Monday, July 30, 2007


To call reading a challenge--well, for me, it's just not an apt description. But I like goals. I like focusing on reading what has peaked my interest, or what I feel needs to be read, and joining up with other like-minded bloggers in challenges has been a lot of fun for me. So, here's an update on current reading goals, and my list for two new challenges:

First, my own Read Together mission:

I have given up on Nancy Drew. No offense to you Girl Sleuths out there. It's just not a good read-aloud, and what happens when a read-aloud is not compelling, is that I don't really read to her. So, I'm going to let Amanda finish it on her own, and perhaps as a nod to her request for us to read Nancy Drew together, I will finish it on my own as well (which still counts as part of the mission). So last night we started Little Women. It's so good! I had thought it might be too "old" for her yet, because I know I was older when I read it, but I think it's going to be just fine, and it's written in a good read-aloud tone.

If you have completed some books, please post reviews and link up. There are some great reviews up already (especially for teens), so browse through the links if you can.

The Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge is going well (I just love the unique theme here!). Not only did I win a prize drawing, but I've now finished two of my six books, and have begun a third, and a fourth just arrived from my request at the library:

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins takes a California girl to India with her family. Her mom wants to return to the Indian orphanage from which her white American parents adopted her over thirty years ago. Like other Perkins books I've enjoyed, this one features a protagonist who really is a heroine. A real girl, but one who I would love for my own daughter to look up to. In this case Jasmine "Jazz" Gardner is an entrepreneur, a good big sister, and a respectful daughter. She's at that crucial age of fifteen. She's growing into a beautiful young woman, but she doesn't yet know it. What she does know is that she's in love with her best friend and business partner.

The sense of place, India, is strong in this novel. As I read, my mouth watered for the creamy sweet tea and spicy Indian food that Jazz learned to make from her new friend and family's helper, Danita. I could just see the bright and flowing sarees and salwar kameez that the women wore (and I also longed to be able to dress as comfortably). The fact that the country was viewed from the eyes of a fifteen-year-old American visiting there for the first time, helped me identify even more, since her thoughts were similar to the ones I would have as well. I recommend this book. I rate this G, and would be good for ages fourteen up (just because of the romantic notions, which I plan to help my daughter avoid for the most part until she's "of age").

I also just finished A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana as well. This was okay. I had heard so much about it, but perhaps because I've read several really great memoirs this year, this one did not completely wow me. I do give her 5 stars for writing in the voice of a child. Most of the story takes place when she's about five to nine, and she retells this portion of her life without regard for repainting the memories in a better light (although there may be some embellishment which makes her funnier or eccentric, as memoirists are want to do). As far as creating a sense of place, which is what books in the challenge are about, she did a great job of created the small-town world of a young child. Were I not familiar with small-town America, I think that this book would have given me an accurate feel for that realm, and as stated in the challenge, the place is integral to the book. Her whole point is that when and where and with whom she grew up influenced how she grew up. I rate this PG, for language.

Now, for the challenges I'm joining:

The Semicolon Saturday Review of Books Challenge
allows me to read some of those books that fellow bloggers have been reviewing and linking up to her site since she started the Saturday reviews just over a year ago. Cool idea, because each week I inevitably find one that I would love to read, so this will give me a nudge. The sign up is open, but if you sign up by the end of the month (tomorrow) you are eligible for her prize drawing. This has given me the nudge to get this out of draft and actually published!

A Girl From Yamhill, the autobiography of Beverly Cleary, recommended by Carrie K at Mommy Brain

The Deer on a Bicycle by Robert McManus, recommended by Carrie at Not Alone. I started this months ago, but it's been put aside. In order to be sure I finish it, I'm putting it on my list.

The Art of Civilized Conversation, recommended by Mt. Hope Academy (if I can get it from the library)

Sense and Sensibility recommended by Carrie K. at Mommy Brain

The Kite Runner--I know that this is one of the places I heard so much buzz about the book, so I'm going to check my bookmarks and the archives. If I don't find it, I'll add another book.

One more title to be named later--one I can snatch it up off of the list and read it within a few months. I also reserve the right to switch if another really great book comes up in the next few months.

And we're going to try:

Before There Was Disney--a challenge hosted by Toddled Dredge. It goes so perfectly with Read Together, so feel free to jump in yourself and dovetail the two. Just read a book with your kids that you haven't read before that is now a movie. Go back to her site and post your results on August 20. She gives a whole list of suggestions. We just read Ella Enchanted, and we read Mary Poppins last year (both of which I would recommend), but we are going to try to tackle Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, since we've seen the movie and the Broadway show. I will be interested to see if, like Mary Poppins, the Broadway show (which I preferred to the movie) mined from the book.


stephanie@{Olive Tree} said...

Have you read Mitali Perkins' Ambassador Families? Excellent, excellent non-fiction that so challenged and shaped me in how I need to be raising my girls. I'm going to check out those other challenges, too!

Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

Thanks for the info! I just finished Sense and Sensibility. I read PandP for the first time during the Reading Thing. Why had I never read Austen before? The great thing is that I have never seen the movies, so I am watching the movies after reading the books. Fun!

Jenny said...

The Before Disney Challenge Sounds interesting. I'm also glad to hear that you weren't thrilled with A Girl Named Zippy either. I gave it a try and just couldn't get through it.

Noodle said...

Ah, I'm disappointed that you didn't like Zippy. But I read it ages ago, before the hype, and I had no preconceived notions. I loved it. That may also be compounded by my own childhood, since I grew up in a similar time and place.

Haven't ready Mary Poppins, but I do recommend the Nurse Matilda stories (from which Nanny McPhee was taken). They're quite repetitive though, so one is as good as any.

One of our favorite read-alouds recently has been The Moorchild.

Right now we're working on Pippi Longstocking. I'll have to check out the Before Disney challenge.

Veronica Mitchell said...

Thanks for the plug. I am starting Bambi tonight.

Stephanie said...

I read Mary Poppins as a preteen and loved it. It's actually a whole series. If memory serves maybe half a dozen books?

Kathie said...

I love reading. (I write too) How I wish it was easy to find books to read here, but alas, it isn´t. Of course, that just makes the books I do have more special. Enjoyed wandering through your blog.
Blessings from Costa Rica

Much Ado said...

So glad you have joined the Saturday Review reading Challenge as I love your reviews, in fact it was your review of Catcher in the Rye that reminded me to read my copy! Look forward to your reviews.

Lesley said...

Monsoon Summer reminds me of a memoir I read last year, by a Spanish woman who was adopted from an Indian orphanage when she was a young girl, and her return to India years later - it's called Daughter of the Ganges.

By the way, did you receive the package I sent a few weeks ago? Just curious as my PO has been 'misplacing' things on me lately!

Sherry said...

Glad to have you , Jennifer. I'm going to wait until Friday for the prize drawing just so that everyone who wants to can get in on it. SO, if anyone else wants to sign up for the challenge by Friday night . . .

Katrina said...

I love me some reading challenges too, as you know, but am admittedly taking a break from all challenges right now. And I'll try not to be offended that you've abandoned Nancy Drew (okay, I realize you haven't completely abandoned her and I haven't actually tried Nancy Drew books as a read-aloud). We just finished our Read Together challenge book last night, so I'll be putting a post together one of these days (soon) about it.

Dianne said...

I always love a good book list, Jennifer! So have you read Kite Runner yet? I read it on vacation in like 2 days and absolutely loved it!