this book is filled with stereotypes and faux pas that an American with Asian roots may be annoyed by. However, considering I grew up watching old-style Kung Fu movies with my dad, it didn't really bother me. At the very least, Ping can be a history lesson. But it has a lot of great sounding words, repetition and word plays that the kids can play along with. Great for ages 0-Adult.


I don't know about you, but all my dolls and creatures have names. They also talk to me. I don't care what you say, it's Real. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams helped me understand that those times when I was in a hurry and left Charlene or Teedee upsidedown on their faces or out in the cold, they didn't hate me, and everything was all right. This story is sad, but also helped me learn about love and loss and redemption. In a weird sort of way. Probably good for Pre-K and older, unless you have little kids who need to read about loss to get through something.


Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin. The farm animals are tired of the farmer, and fight back when they discover an old typewriter that helps them communicate. This book is just funny. Great for ages 0 - Adult.


Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw has great rhymes and fantastic sense of humor. General plot: stuff happens to sheep in a Jeep. Great for ages 0 - Adult.


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Milo comes home one day to find a kit to make a tollbooth for use with his toy car. But when he drives through it, he ends up in another place! This story is education oriented, with characters like the Spelling Bee (who spells his words), and Tock the Watch Dog (pictured on the cover). The book recommends ages 8 and up, but I know an 8 year old who didn't get it. This book is all about word puns and taking things literally (or not). One of my top favorites.


The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh, is a sci-fi book for young adults (probably Junior High and up, maybe 3rd grade and up for mature kids) that I found to be written in a much different quality than other standard sci-fi stories.


Yes, I know The City of Ember (by Jean Duprau) was just released as a blockbuster movie. The movie trailer motivated me to find and read the book, and I'm glad it did. With today's average kid, I'd say high reader Third Graders could follow the book, but it opens opportunities for discussions of many sociological issues and world responsibility issues for the Middle School level. It's very well written, is engaging and uses great vocabulary; to Lanse and myself it read like a "children's book" but it isn't condescending in any way.


Before there was Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings (at least in my reading timeline), there was John White's Archives of Anthropos. When I read them, The Tower of Geburah was the first of the series. Geared for young adults, or advanced readers in lower grades (my 4th Grade teacher read it to the class), this series is Christian allegory published by Inter Varsity Press (my copy's IVP, but Amazon says Topeka Bindery, which I've never heard of), but it's not nearly allegorical to the obvious extent of something like The Pilgrim's Progress. It's a fantasy series about children who travel to another world and save the day; similar to Chronicles of Narnia, but at the same time completely different. The good is very good, the evil is pretty evil, and there's a lot of magic going on... but it also continually offers explanations of how it exists and can be fought in the real world. While it's obviously fiction, this book helped form a lot of my ideas of my faith and how my life fits into the spiritual world.

Like the Narnia series, John White originally wrote this story first, wrote a sequel, and then wrote a prequel.... and then the publishing companies decided to re-release it in chronological order. So if you look it up on Amazon it'll put this as Book 3. Unfortunately, I didn't find the other books quite as captivating, and I'd worry that you'd miss out on the joy of this one if you do it how they say to. In my world, the series goes: The Tower of Geburah, The Iron Sceptre, and The Sword Bearer. I believe there are other books in the series published as well, but that's all that's listed in the front of my copy.

Also, I just discovered that the cover artist is Kinuko Craft, one of our favorite fantasy illustrators. Yay!

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Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.
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