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Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Big Picture Story Bible, by David Helm

I liked this book, and would recommend it to Christian parents of young children, and Christian teachers of young children. The simple, engaging text and profusion of colorful pictures won over my young listeners, and older readers. The sound theology won me over. I thought it was perfect for my 3yo and 6yo audience members.

This story Bible recounts biblical history beginning with creation, focussing on the theme of the 'forever king.' The description of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, simple enough for a young child to grasp, was nevertheless profound enough to move me to tears.

I have only one complaint to make against the book: it pictures Christ, which I can't help but consider as a violation of the law of God. Why must story Bibles do that? This is not the only one I know of to include pictures of Christ.

I read a friend's copy, but am now desirous of owning my own copy, so's I might be able to share it with my children again and again.

The Exploits of Moominpappa, by Tove Jansson

I picked up this book with high expectations, because I had read many reviews which raved about it. Many reviews favorably compared Ms. Jansson's Moomin Family books with the Winnie-the-Pooh books. I must say I was not impressed with The Exploits of Moominpappa. I was so unimpressed with it that I decided not to finish reading past about halfway. However, I was not so unimpressed with it as to swear off of the Moomin Family books. I intend to give them one more try.

A List {SIGH}

I have been overborne by circumstances once again. Aurelius said one should not excuse one's mistakes, misdeeds, neglect on circumstances. Sorry, Aurelius. Here comes a list, instead of individual postings about each book I've finished recently.

The Heart of a Goof, by P.G. Wodehouse. Definite hit. Much better than the last Wodehouse book I read. Perhaps because it is approximately 50 years older, having been written early in the 20th century instead of late in the 20th century. If you like Wodehouse, if you might like Wodehouse, give this one a try. You don't even have to like golf.

The Sweet Dove Died, by Barbara Pym. Forget it. Not worth it. I picked it up because of Susan Hill's recommendation of Pym in her book Howard's End is on the Landing. It has some of the trappings of a novel of manners, but is too frivolous, and one of the main characters is openly bi-sexual. I found it as disappointing as I've found E.M. Forster's books. I shan't be trying any other of Pym's work.

The Various Haunts of Men, by Susan Hill. A Simon Serrailler mystery, the first, in fact. I found it unsatisfying, though not for want of skill of the author. I did not feel as though I was pitting my wits agains those of the investigator. I did not like becoming attached to a main character, only for that character to be killed near the end (I kept hoping it would turn out to be a police ploy, but, alas, no). I liked the people, and several of them, no doubt, appear in following volumes of Simon Serrailler mysteries. I intend to read another of Mrs. Hill's mysteries, unlike my intentions regarding Ms. Pym and her work.

Bookworms, edited by Laura Furman and Elinore Standard. A collection of essays, letters, excerpts by writers (and readers) about reading. I enjoyed reading it, but who's surprised by that? I thought the various pieces were of various quality, being written by various people, but who's surprised by that? I would recommend it to readers who like reading about reading (is that a bit like a meta-narrative?), but not to those who don't. Do readers who don't like reading about reading read book blogs?

Stories of the Wild West Gang, by Joy Crowley

Michael's aunt, uncle, and five cousins, the West family, move into a house just one street away from Michael. The West household couldn't be more different than Michael's household. Whereas Michael is the only child of tidy, neat-freak, proper, prosperous parents, the Wests are raucous, noisy, chaotic, dirty, and poor. For instance, the oldest West boy has a hole cut in the floor of his bedroom so he can toss his dirty clothes directly into the washing machine below. Aunt Rosie wipes her toddler's face clean with the hem of her t-shirt, the t-shirt she's wearing.

As the large mother of a large family who's not overly concerned with the tidiness and cleanliness of her house, I could certainly identify with Aunt Rosie. I appreciated that Michael appreciated the way the Wests did things, even if he was initially surprised or even disgusted.

The book is more a collection of tales about the Wild Wests than a continuous narrative, but even so there is character development, and characters introduced in one story (such as a puppy named Alexander) appear in following stories.

Michael narrates these realistic stories. I liked the pacing and plotting of these humorous tales. I thought the author did a good job of capturing the emotions of an early adolescent. The antics of the West Gang amused me.

Overall I liked and could even, with proper qualifications, recommend Stories of the Wild West Gang. I was disturbed that one four letter word made an appearance, and was referenced repeatedly afterward, and that Michael seems deceptive toward his parents (without it being condemned), and that there's a whiff of romantic feelings from Michael toward one of his female cousins.

Thank you, Gecko Publishing and Netgalley, for giving me a review copy of this book.